Get suitably spooked for Halloween by delving into these frightening true crime cases. Can what happened be easily explained, or was something supernatural to blame?
These events will horrify you and leave you looking over your shoulder long after Halloween. The first time I heard about The Watcher house, I was terrified. I was glued to my sofa, not wanting to move a muscle out of pure fear. What happened to the hikers that went up a mountain, but never came back down? Who had a vendetta against the Broaddus family? Here are two spine-tingling cases that are scary enough to freak you out in time for Halloween!
Terror in Westfield
Westfield New Jersey, 2014. Derek and Maria Broaddus bought their dream home. A $1.4 million, 6 bedroom, 1905 Dutch Colonial Revival Home. Derek and Maria, along with their three children, could not have been more excited to move. Unfortunately, they would never get to live at 657 Boulevard.
The Broaddus’ were having some renovations done to the property before they properly moved in. Derek Broaddus was at the house one evening, after reviewing some of the work. Before he planned to return to his current home, Derek checked the mailbox. Inside, there was a letter addressed simply to The New Occupants. Intrigued, Derek opened the letter, but would soon wish he hadn’t. The letter was signed by The Watcher, claiming to have been in charge of watching the house for decades. The letter went on to say: “How did you end up here? Did 657 Boulevard call to you with its force within? Do you know what lies within the walls of 657 Boulevard? Why are you here? I will find out.”
The Watcher also mentioned in this letter that the Broaddus’ shouldn’t make the house unhappy. The Watcher said they had requested the house be filled with, “young blood” and their wish had been granted. The envelope had no return address, and the letter ended with, “Who am I?”. Derek was suitably freaked out and didn’t know what to make of this. Was it a stupid prank? He didn’t think it was the slightest bit humorous.
Derek immediately called the Westfield Police Department and an officer was soon at the house, eyeing up the letter. He was stumped. Derek could think of no one who would have sent this to them, so an investigation began. To find out more, Derek and Maria emailed the previous owners of the house and asked them if they had any correspondence from the Watcher. To their dismay, the previous owners said they had, just before they moved out. They had never had one previously, so they dismissed it as a joke.
Two weeks after the first letter had arrived, Maria stopped by the house to check on some of the renovations. When Maria checked the mail, there was another letter from the Watcher. However, this was now addressed to Derek and Maria by name. Whoever this person was, really had been watching them. The writer went on to identify each of the Broaddus children by name and in birth order. They wrote that they had been listening whenever Maria had brought them round. This second letter, even creepier than the first, went on to say: “Have you found all the secrets it holds yet? Will the young blood play in the basement? Or are they too afraid to go down there alone? I would be very afraid if I were them. It is far away from the rest of the house. If you were upstairs, you would never hear them scream”
The hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stand up just writing that, so I can’t imagine how frightened Maria felt. This person knew the names of her children and almost threatened them by detailing that no one would hear them scream if they were in the basement. The letter also asked who would sleep in the room with the window that faced the street, because once they knew, they could plan better. Plan for what? Maria didn’t want to find out.
They turned this second letter over to the police, and soon after, Derek and Maria went to a neighborhood party. The police had instructed the Broaddus’ not to utter a word to anyone about the letters, as everyone was a suspect. During the party, Derek spoke with a man named John, who lived two doors down from their new home. John told Derek about a family named the Langfords, who lived between John and Derek. Peggy Langford was in her 90s, and several of her adult children lived with her, all in their 60s. John described one of the Langfords in particular, Michael. When Derek heard about Michael, he was sure he had found the culprit. Michael was unemployed, so would have time to watch the house all day, and he also lived extremely close to them, giving him access.
However, when Derek informed the police he suspected Michael Langford, he did not get the response he hoped for. Police told Derek they had already had Michael in for an interview and had let him go. Michael denied knowing anything about the letters, and there was no concrete evidence to suggest he was responsible. After this, police said there wasn’t a lot they could do unless someone confessed. Frustrated, Derek and Maria began their own investigation.
The Broaddus’ set up webcams all around their home and crept around in the dark to see if they could catch anyone. They also turned to several experts, including a private investigator. Unfortunately, no leads came from any of these avenues. However, their investigation wasn’t pointless. They knew from the letters that this person was very literate and probably an avid reader. There was also anger coming through the writing, especially about the wealthy.
At the end of 2014, all investigations had gone cold. Although there were a few suspects, nothing had come from any of them. Derek and Maria did not want to move into this house with their children. They didn’t know if these letters were just talk, or worse, what if someone was planning to harm them in the house? Because of this, they made the difficult decision to sell their dream house. However, most people by now had heard about the letters and didn’t fancy being on the receiving end.
Then a break came in the case. DNA had been tested on the letter, and the results were finally ready. Although there wasn’t an exact match, officials were able to determine that the DNA was female. Derek was shocked, as he had his heart set on Michael Langford as the prime suspect. Now they were questioning everything. The whole community knew about the letters and they had come up with their own theory. They believed that Derek and Maria had sent these letters to themselves, to become famous or get money. As ludicrous as this was, people really believed it, so the police tested Maria’s DNA against what was found on the letter. It didn’t match.
Two years after the first letter had arrived, the Broaddus’ borrowed money from a family member to buy another home. After some time, a family got in touch with Derek and Maria and wanted to rent 657 Boulevard. The renter didn’t initially express any worries about the letters. However, he asked for a clause to be put into his lease that said he could move out with immediate effect, should another letter arrive. Two weeks later, Derek went to 657 Boulevard and was handed a letter by the renter from, you guessed it, the Watcher.
This letter contained: “Violent winds and bitter cold to the vile and spiteful Derek and his wench of a wife Maria. You wonder who The Watcher is? Turn around idiots. Maybe you even spoke to me, one of the so-called neighbors who has no idea who the watcher could be. Or maybe you do know and are too scared to tell anyone. Good move.”
The Watcher was angry, and they had even mentioned the renter by name. The renter was spooked, but wasn’t deterred from the property. They said they would stay if the Broaddus’ had outdoor cameras installed, and they agreed. The Watcher replied to this move by threatening revenge in many forms on both the renter and the Broaddus’, “Maybe a car accident. Maybe a fire. Maybe something as simple as a mild illness that never seems to go away but makes you feel sick day after day after day…”
As you can imagine, this family swiftly moved out and left the house empty again. The Broaddus’ were left with a huge monetary loss, a traumatic experience, and a feeling of betrayal from the neighborhood. The house was eventually sold, but only in 2019, so it took a long time for it to close. They took a huge loss on the asking price, selling it for around £400k less than they purchased it for. They were just glad to finally get 657 Boulevard out of their life.
Now onto theories, there is a lot of speculation about who sent these letters to the Broaddus’, and the motives behind it. The most popular theory is that one of the Langford family is responsible. Some people are still convinced that Michael is responsible, but as the DNA on the letter was female, people think it was his sister. Her DNA was also compared to the letter and it wasn’t a match. Another popular theory is that it was the mother, Peggy Langford. The theory goes that as she was 90 years old and housebound; she had nothing better to do. She also would have been around for decades as the letter states.
Other theories include:
- Teenagers sending them as a prank
- A collection of people in the neighborhood to get the Broaddus’ out
- A gamer calling himself The Watcher; his girlfriend was caught on CCTV sitting outside the Broaddus’ house in her car
- The eventual buyer of the house, trying to lower the asking price
- The neighbors behind the house that seemed to spend an eerie amount of time in their lawn chairs watching the house
The theory that is most relevant to this spooky Halloween theme, is that the Watcher is a supernatural being. The writer often speaks of a second coming of the house. They also seem to know everything that goes on in the house, mentioning things in the walls. Could they have been referring to spirits or things out of this world? Could this be the spirit of a previous owner, angry at Derek and Maria? Some even suggest that the Watcher was the ghost of a local murderer!
So what do you think? Do you think it is a neighbor scorned? The brunt of a juvenile prank? Or something much more sinister…
Mystery in the Mountains
The Dyatlov Pass case is heartbreaking, and the theories surrounding it are limitless. Although this case was technically closed earlier this year, there is so much controversy surrounding this, most people do not believe they have found the true cause of this incident. At the end of January 1959, a group of graduate students set out on a skiing expedition across the Northern Ural Mountains in Russia. They didn’t return alive.
Igor Dyatlov, a 23-year-old radio engineering student, was the leader of the group. There were 8 men and 2 women who ended up as victims in this case. One member of the group, Yuri Yuddon, had to turn back very early on due to medical problems. He made a lucky escape. Alongside Igor Dyatlov, there were 8 other hikers in his group.
- Lyudmila Dubinina, 20
- Yuri Doroshenko, 21
- Zinaida Kolmogorova, 22
- Rustem Slobodin, 23
- Nikolay Thibeaux-Brignolle, 23
- Yuri Krivonischenko, 23
- Alexander Kolevatov, 24
- Semyon Zolotaryov, 38
On February 1st, the group reported harsh and horrid conditions. Because of this, they stopped and made camp at the bottom of a mountain slope. This was the last time they would do this. Igor Dyatlov had told everyone back home that they would return around the 12th of February. When the 12th came and went, the families weren’t too worried because delays were likely. Yet, when it got to the 20th passed and there was no sign of anyone, they were in full panic. They demanded a rescue mission immediately, as they knew something was terribly wrong.
Volunteers, police, and army officials began a search of the mountains. What they found would puzzle them. They eventually came upon the campsite, abandoned and extremely damaged. The tent was enveloped in snow and still contained all their belongings, including clothes and shoes. They had also cut the tent from the inside. This left everyone baffled.
What panicked the hikers so much? Why would they leave everything behind that would keep them warm in below-freezing temperatures? Why did they cut themselves out of the tent, instead of leaving through the entrance? Unfortunately, the discovery of the hikers would leave them with only more questions.
The first bodies were found near a wooded area quite far away from the campsite. These were Yuri D. and Yuri K. They were nearly naked and had horrendous injuries to their hands, and the nearby tree had human flesh embedded into the barks. Had they tried to climb the tree to get away from something frightening? Igor Dyatlov was found next. Although his injuries were extensive, they were the least severe in comparison to the others. Zinaida Kolmogorova was found with many injuries to her face and hands, and Rustem Slobodin with a severe six-inch fracture in his skull.
Two months passed without a trace of the other four hikers. Eventually, the searchers came upon Lyudmila Dubinina. The injuries that she suffered were disastrous. Most of the soft tissue on her face and her eyeballs were missing. Her nose was completely crushed and her tongue had been removed.
Semyon Zolotaryov was found with his eyeballs and the soft tissue around his eyes missing. He also had a large open wound on his skull. His chest had been so compressed by something that his ribs had split apart. Aleksander Kolevatov followed suit and had no soft tissue around his eyes. The last of the hikers to be found was Nikolay Thibeaux-Brignolle. He had skull fractures, a broken jaw, and other severe fractures across his body.
Everyone felt appalled by the severity of these injuries. This group of young adults had met a grisly demise, and no one had a clue what had happened. Even after the medical examiner had reached their verdict, no more answers surfaced. They concluded that everyone’s cause of death was hypothermia and that a “compelling unknown force” was used to injure this group. That last quote was never elaborated on, leaving everyone baffled. This ominous statement and their cause of death has caused a lot of controversy.
If you’ve gotten to this point, I imagine you have way more questions than answers. So, what are the theories? This wouldn’t be Halloween without some supernatural theories creeping in! Tons of people started doing their own investigations into what happened. Different opinions formed about who, or what was responsible.
One theory suggests that aliens were responsible. Another group of hikers, far away from Dyatlov’s group, claimed to have seen orange orbs in the sky that night. Some others also reported that the top of certain trees were charred and burnt. The other most popular supernatural theory is that a Yeti caused these injuries. One of the hikers wrote in their last days, “Now we know snowmen exist”. Due to this diary entry and the nature of their injuries, many people believe the group had seen a Yeti before that fateful night.
The theory of infrasound is also amongst the most believed. Donnie Eichar spent years researching what happened and came up with an explanation. He believes that a wind phenomenon could have produced a terrifying sound that induced irrational fear in the hikers. This would have caused them to behave strangely.
Other theories include government testing of nuclear weapons, undercover agents for the KGB and of course, an avalanche. Some even suggest that one of the team members could have lost touch with reality and hurt the hikers. This theory states that Igor Dyatlov would be the most likely, as his injuries were the least severe of the group. Some people question why this was.
No matter what the cause of death was, these nine students lost their lives tragically. They left behind grief-stricken loved ones and a whole life that awaited them. The questions still remain. What on earth happened out there on February 2nd, 1959? Did something supernatural do this? Did one of the hikers suffer insanity? Was infrasound the cause, or testing of nuclear weapons? What made the hikers so scared for their life that they damaged their tent to escape? No one will ever know the true answer to the mystery of the Dyatlov Pass incident.
I hope you enjoyed discovering about these cases. The YouTube channels I wrote about in my previous article have covered either one or both of these cases. Make sure to check them out to find out more information. Happy Halloween!