Discussion at the bottom
Video in case you cant read:
Timeline of Events
Week of May 26, 2014: The Woodses (the sellers) receive a letter from "The Watcher" thanking them for taking care of 657 Boulevard (the house). It is the first such letter in the Woodses' 23 years of residing at the house.
June 2, 2014: The Broaddusses (the buyers) close on 657 Boulevard for $1,355,657.
June 5, 2014: The Broadusses receive their first letter from The Watcher, which is dated * * June 4, 2014. The letter details the author's obsession with the house, and also mentions contractors arriving to start renovations. The sale was not yet public at this time; a "for sale" sign was never even placed in front of the house. The couple reaches out to the Woodses to ask if they had any idea who the letter could be from.
June 6, 2014: The Woodses respond to the Broadusses, telling them that they received one letter days before closing the sale but threw it away. They say that they remembered thinking the letter was more strange than threatening.
June 18, 2014: The Broadduses receive a second letter from The Watcher, which includes alarming information that the author has learned the names (and even nicknames) of Derek and Maria's three young children, and asking if they've "found what's in the walls yet." The writer claims to have seen one child using an easel which is not easily visible from the outside. The letter is threatening enough that the Broadduses decide not to move in, but continue making renovations.
July 18, 2014: The Broadduses receive a third letter from The Watcher, asking where they have gone to and demanding that they stop making changes to the house.
February 21, 2015: Less than a year after buying the home, the Broadduses decide to sell 657 Boulevard. The house is listed for $1.495 million to reflect renovation work the they had done. Though the letters have not been made public, the Broaddusses apparently disclose their existence to potential buyers.
March 17, 2015: The Broadduses lower the asking price to $1.395 million after prospective buyers are scared off by the letters.
May 14, 2015: 657 Boulevard remains on the market, and the price drops to $1.25 million.
June 2, 2015: The Broaddusses file a civil lawsuit against the Woodses seeking a full refund of the $1.3 million they paid for the home, along with the title to the house, renovation expense reimbursement of “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” attorney fees and triple damages.
June 17, 2015: Lee Levitt, the Broaddus family's lawyer, attempts to seal the court documents, but is too late.
June 18, 2015: The Broadduses take the house off the market at $1.25 million.
June 19, 2015: NJ.com reports on the lawsuit, making The Watcher national news. Just days later, Tamron Hall covers the news on the Today show.
July 2, 2015: The Westfield Leader publishes an article with anonymous quotes from neighbors of Derek and Maira, questioning if they actually did any renovations and claiming that contractors were never seen at the house.
March 24, 2016: The house is put back on the market for $1.25 million.
May 24, 2016: Derek and Maria borrow money from family members to purchase another home in Westfield, using an LLC to keep the location private.
September 26, 2016: The Broadduses file an application to tear down 657 Boulevard, hoping to sell the lot to a developer who could divide the property and build two new homes in its place. Because the two new lots would measure 67.4 and 67.6 feet wide, less than 3 inches under the mandated 70 feet, an exception from the Westfield Planning Board is required.
January 4, 2017: The Westfield Planning Board rejects the subdivision proposal in a unanimous decision following a four-hour meeting. More than 100 Westfield residents attend the meeting to voice their concerns over the plan.
February 1, 2017: Derek and Maria rent 657 Boulevard to a couple with adult children and several large dogs who say they are not afraid of The Watcher. The rent does not cover the mortgage payment.
February 20, 2017: A fourth letter from The Watcher arrives at 657 Boulevard, dated
February 13th, the day the Broadduses gave depositions in their lawsuit against the Woodses. The author taunts Derek and Maria about their rejected proposal, and suggests they intend to carry out physical harm against their family.
October 9, 2017: The Broadduses list the house for $1.125 million.
October 18, 2017: Judge Camille M. Kenny throws out the Broaddus lawsuit against the Woods family.
December 24, 2017: Several families receive anonymous letters signed "Friends of the Broaddus Family." The letters had been delivered by hand to the homes of people who had been the most vocal in criticizing Derek and Maira online. (Derek later admits to writing these letters.)
November 13, 2018: The Cut publishes "The Haunting of a Dream House" story online; it also appears in the November 12, 2018 issue of New York Magazine.
December 5, 2018: Netflix pays the Broaddusses "seven figures," winning a six-studio bidding war for the rights to produce a movie based on the story.
July 1, 2019: Derek and Maria Broaddus sell 657 Boulevard to Andrew and Allison Carr for $959,000.
I've looked into this case for a while and I haven't seen a theory that satisfies my curiosity. Most people believe that it was a hoax crafted by the Broaddus but even then that theory falls short for me for a couple of reasons:
There was no guarantee that the story would have exploded in the way it did, and given the financial losses it would be a risky investment
The DNA on the envelope was not matched with anyone
They declined earlier options that would have made them money
If they really were the watcher, then there would be no reason to not move into the house because there's no threat to the family
So either the Broadduses were actual that managed to pull off the perfect scandel of the century or there's still some schizo out and about watching the house. Im leaning toward the latter.
What are your thoughts on this case?