Netflix’s hit thriller series The Watcher follows the Brannock family as they move into their dream home on 657 Boulevard, New Jersey only to find themselves tormented by an unknown stalker.
The Brannock’s start to receive threatening letters and quickly discover that someone wants them out of the neighbourhood. They set out to unveil the identity of the mystery stalker, but things start to escalate and everyone’s a suspect. Could it be a stranger, the neighbour next door or maybe even someone they know?
Created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, what makes this thrilling series even more terrifying is that it’s based on the true story of Derek and Maria Broaddus, who along with their three young children were terrorised by an unknown assailant. So, did the real Watcher ever get caught and who were the main suspects? Here’s everything you need to know.
What happens in The Watcher?
The Watcher is based on the true story of Derek and Maria Broaddus who bought a million dollar house at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey in 2014. The family were tormented by threatening letters from a mystery stalker who appeared to be watching their every move.
Did The Watcher ever get caught?
The Watcher to this day has never been caught, with their identity and reason for sending the letters still a mystery.
The Broaddus family received a number of letters between 2014 and 2019, which revealed details about their personal life, including information about their children, however no arrests were ever made due to lack of evidence.
Their ordeal was covered in an article for New York Magazine The Cut, by Reeves Wiedeman in 2018. It explained that the first letter they received was delivered after they bought the property and was addressed to “The New Owner.” It read: “657 Boulevard has been the subject of my family for decades now and as it approaches its 110th birthday, I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming. My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time. Do you know the history of the house? Do you know what lies within the walls of 657 Boulevard? Why are you here? I will find out.”
Further letters followed, with The Watcher going on to directly threaten the couple’s children. One letter said: “You have children. I have seen them. So far I think there are three that I have counted.” It continued: “Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested? Better for me. Was your old house too small for the growing family? Or was it greed to bring me your children? Once I know their names I will call to them and draw them too [sic] me.”
The previous owners of the property did confirm that in the 23 years they had lived there, they had received one similar letter just before they had moved out.
Who is the Watcher rumoured to be?
Reported by Netflix Life one of the main suspects was a man named Michael Langford who lived next door with his 90-year-old mother, Peggy. The family had been described as “odd” but “harmless” with Michael being referred to as a “kind of a Boo Radley character.” He was questioned over the letters but denied knowing about them. The case could not be taken any further due to lack of evidence. Reported by Newsweek, his sister Abby was also considered a potential suspect after female DNA was discovered on a letter, however she was ruled out after it was proven not to be hers.
Another possible suspect was called The Gamer. Police took interest in him after a woman stopped by police outside of the Broaddus’ home told them her boyfriend played “dark video games” as a character known as “The Watcher.” The Gamer lived on the same street and was called in for police questioning but never attended his interview, lack of evidence meant police had to drop the investigation against him.
At one point the family themselves were suspected of being behind the letters after their proposal to sell the home to developers was rejected by the neighbourhood planning board. The Broaddus family have denied involvement and in August 2019, Derek replied to a CNN article on Twitter stating the family are: “still waiting for an apology.”
Do the Broaddus family still live there?
The family no longer live or own the home at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey. Reported by Elle, they sold it at a $400,000 loss in 2019. Even though The Watcher has never been caught, the new owners of the property have not reported receiving any further letters.