In a quiet bedroom community in New Jersey, past the quaint mom-and-pop shops that line downtown, a million-dollar dream home buried behind decades-old trees sits empty. The new owners who bought it last summer are scared to move in and no one else seems to want to buy it from them.
That’s because someone claims to be watching it — and those who live there.
A mysterious stalker who calls himself the “Watcher” has forced a family to flee their home in Westfield, N.J., out of fear for their children’s safety. He purportedly wrote a letter to the previous owners telling them “bring me young blood.” When the new owners bought the house, he told them it had been “the subject of my family for decades,” according to court records.
The situation may sound like fiction but, for one family, the situation is real.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 24, 2015
The new homeowners, Derek and Maria Broaddus, filed a civil complaint in Union County Superior Court earlier this month, suing the previous owners for “knowingly and willfully” failing to disclose the home’s history — namely telling them about the “Watcher,” who “claims a right of ownership and/or possession” of the house.
Since then, Westfield — a town where the former NBC TV show “Ed” was shot — has been thrust into a national spotlight with headlines reading ‘The Watcher’ scares couple into fleeing and “‘I am the Watcher. Bring me young blood.'”
Westfield police and Union County Prosecutor’s Office have been investigating the chilling letters, spokesman Mark Spivey told NJ.com. And Westfield Mayor Andrew Skibitsky addressed residents Tuesday night at a town council meeting, asking anyone with information about the “Watcher” to speak up.
“Our police department conducted an exhaustive investigation based on the factual circumstances and evidence available,” he said. “Although it would not be appropriate to discuss the details of the investigation. … We have spoken with the Union County Prosecutor’s Office to make sure no stone is left unturned.”
Still, much is unsettled for the Broadduses who never called their house a home.
The Broadduses finalized their decision to call the community their own on June 2, 2014, when they bought their $1.3 million “dream” home, a six-bedroom house where they wanted to raise their children, according to the complaint. The real estate Web site Zillow describes the house as a nearly 4,000-square-foot “grand turn-of-the century home“:
Period features include high ceilings, coffered ceilings, elegant foyers, built-in window seats, fireplaces and more. The stunning master suite boasts a custom dressing room / closet and a renovated bath. Two porches, a covered, open front porch and an enclosed side sun-porch (27 x 11) with stone fireplace add to the inviting appeal. An open staircase leads to the third floor with sitting area, two bedrooms and renovated bath with skylight. A finished playroom is located in basement.
Three days after the Broadduses bought it, they got a letter from the “Watcher.”
“My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time,” it read, according to the complaint. “I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming.”
“Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested?” it read. “Once I know their names I will call to them and draw them out to me.”
In two more letters, dated June 18 and July 18, he wrote, “Have they found out what is in the walls yet?” the complaint stated. “In time they will.”
“I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought to me,” one read. “Will the young bloods play in the basement?
“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.”
In one letter he reportedly said that the home’s windows and doors “allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house.”
“Who I am?” it read. “I am the Watcher.”
Then came ominous notes that seemed to show someone was stalking them.
“You have changed it and made it so fancy,” one letter reportedly read. “It cries for the past and what used to be in the time when I roamed its halls. … When I ran from room to room imagining the life with the rich occupants there.
“And now I watch and wait for the day when the young blood will be mine again.”
“I am in charge,” of the home, one letter reportedly read. “Let the young blood play again like I once did” and “stop changing it and let it alone.”
In the complaint, the Broadduses’ attorney Lee Levitt wrote that the couple “have been consumed daily by stress, anxiety and fear regarding what ‘The Watcher’ will do.” The couple said they would have never bought the house had they known about the “Watcher” and have been too concerned for their family’s safety to move in.
At one point, the couple relisted the house for sale, according to the civil complaint. But the house has since been taken off the market.
The Broadduses claim in the complaint that the “Watcher” mentioned in at least one letter that he had also written to the previous owners. Now the couple is suing the previous owners, as well as Chicago Title Insurance Company and A Absolute Escrow Settlement Company, for common law fraud, equitable fraud and emotional distress, among other things, for failing to tell them about the “Watcher” when they bought the house.
“I would be pretty upset if I bought a house and found out that the previous owners knew about it,” Westfield resident Robert Hagen told CBS New York.
As for the “Watcher,” no charges have been filed in the case, the station reported. Westfield Police were not immediately available for comment.