Netflix’s latest miniseries The Watcher tells the story of a family that moves into their dream home and begins receiving creepy letters from a mysterious stalker. Keep reading to learn about the true story that inspired the show.
What Is ‘The Watcher’ About?
Created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, The Watcher tells the story of married couple Dean (Bobby Cannavale) and Nora Brannock (Naomi Watts) as they move their family to an idyllic New Jersey neighborhood. Once settled in their dream home, the family starts receiving threatening letters from someone that refers to themself as “The Watcher.”
As “The Watcher” continues to terrorize the family, Dean and Nora begin to suspect that some of their kooky neighbors may be behind the creepy letters.
Is ‘The Watcher’ Based on a True Story?
Yes, The Watcher is based on a true story.
The characters of Dean and Nora are inspired by real-life couple Derek Broaddus and Maria Broaddus. Their story was first detailed in a 2018 New York Magazine article.
Just three days after the Broaddus family closed on their new home in Westfield, New Jersey, they received their first letter from “The Watcher” while the property was still being renovated. Addressed to “the new owner,” the typed letter explained that the home had “been the subject of my family for decades now and as it approaches its 110th birthday, I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming. My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time.”
The next day, Derek and Maria learned that the home’s previous owners, John Woods and Andrea Woods, had also received a strange letter from “The Watcher.” While the Broadduses initially believed that the letter was a prank, police took the note more seriously and advised them to keep it a secret from their neighbors – who were considered suspects.
They received their next letter two weeks later, which included personal details about the couple’s children. Due to the content of the note, they decided not to move into the house. However, “The Watcher” took note of the decision and asked in a following letter, “Where have you gone to? 657 Boulevard is missing you.”
How Is the Netflix Show Different Than the True Story?
While the characters in The Watcher live in the home, the Broadduses never officially moved into the house.
Just six months after they closed on the property, the Broaduses put it back on the market. However, they weren’t able to find a buyer after they chose to reveal the creepy letters to people that seemed interested. “I don’t know how you live through what we did and think you could do it to somebody else,” Derek previously told New York Magazine.
After failing to sell the property, the couple found a family to rent out the house. The new family moved in and “The Watcher” responded by sending another letter, which was more aggressive than the previous ones. “The Watcher” even threatened Derek and Maria by implying that they had plotted their deaths. “Maybe a car accident. Maybe a fire. Maybe something as simple as a mild illness that never seems to go away but makes you fell [sic] sick day after day after day after day after day,” the letter read.
Was ‘The Watcher’ Ever Caught?
While police had many suspects of who “The Watcher” could be, they never arrested anyone for the crime.
Several of the neighbors were considered to be behind the letters, while it’s also been speculated that the Broaduses could have penned the creepy notes themselves.
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