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N.J. ‘Watcher’ house of creepy-letters fame finds a buyer at last

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A newspaper rests on the driveway of the home of Derek and Maria Broaddus in Westfield, N.J. The Broadduses bought the home for $1,355,657 in 2014, but they didn't move in after receiving the first of four letters from an anonymous stalker. Julio Cortez/Associated Press/File 2015

TRENTON (Bloomberg) — The Westfield, N.J., family plagued by a stalker’s spooky letters mailed to their $1.4 million dream home has sold the six-bedroom property at a loss.

The “Watcher’’ house, at the center of an unsolved criminal investigation in one of Westfield’s poshest neighborhoods, was sold on July 1, according to a deed filed with the Union County clerk’s office. Derek and Maria Broaddus, who bought the 1905 Dutch Colonial Revival in June 2014 and never moved in, sold it to a couple for $959,360, records show.

Lee M. Levitt, an attorney for the Broadduses, didn’t immediately return a telephone call for comment.

Westfield, identified as America’s 99th richest town in a 2018 Bloomberg report, draws buyers for its New York proximity, idyllic downtown, and grand older homes. The house, at 657 Boulevard, had been listed for sale at least three times in recent years. The rights to the Broaddus family’s saga were bought by Netflix in December, according to Deadline.com.

The case gained international fame after the Broadduses sued the former owners in 2015, claiming that shortly after closing, they had received the first of a series of unnerving letters signed “The Watcher.’’ No one has ever been charged in the case, which was investigated by Westfield police with assistance from the Union County prosecutor’s office.

The writer claimed that for almost 20 years, he had been the home’s self-appointed supernatural guardian, a role begun by his grandfather in the 1920s. He welcomed the Broadduses’ “young blood’’ and said he observed them around the house.

“Why are you here? I will find out,’’ one letter stated. “Who has the bedrooms facing the street? I’ll know as soon as you move in.’’ In his youth, the writer said, he had run “from room to room imagining the life with the rich occupants.’’

He was disappointed with the new owners’ renovations, he said. He asked whether they had discovered what he had left inside the walls.

The lawsuit, which claimed that the former owners also had received a threatening “Watcher’’ letter and should have disclosed it prior to sale, was dismissed in 2017. The family had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on renovations, security, and private investigators but, fearful for their safety, had never moved in, according to the lawsuit and a November 2018 New York magazine article.

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