ELIZABETH, N.J. (CN) – A couple sold their Westfield, N.J., home for $1.3 million but never advertised that the property came with threatening letters from someone who calls himself “The Watcher,” the new buyers claim in court.
Though the June 2 complaint in Union County Superior Court identifies both the original and new owners of the six-bedroom home in Westfield, Courthouse News has redacted those names and the address out of respect for the families’ privacy. As the parents of three children, the plaintiffs say that the bizarre letters they have received from an unknown person fixated on their home has left them too scared to move in. “Currently, plaintiffs are in the process of selling the home as they are unable to live in the home without extreme anxiety and fear for their children’s safety and well being,” the 30-page complaint states. “However, Plaintiffs are having trouble selling the home as interested parties, once notified of the letters, no longer view the property as a safe home.”
The first of three letters arrived on June 5, 2014, three days after the closing, and quickly revealed “‘The Watcher’s mentally disturbed fixation and claim to possession and/or ownership of the home,” according to the complaint.
All told, the letters are “the epitome of extreme and outrageous conduct so severe in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society,” the complaint states. Telling the new buyers that the property “has been the subject of my family for decades,” The Watcher allegedly claimed to have been “put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming.”
“Why are you here? I will find out,” the letter continues, as quoted in the complaint.
The plaintiffs say The Watcher also wrote that “I asked the [previous owners] to bring me young blood,” and said that “once I know their names, I will call to them and draw them too [sic] me.”
Two more letters, dated June 18 and July 18, “were in the same vein as the first letter,” the complaint states.
“I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought to me,” one allegedly said. “Who has the bedrooms facing the street? I’ll know as soon as you move in.”
The Watcher also said, according to the complaint, “it will help me to know who is in which bedroom, then I can plan better.”
Adding to the ominous words is the implication that The Watcher has been stalking the new tenants, according to the complaint.
“All of the windows and doors … allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house,” The Watcher allegedly wrote. After remarking that the plaintiffs had made the home “so fancy,” The Watcher said “it cries for the past and what used to be in the time when I roamed its halls,” the complaint states. The plaintiffs say that they “have been consumed daily by stress, anxiety, and fear regarding what The Watcher will do.” Since the previous owners were selling in the high-end market, they “should have known that ‘peace of mind’ and ‘security’ were and are of paramount importance to plaintiffs,” the complaint states.
Nevertheless, the sellers allegedly concealed that they received a letter from The Watcher over a week before the closing, on May 26, in which The Watcher “noted there would be a new family moving into the home and who claimed a right of possession and/or ownership to the home.”
The sellers were “so desperate to sell the million dollar home, [they] knowingly and willfully failed to disclose to [them] this disturbing letter,” knowing “the materiality of such disclosure and the very high likelihood if not absolute certainty that such disclosure would defeat the transaction,” according to the complaint.
Fulfillment of their duty to divulge this information would have kept the plaintiffs from finding themselves “mired in their present nightmare,” the complaint states. “Here, the suppression of the truth when it clearly should have been disclosed is equivalent to the expression of falsehood,” the plaintiffs add. Compounding The Watcher’s effect on the plaintiffs ability to market the home for resale is a “significant reduction in the market price of the home [and] sizable expenses and costs incurred in carrying a mortgage, taxes and insurance on the home from the time of closing,” according to the complaint.
Westfield is a New York City bedroom community of just over 30,000 people. Neighborhood Scout, a city data site, ranked the town as the 24th safest city to live in the United States last year.
The complaint names the sellers as defendants, as well as Chicago Title Insurance Company and A Absolute Escrow Settlement Company. Neither returned a request for comment. The plaintiffs seek damages for fraud and breach of contract, claiming that they “are entitled to a refund of the entire purchase price [of the home] with interest, while also being entitled to retain fee title to the home.”
They are represented by Lee Levitt of Parsippany, N.J.