Isabel Marie Gravitt as Ellie Brannock, Luke David Blumm as Carter Brannock, Bobby Cannavale as Dean Brannock, Naomi Watts as Nora Brannock in episode 107 of The Watcher
Source: Netflix

Ryan Murphy Is Bringing a Real-Life Unsolved Stalker Story to Our Screens

Jamie Lerner - Author
By

Sep. 27 2022, Published 5:51 p.m. ET

Imagine moving into your dream home, just to get a letter taunting and threatening you and your family a few days later.

This is what the Broaddus family went through when they moved into 657 Boulevard in Westfield, N.J., in 2014. Derek and Maria Broaddus bought a 1905-built home for $1.3 million, but before they even moved in, they got a menacing letter from an anonymous stalker who nicknamed themself “The Watcher.”

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Their story gained popularity after a 2018 article in The Cut. And now, Netflix is telling a fictionalized account of the Broaddus family’s tale in the new Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan joint The Watcher, starring Naomi Watts, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Coolidge, and more.

Is The Watcher based on the Broaddus family’s true story? When is its release date? And what is the Broaddus family up to now?

Jennifer Coolidge as Karen Calhoun, Naomi Watts as Nora Brannock, Bobby Cannavale as Dean Brannock in episode 101 of The Watcher.
Source: Netflix

Jennifer Coolidge as Karen Calhoun, Naomi Watts as Nora Brannock, Bobby Cannavale as Dean Brannock in 'The Watcher.'

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Netflix’s ‘The Watcher’ is based on the true story of the Broaddus family.

Like many other Ryan Murphy series, The Watcher is based on a true story. But this combines the best of both worlds with aspects of horror, like American Horror Story, as well as truth, like in American Crime Story and DAHMER - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.

Back in 2014, Derek and Maria bought 657 Boulevard, but they quickly received a foreboding anonymous letter from “The Watcher.”

Luke David Blumm as Carter Brannock, Isabel Marie Gravitt as Ellie Brannock, Bobby Cannavale as Dean Brannock, Naomi Watts as Nora Brannock in episode 101 of The Watcher
Source: Netflix

Luke David Blumm as Carter Brannock, Isabel Marie Gravitt as Ellie Brannock, Bobby Cannavale as Dean Brannock, Naomi Watts as Nora Brannock in 'The Watcher'

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One of the first letters had spooky quotes, such as, “Do you know what lies within the walls of 657 Boulevard? Why are you here? I will find out.”

The Watcher identified the Broadduses’ car, their three kids, and more about the family that only someone who really is watching them could know. But the town was skeptical.

Although Derek Broaddus got the cops on the case, and even went as far as to hire private investigators, FBI agents, and more, no culprit was ever found. And the town itself believed that the Broadduses could have been sending the letters themselves because of buyer’s remorse, although that would be an extremely elaborate plan just to get out of buying their house.

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Now, the Broaddus family is still reeling from the Watcher before the new series is released.

Perhaps the Netflix series will help the Broadus family catch the culprit. At first, the Broadduses stayed in Westfield — it’s where Maria grew up, and where they were set on raising their kids. In the official story from The Cut, Derek said of their experience, “It’s like cancer. We think about it every day.” They eventually sold the house in 2019 at a $400,000 loss, although the new family hasn’t received any mysterious letters from the Watcher … yet.

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The Broaddus family moved to a different home under an LLC so that they’d have privacy at their new address. Unsurprisingly, we can’t find too much information about the Broaddus family — the main part of their story in The Watcher is that they were stalked, so it’s unlikely they want any information about them out in public.

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Even still, Derek Broaddus has an active Twitter, in which he shares tweets about stalkers, unsolved cold cases, child safety, and a bit about his own experience with the Watcher.`

The release date of ‘The Watcher’ is set for Oct. 13, 2022, on Netflix.

While we’re not sure exactly how closely The Watcher will stick to its source material, it’s set to release on Netflix on Oct. 13, so we’ll find out soon enough. The new series stars Naomi Watts as Nora Brannock, Bobby Cannavale as Dean Brannock, Jennifer Coolidge as a realtor, Mia Farrow as a kooky neighbor, and many more.

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Mia Farrow as Pearl Winslow, Terry Kinney as Jasper Winslow in episode 103 of The Watcher.
Source: Netflix

Mia Farrow as Pearl Winslow and Terry Kinney as Jasper Winslow 'The Watcher.'

With Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan behind it, we know The Watcher will send spine shivers akin to those the actual Broaddus family must have gotten when they read the Watcher’s first note.

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