A New Jersey family terrorized for years by a mysterious figure only known as “The Watcher” shared new details of the harrowing ordeal in an interview published Tuesday.
When Derek and Maria Broaddus bought their home in Westfield in 2014, they fulfilled a lifelong dream -- but soon after closing, it became a nightmare, as the family began getting letters from “The Watcher," a shadowy figure who cryptically referred to "secrets" hidden in the house, according to The Cut.
The Watcher also appeared to threaten the Broadduses' three children -- by name.
“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,” one letter read, according to The Cut. “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.”
The family members eventually reached their breaking point and went to live with Maria’s parents. The Broadduses first attempted to sell the home, which they had bought for nearly $1.4 million, but they couldn’t find a buyer.
“I was a depressed wreck,” Derek told The Cut. “It’s like cancer. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night thinking, ‘What would my life be like if this didn’t happen?’ We lost Christmas a couple times, and you don’t get that back.”
Maria told the outlet she would have terrifying nightmares about The Watcher, including one dream involving a man “wearing these boots and carrying a pitchfork and calling to the kids.”
The letters were delivered to the Broaddus' home through the mail. The letters had been processed at a U.S. Postal Service distribution center in Kearny, located about 20 miles northeast of Westfield.
The Broadduses contacted the home's previous owners to see if they, too, had been subjected to The Watcher's torment.
Andrea Woods, who had lived at the home with her husband, John, told the Broaddus family she once received a letter from a person claiming it was their turn to "watch" the house, too, according to The Cut. But Andrea said it was the only such letter she received in 23 years at the Westfield property and she ended up just throwing it away.
The increasingly desperate Broaddus family then called in several experts -- including a former FBI agent -- to crack the case. But that investigation has stalled and only succeeded in ruling a few suspects out.
Some neighbors have even accused the family of making the mystery up.
“There’s a natural tendency to say, ‘I’ve lived here for 35 years; nothing’s happened to me,’” Derek Broaddus said. “What happened to my family is an affront to their contention that they’re safe, that there’s no such thing as mental illness in their community. People don’t want to believe this could happen in Westfield.”
The Broaddus family no longer lives at the home and instead, is renting it out. Derek Broaddus told The Cut he and his wife try to avoid the house unless they absolutely have to and noted the family is losing money, as the rent paid doesn’t cover the property's mortgage.
"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?"
One day after the new tenants moved in, Derek went to the house to try and chase away some squirrels who'd taken up residence in the roof. But when he got there, one of the renters handed him a letter addressed to the “vile and spiteful Derek and his wench of a wife Maria.”
“You wonder who The Watcher is? Turn around idiots," the letter said. "Maybe you even spoke to me, one of the so called neighbors who has no idea who The Watcher could be. Or maybe you do know and are too scared to tell anyone. Good move.”
Derek Broaddus brought the letter to police, but investigators came up empty again.