WESTFIELD, NJ – A family that has sought to avoid the public eye after receiving threatening letters just days after purchasing a home on Boulevard is once again the subject of national media attention following an in-depth interview with New York Magazine.
Reporter Reeves Wiedeman, who interviewed Derek and Maria Broaddus for the Nov. 12 story, told National Public Radio on Monday that the family, which has been accused by some neighbors of manufacturing the tale about creepy letters, is genuine.
Although as a journalist Wiedeman said he is naturally skeptical, he found no reason to disbelieve the Broaddus family.
“They are not calculating people,” Wiedeman said in the NPR interview. “There could not be a more normal family with sweet kids just trying to live a peaceful suburban life so if they’ve pulled this off they’ve duped me, but it seems unlikely.”
Wiedeman’s interview is the first time the public has heard directly from the Broaddus family, after what the couple told the magazine were more than 300 media requests.
Shortly after moving into the home at 657 Boulevard in 2014, the family started receiving eerie letters signed, “The Watcher,” something that prompted the family to leave Westfield for fear that the letter writer would move onto worse deeds, Wiedeman said.
The magazine story likened Westfield to Mayberry, the fictional setting for the “The Andy Griffith Show.”
In his interview, Wiedeman told NPR the Broadduses' case would be an unusual one for any department to deal with, especially a small one.
Wiedeman provided this account to NPR of What happed the night husband and father Derek Broaddus found the first letter:
“They immediately called the police. That is the first thing that had happened that night, and they are told ‘Don’t talk about this. We’re going to look at this,’” police told the Broadduses. “And at that point, they are on high alert.”
As reported by TAPinto.net, the Broaddus family’s tale has included a lawsuit against the seller of the $1.35 million Dutch colonial home for not notifying the new occupants about letters “The Watcher” previously sent to the residence. A state court judge dismissed the lawsuit in October of 2017.
The Broadduses also had sought unsuccessfully to sell the stately home to a developer and have it subdivided, something Wiedeman told NPR raised neighborhood concern and suspicion.
“They were going to sell it to a developer at a loss, but enough of a loss for them to manage, but that provoked even more people [saying] ‘oh, here’s another example of they must just be trying to make a quick buck off of this,’” Wiedeman said.
Such is not the case, the reporter told NPR. Owning a $1.35 million home the family could not live without fear, combined with the widespread publicity and neighborhood animosity created an emotional and financial strain.
“This literally kind of destroyed their lives,” Wiedeman said. “They’re doing better the farther they get away from this.”
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh