The house located at 657 Boulevard curbs the attraction. And in real estate, it’s all about location, location, and location. So, when Dean and Nora Brannock set their eyes on the place, they immediately agreed that it was their suburban dream home. They should have it, but unfortunately, they aren’t the only ones who want to.
To get it, Dean (Bobby Cannavale) and Nora (Naomi Watts) purchase their dream home in the idyllic suburb of Westfield, New Jersey. On the surface, it’s a picturesque neighborhood with perfectly manicured lawns and tree-lined streets. In fact, it holds sinister secrets. Or is it just a hoax?
Dean and Nora put all their savings into closing the deal but soon realize that their neighbors don’t want her there. They are surrounded by suspects who seem to have the same intention: to get them to sell the house. Their excitement quickly turns to regret when a stalker passing by “The Watcher” begins leaving threatening letters in his mailbox.
This series is based on the shocking true story of the notorious “Watcher” house in New Jersey and Reeves Wiedeman’s article “The Haunting of a Dream House”, originally published in the November 12, 2018 issue of New York Magazine.
This seven-episode hit series features co-writers, writers, and executive producers Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, who recently brought on Netflix
There are a lot of colorful characters in the neighborhood. There’s an eccentric neighbor, Pearl (Mia Farrow), and as president of the local conservation association, she hates the concept of renovation. She lives with her eccentric brother, Jasper (Terry Kinney), who sneaks into Brannock’s house and hides in their elevators. There’s also the curious couple on the other side, Mitch (Richard Kind) and Mo (Margo Martindale), who don’t seem to understand the concept of boundaries and always have binoculars on hand.
Always bright and fun (recent Emmy-winner), Jennifer Coolidge portrays Karen Calhoun, real estate agent and old acquaintance of Nora. Like anyone in the neighborhood, she has her share of secrets and motives. One secret she can’t keep is her desire to sell the house.
This hack is excellent from start to finish, but what’s the real story? In June 2014, Derek Broadus and his wife, Maria, closed their $1.3 million six-bedroom home on 657 Boulevard. Within days, they received the first letter. They haven’t moved in yet but have already started doing some renovations, much to the ire of the person writing the letters. Derek and Maria were excited to start this new chapter with their three children, ages 5, 8 and 10.
“I see you have flooded 657 Boulevard with contractors so that you can destroy the house as it was meant to be,” the letter read, in part. “Tsk, tsk, tsk… a bad move. You don’t want to make 657 Boulevard unhappy.”
More letters ensued, and the writer mentioned his desire for “young blood” in the house. The couple went to the police and got in touch with the previous owners, John and Andrea Woods, who lived in the house for 23 years.
Andrea told the new owners that a few days before she and her husband moved out, they also received a letter from The Watcher that she described as strange. She also mentioned that the Watcher family had been watching the house for years. This was the first time Woods had received anything like this. She threw the message away. When the new owners got their first letter, the old owners took them to the police station. Detective Leonard Lugo advised them not to tell anyone about the messages, including neighbors, who were now suspects. They were afraid.
More messages followed and mentioned their children. It’s been years and years since blood has dominated the hallways of the house. Have you found all the secrets it holds so far? Is little blood playing in the basement? Or are they too afraid to go down there alone? I would be very afraid if I were them. It is far from the rest of the house. If you’re upstairs, you’ll never hear their screams,” another message partially read. They haven’t moved yet and weren’t sure if they would.
Westfield is an idyllic upper-class town. It is less than an hour away from the bustling streets of New York City and the perfect place to raise a family. But their dream turned into a nightmare. They have already sold their old house, so they moved to live with Maria’s parents. They got stuck paying mortgage and property taxes on 657 Boulevard. Both became depressed, and within six months after the first letter, they decided to put the house back on the market and sell it. But you know how gossip the small town is. Rumors swirled, and while some suspected the couple had regretted the buyer and claimed that leaving the house was a hoax, others felt sorry for them and saw them as victims.
They considered selling, even at a loss, and instead decided to rent it out in the hope that a few years without incident would help them sell in the future. As of 2018, the prosecutor’s office was still investigating, but no arrests had been made.
Wiedeman’s article was updated on October 11, two days before the show’s October 13 premiere. It’s been four years since the article was first published, and the issue remains unresolved. But a lot happened.
In March 2019, five years after the Broaddus family paid more than $1.35 million for 657 Boulevard, they put it back on the market for $999 thousand. They hoped to sell it to a construction worker who would demolish it; A family bought it for $959,000. They have suffered a great loss. According to Wiedeman’s update, Broaddus made 60 mortgage payments of $5,495.13 for a home the family had never lived in. The new owners claim they haven’t received any letters (yet), and although the investigation continues, the case has gone cold but remains open. Without recognition or a DNA match, it may never be resolved.
The article speculates that despite the family turning down countless media opportunities and offers from documentaries, the family made money by giving Netflix the rights to their story. You know how gossip neighbors are. There are rumors that the family made $10 million, but the reporter wrote that the money from the Netflix deal didn’t cover the family’s losses at the home. Perhaps Murphy and Brennan’s TV adaptation will renew interest and help law enforcement finally solve the case.