The Watcher’s John Graff Is Inspired by John List


The Watcher. Joe Mantello as John Graff in episode 103 of The Watcher. Cr. Eric Liebowitz/Netflix © 2022

Image Source: Netflix

Netflix’s “The Watcher” tells the eerie story of the Brannock household who transfer right into a sweeping mansion solely to find that the house and its surrounding properties are crawling with bone-chilling secrets and techniques. The present stars Bobby Cannavale as the daddy, Dean; Naomi Watts because the mom, Nora; Isabel Gravitt because the daughter, Ellie; and Luke David Blumm because the son, Carter. Amid fixed break-ins and threatening messages of their mailbox, it is not lengthy earlier than Dean and Nora start to suspect everybody on the town — together with their neighbors Mitch (Richard Kind) and Mo (Margo Martindale) and their real-estate agent Karen Calhoun (Jennifer Coolidge) — of being in on a large conspiracy to run them out of city.

At the center of the present is a persistent sense of anticipation that seeps into the larger plot line in regards to the mysterious letters from The Watcher and the present’s subplots. As Dean makes an attempt to seek out the supply behind the inexplicable break-ins and assaults on his household’s house, he learns {that a} former inhabitant of the home, John Graff, may play a bigger position in his household’s present predicament than he initially thought.

In the identical manner that the present is loosely based mostly on the true story of the Broaddus household, Graff’s character and the circumstances surrounding his household’s demise are strikingly just like these of real-life assassin John List, who killed his complete household after which vanished for nearly 20 years.

Who Was John Graff?

In episode three of “The Watcher,” “Götterdämmerung,” Dean is confronted by a person in his house who identifies himself as John (Joe Mantello), a constructing inspector who supposedly stopped by to evaluate the continued renovations on the home. During an unsettling dialog within the household kitchen, John brings up Dean’s 16-year-old daughter, Ellie (Isabel Gravitt), and her secret relationship with 19-year-old safety entrepreneur Dakota (Henry Hunter Hall). After mentioning that his personal daughter was sexually lively at a younger age, John tells Dean, “We mounted the issue, but it surely was traumatic for the entire household.” When Dean asks him to elaborate, John vaguely provides, “Suffice it say, she by no means wore one other low-cut shirt once more.”

Perplexed, Dean continues to seek for clues in regards to the creator behind the Watcher letters. Later within the episode, he meets up with the personal investigator, Theodora Birch (Noma Dumezweni), he employed to seek out out extra about the home and its former inhabitants. While the data is off the report, Theodora tells Dean that she did uncover some attention-grabbing details about a former resident of the house. “The father, John Graff, was about as regular a man as you possibly can discover. He beloved two issues: his household and his church,” Theodora says.

“There was no hint of him after that. He simply disappeared.”

She provides that Graff was an Army veteran who grew to become an accountant and went to a Lutheran church each Sunday. After working late one night time, John was mugged on his manner house, so — with the monetary assist of his mom — he determined to purchase a home within the suburbs for himself and his household, which included his son, Dale (Aidan Pierce Brennan), an athlete and straight-A pupil; his “boy-crazy” 17-year-old daughter, Pat (Samantha Blaire Cutler); his alcohol-dependent spouse, Helen; and his mom.

Shortly after the transfer, John was fired from his job. Rather than inform his household the unhealthy information, he pretended to go to work every single day and started stealing cash from his mom’s accounts to maintain them afloat. On Halloween, he caught his daughter dancing together with her trainer at a celebration and misplaced his mood, telling her, “You gown like a wh*re.” Fueled by his anger and the humiliation he felt over being unable to help his household, John later determined — with encouragement from The Watcher — to kill his complete household and ship them to a “higher place.”

In 1995, John referred to as the principal of his youngsters’ college and advised them the household was going out of city for just a few months to go to a relative who had been unwell. Next, he minimize his face out of each household {photograph} so individuals would not have the ability to determine him after the crime. Calmly, John carried out the plan, capturing his spouse in the lounge and killing his mom in the very same method upstairs. When Pat arrived house from college, he cornered her within the rest room and shot her, too.

“Then he goes downstairs and makes himself a sandwich,” Theodora says. “And then he heads to his son’s basketball recreation.” When the sport was over, John drove Dale house and shot him within the doorway as quickly as they have been inside. Once his complete household was useless, John turned on all of the lights and performed Richard Wagner’s “Götterdämmerung” (“Twilight of the Gods”) over the home’s intercom to make it appear as if individuals have been house earlier than fleeing.

Two weeks glided by earlier than Jasper (Terry Kinney) finally checked in and located the entire household laying face to face in a circle on the ground, their our bodies practically mummified “like they’d been drained.” “On the ground within the basement, there have been empty milk jugs. They had been full of blood, now they have been empty,” Theodora tells Dean, implying that John drained the our bodies after they have been useless and drank the blood.

Three days after the preliminary murders, police additionally found the trainer from Pat’s Halloween social gathering useless in his automotive with a gunshot wound to his head, the bullets totally different from these discovered on the Graff household homicide scene. “There was no hint of him after that. He simply disappeared,” Theodora says earlier than Dean realizes that John was the identical man making a sandwich in his kitchen.

Insurance executive John List was sought by police on suspicion of murder after the bodies of his wife, mother, and three teenaged children were found shot dead in his Westfield, New Jersey, home.

Image Source: Getty / Bettmann Collection

John List True Story

John Emil List was a religious Lutheran and a Sunday college trainer. Fresh out of highschool in 1943, he enrolled within the US Army and served as a lab technician throughout World War II. After he was discharged in 1946, he earned a BA in enterprise administration and a grasp’s diploma in accounting. In 1951, he married Helen Morris Taylor, and the pair later had three youngsters, in accordance with 1991’s “Righteous Carnage: The List Murders.” Following a second tour within the Army and a number of other work-related strikes, List accepted a job as vice chairman and comptroller at a financial institution in Jersey City, NJ. He moved his spouse, youngsters, and mom right into a 19-room Victorian mansion often known as Breeze Knoll at 431 Hillside Avenue in Westfield, NJ, the place violent crime was reportedly uncommon.

The List household’s our bodies weren’t discovered till practically a month afterward Dec. 7.

On Nov. 9, 1971, List killed his household utilizing a 9 mm Steyr 1912 semi-automatic handgun and his father’s Colt .22 caliber revolver. While the children have been in school, List shot his spouse, Helen, 46, behind the top earlier than capturing his mom, Alma, 84, above the left eye. When his daughter, Patricia, 16, and his son Frederick, 13, returned house from college, List shot them behind the top. Next, List ate lunch and went to the financial institution to shut his and his mom’s accounts. Then, he went to Westfield High School to observe his eldest son, 15-year-old John Frederick, play in a soccer recreation. After the sport, List drove John Frederick house and shot him a number of instances as the teenager tried to defend himself.

List positioned the our bodies of his spouse and kids on sleeping luggage within the ballroom and left his mom’s physique in her house within the attic. Like John Graff in “The Watcher,” he then cleaned the crime scene, eliminated his footage from the household images, turned the radio up, left the lights on, and vanished. Once he was gone, List continued to ship notes to the kids’s faculties, claiming that they have been out of city visiting an unwell relative.

Unlike Graff, List left a five-page letter to his pastor confessing to the murders, stating that he had killed his household to avoid wasting their souls, in accordance with The New York Times. The List household’s our bodies weren’t discovered till practically a month afterward Dec. 7, 1971, when the lightbulbs started to burn out from fixed use and neighbors referred to as the police, who entered by an unlocked window close to the basement and found the our bodies, per Tru TV.

According to House-Crazy archives, Breeze Knoll burned down in August 1972, 9 months after the murders, and a brand new home was constructed on the property in 1974.

How Was John List Caught?

Even although List’s letter to his pastor served as a full confession, the assassin managed to evade police for practically 18 years, throughout which period he remarried below the title Robert Peter “Bob” Clark and was proposed as a suspect within the DB Cooper case.

In May 1989, “America’s Most Wanted” aired a particular in regards to the List murders. Two weeks later, on June 1, 1989, List was arrested after a neighbor in Denver acknowledged him from the present and referred to as the police. After months on trial, List confessed his true identification on Feb. 16, 1990. During the trial, List, like Graff, admitted that he’d been laid off from his job in 1971 and pretended to go to work every single day to keep away from telling his household the reality. Per Go Leader archives, he additionally stole cash from his mom’s accounts to pay the mortgage however claimed that he reached his threshold when the household’s monetary issues and his spouse’s alcohol dependency grew to become an excessive amount of to deal with.

On April 12, 1990, List was convicted of 5 counts of first-degree homicide and acquired the utmost sentence on the time of 5 consecutive phrases of life imprisonment, in accordance with the LA Times.

How Did John List Die?

According to The New York Times, on March 21, 2008, List died of pneumonia whereas imprisoned at age 82 on the St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, NJ.


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