Trying to pick the scariest city in New Jersey is like trying to decide which Kardashian is the dumbest. You have so many to choose from.
But I want to make a strong case for Westfield, the Union County town of about 30,000 people. Its expensive houses and clay downtown belie its dark side.
We can start with the latest. You can argue that this was just a shady real estate deal, or you can think about what you would do if the house you were about to move into suddenly started receiving weird anonymous letters asking questions like, “Do you know what’s in the walls? ‘ would be received. Ask which rooms the children would sleep in, and refer to your children as “young blood.” Making title claims to your home in a menacing and menacing manner right after you buy it.
It’s not helping the neighborhood now that it’s been the subject of a 7-part Netflix show. The house at 657 Boulevard attracts fans who just stare. Do these fans realize that as a result they have now become The Watcher?
John List was a man known for his rigor. He always disapproved of his kids for basically being normal kids. His family never lived up to his strict standards.
They lived in a huge mansion in Westfield and he kept to himself. On November 9, 1971, he sent his three children to school and then quietly went to his garage to retrieve two old handguns.
He went back to Breeze Knoll, the name of his 19-room house, and shot his wife, Helen, in their kitchen. He then went upstairs, where he killed his own 84-year-old mother.
He dragged his wife’s body into the ballroom, and after wiping the blood off the kitchen floor, he was so depraved that he could casually and calmly sit down and eat a sandwich.
When the children came home from school, he murdered them one by one. Patricia was 16 and Frederick was 13. They were fast. One ball each. But the middle child, John, 15, fought back. His father shot him ten times.
He laid the bodies of his family on the floor in that ballroom and put an album of organ music on the turntable. Then he left the house, and for many weeks, until the bodies were finally found, this dirge-like music played over and over day and night as the bodies decomposed.
Because the mansion was set back from the street, no one heard. But imagine this scene with this music when the police finally entered the ballroom.
List disappeared and took on a new identity and got away with it for 18 years, even settling with a new family under his new name, Robert Clark, until his fugitive story was featured in 1989’s America’s Most Wanted. Someone recognized the man they knew as Bob Clark and called the tipline.
List eventually died in prison on March 21, 2008 while serving a life sentence.
Charles Addams was a cartoonist born and raised in Westfield, New Jersey. His work had a sense of the dark. His creations included the characters that would eventually become The Addams Family. The creepy and wacky clan became a TV show and later a movie franchise.
He died in 1988 at the age of 76, and all these years later Westfield honors the macabre works of one of its most famous residents by hosting the AddamsFest each year. It’s a month-long celebration of Charles Addams and features things like the Morticia and Gomez Masquerade Ball, Lantern Cemetery tours, the Addams Family Fun Day and more.
There were also too many other high-profile murders for such a small town.
– Even before the John List case, there was the tragic murder of Raymond Bailey III in 1959. He was only 17 and was stabbed to death by his mother at her Westfield home. She then stabbed herself 25 times but survived.
— In 1974, as John J. Graff was leaving a local train station, he was killed by a robber on the way to his home just three blocks away. Nobody was ever caught.
— In 1976, Lena Triano was tied up with the power cords of her own devices cut off. She was raped. She was then strangled with a tie from her own bedroom blinds of her home and then stabbed multiple times. Authorities found her killer 36 years later.
– Sohayla Massachi was a 23-year-old student at Seton Hall University when an ex-boyfriend abducted her from school in 2000. He took her to his Westfield apartment and shot her.
You can talk all you want about the Devil Tree in Bernards Township and the Shades Of Death Road in Allamuchy. My money’s on Westfield for the spookiest town in New Jersey.
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The opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.
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