Over in Westfield there is a lawsuit filed by recent homebuyers against the previous owners, the title insurance company and a letter writer who self-identifies as “the Watcher”.
The excerpts of the letter as in the articles are pretty chilling, but it seems to avoid making overt threats of harm. It’s like a mix between the Amityville Horror and the old movie “Burnt Offerings”, which I will leave you to Google.
If the first letter was sent five days before closing, and has never been an issue before…you will have to put me in the “this is a hoax” camp. If it is indeed a hoax, it’s not a bad one. But who would be the primary beneficiaries of the hoax?
Let’s suppose for a moment it’s real. Who could the person be? Someone crazy? Sure. There’s never a shortage of crazy people, even in Westfield (see List, John). But why would anyone fixate on a house on a fairly busy through street? Anyone besides a neighbor would be noticed. Someone placing a wireless camera? Possible, but it would eventually be discovered. A losing bidder? Perhaps. But the new owners have had the house up for sale until last week, per Zillow, anyway. They could have bought the house at a discount if they coveted it.
Also, by putting up the house for sale this past February, weren’t the new buyers about to commit the same wrong that they are claiming was inflicted on them? Do you think they would have disclosed the letters and the reason they never moved in?
I doubt it too.
I read the lawsuit. http://documents.gawker.com/the-watcher-lawsuit-1713657328
Having read it, I am more convinced than ever it is a hoax. Of course they are requesting a jury trial. Having served on a Union County jury myself and meeting fellow jurors, they probably have a good shot if they present themselves sympathetically enough.
But here’s the thing, if you’ve ever sold a house before and all of the rigamarole to get to the point of closing, is one creepy anonymous letter five days before closing sufficient enough to establish the precedent of giving the purchasers a free house plus another four million in cash?
Then wouldn’t everyone who has a bad case of buyer’s remorse start sending creepy letters a week before closing?
We’ll see how this pans out. My guess is that there will be a Lifetime movie in a few years.
UPDATE: If this lawsuit prevails, I am considering going into the creepy letter writing business for skittish home buyers. Letters will be creepy but no threats of actual harm or harassment. Just creepy. Options include being a humanized version of the house or Scooby-Doo type of villain. Written using Microsoft Word on Staples paper and Staples envelopes. Mailed with NYC postmark with no fingerprints or DNA (self-stick stamps and sponge for envelope sealing). Package would include series of letters – some prior to closing and some after. Flat fee and % commission based on damages obtained. Upcharges for extra creepiness, use of vintage stationary, use of vintage typewriter or anything requiring research on property history and/or local legends. Communication only via US Mail. Cash only in small used bills.
It could also be the start of a “work from home, make big money” empire.
However, I do have some ethical pangs about such a venture.