Have you heard about the Westfield “Watcher” house in New Jersey that recently came back on the market? If not, here’s a quick recap:
- The current homeowners, the Broaddus family, bought the house in 2014 for $1.35 million.
- They claim that shortly after closing they received a menacing letter from an unidentified person that contained the following creepy declaration: “My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time.”
- They also claimed other letters stated things like: “Have they found what is in the walls yet? In time they will …” and “I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought to me.”
- Consequently, due to the letters, the Broaddus family never moved into the home.
- Instead, the Broaddus’ sued the previous homeowners, John and Andrea Woods, for failing to reveal the house had a stalker. (Or, rather, “failing to disclose that someone had a mentally disturbed fixation on the house.”)
- The Broaddus’ wanted not only the purchase price of the house back, but “treble” (triple) damages because they were “unable to live in the home without extreme anxiety and fear for their children’s safety and well-being.”
- The Woods’ contend they had lived in the home since the 1960s and had ever only received one letter from “The Watcher” –a week before closing.
- The Broaddus’ tried to re-sell the home for $1.5 million in 2015, but then took it off the market.
- They’ve recently relisted it for $1.25 million (less than their original purchase price).
Delving Deeper Into the Westfield Watcher Mystery
I vaguely remember when this story first went viral last year. I thought it was odd but didn’t pay much mind to it.
This time it caught my attention and I had time to look into it further, so I did.
I found a lot of great coverage on NJ.com, NYDailyNews.com, and NBCNews.com, but my favorite article was on the Gothamist.com by Lauren Evans, I Went to Westfield, NJ To Track Down The Watcher.
Evans had spoken to a former resident of the home, Bill Shaffer, who had lived there from 1955 to 1963 –sans any ominous letters or any knowledge of anyone ever watching him and his family. (Keep in mind, today’s Watcher says his father was watching back then. Maybe he just had less of an epistolary nature?)
Anyway, Evans also received info that the neighbors in the area knew the watcher was a “local crazy” who lived on the street with his parents. They didn’t like to talk about it, for fear the harmless, yet disturbed, person would harass them.
A Reporter’s Jaunt in Search of the Westfield Watcher
Evans ventured to Westfield to try and dig up more info. She couldn’t find anyone who was all that enthused talking about the whole mess to begin with.
Because guess what? This story put Westfield on the map and curiosity-seekers came to see the infamous “Watcher House” –and to try and pry juicy details from the locals.
Locals didn’t appreciate nosy strangers snooping around. Understandably. That kind of thing could wear on your nerves and patience after awhile.
So Evans received a polite, but not overly warm, welcome.
However, she did speak with one of the neighbors who had lived on the block for 13 years. He verified he had never heard of a local crazy in the area.
Then she spoke with Horace Corbin, the publisher of the Westfield Leader, the local paper. He offered a theory with an intriguing twist. (Hey, all good mysteries need at least one, right?)
The Westfield Watcher Twist
Corbin suspects the whole thing is a hoax. Here’s why:
- The Broaddus’ only filed their lawsuit against the Woods’ a year after they were supposedly scared off from living in the home.
- They claimed to have spent hundreds of thousands on home renovations, yet neighbors never saw work being done now were any permits filed with the city.
- The Broaddus’ never reported the Watcher letters to the police.
Evans didn’t report that Corbin blamed the Broaddus’ straight out for perpetrating a hoax, but the insinuation was there:
“How can a couple with a $300,000 house in Scotch Plains and $175,000 mortgage 10 years ago have a $1.1 million mortgage at a mortgage rate that doesn’t make sense?”…He pointed out that records show the new owners having had 12 mortgages in the past 10 years….
Corbin feels confident the house will go in a short sale. “It’s going to go quietly into some legal settlement in the background—and then there will be no Watcher!” He laughs.
Hmmm…very interesting. Not to mention shady sounding.
Westfield Watcher: Hoax or Obsession?
Did the Broaddus’ realize they’d bitten off more mortgage than they could chew and needed some way to pay their bills? Did they create a “watcher” story with the intention of suing the previous owners to try and cash in?
If so, what was their inspiration?
To me it sounds like it could’ve been a combo of Phantom of the Opera (for the stalker aspect) and the Amityville House. (The Westfield house shares certain characteristics with the Amityville house, doesn’t it? Especially the windows from a side view, as demonstrated in the following photos.)
Or is the Westfield “Watcher” house really haunted by a stalker who is obsessed with the property?
What do you think?