The Watcher’s John Graff is based on a true story of a family murder, here’s what happened

A few creepy details from the real story were shown in The Watcher

Right, we need to talk about The Watcher on Netflix. It’s a story so wild and full of twists and turns, it’s difficult to comprehend it’s based on a true story – but it is. One of the stories The Watcher series delves right into is the case of John Graff, a man who we are first introduced to as a supposed building inspector on the house, before we learn he actually used to live there himself.

As the story unfolds one of the most mysterious characters in The Watcher is John Graff. He first shows up to 657 Boulevard claiming to be a building inspector, but we find out this isn’t true. We then learn he used to live in the house, also received letters from The Watcher, and murdered his wife and two children there following it all. So, with the show being based on real events, is John Graff a real person and what’s the true story behind this part of the show?

The true story of John Graff and his family from The Watcher on Netflix

via Netflix

The story of John Graff in The Watcher on Netflix is based on the true story of John List and his family

In the show, we are told John Graff lived with his wife and two children at 657 Boulevard until 1995 – when John killed his family. He had been tormented by The Watcher, fled the murder house and hadn’t been seen since.

John Graff is not a real person, but his story is based on a real murderer. On November 7th 1971, a man called John List murdered his wife and family in Westfield, New Jersey – the same place where The Watcher story took place. The murders were in the same area, but did not take place at the real 657 Boulevard house. So obviously, the real John List had nothing to do with The Watcher case, and did not pose as a building inspector at the home.

What’s true about the story is that John List was struggling with money, the same as we saw with John Graff in The Watcher. The real John List had lost his job, and stolen all of his mother’s savings. A lot more of what we see in the show is inspired from the real events – John List did kill his children when they returned from school, and he did eat a sandwich after committing the murders.

He shot his wife and children, and police didn’t find the bodies until a month later. List left behind a note saying he had committed the murders to “protect” his family.

The true story of John Graff and his family from The Watcher on Netflix

via Netflix

After this murder took place, John List escaped, assumed a new identity, remarried, and evaded arrest for 18 years. He even featured on America’s Most Wanted. List was found and arrested in June 1989, when a woman said her neighbour looked a lot like John List, and it turned out it was him, living under a new identity. Upon being extradited back to New Jersey, John List was convicted for five counts of first-degree murder and received five life sentences.

In 2008, aged 82, the real John List died following complications from pneumonia. The real house where John List murdered his family burned down a year after the crimes took place.

The Watcher is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook. 

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Real Broaddus family was paid by Netflix for The Watcher and made demands about the show

• Who lives at 657 Boulevard now? What happened to real house from The Watcher on Netflix

• The creepy letters in The Watcher are real – here’s what they each said in real life