Some things have been written and speculated about The Westfield Watcher case since June 2015 when it excited the news waves. I reposted my article from June a few days ago, but let’s take it further here.
There was, of course, a lot of suspicion in Westfield that it was a local crank who was writing the letters or, worse, that the Broadusses themselves, the new owners and object of the sinister letters, cooked this up to get out of their pricey mortgage.
The Gothamist did an article by their roving reporter in which he and his cameraman walked the street (Boulevard) and then went to detectives downtown. They were led quickly out of the conference room. They went to the local blatt, which is basically a revolving gossip door, and heard the town’s suspicions. Such as the Broadusses wanted to get out of their mortgage. The publisher told them that no renovations were ever done on the house. The family never lived there. They’ve had 10 mortgages in the last several years (he flips houses), none near the value of this current mortgage. They house has never been up for sale, with prospective buyers refusing when they hear that a stalker comes with the house.They’re suing the Woods, the previous owners, for 3 times the value of the house, and the paperwork has never been served. No service, no suit. On the whole no one believes there was any letter writer. It is a stunt, in his estimation, to get the lender to quietly call this all off.
Next, the roving reporter went to neighbors who heard it was a wacko neighbor kid. Everybody knows it. He’s weird but harmless. The upshot is that it is a dead case.
Interesting sources and speculation. Unfortunately, for the gossip the lawsuit is online and the Broadusses are suing the previous owners, the Woods, for the price of the house and not 3 times the value. Police investigation uncovered that there is female DNA on the letters and it doesn’t match Mrs. Broaduss’. Moreover, the letters were mailed from Kearney in another county of New Jersey, on the way (or from) Jersey City. It doesn’t sound like a neighbor kid is doing this.
The town’s speculation reminds me of the military maxim “strategy is easy, but logistics is difficult.” All these ideas have come easy, but what are the logistics? A very public stunt like this isn’t the wisest way for a family to go in order to get out of a high mortgage. The letters came in July 2014, soon after they owned the home, warning about not doing renovations– perhaps why none were done. The Broadusses didn’t file suit until a year later. The police have confirmed the letters and the postmark. Why would they write letters to themselves right after owning the house only to wait a year to take action against the previous owners? And who did they get to write those letters? The suit, of course, alleges that the Woods received a letter too and didn’t disclose the house came with a stalker. It’s pretty dicey involving the previous owners’ reputation in such a public manner if this is only a stunt. The Broadusses don’t need to have made service with the paperwork to be in serious trouble for involving the Woods like they have.
It may be a stunt that was never intended to go public, but it is hard to believe that the Broadusses, failing to use the letters to get out of their mortgage, would then publically sue and think this would not escalate.
It’s a great plot for a movie. That’s already been noticed by all and sundry. Supposedly Hollywood is interested. Well, such a stunt like this is great for attracting a lucrative offer from Hollywood, but if it is a stunt the Broadusses are in for a surprise. Hollywood attorneys leave no stone unturned in contracts. I’ve been there. When a nonfiction book of mine (Into the Bermuda Triangle) was optioned by Cruise/Wagner I got to see how careful and informed Hollywood is. My book was straight-forward nonfiction so I could breeze through that area of the contract easily. But for some author claiming a nonfiction work and yet who is cheating, well, they’re in for a surprise. Movie contracts require the author of a book being optioned to declare where he fibbed, what characters are composites and with what living people they are composites. Hollywood knows what the publishing business has become. “Nonfiction” as a category doesn’t mean too much anymore. I would suspect that any film producer will want to see the letters, and that the contract will get specific on the circumstances. No film company wants to be taken by surprise financially or by a press that follows everything Hollywood does.
To be fair, however, there are a few peculiar things with the case that don’t indicate a stunt. Kearny, for one. Clearly the one who mailed the letter did so at an easy location to and from Manhattan or Jersey to the New Jersey suburbs. They didn’t want to be traced. They started writing letters soon after the Broadusses owned the house, and they invoked the previous owners. They are bizarre letters that eventually target the kids.
It is indeed a great, dramatic plot. It is similar to When a Stranger Calls, only in this case the Watcher has circumvented progress’ ability to trace phone calls. Instead the Watcher stalks by letter– hard to trace. It’s also not so immediate a way of stalking. Not like a phone call. It shouldn’t have scared the Broadusses so, but then you don’t know how long a wacko will enjoy the fear he’s put in people. He may take a year to do what he wants which, according to the letters, was a blood bath in the basement with the kids’ blood.
It is a suspicious case, yes, but it is also a curious case. Things don’t add up and the local gossip barely scratches the skin of what would have to be involved here whether hoax or genuine.
For 25 years Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.