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Frustrated, the Broadduses began their own investigation. Derek became especially obsessed. He set up webcams in Boulevard and spent nights crouched in the dark, watching to see if anyone was watching the house at close range. Only a few homes fit both criteria. The Broadduses also turned to several experts. Lenehan recognized several old-fashioned tics in the letters that pointed to an older writer.

Maybe, he wondered, The Watcher had seen The Watcher , starring Keanu Reeves as a serial killer who stalks the detective trying to catch him?


The house is crying from all of the pain it is going through. You have changed it and made it so fancy. The s were a good time for Boulevard when I ran from room to room imagining the life with the rich occupants there. The house was full of life and young blood. Then it got old and so did my father. But he kept watching until the day he died.


And now I watch and wait for the day when the young blood will be mine again. Lenehan recommended looking into former housekeepers or their descendants. But the focus remained on the Langfords. In cooperation with Westfield police, the Broadduses sent a letter to the Langfords announcing plans to tear down the house, hoping to prompt a response.

Nothing happened. Detective Lugo brought Michael Langford in for a second interview but got nowhere, and his sister, Abby, accused the police of harassing their family. Eventually, the Broadduses hired Lee Levitt, a lawyer, who met with several members of the Langford family, as well as their attorney, to show them the letters, along with photos explaining how their home was one of the few vantage points from which the easel could be seen. The meeting grew tense, Levitt told me, and the Langfords insisted Michael was innocent.

One night, Derek had a dream in which he confronted Peggy, the eldest Langford, and demanded she build an eight-foot fence between the properties. Maria was having other kinds of dreams. One night, she woke up to an especially vivid one about a man who lived nearby. She thought almost anyone could be The Watcher, which made daily life feel like navigating a labyrinth of threats. There were reasons to consider other suspects.

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For one thing, the police spoke to Michael before the second letter was sent, which would make sending two more especially reckless. Then there was the rest of the neighborhood to consider. The private investigator found two child sex offenders within a few blocks. But by the end of , the investigation had stalled.

The Watcher had left no digital trail, no fingerprints, and no way to place someone at the scene of a crime that could have been hatched from pretty much any mailbox in northern New Jersey. The letters could be read closely for possible clues, or dismissed as the nonsensical ramblings of a sociopath. In December, the Westfield police told the Broadduses they had run out of options.

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Derek showed the letters to his priest, who agreed to bless the house. The renovations to Boulevard, including a new alarm system, were finished within a few months. But the idea of moving in filled the Broadduses with overwhelming anxiety. Could they let their kids play outside or have friends over? Would they get a new letter every week?

It is coming after me. What spell did you cast on it? It used to be my friend and now it is my enemy. I am in charge of Boulevard. It is not in charge of me. I will fend off its bad things and wait for it to become good again. It will not punish me. I will rise again. I will be patient and wait for this to pass and for you to bring the young blood back to me. It needs you. Come back.

Let the young blood play again like I once did. Let the young blood sleep in Boulevard.

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Stop changing it and let it alone. They fought constantly and started taking medication to fall asleep. Six months after the letters arrived, the Broadduses decided to sell Boulevard. But few worlds are more gossipy than suburban New Jersey real estate, and rumors had already begun to swirl about why the house sat empty.

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The Broadduses sent a partial disclosure mentioning the letters to interested buyers and told Coldwell Banker, their Realtor, that they intended to show the full letters to anyone whose offer was accepted. No one got that far, even after they lowered the price. Derek and Maria thought about what they would have done had the previous owners told them about their letter from The Watcher.

The Woodses, both retired scientists, told the Broadduses that they remembered the letter they received as more strange than threatening, thanking them for taking care of the house.

They say they never had any issues. They rarely even locked the doors. But the Broadduses felt the name alone was ominous enough to merit mentioning to a new family moving in, and on June 2, , a year after buying Boulevard, they filed a legal complaint against the Woodses, arguing that the Woodses should have disclosed the letter just as they had the fact that water sometimes got in the basement. The Broadduses say they hoped to reach a quiet settlement.

News trucks camped out at Boulevard, and one local reporter set up a lawn chair to conduct his own watch.

The kids had plenty of questions — Who is The Watcher? Where does this person live? Why is this person angry with us? From a safer distance, The Watcher was a real-life mystery to solve. A commenter on nj. In Westfield, people were on edge. Laurie Clancy, who teaches piano lessons in her house behind Boulevard, told me one of her students came for a lesson shortly after news of The Watcher broke and started bawling. Under the glare of national attention, Barron Chambliss, a veteran detective in the Westfield police, was asked to look at the case.

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Chambliss knew his colleagues had looked closely at Michael Langford. According to his brother Sandy Langford, Michael had been diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young man. He sometimes spooked newcomers to the neighborhood when he did strange things, like walk through their backyard or peek into the windows of homes that were being renovated. But those who knew him told me that the odd things he did were mostly just unusual neighborly kindnesses. As Chambliss looked into the case, he discovered something surprising: Investigators had eventually conducted a DNA analysis on one of the envelopes and determined that the DNA belonged to a woman.

Was she upset about missing a commission right next door? But Chambliss says the DNA sample was not a match. The Broadduses were stunned. They had recently told the prosecutors that they planned to file civil charges against the Langfords and wondered if the prosecutors were lying to prevent the story from blowing up again. Left without a suspect, the Broadduses reopened their personal investigation. They hoped someone might recognize the writing from a Christmas card, but the only notable encounter came when an older man who lived behind said his son joked that The Watcher sounded a little bit like him.

A neighbor across the street was the CEO of Kroll, the security firm, and the Broadduses hired the company to look for handwriting matches, but they found nothing. Chambliss and the Westfield police were also back at square one. The cops asked Andrea Woods for a DNA sample and interviewed her year-old son, who was surprised to find that he suddenly seemed to be a suspect.