More than two years after Derek and Maria Broaddus spent $1.3 million on the allegedly-haunted 'Watcher' house on a tony block in Westfield, New Jersey, the couple is back in court trying to rid themselves of the investment they're too afraid to inhabit. The Broaddus family is still suing for the full purchase price of 657 Boulevard and punitive damages, and has now filed a second suit, in the hopes of demolishing the spooky home and building two new houses on the lot—a plan that's been kicking around since September.
The Broadduses bought the innocuous-seeming home in July 2014, and said cryptic notes from an anonymous stalker started arriving in their mailbox three days after they took up residence with their three young children. "Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested?" one note asked. "Have you found all the secrets it holds. Will the young bloods play in the basement. Who has the bedrooms facing the street? I will know as soon as you move in."
"Have they found out what's in the walls yet?" he/she added. "I am pleased to know your names now, and the name of the young blood you have brought to me."
Threats from the so-called "Watcher" quickly drove the frightened family from the premises. Gothamist spent a day exploring the neighborhood in July 2015, after a former resident contacted reporter Lauren Evans with a tip: "The Watcher is a local crazy who lives on the street and harasses everyone. Apparently he's an adult son of a couple living on the street." Evans's conclusion, after a day of pavement pounding, was more or less this: "Most people aren't comfortable talking about it."
Plans to demolish the house, which would reportedly require a zoning variance, were unanimously rejected by a town planning board in January, according to NJ.com. While the Broadduses insist they cannot live in a house that receives threatening letters from an anonymous stalker, their neighbors seem primarily concerned with how the demolition might harm the overall character of the neighborhood. "We should be particularly vigilant in protecting this beautiful block," one board member testified earlier this year.
James Foerst, an attorney representing the Broadduses, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He told the NY Post that "My clients are good people. They're caught in a situation they didn't ask for."
As for the damages suit, prior owners John and Andrea Woods filed a countersuit, also pending, arguing that all of the media attention on their old home had a negative impact.