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Was 'The Watcher' ever caught? Here's what you need to know about Netflix's latest true crime series

By Harold Lemon Tubiano Published Oct 18, 2022 5:41 pm

NOTE: This article contains spoilers for The Watcher.

Netflix once again brings horror to viewers at home with another limited true crime series. 

The Watcher, released on October 13, comes from Jeffrey Dahmer's docuseries director Ryan Murphy. This seven-episode American series unveils a story about a suburban family who moved into their new residence and constantly received terrifying letters from a mystery "watcher". 

The series' frustrating conclusion remains a mystery which has only led to more haunting questions and conspiracy theories about the suspects.

Here are some of the questions about The Watcher series answered.   

Is the series based on a true story?  

Yes. The Watcher is based on a real-life crime story published in the 2018 New York Magazine article “The Haunting of a Dream House" by Reeves Wiedeman.

The article detailed how the Broaddus couple purchased their so-called dream house in June 2014 and started receiving friendly yet unidentified letters that later appeared aggressive and alarming for their three kids. The characters also embodied the real-life couple Derek and Maria Broaddus and their peculiar neighbors.  

Moreover, the original residential address is situated at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey, which exists to this day.

While the same address was used in the series, a behind the scenes feature by Netflix revealed that the homes and neighborhood setting for the series were filmed in New York.  

What parts of the series have been fictionalized? 

While the case itself is loosely based on a true story and real events, there are elements that have been fictionalized, including the names of the couple. The original couple (played by Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale as Nora and Dean Brannock) also did not literally move into the house on 657 Boulevard.

According to Netflix, the figures for the cost of the house are also differ, since the house was purchased for $1.4 million not $3.2 million as listed in the show. 

An article by EW points out that while the Netflix series "heavily embellishes other details of their lives and horror story of the couple," writers of the series incorporated real text from the letters sent to the Broadduses, including portions about the Watcher desiring "young blood."

Who were the supects behind the real-life watcher case?

Based on initial investigations, one of the former agents, Robert Lenehan, suspected that The Watcher was an older person because of its outdated addresses to “M/M Braddus,” and double spaces between sentences. Letters had reportedly been processed in Kearny, the US Postal Service’s distribution centre in northern New Jersey.

Authorities also initially suspected a neighbor Michael Langford who lived next door with his mother and several of his adult siblings since the 1960s. However, he was never arrested due to a lack of claims.

Forensic investigations using DNA found under flaps of envelopes revealed that it was a woman who had licked the envelope shut. This led to investigations on Michael’s sister, Abby Langford, and previous owner Andrea Woods. However, the DNA failed to match with any of the women.  

Others believe that the couple themselves might be behind the crime and dubbed them as scammers, suggesting they realized that the house was too costly so they wrote letters to themselves to resell it. 

Was the case ever solved?

No. Similar to the ending of the Netflix series, the case of The Watcher has remained unsolved. To date, Westfield police have not uncovered the identity of the Watcher despite the number of potential suspects and odd neighbors.

The series finishes with a chilling title card stating that "The Watcher case remains unsolved."  The person — or people — sending letters to the Broaddus family was never caught.

According to the original article on The Cut, the only way the case can be solved is via a confession or a DNA match.

The Watcher stars Naomi Watts, Bobby Cannavale, and Jennifer Coolidge. After its release on Oct. 13, the series now sits at the streamer's Top Ten ranking in the Philippines. All seven episodes of The Watcher are available for streaming on Netflix.