I live near Netflix’s real The Watcher house — it ‘freaked’ the town and ‘really scared’ residents

A LIFELONG resident of Westfield has revealed that the warden had “freaked out” the town and “really scared” the residents.

The Watcher saga – which left a series of ominous and menacing letters to the Broaddus family – has been adapted into a new seven-part Netflix series.

Ralph Bencivenga, owner of Bovella's Pastry Shoppe, said residents were'freaking out'


Ralph Bencivenga, owner of Bovella’s Pastry Shoppe, said residents were ‘freaking out’Credit: Adam Gray/SWNS for The US Sun
The Broaddus family received the ominous letters at 657 Boulevard


The Broaddus family received the ominous letters at 657 BoulevardCredit: Adam Gray/SWNS for The US Sun
Bovella's Pastry Shoppe is located in downtown Westfield, less than 1 mile from 657 Boulevard


Bovella’s Pastry Shoppe is located in downtown Westfield, less than 1 mile from 657 BoulevardCredit: Adam Gray/SWNS for The US Sun
Westfield Police refused to comment on the new Netflix series


Westfield Police refused to comment on the new Netflix seriesCredit: Adam Gray/SWNS for The US Sun

The family bought a beautiful six-bedroom home in Westfield, New Jersey for $1.3 million in June 2014, but just days later they received their first anonymous message from someone known only as “The Watcher.”

Ralph Bencivenga, one of the owners of Bovella’s Pastry Shoppe in downtown Westfield, told The US Sun that “everyone freaked out” when the saga began in 2014.

“Westfield is a family town. Nothing actually happens in Westfield. When that happened, everyone went crazy,” he said.

Bencivenga, who has worked at the pastry shop since 1985, said it was business as usual for the busy bakery, which is less than a mile from 657 Boulevard.

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But he said some Westfield residents were more affected than others.

“It didn’t affect us because we’re going about our normal routine here [at the pastry shoppe]but I know a lot of residents out there who were really afraid of the neighborhood,” he said.

“In the neighborhood where the Watcher house was, I think people were just nervous and wary.”

As for the new Netflix series, Bencivenga said his feelings are mixed.

“It’s not something you really want to brag about,” he said, adding that it’s “pretty cool.”


Derek and Maria Broaddus bought the six-bedroom home for $1.3 million in June 2014, but just days later they received their first anonymous message.

The chilling letters sent to the address revealed that the author knew intimate details of her life and the layout of the house.

They also warned that their parents “would never hear them scream” when kids went down into the basement.

Each of the letters was signed only by The Watcher, the title of the new Netflix series loosely based on the Broaddus’ heart-pounding saga.

Westfield, just 28 miles from Manhattan, is often cited as one of the safest places to live in America.

A lifelong dream came true for the Broaddus family when they bought the Dutch colonial house at 657 Boulevard.

Born in Westfield, Maria’s sprawling new four-bathroom, 3,800-square-foot home was just blocks from her childhood home.

Derek, who grew up in working-class Maine, had worked his way up to senior vice president of a New York insurance company before his 40th birthday.


Just three days after they closed the house, Derek was painting his new home as he went outside to check the mail.

Inside was a letter addressed in thick, clumsy handwriting to “The New Owner” and a typed note.

“Dear new neighbor at 657 Boulevard, allow me to welcome you to the neighborhood,” the letter began.

“How did you end up here? Did 657 Boulevard call you with his inner strength?”

The author went on to say that the house had “been my family’s theme for decades” and that he had been “charged to watch and await its second coming.”

They then asked if the owners knew “what’s behind the walls of the house” and said they were “figuring out” why they were there.

The note’s author revealed that they had already begun observing the family and identified various personal details, such as their Honda minivan and the fact that they had hired construction workers to renovate the home.

The letters warned that the couple would make the house “unhappy” if they changed it and made chilling references to their children.

“The Watcher” even knew how many children the couple had and said they wanted to fill the house with “young blood”.

There was no return address on the envelope, and the author teased the homeowners that they might be neighbors or just passers-by.

The letter ended by warning that it would not be the last, saying: “Welcome my friends, welcome. Let the party begin,” followed by a typed signature: “The Watcher.”

The anonymous author would send out several more letters in the weeks that followed.

The Broaddus family, too scared to move into their new home, rented it out and said that another letter arrived in 2017 warning of various tragedies that could happen, such as car accidents, fires or the sudden death of a loved one .

They eventually put the home up for sale and sold it in 2019 for a loss of about $400,000.

The home’s new residents could not be reached by The US Sun on Wednesday.


While many neighbors have come and gone along the boulevard, a few were nearby at the time the saga unfolded.

Kimberly Sorrentino has lived on The Boulevard for about 30 years.

She told The US Sun before the Broaddus family bought the house, “this was a crazy house”.

“It was a bachelor’s house before it became a private home,” Sorrentino claimed.

Sorrentino “seriously considered” buying the Broaddus family home when it came up for sale.

“I thought it was a good price for the house,” she said.

“I don’t think much of it, I don’t think it was anything scary,” Sorrentino said.

“I would say the car thefts in this town are a lot more serious than The Watcher.”

Another neighbor across the street echoed that sentiment and said she wasn’t concerned at the time either.

However, she shared that she was part of the group of neighbors along the boulevard who took part in voluntary DNA testing as part of the investigation into the mysterious letters.

“Two detectives came … and I knew I wasn’t involved in anything, but it was weird,” she recalled.

After the test, she never heard anything again.

“I hope the film is good, but there’s so much more to tell,” she added.

When asked by The US Sun, the Westfield Police Department said: “We are not issuing a statement at this time.”


Other community members had a mixed reaction to the news that The Watcher storyline was about to premiere on Netflix.

“It’s probably going to be a lot more dramatic than the actual story,” an employee at a waxing salon told The US Sun on Wednesday.

“People have never heard of it,” chipped in another.

Elsewhere, outside of Feast Catering, where everyone seemed to know everyone who stopped by to pick up lunch, two women said they tend to “stay out of town business.”

“It’s just our town,” said one woman.

“I feel like that’s the vibe of the city in general — you don’t have to know everyone.”

She insisted that Westfield — with a population of just under 30,000 — was a “happy little town.”

Many residents and community members noted the constant coming and going of message trucks in 2014 as the letters became a national story.

A woman who was at Vicki’s Diner with her mother and daughter said she “felt bad” for the family at the time.

“I think it was someone joking around,” she said of the mysterious letters.

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“I don’t know if I would buy it,” she quickly added.

The Watcher, starring Naomi Watts, is now streaming on Netflix.

https://www.the-sun.com/news/6452745/the-watcher-house-westfield-residents-scared-netflix-broaddus-family/ I live near Netflix’s real The Watcher house — it ‘freaked’ the town and ‘really scared’ residents


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