Netflix’s latest true crime drama The Watcher Although it is based on a true story the show takes a lot of creative liberty. National interest has been rekindled in the story about the Broaddus family who attempted to buy a historic house in northern New Jersey but were threatened by an anonymous writer. An account of the true story can be found here. Article Reeves Wiedeman New York Magazine‘s The Cut 2018
Maria Broaddus and Derek Broaddus kept their story quiet at the beginning, but first reports of it appeared in local newspapers as well as legal periodicals. Wiedeman was responsible for creating the succinct form that is now known as “The Haunting of a Dream House.”Interviews with Broaddus relatives, local authorities, investigators, and even suspects are included. There are some notable differences to Netflix’s version.
Now, the Broaddus family freely admits they bought a home at 657 Boulevard, Westfield, New Jersey in 2014 for $1.3million. However, at first, they kept these details as secret as possible. They did this at the request of police who wanted to help them locate the author of the threats that were delivered to their new home. This was long before they had even planned to move in. Netflix’s series includes a close copy of the letters.
Looking back, it seems that the Broadduses and Wiedeman concluded that this secretive nature was the reason this story became so contentious. It makes sense that the police ordered the Broaduses not inform their neighbors about the investigations or letters, since any of them could have been suspects. That did not mean the news would be out until it was. “come out of nowhere”From the perspective of neighbors. Many neighbors were angry that something was kept from them, even though it could have been detrimental to their personal lives.
Fortunately, the Broaddus family didn’t face as much danger in real life as their fictional counterparts. They never truly moved into the house out of fear for their children’s safety, and never really glimpsed any suspects – though Derek said he reviewed lots of security camera footage and spent nights watching out of the windows himself.
The true tragedy for the Broadduses played out in town planning board meetings where neighbors refused to allow the couple to tear down the house and split the property into two smaller lots – their best hope for recouping their financial losses. This led to a hostilities between neighbors that eventually turned into Derek writing angry anonymous mails to his enemies.
The truth is that the Broadduses relied on their family and friends to find a better living situation. They rented their dream home at a loss and searched for a way out. According to an update from The CutThe Broadduses accepted an offer to buy the house in March 2019, resulting in a loss of approximately half a million. The new owners are reported to have not received any additional letters since. Investigators think a confession would be the best solution to this case, with the possibility of a DNA match in the envelope being a distant second.
For the TV show, the Broadduses rejected an offer to Lifetime to sell their rights. However, they later sent cease and desist letters to Lifetime when Lifetime made a similar movie. The Broadduses decided that selling the rights of their story would be the best way to protect their creative freedom. They were happy with the creative changes made to their story by the new show, which included the dramatic ending. But they stated that they had not planned to watch it. The Watcher themselves.