The Eerie Case Of The Watcher

The Eerie Case Of The Watcher

(siren) – This week on the season
premiere of Buzzfeed Unsolved, we take a look at The Watcher, a stalker who was active
as recently as 2017. Ugh. (Shane laughs) – What do you mean ugh? – It’s just too soon for me. – Okay, yeah. – Normally, we’re covering cases that are way back in the day. This guy’s still out and about. He may watch this show. I don’t know. And he could take a little …
– He probably will. – [Ryan] … trip down
to sunny California. – That’s his whole thing. (laughs) – To visit his pals, Ryan
and Shane, in the studio. – Or maybe he’ll just be
outside the studio like … – Let’s try to bury that
down, put it in a box, put it aside. – You know what, I’m lovin’
the energy this season. Let’s hop right in. Let’s do it.
– Let’s do it. Let’s get into it. – Ooh. – [Narrator] In June 2014, Maria Broaddus, her husband, Derek, and
their three young children were getting ready to
move into their new home, 657 Boulevard, in Westfield, New Jersey. The six-bedroom, $1.3 million house was their dream home, located only a few blocks
from Maria’s childhood home in what was then the 30th
safest town in America, according to the website
NeighborhoodScout. A mere three days after closing the sale, before the Broaddus
family had even moved in, a letter arrived at their new mailbox. “The new owner” was written
by hand on the envelope in thick, clunky letters. The typed letter began, quote, “Dearest new neighbor at 657 Boulevard, “allow me to welcome you to
the neighborhood” end quote. The letter however was
anything but welcoming. It went on, quote, “How
did you end up here? “Did 657 Boulevard call to
you with its force within? “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.” – [Shane] So this is like a Batman type? A silent guardian. – [Ryan] Yeah. (laughs) – [Shane] Just sounds
like it’s in his blood. – [Ryan] It’s a nice sentiment. If that sentiment however entails you doing some weird things, then maybe it’s not a
good family tradition. – [Narrator] “Who am I? “There are hundreds and
hundreds of cars that drive by “657 Boulevard each day. “Maybe I am in one. “Look at all the windows you
can see from 657 Boulevard. “Maybe I am in one. “Look out any of the many
windows in 657 Boulevard “at all the people who stroll by each day. “Maybe I am one” end quote. (Ryan laughs) – [Shane] This is 2014
and he’s writing like it’s the 1800s here. Like a little, it’s a teaser. – [Ryan] (laughs) I don’t think that’s what they’re thinking. Also, I don’t know how many
houses you’ve moved into. I’ve moved into quite a few apartments, and even then, there’s
usually some welcoming gift from either the property owner, maybe even the neighbors
will bring you cookies. If I walked into my new house
and the first thing I saw was a letter that had this
madness inside of it … – [Shane] Nobody brought me cookies. – [Ryan] Nobody brought you cookies? – Actually, the first
place I moved to in LA, somebody took a poop on the doorstep. – Yeah, that sounds about right. – It was pink. – [Narrator] The letter
also mentioned specifics about the Broaddus family. Quote, “You have children. “I have seen them. “So far, I think there are
three that I have counted. “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 to me,” end quote. In a cursive font, the author typed the
signature The Watcher. – [Ryan] What do you think now? Do you think your original thought may be a little bit off base? – [Shane] Yeah, maybe. I want to give him creep points for this very fun, old-timey threat of “I’m going to steal your children.” – [Ryan] True. – [Shane] He’s like the wicked witch. – [Ryan] He’s making
himself into a caricature of a villain for sure. – [Shane] Yeah. – [Narrator] After receiving the letter, the Broaddus family
reached out to the couple that had sold them the
house, John and Andrea Woods. The previous owners said
they have never received any letter like that in 23
years of living in the house, except once, a few days
before they moved out. The Woods family said
they never felt watched in the more than two
decades at 657 Boulevard, and in fact, rarely felt the
need to lock their doors. While they thought the
note they received was odd, they threw it out without much concern. – [Ryan] Well this like
when you buy a house and they didn’t disclose to you before that either there were
grizzly murders inside of it or it’s maybe haunted. And now you start having your
chairs stacked up on tables without you doing it. – [Shane] This isn’t
something that the realtor, like if there’s been a
death, they have to mention. They’re not gonna be like it’s beautiful, it’s two and a half
bathrooms, three bedrooms, there’s a watcher, and a
beautiful pool in the back. – [Ryan] No big deal, have fun with that. – [Narrator] Still, the Woods family went with the Broaddus
family to the police to report the letters. The police instructed the
couples to not tell anyone about the intimidating mail,
including their neighbors, who were all deemed suspects. Two weeks later, with the Broaddus family
still not moved in, a second letter arrived. Disturbingly, this message
contained more details about the new owners, including their name, though misspelled, and their children’s
birth order and nicknames. The author also referenced
seeing their daughter painting on an easel in
an enclosed porch space, asking, quote, “Is she the
artist in the family?” end quote. – [Ryan] You know what’s the
most disturbing about that to me is the nicknames. Because it’s one thing to
look up people’s birth names. The idea that they would
have nicknames, pet names, means that it gives you the
idea that they may be listening. – [Shane] Do you think
he bugged them somehow? – [Ryan] It’s possible. Who knows what this guy’s capable of? That’s I guess the premise
I’m trying to set up. – [Shane] Okay.
– [Ryan] Alright. – [Narrator] Other parts read, quote, “It has been years and
years since the young blood “ruled the hallways of the house. “Have you found all of
the secrets it holds yet? “Will the young blood
play in the basement? “Or are they too afraid
to go down there alone? “I would be very afraid if I were them. “It is far away from
the rest of the house. “If you were upstairs, you
would never hear them scream. “Will they sleep in the attic? “Or will you all sleep
on the second floor? “Who has the bedrooms facing the street? “I’ll know as soon as you move in. “It will help me to know
who is in which bedroom. “Then I can plan better,” end quote. After receiving this letter, Maria and Derek stopped bringing
their children to the house and put a hold on their plans to move in. Several weeks later, a
third letter arrived. Quote, “Where have you gone to? “657 Boulevard is missing you,” end quote. – [Shane] He’s not good. – [Ryan] You don’t like the way he dances around-
– [Shane] ‘Cause here, we’re just calling the
children young blood? – [Ryan] He calls them young blood, which in some cases, it’s kind of cool, like an older person comes up, “Hey, young blood.”
– [Shane] “Hey, young blood.” Yeah, that’s fun. – [Ryan] That’s fun. – [Shane] But not a man who is- – [Ryan] “Young blood ruled
the hallways of the house.” He’s talking about them
as little blood bags. – [Shane] Kids running around.
– [Ryan] Little blood bags. Yeah, it’s not good. – [Narrator] However,
by the end of the year, the investigation into who
The Watcher was had stalled. There was no digital
trail, no fingerprints, and no way to place someone
at the scene of a crime. Meanwhile, the stress
was taking a mental toll on the Broaddus family. Derek said he was experiencing depression. Maria’s therapist said she
was suffering from PTSD. And both were afflicted
with levels of paranoia that made much of their
daily life seem threatening. Only six months after the letters arrived, they decided to sell the house. Due to rumors about the property however, buyers were hesitant. The Broaddus family sued the Woods’s for failing to disclose the threatening letter they’d received. A local reporter found the complaint, which included excerpts from the letters. His small story became a viral sensation, causing a media circus to
swirl around the house. Now totally unable to find a buyer, the Broaddus family
considered selling the house to a developer who could tear it down and split the property into two homes. The two plots however would each be less than three feet too small for the mandated size of the neighborhood. The Broaddus family appealed the rule to the neighborhood planning board, who unanimously rejected the proposal. – [Shane] What’s the
logic in splitting it up into two homes? – [Ryan] It’s like when
something really bad happens at a hotel, and then they just rebrand, it’s what’s they’re trying to do here. – [Shane] I see. – [Ryan] Which is understandable, I just think it’s crazy
that the neighborhood was like three feet too
small, can’t do that. – [Shane] Hey, regulations
are regulations. I get that. – [Ryan] That’s baloney. – [Narrator] Maria was
understandably upset, saying, quote, “This is my town, I grew up here. “I came back, I chose
to raise my kids here. “You know what we’ve been through. “You had the ability two and
a half years into a nightmare “to make it a little better. “And you have decided that
this house is more important “than we are,” end quote. It should be noted that in 2018, the Westfield Planning
Board approved splitting up a different lot around the
corner from 657 Boulevard. One that required a larger exception than the Broaddus family requested. – [Ryan] This is just a bad neighborhood. – [Shane] Or do we think perhaps, is it a Hot Fuzz situation where everyone in the neighborhood- – [Ryan] Is in on it? – [Shane] Yeah, like we
don’t want this family here. – Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. – The greater good. – The greater good. – The greater good.
– [Ryan] The greater good. – The greater good.
– The greater good. – [Narrator] That Christmas, some families who had vocally protested
the Broaddus’s plan received threatening
hand-delivered letters, signed “Friends of the Broaddus family”. More on these later. In spring of 2016, just short of two years after
the first letter arrived, the Broaddus family found
someone to rent the home. The family had two large
dogs, fully grown children, and a clause in the
lease that let them out if there was another letter. Within two weeks, another letter arrived. Quote, “To the vile and spiteful Derek “and his wench of a wife, Maria.” – [Shane] Okay, hang on, oh boy. Before this, he’s been very respectful, despite saying yeah, I’m gonna
steal your blood children. – [Ryan] Yeah, he was
really holding back before. “Wench” too.
– [Shane] Wench. – [Ryan] He still stuck
with the old English though. He knows theming. – [Narrator] “657 Boulevard
survived your attempted assault “and stood strong with
its army of supporters “barricading its gates. “My soldiers of the Boulevard
followed my orders to a T. “They carried out their
mission and saved the soul “of 657 Boulevard with my orders. “All hail The Watcher,” end quote. (Ryan laughs) – [Shane] All hail The Watcher. – [Ryan] Oh me and my
minions, we all did it. – [Shane] I’ve done it again. – [Ryan] I’ve done it again. – Like my father and his father before him. Yeah, one thing I’ve always said, I’ve always gone on record
saying all hail The Watcher. – (laughs) That’s true, he has said that. He says it every day when
he walks into the office. – Been my MO since day one. All hail The Watcher. I walk into Buzzfeed, “Mornin’
all hail The Watcher.” – All hail The Watcher,
and we do the same thing. – All hail The Watcher? – All hail The Watcher. – I’ve got my big stomach
tattoo that says that. – That’s true. – But I don’t wanna reveal that right now. – No, there was HR complaints. – [Narrator] The letter continued, quote, “Maybe a car
accident, maybe a fire, “maybe something as
simple as a mild illness “that never seems to go away “but makes you fell sick
day after day after day “after day after day. “Maybe the mysterious death of a pet. “Loved ones suddenly die. “Planes and cars and bicycles crash. “Bones break. “You are despised by the house “and The Watcher won,” end quote. – [Shane] (laughs) This guy sucks. – [Ryan] (laughs) He’s just really just shooting them out there. He’s casting a wide net and
hoping one of them sticks. – [Shane] Yeah. – [Ryan] So then he could be
like if one of those things happens, he’s gonna be like all me. – [Shane] Watcher, baby. – [Ryan] Orchestrated
by The Watcher. (laugh) – They’re like walkin’ down the street, they trip on the sidewalk,
and he’s like yes, all hail The Watcher. – Ran out of cooking oil? Watcher. – Oh mosquito bite? All hail The Watcher. – Oh you just took a little
poopie and you don’t have any more toilet paper? Watcher, sorry. – [Narrator] Despite the letter, the renters agreed to
stay after more cameras were installed around the house. Now up to current day, it’s
time to look at suspects for who The Watcher could be. Our first suspect is a
man I’m calling The Gamer. Around 11 pm one night,
while two detectives from Westfield Police were
surveilling 657 Boulevard, a car suspiciously
stopped outside the house. The car was traced to a young woman from a town close by. The home of her boyfriend
was on the same block as 657 Boulevard. The woman told investigators
that her boyfriend was into, quote, “Some really
dark video games,” end quote. Including possibly one where
he played as a character called The Watcher, according
to an investigator’s memory The Gamer agreed to be
questioned by police but he never showed up for his interviews. Detectives didn’t have enough
evidence to force him to come, so he was never questioned. – [Ryan] They said he
played as a character called The Watcher, according
to the investigator’s memory. So maybe he didn’t say Watcher,
maybe he said The Witcher, which is a game. – Knowing how people who
don’t know about video games react to video games,
I’m guessing this is … – Yeah, and if people
judged you, for instance, off of how you play video games, I’m sure they’d have
behind bars pronto, right? – I don’t know what you’re implying here. – We did murder characters that … – That was Sims fun. Everybody murders people on The Sims. – They were characters
based off real people, our co-workers in fact. – Oh, little Steven Lim? – Steven Lim, The Try
Guys, we murdered them all. – (laughs) Yeah, we did. – It was good.
– [Shane] Yeah. – [Narrator] The second
suspect is another neighbor, Michael Langford. Derek began to suspect
Langford after attending a neighborhood barbecue shortly after receiving the first letter. Langford lived in the house next door, which belonged to his 90-year-old mother. Several of her adult
children, all in their 60s, lived with her. And the family was seen
as strange but harmless. The Langfords had lived in
the house since the 60s, which was when The
Watcher claimed his father watched the house. Michael’s father had died about 12 years before the first letter arrived, which could’ve been
why The Watcher claimed to have done the job
of watching for, quote, “The better part of two
decades,” end quote. Langford was also known
to spook new neighbors with his odd behavior, like
walking through their yards and peeking through windows. Due to the positioning of the houses, Langford would have had a perfect view of the easel they had set on
the porch for their daughter that the second letter referenced. – [Shane] So you’re telling
me he has a habit of … – [Ryan] Walking into people’s lawns. – [Shane] … invading
people’s privacy … – [Ryan] Looking in their windows. – [Shane] … and watching them? – [Ryan] Yeah, I guess
it’s pretty easy to see why they suspected him of being The Watcher. – If I moved in and I was
like wow, this place is great and I just turned to my window and saw … – Well you know me, my greatest fear is looking at a window and then just seeing a face
there with two eyes, just … – Yeah. – … watching you like that. – Not even a smile. Just a … – I actually think a smile’s worse. I used to have a recurring
nightmare when I was a kid of an evil version of my dad
looking through my window. (Shane laughs) It stemmed from when I watched
Inspector Gadget as a kid and you remember there was
the evil Inspector Gadget? – Did he have big, giant teeth? – He had big, giant, shiny
teeth, and he had big eyes. So he would just stand outside my window. – And your father is a dentist so the big, scary teeth are even … – That’s true. And we all know that he may
have cut someone’s head off. – Hey, I didn’t say it. I did not make that claim. – That’s true. That’s canon I guess at this point. – [Narrator] Police
questioned Michael Langford after the first letter, but he denied knowing anything and there was little
evidence to connect him. Because the police’s interview
was before the second letter, some believed it would have
been especially reckless for Langford to continue sending letters. As well, those who knew him
largely vouched for Langford, thinking him incapable
of writing the letters. – [Ryan] I’m pretty done with
neighbors and family members saying “I can’t believe
you could’ve done this. “No one could’ve seen it coming.” – [Shane] “I’ll tell you
what, that John Wayne Gacy “is the sweetest fella I know.” – [Ryan] “Ted Bundy, “he’s got the eyes of
just the kindest man.” – [Shane] “A real dreamboat.” – [Ryan] Yeah, “There’s no
way Ted could’ve done that.” – [Shane] “Charming as all hell.” – [Ryan] You know what
serial killers are good at? Being charming. That’s how they get you
in so they could kill you. So I’m just done with
that whole narrative. – [Narrator] The Broaddus
family, working with the police, sent a letter to the Langfords, telling them they were planning
on demolishing the house in hopes of drawing The
Watcher to write again. There was no response. Casting doubt on Langford
is a test later performed on one of the envelopes, which found DNA that belonged to a woman. Thinking Michael’s sister,
Abby, may be The Watcher, an investigator compared the
DNA to that from a water bottle used by Abby. No match. Shortly after this DNA test,
and without explanation, prosecutors informed Derek and Maria that they had ruled out any
of the Langfords as suspects, which brings us to our third suspect. The Broaddus family themselves. Locals found it suspicious
that the Broaddus family was over the years able to
move from a $315,000 home to a $770,000 home to a $1.3 million home with refinanced mortgages. Some accused the family of
getting in over their heads with the home, and turning to a desperate
ploy to get out of it. Some neighbors wondered
why the Broaddus family kept renovating the house after they decided they wouldn’t move in. When major movie studios
began courting the family for the rights to their story, a big media deal could’ve
been more motivation for concocting The Watcher. What’s more, I mentioned
that some local families received anonymous threatening letters after the planning commission
rejected the Broaddus’s proposal to split the lot. Those letters turned out
to be written by Derek. – [Ryan] Look, this guy’s nicer than me. I think if people denied my proposal and I saw that they were
speaking out about it, I’m confronting them in the parking lot. I’m not doing it through anonymity. – Friends of Ryan Bergara aren’t gonna be- – Oh the friends of Ryan Bergara are right here and right here.
– Hohohoho! (laughs) – And they’re gonna be goin’ face to face in that parking lot. – He’ll get ya. – You don’t need a case for that. – Yeah, he’ll get ya. – Don’t bring the investigator,
bring the ambulance. – Hohohoho! (laughs) I love it.
– Yeah, yeah, that’s right. – That’s scary. – [Ryan] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. – [Narrator] Derek claims
those letters were the only anonymous letters he’s ever
sent and were the result of years of frustration
at his family’s plight and the neighborhood’s
seeming ambivalence. As well, the psychological
trauma from the letters alone makes the Broaddus family
being The Watcher seem thin. Casting more doubt on the
theory that the Broaddus family is The Watcher, a later
investigation found that another family on the
Boulevard had also received a note from The Watcher around the time the Broaddus’s received their first. Just like the previous
owners, the Woods family, that family had lived
in the house for years without a problem and
threw the letter away. But if the Broaddus family was trying to get out of their home
or make a movie deal, why send a letter to
another house as well? – [Shane] Seems a bit
preposterous that someone would make up a mystery about themselves and hope to sell movie rights, basically. – Pretty far fetched. How do you explain that to your kids? The psychological trauma
you’re going through. “You know what’d be a really
fun role play exercise “to bring us together as a family? “What if we pretended, now picture this, “that a man was gonna
murder you in your sleep? “Thoughts?” Unless of course, the
children were in on it and they’re in a writer’s room. They’re walkin’ around, a white board. – The kids are pitchin’. – [Ryan] And the kids are pitchin’. – They’re puttin’ little
index cards up on the wall. – And they’re riffin’, snappin’ around. Maybe. – “I know you’ve got him
threatening the house. “What if he goes after us? “Yeah, the kids.” – And then Dad was like
(click fingers) “Write it, “write it down.”
– The three-year-old pipes up, “His father was a Watcher “and so was his father before him.” – Oh my God, legacy,
it’s a legacy stalker. I love it.
– “I know I’m new to this.” “I know.”
– I love it. Print it. – [Narrator] What makes
the case of The Watcher so fascinating is the limited
number of potential suspects, coupled with the complete lack of evidence that has stymied investigators’
ability to make progress. This case is very recent, so there’s a chance we
haven’t heard the last from The Watcher. Perhaps some future note
will provide the key clue to identifying the person responsible. But until then, the case remains unsolved. (suspenseful strings) (ominous music) – Overall, a very frustrating case. This dude could be anybody. He caused no physical harm but he caused lots of mental harm, financial harm. People get away with things
all the time in the past because forensic technology wasn’t there. This is two years ago. This is a little bit scarier. – But at the same time, we do live in a bit of
a surveillance state. You go to the store to
buy a bag of chips … – Apparently not enough.
– … they got you on 10 different cameras. I’m sayin’ maybe the way of the world has
prevented him from really … – Doing something. – … doin’ worse. – So he could just write it
out, but he can’t act it out. – Yeah, that’s right. Who watches The Watcher? (ominous music)

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100 Replies to “The Eerie Case Of The Watcher”

  1. I live 15mins from this house an I can tell you that this story was a giant joke, I've grown up all around NJ my whole life you wanna do a a creeper story do one on the devil's tower in NJ or the city of little people

  2. I clicked on the video and immediately got a add for Nord.vpn and it opened like this "someone's watching? Now they're not…"

  3. How can it be the current family doing it when the previous family has had a note come in before the current family even owned the home ?

  4. Update: The family who bought the home finally sold it for $400,000 less than its estimated worth. There are theories that The Watcher has bought the home but these are only speculation as of the posting of this comment.

  5. The comment about videos games got me thinking, what if you got actual tickets for GTA traffic violations lmao

  6. What if it’s the judge. I mean he clearly didn’t want to split the house into two. So what if that was his way of keeping the family there?

  7. why didn't they just get cameras, a German shepherd, a PI, security system and a gun…? that's what I would do and move tf in!

  8. I feel like it’s almost 100% that The Watcher has seen this. He’s probably googled or YouTubed “the Watcher” at some point especially considering the notoriety the case received, and this video would pop up. Sleep tight, boys.

  9. Can you make an episode of petscop it's a real game that started in 1996 and the family story was in 1977 and 1966

  10. I'm sorry, but receiving a few creepy letters does not constitute a "traumatic event". People claim mental illness over the most ridiculous things these days. I smelled a fart! Now I suffer from depression a PTSD! Quick get me some pills! It's like everywhere I go I smell nothing but farts. I can't get away from their retched stench! The farts are clearly out to get me! I must have sympathy… and medication! Give me a break! I could see this situation as being both stressful and concerning, but PTSD? Um, no. Sorry. People have become way to fragile these days.

  11. Have you guys ever heard of the Amityville horrors? When you guys say why would a family make up a story about themselves. That is exactly what that family did. So it's not unheard of.

  12. Police suspected the Watcher to be in a three hundred yard radius.
    Since they know the time span since when the Watcher had taken over it must have been easy to find the person?

    How old is the Watcher then?

    Com’on it is 2019… there are ways to solve mysteries like this???

  13. Bro just put a fuckin camera in a bush beside the mailbox
    I dont need a degree in criminology to figure out how to crack this case
    Motherfuckin duh bro like wow

  14. You can buy a listening device which allows you to hear people at least a football field lenght , these days we have no privacy those days are gone! Its very discrete it looks like your wearing ear speakers which you are except although it looks like the person is listening to music through his or hers. cellphone there not its a voyuer,spy, creep or WORSE..

  15. August 2019, "The Watcher" is still sending letters to new residents,the recent owner sold the house and left after receiving threatening letters from "The Watcher".How the culprit hasn't been caught yet is beyond me considering the forensic science,CCTV,Private investigators available.

  16. Saw the story on abc news the family have sold the house for a discounted price will the watch continue with the homeowners…

  17. @@ it's insane that this is considered 'unsolved' when it's super obvious they're con artists who did all this themselves.. they deserve to be in prison. check out his Twitter and see what an obvious unstable opportunist he is. these people are despicable and every step of the way it's so obvious what they did and why.

  18. Honestly if I lived there and I got that watcher letter I’d get a huge banner and put it above the door saying

  19. Okay so from new Jerseys and actually Westfield is a city over and this case had my whole neighborhood terrified, even though we thought was fake everyone locked doors and windows

  20. It was a movie. I remembered watched it 2/3 years ago. Somebody came to the house and got a job as a carpenter to help the new homeowner fix his house and turned out the carpenter was the decendant of longtime ago the original owner.

  21. He seems like an english teacher wierdo trying to entertain by scaring the people and he sometimes overdoses his madness in writtig letters

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