Netflix’s newest thriller horror series The Watcher has been released today and tells the spooky story of a couple who moved into their dream home, only to be sent a mysterious letter telling them they are being watched. The freakiest part about the show? It’s inspired by a real life story.
The seven-part series stars Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts as Dean and Nora Brannock. The Brannocks move into their dream mansion in Westfield, New Jersey with their two children but soon discover their new neighborhood is less than welcoming. There’s neighbors who don’t understand property guidelines and a real estate agent (played by Jennifer Coolidge) who makes the couple feel like they don’t really belong.
Soon after moving in, things start to get even more chilling when the couple receive a letter from a person called ‘The Watcher’ who informs them they have been given the responsibility of watching the house ahead of its “second coming”.
The Watcher is inspired by the true story of the Broaddus family, whose story went viral after it was told in a 2018 story by The Cut. Similarly to the show, the couple purchased their home and as they were making renovations on the property they began receiving a series of letters warning them against making changes and telling them they were being watched.
After a number of investigations by police and private detectives The Watcher has never identified. So what happened to the real family that inspired The Watcher series? And do they still live in the house? This is everything you need to know.
What happened to the real family who inspired The Watcher?
Derek and Maria Broaddus purchased 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey in 2014. It was the couple’s dream house and along with their three children they were excited to move in. Before they moved into the property they began work on the house and this is when they received their first letter from The Watcher.
In the letter The Watcher said they were tasked with watching the house in preparation for its “second coming”. The letter also identified the Broaddus’ three children and said they had “notified them”.
Derek took the letter to the police who was advised against sharing the letter with their neighbors. The police began an investigation and brought in one of their neighbors for questioning but he was let go and cleared as a suspect.
As maintenance continued on the house, a further two letters were sent to the family. The Broaddus’ brought in a private detective who was unable to solve the case.
After many leads and possible theories the investigation came to a halt, with The Watcher never being identified.
Do the Broaddus family still live in the house?
Unlike the TV adaptation the Broaddus family never actually moved into their new home as they were still renovating it when they received letters from The Watcher.
Six months after they received the first letter they put the house up for sale. Five years later in 2019 the house eventually sold for $959,000, which is $400,000 less than Derek and Maria had bought it for in 2014.
When the house was sold, the Broadduses asked their real estate attorney to give the new couple a note from them which read, “We wish you nothing but the peace and quiet that we once dreamed of in this house,” as reported by The Cut .
They also gave the new family a picture of the letter they received from The Watcher, so they could identify their handwriting should they receive a letter. So far the family hasn’t.
What are the Broaddus family up to now?
Since selling their house, the Broaddus family have remained in the Westfield area and moved into a new property.
According to The Cut the family have avoided giving interviews and declined offers to make documentaries about The Watcher.
They received numerous offers to turn their lives into a series or film, and in 2018 Netflix secured the rights to the story.
Derek and Maria had two requests for the Netflix team. They asked them not to use their names and to make the on-screen family look different to theirs. They also suggested the adaptation involve a scene where the house burns to the ground.
Derek told The Cut he does not intend to watch the series. The case in search for the identity of The Watcher remains open.
The Watcher is available on Netflix now.
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