‘Watchman’: Please Don’t Think About Visiting the Royal House

      Haunted houses are no longer just for Halloween. Ryan Murphy’s new series on Netflix, Vigilant, tackles another real-life crime story. This time, the story is less bloody than that of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Storybut scary in a way that can happen more often.

      Vigilant is Ryan Murphy’s dramatic play about the terrifying events that took place in a New Jersey home. For our purpose in this article, we are going to talk about the real story. (The story behind the real haunting of the house of Vigilant is more complicated and less supernatural than the TV series would have you believe). The real life family she is inspired by Vigilant, the Broadduses, bought a new house in Westfield, New Jersey, in June 2014. They immediately received threatening letters in their mailbox, signed by someone who considered himself the “Watchman.” The letters made it clear that someone was watching the family and threatening the safety of their children.

      The situation caused the Broadduses great psychological distress, as it became clear that they were being coerced into leaving their new home. His experience was published in The Cut, quickly becoming an internet sensation. Although Murphy’s adaptation of the story includes connections to QAnon, supernatural entities, and secret passageways, the real-life story is disturbing enough on its own. And since this place really exists, you may be wondering: what ended up happening to the house of Vigilant?

      Where is the Watchman’s House and what happened there?

      The famous house is located in an affluent suburban neighborhood. The actual address of the house is 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey. It’s where Derek and Maria Broaddus bought their dream home. They began to renovate the house, painting and redecorating it. However, they hadn’t even moved in when threatening letters signed by the Watcher began to appear in their mailbox. These letters had no return address and were only addressed to “The New Owners”. This meant that the author of the letters had physically delivered them by hand. The family had just bought the house three days ago, when Derek found the first of the anonymous writer’s letters. The first letter included this passage:

      657 Boulevard can’t wait for you to move in. Years and years have passed since young blood ruled the halls of the house. Have you already found all the secrets it keeps? Will the youngsters play in the basement? Or are they too afraid to go down there alone? I, in his place, would be very scared. It is far from the rest of the house. If you were upstairs you wouldn’t hear them screaming.

      The note evidently disturbed the Broadduses, because it was clear that the person who wrote it had already begun to monitor them. The letter included details about the type of car they were driving, the renovation company employees who were working on their home and, most disturbingly, their children. As the letters continued, the family realized that they were being terrorized by this anonymous person, and that he would be relentless in his attempt to drive the family out of the house. The Broaddus tried to work with the police, lawyers and even the city council to stand up to the Vigilante. But ultimately, his only recourse was to sell his dream home. However, selling the property, which became a local sensation for being embattled and embroiled in conflict, was almost as difficult as keeping it. The Broaddus tried to be transparent with new buyers about the Watcher’s harassment, which did not bode well for potential buyers. The letters hinted that the writer of the letters had been around for a long time… and that he would never leave them alone. The following excerpt from a letter details this threat:

      “Every window and door on 657 Boulevard allows me to watch and follow you as you move through the house. Who am I? I’m the Watcher and I’ve been in control of 657 Boulevard for nearly two decades. The Woods family gave it to you. It was its time to move on and they kindly sold it when i asked.

      I pass by there many times a day. 657 Boulevard is my work, my life, my obsession. And now it’s also from the Braddus family.”

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      Unlike the family in Murphy’s adaptation of the story, the Broadduses never actually moved into the house while being harassed. They valued the security and tranquility of their family more than property. Who can blame them? And the Watcher was never caught.

      Who bought the House of the Observer?

      In order to sell the property, the Broaduses had to lower the asking price significantly. In 2019, the Watchman’s House was finally sold for $959,000 to an anonymous buyer. The Broaddus family lost $400,000 in the sale. Although it took them a long time to leave their dream home, they were also able to shake off the Nightmare of the Watcher. But if you’re morbidly curious as to what might have happened had the Broadduses moved into the infamous house, Ryan Murphy tells us all that and more at Vigilant.

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‘Watchman’: Please Don’t Think About Visiting the Royal House