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‘The Watcher’ house terrified Westfield neighbors for years

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Living the suburban dream became a living nightmare for neighbors living nearby “The Watcher” home at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, Recent Jersey. 

The seemingly idyllic town outside of Manhattan has been riddled with news trucks and unrest ever since Derek and Maria Broaddus purchased the huge six-bedroom house for $1.3 million in June, 2014. Days after moving in, they received their first harrowing note signed, “The Watcher.”

Their haunted house story is the premise for the brand new Netflix show with the identical name, but in real life, neighbors were shaken up for years, and lots of are still questioning what really happened, residents say.  

“It was type of freaky. When you know Westfield, it’s more of a quiet town, more family oriented. When that story got here out, it definitely struck people,” Ralph Bencivenga, 54, an owner at Bovella’s Pastry Shoppe in Westfield, who has been a lifelong resident working lower than a mile from “The Watcher,” house told The Post.

Bobby Cannavale stars within the Netflix series “The Watcher,” based on a real story. In real life, neighbors were haunted by the mystery for years. Netflix/The Hollywood Archive

Ralph, the owner of the bakeryMarco Avella (left) and Ralph Bencivenga (right), an owner at Bovella’s Pastry Shoppe in Westfield, Recent Jersey.Courtesy of Bovella’s Pastry Shoppe

The house was the topic of the 2018 Recent York Magazine story detailing The Broaddus’ harrowing home buying experience in 2014 once they received a letter addressed to “The Recent Owner” with the anonymous scribe claiming he was answerable for watching the house.

Each letter included personal details concerning the owners, their home and their children and that they wanted the home stuffed with “young blood.” The Watcher also wrote that the house had been “the topic of my family for a long time” and that they were waiting for its “second coming.” 

“How did you find yourself here?” the author asked in the primary letter to the family. “Did 657 Boulevard call to you with its force inside?”

“657 Boulevard has been the topic of my family for a long time now and because it approaches its one hundred and tenth birthday, I actually have been put answerable for watching and waiting for its second coming,” the anonymous writer wrote in a single letter, claiming their grandfather watched the home within the Twenties, and their father watched within the Sixties.

Jennifer Coolidge, Naomi Watts, Bobby Cannavale, in The house was the topic of the 2018 Recent York Magazine story detailing The Broaddus’ harrowing experience in 2014.Netflix/The Hollywood Archive /

“It’s now my time. Do the history of the home? Do what lies inside the partitions of 657 Boulevard? Why are you here? I’ll discover.”

Bencivenga said the news spread like wildfire within the town, and the allegations didn’t sit well with residents, lots of whom were young families.

“There was at all times talk concerning the house. I’m sure people decided to maneuver out no less than out of that area,” Bencivenga said, recalling the 2015 investigation. “That area where it happened is a very beautiful area. It’s not too removed from schools. It was a weird situation.”

The Westfield police department conducted a lengthy investigation, with the Broadduses hiring a retired NYPD officer, forensic linguist and a former FBI agent to trace down any suspects, nevertheless, they never had any leads or evidence and no useful information was pulled after checking the envelopes for fingerprints, in line with Recent York Magazine.

Bencivenga recalled the house being a tough sell after the Broadduses moved out, noting that his son’s friend’s family rented the house in 2020.

“No person desired to live in the home. My son’s friend lived there for 2 years, and my son used to go there and hang around. He never noticed anything. He knew about ‘The Watcher,’ but it surely didn’t phase him. They simply needed a rental in Westfield and that was their only alternative,” Bencivenga said.

One other resident, Kimberly Sorrentino, who has lived on The Boulevard for 30 years told The U.S. Sun she “seriously contemplated” buying the Broaddus family’s home when it went up on the market. While other residents told the outlet they underwent voluntary DNA testing through the investigation into the mystery missives. 

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