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    13 Times "The Watcher" Got Things Pretty Wrong When It Came Down To Portraying The True Story

    Investigators from the Union County Prosecutor's Office went door-to-door in the 657 Boulevard neighborhood in Westfield, New Jersey, to swab the Broadduses' neighbors for DNA samples. They never found a match, and the case is still unsolved.

    If you're anything like me, then you're deeply obsessed with Netflix's new show The Watcher.

    Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale

    Starring Naomi Watts, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Coolidge, and Mia Farrow, The Watcher is based on a true story about the Broaddus family from Westfield, New Jersey, who received creepy letters from an anonymous person named "the Watcher." This person sent letters to their home at 657 Boulevard in Westfield in 2014, harassing the family and urging them to move out. The letters would also describe intimate details about Derek and Maria Broaddus and their children, as well as their day-to-day life, that only the Broadduses would know.

    Children, played by Luke David Blumm as Carter and Isabel Gravitt as Ellie, with Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts as the couple, sitting or standing around a table

    Naturally, after watching all seven episodes in one day, I googled the heck out of the real-life story. I had so many questions, mainly about what was accurate in the show vs. what was made up.

    Close-up of Florence Pugh in "Don't Worry Darling" looking shocked

    So here are some myths from The Watcher that I'm here to debunk for everyone who's also so darn curious about the whole thing:

    Warning: Spoilers ahead! 🚨

    Note: Names from the real-life Watcher events were changed for The Watcher. Derek and Maria Broadduses' names were changed to Dean and Nora Brannock, and John List's name was changed to John Graff.

    Note: This post contains subjects of violence and suicide. Please proceed with caution.

    1. Myth: The Broaddus immediately moved into 657 Boulevard after viewing the property at an open house.

    Coolidge as the agent, and Watts and Cannavale as the couple, standing on the grass

    Fact: The Broadduses never actually moved into the house. According to Reeves Wiedeman, who originally reported on the Watcher case in 2018, they "were heading over to 657 Boulevard [just] dropping stuff off. They weren't planning to start living there immediately. They got the first letter [from the Watcher] two days or so after the closing. Once they got that, it was like, Okay, well, we're certainly not going to go to sleep here."

    657 Boulevard in "The Watcher," showing a moving truck outside the house and a fireplace inside it

    2. Myth: Derek and Maria Broaddus received three letters from the Watcher urging them to move out of 657 Boulevard.

    First letter and envelope in "The Watcher"

    Fact: The couple actually received four letters while they owned the property. They received the first three letters within a span of about a month and a half, and the fourth letter a few years later after they put the house on the market.

    Cannavale in "The Watcher" opening mail

    3. Myth: The Broadduses moved from New York City to 657 Boulevard.

    Watts and Patricia Black sitting on a bench in "The Watcher"

    Fact: The Broadduses moved from another house in Westfield to 657 Boulevard. According to People magazine, Maria was raised in Westfield, while Derek "grew up middle class in Maine before getting a job at an insurance company in Manhattan."

    Watts in "The Watcher" walking through a doorway

    4. Myth: There were secret tunnels in 657 Boulevard that the Broadduses' neighbors roamed around and lived in.

    Mia Farrow in pigtails as Pearl Winslow and Terry Kinney as Jasper Winslow in overalls standing in a doorway in "The Watcher"

    Fact: There were, in fact, no tunnels! According to Wiedeman, "There was a basement, but the Broadduses never found tunnels, and they had obviously done a thorough home inspection." The dumbwaiter that their son was "so mesmerized by" in The Watcher was also 100% fake.

    Watts running through a tunnel, Cannavale looking at a bed in the tunnel, and Farrow and Kinney standing in a hallway

    5. Myth: John Graff lived in 657 Boulevard with his mother, wife, daughter, and son, which is where he murdered all four of them. He never got caught for his horrific crime.

    Joe Mantello as Graff in "The Watcher" opening a letter while standing outside

    Fact: John Graff (in real life known as John List) never lived in 657 Boulevard. He did murder his family (he had two more sons), but it was in a different house in Westfield, and he got caught decades later. The horrific crime also happened in the early '70s, not the '80s.

    6. Myth: The neighbors who lived behind the Broadduses (played brilliantly by Margo Martindale and Richard Kind) seemingly staged a murder-suicide and then miraculously returned to their house in Westfield.

    Martindale and Kind in "The Watcher"

    Fact: There was little to no crime in Westfield, so the Broadduses' neighbors never committed the murder-suicide. When Wiedeman initially reported the Watcher story for the Cut, he learned that "people were complaining about the police enforcing parking violations in downtown Westfield. That's the level of criminality — leaving your car too long in the nice little downtown area."

    Kind and Martindale in matching jogging suits and walking their dog in "The Watcher"

    7. Myth: Dakota was a real-life character who had a romantic relationship with the Broadduses' daughter.

    Henry Hunter-Hall as Dakota in "The Watcher"

    Fact: Dakota's character was embellished from a real-life security person the Broadduses hired when they bought 657 Boulevard. The original security person wasn't 19 years old, and they never had a relationship with Derek and Maria's daughter (all three of their children were under the age of 10 at the time of the Watcher events).

    Henry Hunter-Hall and Isabel Gravitt as Ellie walking down the street in "The Watcher"

    8. Myth: The Broadusses' ferret and their Realtor's dog were killed in 657 Boulevard by the Watcher.

    Coolidge as the Realtor in "The Watcher"

    Fact: There were never any pets residing in 657 Boulevard. This was a fictitious element the people behind The Watcher included, possibly to provide some kind of dramatic effect.

    9. Myth: The Watcher secretly entered 657 Boulevard and messed around with certain parts of the house, such as making mysterious phone calls and playing music.

    Cannavale as the Watcher in the house

    Fact: The Watcher never entered the house to warn off the Broaddus family. "Alarms did go off inside the house a few times, but no — there were no people randomly showing up inside the house," said Wiedeman. "There were no phone calls, or no serious phone calls. It was restricted to really creepy and threatening letters."

    An upset-looking Watts in "The Watcher" on the phone

    10. Myth: There wasn't a follow-up after a forensic investigation revealed that the saliva from the Watcher's envelopes belonged to a woman.

    A person in a suit holding an envelope and with the DNA report on a table in front of them

    Fact: Investigators from the Union County Prosecutor's Office went door-to-door in the 657 Boulevard neighborhood to swab the Broadduses' neighbors for DNA samples (the DNA did indeed belong to a woman). According to Wiedeman, someone from Westfield wrote a letter to the prosecutor's office complaining: "What gives the authority to the Prosecutor's Office to go door to door and demand DNA samples of residents without a warrant or Judge's order?" they wrote. "Even if the Watcher is caught, what laws will they be charged with and what jail time will they really face? Is this the best use of the Prosecutor's resources?"

    Noma Dumezweni as Theodora Birch standing in front of Cannavale and Watts in "The Watcher"

    11. Myth: All of the Watcher's letters to the Broadduses were written on a typewriter.

    Close-up of a sheet of paper in a typewriter

    Fact: The Watcher seemingly wrote the Broadduses their letters on a computer. According to CNET, "The letters themselves were typed, with the signature typed in a different font than the body of the letters."

    Close-up of a letter and envelope from "The Watcher"

    12. Myth: The Broaddus family is still heavily stuck on solving the Watcher case, and members show up at 657 Boulevard because they're so disturbed by the letters they received.

    Close-up of Cannavale and standing in front of a house in "The Watcher"

    Fact: The Broaddus family doesn't care about knowing who the real Watcher is, and they just want to remove themselves from their involvement with 657 Boulevard. Wiedeman said to Vulture: "They are quintessential American suburbanites who want to be able to live their lives, take their kids to soccer games, and enjoy going to the Jersey Shore. I think they know that, at this point, even if they were to catch this person, what good would it do?"

    Gravitt, Blumm, Watts, and Cannavale at a table in "The Watcher"

    13. And finally, myth: The real estate agent bought the property from the Broaddus family and moved into 657 Boulevard themself.

    Coolidge as the agent in "The Watcher"

    Fact: The real estate agent never moved into 657 Boulevard (in fact, they helped a couple buy the house from the Broadduses in 2019). In an updated article about the Watcher case by Wiedeman, he reported, "The Broadduses asked their real-estate attorney to give a note to the new owners [that read]: 'We wish you nothing but the peace and quiet that we once dreamed of in this house.'"

    Watts and Cannavale with their children outside a house in "The Watcher"

    You can read more of our coverage about The Watcher here.