WESTFIELD, NJ — As “The Watcher” house in Westfield goes back on the market, Superior Court Judge Camille Kenny is set to decide on litigation involving the notorious Dutch Colonial that has spanned two years.
The six-bedroom, three bath, single-family home at 657 Boulevard was listed at $1.125 million on Oct. 9, and Kenny was set to make a decision Wednesday, Oct. 18, regarding a lawsuit between the present and former owners of the property.
Kenny has been presiding over the case, which stems from June 2014, when Maria and Derek Broaddus purchased the house for $1.3 million from John and Andrea Woods. The buyers, who have three children, wanted a family friendly home but circumstances drastically changed that plan.
Three days after the young couple purchased the home, they received the first of four letters from an anonymous source claiming an entitlement to the home; the threatening letters were were signed by someone who identified themself as “The Watcher,” according to court documents.
The first letter stated: “Why are you here? I will find out,” and claimed the house has been watched by members of the same family since 1920, originating with their grandfather who observed the house, then by the the watcher’s father in 1960, and now by the current watcher.
Through 2014, the letters became more detailed in describing the home’s interior and heightened the threat level.
“Have they found what is in the walls yet? In time they will. I am pleased to know your names and the names now of the young blood you have brought to me,” one letter read.
The letters asked the homeowners where the children reside inside the house.
“Will the young bloods play in the basement. Who has the bedrooms facing the street? I’ll know as soon as you move in. It will help me to know who is in which bedroom, then I can plan better,” the letter read. “All the windows and door in (the house) allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house,” it continued.
As reported by NJ.com, the messages to the new owners were so distressing, they never moved in. The Broaddus family attempted to sell the house and sued the former owners, claiming they were aware of the eerie letter-writer but had failed to disclose the information. The Woods countersued, claiming defamation.
The lawsuits were discovered by local media outlets, which reported their disturbing details, then spread worldwide by tabloid television.
Earlier this year, the Broadduses petitioned the Westfield Planning Board for permission to demolish their house and subdivide the property. When that request was denied, they sued in March to overturn that ruling.
The house was vacant between the purchase and February, when it was rented for $4,000 per month, according to court papers acquired by NJ.com.
The Westfield Police Department has investigated to determine the identity of “The Watcher” but has been unable to solve the case.
“On Friday, motions were made to dismiss both pleas,” Lee Levitt, the Broaddus’ attorney, told LocalSource on Oct. 15.
Richard Kaplow, the Woods attorney has argued that state law does not require his clients to inform a prospective buyer of off-site social conditions. According to one published report, Kaplow told Kenny in oral arguments on Oct. 12, that an owner has no obligation to disclose a “transient social condition,” or “an undesirable neighbor.”
Kaplow told Judge Kenny that, when selling a home, owners must disclose physical components associated with the property.
With the property up for sale, Levitt told LocalSource on Oct. 15 that his clients will disclose the four disturbing letters to the new home buyers.