When it comes to unsolved mysteries, people can't help but hop down the rabbit hole, desperate to come to their own conclusions like wannabe Sherlock Holmes. The cases of JonBenét Ramsey, the Zodiac Killer, and the Yuba County Five continue to leave amateur investigators scratching their noggins. More recently, the chilling unsolved case of the Westfield Watcher — which is the subject of Netflix's new thriller series The Watcher — has America scraping for clues.
Derek and Maria Broaddus, whose story was first brought to light by The Cut's Reeves Wiedeman in 2018, endured hell on Earth after purchasing their $1.3 million dream home at 657 Boulevard, Westfield, N.J., in 2014. Without ever actually moving into the 1905 Dutch colonial, the Broadduses and their three children were driven away by a mysterious stalker who called themself "The Watcher." This twisted individual sent a series of ominous and increasingly personal letters to the house, targeting the Broadduses and making them fear for their safety.
"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," the first letter read, per The Cut.
Later letters, addressed the family by name, pointed to the children's hobbies (the writer saw one child in particular using an easel inside an enclosed porch), and ever so vaguely suggested revenge may be brewing. "Maybe a car accident. Maybe a fire. Maybe something as simple as a mild illness that never seems to go away," the Watcher wrote, taunting the panic-stricken Broadduses.
Did we mention the Watcher referred to the children as "young blood"? We know, chills.
Though police, private investigators, former FBI agents, and a renowned forensic linguist attempted to catch the culprit, the Watcher was never identified. Considering this person left no digital trail and no fingerprints, who could they be?
A few neighborhood suspects stood out during the Watcher investigation.
In a desperate attempt to secure a suspect, Derek initially thought the Watcher could be his neighbor Michael Langford. Considering the odd bird was in his 60s, didn't work, and lived directly next door to the Broadduses — giving him a perfect view of the enclosed porch — Derek was suspicious.
See, the Langford family had lived there since the '60s, which was when the Watcher's father allegedly spied on 657 Boulevard. "Richard Langford, the family patriarch, had died 12 years earlier, and the current Watcher claimed to have been on the job for 'the better part of two decades,'" The Cut wrote. Though the dots seemingly connected, police questioned Michael twice, finding no link between him and the letters.
A woman's DNA was found on one of the Watcher's envelopes, making Michael's sister, real-estate agent Abby Langford, a suspect. Her DNA was determined not to be a match.
A theory proposes that the Watcher was someone jealous of the Broaddus family's money.
“Are you one of those Hoboken transplants who are ruining Westfield?” the writer questioned. Given the Watcher's implied hatred for new money and disappointment regarding the Broadduses' renovations on 657 Boulevard, former FBI agent Robert Lenehan suggested the Broadduses direct their attention to former housekeepers "or their descendants." Was the Watcher perhaps... jelly? Nothing came of this.
In relation to financial status, there's even a theory suggesting the Watcher could be a resentful stranger who was outbid on the house.
Was the Watcher an avid gamer?
When veteran detective Barron Chambliss was working on the case, he grew suspicious of a car that stopped in front of 657 Boulevard one night. The car belonged to a woman whose boyfriend lived on the same block as the Broadduses. She relayed that he was into “some really dark video games,” and even played as a character named ... "The Watcher." We know, the alarm bells are going off. Though this mysterious gamer agreed to come in for questioning, he never showed up.
Nothing came of this lead, either.
Of course, many people believe the Broadusses themselves were behind the letters, possibly scamming the neighborhood due to a case of buyer's remorse. Some have even pointed to the fact that Derek Broaddus is from Portland, Maine — aka the same hometown as iconic horror author Stephen King. Could he have been inspired by Stephen's twisted stories? Admittedly, it's a stretch.
If you hop on Reddit, you'll find countless conspiracy theories as to who the Watcher could be. For now, however, the Watcher could be anyone. Even you.
The Watcher premieres on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, on Netflix.