You can file this story under "BOLT THE DOORS, BOARD THE WINDOWS, HOLD YOUR CATS CLOSE."
Have you all heard what's been going on in New Jersey?
In Westfield, New Jersey the Broaddus family has abandoned their $1.3 million home after being plagued with terrifying letters from an individual who calls himself "The Watcher."
To me, "terrifying" doesn't even begin to describe the shit the family has had to endure. I admit there's a sort of perverse fascination, even thrill, from the media regarding "The Watcher" and the Broaddus's experience. I mean, this really is the stuff of horror movies. But the core of this story is that the actual, documented psychological assault that one human can inflict upon another, is scarier than any ghost story I can think of.
I find the events of this story cruel — a word that can be exclusively reserved for humans. Even if it's a dumb prank (which many commenters across the web have cried out — some in the distastefully callous way only the Internet can summon) that's been stoked by media coverage, we're reading about peoples' lives here.
And while the details of the "The Watcher" story send our creepy little minds reeling — Could there be any truth to the letters? Is this a prank? Is there ritualistic or occult involvement? — I do ask Creepy Corneristas, that you remember that a family with three young children are in the middle of this story.
On June 5, 2014, a few days after closing on a "dream home" (according to lawsuit documentation) on 657 Boulevard in Westfield, the Broaddus family received a mysterious letter. The letter, the first of several, were from an individual who identified himself as "The Watcher."
(NOTE: Everything I've found indicates that "The Watcher" is a "he." Though from what has been released of the letters, I don't see anything indicating gender. However, in keeping with coverage, I'm sticking with masculine pronouns.)
The first letter claimed "ownership" of the 657 Boulevard home, and that the house "has been the subject of my family for decades."
The letter further claims (screenshot from court documents via documents.gawker.com):
"The Woods" mentioned in the letter refer to the house's previous owners. More on them in a moment.
The Broaddus family then received two subsequent letters, on June 18, 2014 and July 18, 2014.
The additional letters continued to harass the family, specifically focusing on the family's children or "young bloods" and the how he is "in charge" of the house. "The Watcher" conveys a knowledge of the interior of the house, revealing an alarmingly possessive nature.
"HAVE THEY FOUND WHAT IS IN THE WALLS YET?" What the f**k is does that mean? Even if this "Watcher" guy is a sick prankster-asshat, who wants to walk through their house wondering if every crack in the wall, every stain in the plaster is an indication of SOMETHING IN THE WALLS?
Not to mention the mind game that you and your children may be "tracked" in your own home?
It's true, every house has a history, a past. I've written here before how the previous owners of my childhood home in Seattle "released" our house to us — the trees, the ground, the spirit of the house — that was unnerving enough.
But for a person to write about roaming the halls of your house, about the house's "secrets", and the intent to "draw" the family's children to him? Even the most skeptical person can't help but be pulled into the madness, even a little bit. In essence, "The Watcher" gave the family no choice but to play the game.
It should be noted that the family never actually moved into the home, for obvious reasons. They are now suing the previous owners, the Woods, for not disclosing letters that were sent to them from "The Watcher" prior to selling the house. And due to all "The Watcher" business surrounding the house, the Broadduses are currently unable to sell the $1.3 million, six bedroom, house of horror.
And what about the letters sent to the Woods?
On May 26, 2014 the Woods received a letter from "The Watcher" saying that he knew a new family was moving into the house, and that he claimed ownership. If you'll note from the above letters to the Broaddus family, "I asked the Woods to bring me young blood."
According to the lawsuit, the Woods purposely hid the existence of the letter in order to complete the sale of the home. The Broadduses state that if they "absolutely would never have purchased the home" if "The Watcher's", "claim of a right of possession and/or ownership of the home and his nefarious intentions" had been revealed.
Because who in their goddamn mind would?
At this point, the Broadduses are filing a lawsuit against the Woods, the title company, the escrow company, and "The Watcher" for Violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, Common Law Fraudulent Concealment, Common Law Fraud, Equitable Fraud, Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, Tortious Inference with Prospective Economic Advantage, and Unmarketable Title.
Any law folks want to weigh in on that laundry list?
To date, no arrests have been made, and "The Watcher" is still named as a John Doe. The authorities claim to be investigating to the full extent.
Aside from the obvious threats and purposely chilling statements made by "The Watcher," I can't help but wonder how this person knew so much about the goings on surrounding the house?
Sure, the buying and selling of property is public record, but the details of the imminent sale of the house feel rather intimate. I suppose this could all be the rantings of a "talented" psychopath, gleefully messing with everyone's mind, but what choice does a family have but to take the letters seriously?
Also, it's not my place to point fingers, but not much has been said about the Woods. Could they have had a hand in this?
What I find most unsettling, is how the statements about the house and family are just specific enough to indicate that "The Watcher" could know more, could be dangerous, but still dances around concrete fact. He gives just enough information to push you into "worst case scenario" thinking, without actually saying it. He forces you to create your own nightmare.
Living in a state of, "What if...what if...what if..." can be the scariest place to be.
And of course, I can't help but react to the "ritualistic" bent of the letters. I feel like we might be looking at a classic case of a hoaxster going the mystical, supernatural, "dark magicks"-style route to scare his targets. Not entirely original, but still frightening if you're already on guard. Plus, you don't know what that person, deluded enough to be talking about calling "young bloods," is capable of — and a I don't mean magic.
Then again, there's the smallest part of me — the part of me that has read too many "limited publication," "true stories" of multi-generational occult behavior — that wonders if maybe, maybe "The Watcher" could actually be acting on some bizarre heritage? I admit that's farfetched.
I'd like to think this is all just a twisted prank. But pranks can still be scary. I'd challenge any person put into this position to not feel afraid or violated. Prank or not, "The Watcher's" words forced the Broadduses to make his insanity their reality.
What do you think? Psychopath? Prankster? Hoax perpetrated by those involved a la the "Amityville Horror"?
Whatever it may be, you can bet I'll be double-checking the lock on my front door tonight.