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Who is John Graff in The Watcher and is he based on a real person?

October 15, 2022

*WARNING: Spoilers ahead for The Watcher*

Netflix has a penchant for true crime stories and its latest effort is The Watcher.

It’s a drama that will leave viewers’ skin crawling as it tells the true story of a family who move into their dream home only to have it turn into a nightmare when they start receiving a series of threatening letters from an anonymous ‘Observer’. ‘

As the episodes progress, the Brannock family attempts to piece together the Watcher’s identity but encounters obstacles at every turn.

One of the more suspicious characters they uncover during their search is John Graff, a former resident of their house, whom Dean thinks he met in episode 3 when he claimed to be a housing inspector – ​but who is John Graff and was he a real person in the business?

  • READ MORE: WHERE IS THE REAL HOUSE OF THE OBSERVER AND WHAT HAPPENED?

The Observer | Official trailer | netflix

BridTV11410The Observer | Official trailer | Netflixhttps://i.ytimg.com/vi/5HDkw100sXQ/hqdefault.jpg11167841116784center13872

The Watcher: release date and plot preview

The Watcher crawled onto Netflix on Thursday, October 13, 2022.

Inspired by real events and based on the article The Cut by Reeves Wiedeman, the series tells the story of Dean and Nora Brannock (based on the real Derek and Maria Broaddus) who have just bought their dream house at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey.

Shortly after moving in, however, the Brannocks quickly begin to realize that the quiet neighborhood may not be as welcoming as they first thought, as their quirky and nosy neighbors go out of their way to make them feel like strangers.

Things take an alarming turn when they begin to receive disturbing letters from an anonymous individual calling themselves “the Observer” and the family begins to fear for their safety.

Bobby Cannavale as Dean Brannock in The Watcher Episode 101The Observer © Netflix | Eric Liebowitz

Who is John Graff in The Watcher?

In Episode 3 of The Watcher, Detective Theodora Birch tells Dean the story of John Graff.

Graff and his family lived at 657 Boulevard until 1995, when John killed his wife, children, and mother after receiving a slew of tormenting letters from the Watcher.

After performing the chilling deed, Graff disappeared and had not been seen since. Identifying him was also made more difficult as he cut himself off from all the family photos in the house.

Before Dean and Schuyler’s conversation in Episode 3, Dean finds a man in the kitchen of the house (played by Joe Mantello) making himself a sandwich. He introduces himself as “John” and claims to be a building inspector – although when Dean asks the contractors working on the house about him, they reveal that there is no inspector by that name, which leads him ‘leads him to believe that the man he met was the real John Graff. .

Joe Mantello’s character reappears in episodes 6 and 7 as part of the Westfield Preservation Society, a group of concerned neighbors who want to keep the town from changing.

He now claims to be William ‘Bill’ Webster who moved to Westfield in 1995, the year of the Graff murders.

In the final meeting of Episode 7, new band inductee Roger Kaplan, a retired teacher from the local school, thinks he recognizes Bill but can’t place exactly where from – moments later, it all seems click and he asks “How is your family, Bill?

It’s a subtle reference, but it seems to confirm that Kaplan recognizes Bill as John Graff, as he was said to have taught Graff’s children when they attended the local school.

Joe Mantello as John Graff in The Watcher Episode 103The Observer © Netflix | Eric Liebowitz

John Graff is loosely based on a real person

John Graff isn’t a real person, but The Watcher character is apparently based on real life murderer John List.

On November 9, 1971, List killed his wife, three children, and mother at their home in Westfield, New Jersey, the same town where The Watcher is set.

After murdering his family, List disappeared, took on a new identity, and evaded detection for nearly 18 years until his arrest in June 1989. He was extradited to New Jersey, where he was convicted. five counts of first degree murder for which he received five life sentences.

List died at St Francis Medical Center in Trenton, New Jersey, in March 2008 at the age of 82. It must be said, however, that there are notable differences between List’s real story and that of the fictionalized John Graff.

First, the actual murders took place in 1971, not 1995. On top of that, List did not live in the same house that Watcher targeted, 657 Boulevard. Instead, his family resided at a property known as Breeze Knoll, which burned down in 1972, a year after the murders.

  • READ MORE: WHERE ARE REAL LIFE COUPLE DEREK AND MARIA BROADDUS NOW AFTER THE ORDERING OF THE OBSERVER?
A character was watching the house in The WatcherThe Observer © Netflix | Eric Liebowitz

The Watcher is available to stream now on netflix after its release on Thursday, October 13, 2022.

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