Westfield, New Jersey is a town that many residents compare to the idyllic Mayberry from The Andy Griffith Show. Only forty-five minutes from New York City, it’s a nice community in which to raise a family.
For one couple, their dream of living there turned into a nightmare.
On a June night in 2014, Derek Broaddus went outside to check his mail. He had been busy painting at his home in Westfield, New Jersey. He and his wife, Maria, had closed on the six-bedroom Dutch Colonial house three days earlier. They decided to do some renovations before moving in.
As Derek thumbed through the mail, he discovered a white, card-shaped envelope addressed in thick handwriting to “The New Owner.” Curious, he looked inside to find a type-written note. It began with a friendly greeting.
Dearest new neighbor at 657 Boulevard, allow me to welcome you to the neighborhood.
Buying the home was a longtime dream for Derek and his wife. Maria was raised in Westfield, only a few blocks away. Derek grew up in Maine, but worked for an insurance company in Manhattan, working his way up the ladder to the position of senior vice-president. His salary enabled the family to afford the $1.3 million house.
Westfield, New Jersey. Photo by Donald Siano, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
As Derek continued to read the letter, the tone changed.
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.
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 too [sic] me.
Derek phoned the police. When an officer came to investigate, he asked Broaddus if he had enemies and suggested moving a piece of construction equipment from the back porch.
Two weeks later, Maria stopped by the house to check the mail. Once again, there was a card-shaped envelope. She phoned the police. By now, The Watcher knew their names.
The workers have been busy, and I have been watching you… Have they found what is in the walls yet? In time they will…. I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought to me. You certainly say their names often.
The writer indicated he/she could watch and track their movements. Derek and Maria stopped bringing their kids to the house. A third letter arrived asking, “Where have you gone to? 657 Boulevard is missing you.”
Workers completed the renovations within a few months. By that time, Derek and Maria were uncertain about moving in. Letters had continued to come. The Broaddus family hired a private detective and enlisted the help of a former FBI Agent.
For a time, the Westfield police suspected the next-door neighbor who suffered from schizophrenia. However, a DNA sample from the envelopes didn’t match him or anyone in his family. To this day, police have not identified another suspect.
Six months after the first letter arrived, Derek and Maria put the house on the market, asking for more than they paid. However, after they disclosed the letters to potential buyers, each offer fell through.
Some speculated the Broaddus family had sent the letters to themselves, saying they had purchased a house they couldn’t afford. One person said, “How can a couple with a $300,000 house and a $175,000 mortgage ten years ago have a $1.1 million mortgage?”
Finally, in July 2019, the house sold for $959,000—a significant loss for the family, considering they also spent approximately 100K on renovations. But, as one website said, “It’s perhaps a small price to pay for peace of mind.”
It’s unknown if the new owners have received any correspondence from the watcher, and his or her identity has never been discovered.