True Crime Analysis, Breakthroughs, Insights & Discussions Hosted by Bestselling Author Nick van der Leek

Month: October 2018 (Page 1 of 8)

Who do you despise the most in True Crime? Damien Echols is my pick [WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES]

There’s a conspiracy theory out there that Damien Echols as a teenager was so deeply involved in the occult, the murder of the three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis was an expression of that – in other words it was a ritualistic killing. It was the shedding of their blood to magically bestow power on himself. This power would turn him into a god of some sort, and give him greater power of the world, and of men.

Of course, this theory is completely nuts. There was zero occult activity in the woods and abandoned bridges of West Memphis, wasn’t there?

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You can laugh at that theory all you like. Today Damien Echols believes in the same MAGICKal transcendence stuff; so much so he’s just written a book about it.

It’s quite ironic – the satanic occult stuff is all a myth and had nothing to do with the murders. Cut to 2018, it’s still absolutely epicentral to who this guy thinks he is.

If Echols did murder and torture those boys, he must believe the voodoo has worked he beat his death row conviction after all, and has emerged since then as a celebrity – way beyond the mold of true crime TV shows like murder made me famous. Echols has spawned a cottage industry of art works, bestsellers and MAGICK-themed workshops around his MAGICKal persona.

He has big media publications at his beck and call when it’s time for another PR blitz.

What’s weird about Echols is he presents this tough, cool, tattooed rock star type persona on camera, and yet whenever he talks it’s about his victimhood and how much he’s suffered and been hard done by [especially while on death row].

He can’t stop talking about how he pissed blood, forgot how to walk, had to learn how to use a fork again and almost went blind. That’s why Echols is often sporting those zany blue glasses, in the vein of movie stars like Robert Downey Junior and Johnny Depp and rock stars like Bono and John Lennon.

Who knew being accused of murder made you this cool?

It seems Echols is the only death row inmate to become such a pathetic specimen simply by virtue of being behind bars for an extended period.

Really? He had to learn how to use a fork? How hard or traumatizing is that?

He talks about triumphing over something, but he can’t quite extricate the murder that made him famous from his MAGICKal self. He never quite let’s it go although in every interview it’s all about putting the past behind him once and for all and going to live on happily ever after. Until the next book, or show or art exhibition.


Well, maybe he’s just a sensitive soul? An artist type. And how many artists commit murder?


But sensitive souls tend to have the capacity to think sensitively about other souls too. Does Echols have the capacity to think about others, and not just how these can be used to benefit him from through blood or money?

In an interview with Vice, he’s asked precisely this question.

Did you ever have time to feel pain or sympathy for all the other numerous victims involved in this horrible ordeal?

During it, the only thing you can focus on is trying to survive. It takes everything you have to put one foot in front of the other and make it through one day at a time. When you’re being beaten and starved and in misery and being abused every day, having to look out and make sure nobody is going to murder you the next minute, you don’t have a lot of time to sit around philosophizing and thinking about things in the outside world. When you’re in there it’s almost like a daydream or a fairy tale, something that may exist somewhere, that someone told you once that existed. You don’t have anything other than the cold, brutal reality that you’re spending every ounce of energy you have to get through.

So no, he doesn’t feel sympathy for the three dead children he was accused of murdering in this saga. Yet he can take the time to write books, several in fact, glorifying in his MAGICKal self.

Irrespective of whether you believe Echols is guilty or innocent, what’s beyond doubt is how much of a poser he is.

damien-echols-salem-1_Adam_s_Creation_Sistine_Chapel_ceiling__by_Michelangelo_JBU33cut.0Damien Echols, of West Memphis Three murders infamy, emulating Aleister Crowley.deathrow2

Given his standalone starpower, it’s easy to forget that Echols had two co-accused implicated in the three murders, and that one of them repeatedly confessed to the crimes of all three.

Echols was by far the most significant character of the trio. In King of Freaks, my book on Echols, I made the case that if it was a ritualistic killing, then the three killers and three victims made sense. If the boys were lured to their deaths, then potentially each of the three boys was matched to a murderer based on looks and the qualities the murderer wanted from his victim.

It must have touched a nerve, otherwise Echols wouldn’t have bothered with King of Freaks. In five years of true crime writing, he’s the only murder accused who’s left a review on a story about him and his alleged crimes.

On October 30th, the ironically named Big Think published a puff piece on Echols. Here’s an extract:

I see the good points of true crime and I see the bad points of true crime. For me personally I tend to stay away from it. I honestly have not even seen the Paradise Lost documentaries.


Do you believe the 3-part documentary that basically set the so-called exoneration ball rolling was too much trouble for the man at the center of it to watch? Do you believe that a preening peacock who’s so particular about his tats and his facts, didn’t bother to soak up the reflection of the camera’s hero worship?


I tried to watch them, I made it through 15 to 20 minutes of the first one, and I could understand why it had such a big impact on people because when I was watching it, it felt like being in the courtroom. It was like experiencing it again. And, for me, that was the last thing in the world that I wanted. That was—it ate up 20 years of my life, so the last thing I wanted to do was go back there. At the same time I’m grateful that so many other people did watch it and were affected by it and came to our aid, because it saved my life. But that doesn’t mean I want to watch it.


And then it’s back to the whinging and self-pity.

The hardest parts of being in prison, the worst parts to deal with were just the sheer brutality of it. You know, there were times when I was beaten so bad that I started to piss blood. They’re not going to spend a lot of time and money and energy taking care of someone they plan on killing. So it’s not like you’re going to see a real doctor or a real dentist. At one point I’d been hit in the face so many times by prison guards that it had caused a lot of nerve damage in my teeth, so I was in horrendous pain. Your choices are: live in pain, or let them pull your teeth out. I didn’t want them to pull my teeth out, so I had to find techniques that would allow me to cope with the physical pain. That was probably the biggest thing that kept pushing me forward to learn more and more and more about magick, because I had to find ways just to survive.

This though, is real pain, and real brutality, the true victims of WM3:

Magick, spelled with a K at the end, M – A – G – I – C – K, the reason it has a K is to differentiate it from sleight of hand, you know, sawing assistants in half, pulling rabbits out of a hat, things like that. The entire point of high magick it is a path that leads to the same things that Eastern traditions refer to as “enlightenment,” which is the dissolution of the self. The form that I practice derived, for the most part, from the late 1800s in London. You had a group of people, they called themselves the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn—some really intelligent people, the beloved poet W.B. Yeats was a member. 

What Echols is selling now is no different to what he was saying during his murder trial and throughout his time on death row.

Echols, based on his twitter following, is at least three times more popular than Amanda Knox, another “innocent victim” accused of the brutal murder [using a knife to saw deep gouges in the throat] of her housemate Meredith Kercher.

In fact he’s so alluring, a woman fell in love with Echols while he was on death row, quit her job to move closer to the prison and ultimately marriage Echols – while he was on death row.


Since his release from death row, Echols has been courted by celebrities, from Johnny Depp to Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, because he’s such a swell hard-done-by guy. Jackson even invited Echols and his wife to visit him at his home in New Zealand.

Officially, since the acquittal of Echols and the WM3, the murders of Steve “Stevie” Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore—from West Memphis, Arkansas—remains unsolved.


Chris Watts Trial Dates Announced

According to the Greeley Tribune, the hearing on the autopsy reports for Shan’ann and her two daughters will take place at 09:00 on December 21st before Weld District Court Judge Todd Taylor.

The criminal case picks up on November 19th  with a status conference at 10:30 in Weld District Court.

status conference is a court-ordered meeting with a judge where counsel decide the date of the trial and/or updated information on a defendant is entered into the record to argue for or against ongoing conditions.

A Thrive-themed Pregnancy – the straw that broke the camel’s back for Chris Watts?

It’s hard to believe – Shan’ann hinted at least three times in early to mid-May that she was pregnant. On June 11th she said knew she was six weeks pregnant and that her due date was February 1st. This means conception was approximately April 30th.

I’ve speculated previously that the pregnancy videos were actually recorded on May 7th, the day Shan’ann snapped her husband dutifully mowing the lawn which is coincidentally immediately prior to the blitz of hints.

And yet, as is clear in the comments below, some of her friends felt Shan’ann had “fibbed” to them earlier, pretending she didn’t know she was pregnant [until early June] when she may well have known.

So, did she know?

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It’s vital that we know the truth about this, because if Shan’ann misled her friends [and there was no reason to, was there?] then she may well have misled her husband too. If she did, why?

I have a theory, but before we get to that, let’s look at the three hints she dropped in May.

#1: May 8

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#2 May 9

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See it?

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#3 May 15

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These hints unleashed a torrent of comments and responses. By the time Shan’ann announced she was pregnant in her two videos posted on June 11 there was an avalanche of interest – literally hundreds of promoters – almost all her key Thrive target market, mothers – congratulating her.

Just two weeks after the announcement [and there were actually several announcements besides Shan’ann changing her profile picture to also make the announcement stick], there was the Thrive event in San Diego.

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Where Chris Watts would have gone to that or not before everyone knew Shan’ann was pregnant is an open question.

Within the frenzied interactions were some mysterious responses from Shan’ann.

What did she mean by being nervous about being outnumbered?

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She inferred a leopard [leopard print clothing?] had something to do with falling pregnant.

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She was also concerned whether the third child would be as much of a handful as Ceecee was at the time.

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It also appears the pregnancy was either a change of plan or unintended, given that Shan’ann had given away her maternity wear.

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Within this bizarre period Shan’ann also posted an image of house in Mooresville North Carolina, and then posted it a second time.

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The timeline between May and June is also busy with Chris Watts’ birthday and several odes from Shan’ann to her husband about what a great man, husband and father he is. During this period it’s also Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, ironic giving what was soon to devastate this family a few short weeks later.

Shan’ann also noted in one of the comments that she intended to have a Thrive pregnancy, meaning, using the patches, pills and formulas to control her mood and appetite until she gave birth. She also said she got pregnant as quickly as she did thanks to Thrive, almost without trying.

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Of course, she could use the pregnancy to promote the patches in a way that would make her stand out compared to all the other female promoters jostling for social media support. And what do mothers like more than to talk about babies, baby clothes and the whole maternal narrative associated with the child birth fairy tale.

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But how would Chris Watts have felt about that?

Is Chris Watts Mentally Ill?

Did Chris Watts suffer side-effects from the Thrive vitamin patches? Did he have some sort of disorder or syndrome? Is he a narcissist and does that fully explain what happened? Is he a psychopath?

Some people have also noted that the GPS number identifying CERVI 319 includes the number 666.

Did the devil make him do it? Did pop music flick a switch in his brain?

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Monster, devil, madman, psychopath, narcissist.

These are the stock  answers and labels that float to the surface of social media whenever true crime jolts us out of our daily routines. They’re easy and soothing. We’re shocked by this crime and the label tells us we have it all under control, we understand it because we have a word that explains it.

The answer to Chris Watts’ state of mind is a critical indicator of our own ability to fathom not just the criminal mind and true crime, but ordinary everyday life, and even ourselves.


So what’s your call?

If he was a madman or devil or a psychopath, how was he able to convince everyone what a nice guy he was, including the woman closest to him?

If he’s not a madman or a monster it means he’s a normal guy just like you and me.  Which one of those is the more terrifying? If it is the latter, then we have a very difficult job: we have to understand how and why someone just like us made a calm, calculated decision to do something monstrous. We also have to ask what’s going on in the world if this is happening every day to families somewhere in the world.

It’s a simple question with no easy answers.


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What does Chris Watts and this crime say about us, and the world we live in right now?

Sound Familiar? 5 of the 15 Most Hated Multi-Level Marketing Companies Right Now [August 2018]

On August 10, 2018, just two days prior to the Watts Family Murder, Cheat Sheet published an authoritative list of the 15 most hated MLM companies in America.

The article opens with these ominous words:

If you have a social media account, then you’ve probably received a message from an old friend you haven’t spoken to in years. But usually that person isn’t reaching out because they miss you — they’re trying to rekindle your relationship so they can sell you something.

Multi-level marketing (MLM), also known as direct selling, is a strategy that some companies use to peddle their products. Consultants get paid by selling the product directly to friends and family in addition to recruiting new sellers into their “downline.” There are no physical store locations for this type of merchandise — if you want to order your leggings or anti-wrinkle cream, you have to call up your local sales rep.

Not all MLM companies are pyramid schemes — but many are universally reviled by both the people who work for them and the potential customers who are sick of constantly being pestered by friends to buy the products. Ahead, discover the most hated multi-level marking companies today — including the one with a billion dollar lawsuit pending (number 7).

Number 1 on Cheat Sheet’s list is LULAROE. Guess who sold LULAROE from home?

Number 12 on their list is YOUNIQUE. Guess who who was selling YOUNIQUE from her bathroom?


Cheat Sheet lists LE-VEL as their 13th most hated MLM company. Cheat Sheet’s description of Le-Vel is appropriately cautious:

If you’ve seen someone wearing a curious looking sticker on their skin, you may have come in contact with a Le-Vel brand promoter. If you believe that vitamin nutrition patches are just what you’ve been missing in your life, then go ahead and strike up a conversation with them.

The company sells these patches to help with weight management, mental clarity, increased energy, improved circulation, and appetite control. Do they work? That’s for you to decide — but it won’t be cheap to find out. Like other MLM companies, the more people you recruit to sell magic vitamin patches, the more you earn.


Two other hated MLM companies worth noting on this list are AMWAY and HERBALIFE.

Here’s the Cheat Sheet lowdown on Amway:

The largest and oldest MLM also has some of the biggest critics. Amway reported sales of $8.6 billion in 2017, making it a bona fide direct sales success story. But not everyone is thrilled with what they’re selling — or how they’re selling it.

MLM companies often tout flexibility and the opportunity to get rich quick. But Amway distributors aren’t always successful. One former rep put it this way:

“The two years I was supposedly building my Amway business, I lost nearly $10,000 on tapes, seminars, books, gas, and travel expenses for out-of-town seminars. My earnings? Less than $500 total. Since I was unemployed — and pretty much unemployable for any nonburger-flipping job — those $10,000 came exclusively from my grandmother, who was also my biggest (and only) Amway customer, buying expensive, ‘concentrated’ Amway products she didn’t need, every month to support me.”

Now, Herbalife.


Want proof that people hate Herbalife? The Federal Trade Commission mailed checks to 350,000 people who lost money running Herbalife businesses. This is one of the largest settlements and distributions the agency has ever made.

While they were never officially called a pyramid scheme, the PR disaster forced the company to restructure and seriously rethink their marketing efforts. The majority of profits came from recruiting new sellers, not from selling product. And that is the very definition of a pyramid scheme — whether they admit it or not.

If Shan’ann Watts was in over her head with Le-Vel, the fact that she was also drinking the MLM Kool-Aid with at least two other companies shows just how deep into a debt-trap the Watts family must have been in the summer of 2018.

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THIS is where Chris Watts worked before switching to become an Operator with Anadarko

Chris Watts’ commute from Saratoga Trail to CERVI 319 I passes by a Ford dealerships right alongside the highway. Was this where he originally worked when he and Shan’ann moved to Frederick shortly after their marriage in 2012? I decided to find out.

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A Daily Beast article identified Shan’ann Watts’ boss as Greg Alore. Initially Shan’ann worked with her husband at the dealership – him on the floor as a mechanic, her in internet sales.

It wasn’t difficult to find Alore’s work history, or the Ford dealership in question.

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The Longmont dealership is less than 10 miles from the Watts home, about 14 minutes’ drive.

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Not exactly the most Thrivin’ part of town is it?

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In terms of his commute, when he approached the roundabout on Aggregate, he headed north and then west to Longmont. Once he changed jobs, to get to CERVI 319 he headed the opposite way: right and out the first roundabout exit, down Aggregate Boulevard and east to the oil and fracking fields.

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Below is the dealership in Longmont where the Watts couple both worked.

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It’s probably through Longmont that Watts got his Ford Super Duty truck. It appears to be a 2012 model; it would have been new around the time he started working there.

After about two years at Longmont Ford, Chris Watts quit his job to start as an operator at Anadarko in January 2015. 2015 was the same year as their bankruptcy filing.

It’s not clear when Shan’ann quit working at the dealership. We know from the bankruptcy filing that she was pregnant with her second child by then and intended working “fewer hours”. We also know at the time of the bankruptcy filing Shan’ann was earning virtually nothing, and by the following year when she started at Le-Vel she was broke.

It’s possible by the time Bella was born in December 2013, after just over a year at the dealership, Shan’ann started flirting with the idea of being a stay-at-home mom.

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These humble work stations, and the patch selling deal in 2017 and midway through 2018, really puts into perspective just how far they were living beyond their means in that massive house on Saratoga Trail.


Chris Watts: The Gamechanging Video Surveillance Footage – where’d it come from?

Nathaniel Trinastich is mentioned twice in Chris Watts’ arrest affidavit; once in the actual narrative and once as a witness. It was Trinastich who provided investigators with the gamechanging video surveillance that showed not only Chris Watts backing up his truck and leaving on the morning of the murders, but also that no one else left the Watts home that morning.

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The semantics of the affidavit are worth noting: Nicole’s vehicle is shown leaving and Chris Watts’ truck is observed hours later backing into the driveway and leaving. But the Trinastich home isn’t opposite the Watts home, it’s adjacent on the right.

So how the heck did the surveillance camera see anything?

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Google Maps is hinky when it comes to newly rising subdivisions. The satellite images above do show the Trinastich home at 2905 Saratoga Trail. Despite the odd numbering, 2905 is indeed next to 2825. But Street View doesn’t show either house at ground level. We’ll get to that it a moment.Fullscreen capture 20181028 174323

Notice how the house on the left of the Watts home blocks out a view of #2825 because of the way the building extends forward onto the front lawn. So from the garage and front door on that neighbor’s side, there’s no direct line-of-sight to the Watts garage and front door.

The other house – Trinastich, on the right – has no such problem. In fact the garage is almost level, just slightly back from the Watts garage, which means a camera is set slightly behind the Watts driveway – an ideal position to spy on late night fumblings in and out of the garage.

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In front of the Watts home and slightly to the left is a T-junction, which also means both houses opposite have limited line-of-sight of the front of the Watts home.

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Those houses opposite on Steeple Rock Drive are oriented towards each other but away from the Watts house.


The foliage beside the Watts’ garage on the boundary with the Trinastich property also interrupts line-of-sight, but at night, a camera wouldn’t need to pick up anything more than the illumination of headlights as they move onto and off the driveway, and that’s what Trinastich’s did.

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A 39-year-old Nathaniel Trinastich is listed on

This is him:


This image and the two below were posted onto Nathan Trinastich’s Facebook page.

Now let’s orient ourselves on what Trinastich’s house looks like, as well as the neighboring houses on the ground.

The two houses on opposite shoulders of Steeple Rock Drive are familiar from the two hailstorm videos Shan’ann recorded on June 18 and 19.

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Street View, as mentioned, got to Saratoga Trail before the Trinastich home went up and before the Watts home was built as well.Fullscreen capture 20181028 181224

Fortunately there are a few images of the outside of the Trinastich home courtesy of Nathan Trinastich himself.

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Below is a nocturnal view of the blue-walled house in front of the Watts and Trinastich homes taken during the candlelight vigil.


The Trinastich home was kitted out with the same garage door design as the Watts house, including the small square windows along the top of the doors. From the zoomed in image below, there doesn’t appear to be any doorbell camera fitted to the front door, at least not when this photo was taken.

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If the Watts family were Steelers fans, the Trinastich’s were big Denver Broncos supporters.

I was able to trace the anonymous image of a couple paying their respects at front lawn of the Watts home to an orange Bronco’s cap in Trinastich’s home, posted on social media. More than likely the couple are the Trinastichs who’ve walked over from next door to inspect the toy memorial.

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These neighbors [below] on the other hand are clearly not the Trinastichs.

One of the best views of the Trinastich’s home – which is dwarfed by the Watts mansion – is from this unusual view.


It’s still not evident where the surveillance camera was situated at the front of the Tristnatich home. It may be, like the Watts come, through the front door if the camera was installed later, perhaps even at the same time the Watts family installed theirs.

Read more about the front door latch and camera here.

Perhaps Chris Watts didn’t see Trinastich’s camera or consider it because of the large leafy tree plumb in front of the house on the front lawn. That tree was obviously in full flourish in mid-summer when Shan’ann and the children were killed.

It may also be that the camera was a dashcam, but then the arrest affidavit has made an error. There is a censored section in the affidavit that may or may not refer to a dashcam.

In my opinion, the censored text refers to the Trinastich street number. A dashcam with the car parked facing the garage would also be unlikely to provide a rear view.

It’s also possible, since Trinastich’s an outdoors-man, that he used a camouflaged camera.

7/10 People Fooled By Chris Watts’ Version of Events [POLL]

Chris Watts told investigators he had an argument with his wife before killing her. Makes sense, right? And if he said he had an argument, that part must be true. If he also killed the children, did he have an argument with each of them too? Okay so maybe he did. So why did his argument/s then matter and not the hundreds of arguments they’d had on any other day?

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The question of argument basically addresses the issue of whether this was premeditated murder or not. 7/10 people say it wasn’t premeditated murder, that Chris Watts simply got into an argument and became emotional. He’s that kind of guy. In other words, 7/10 people believe Chris Watts’ version of events. If the Colorado jury that’s going to decide on this case is anything like the majority of people, the prosecution may have a difficult case on their hands.

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What do you think? Argument or no argument?

Intuitively people are on the right track. There tend to be arguments precipitating murders, which is why true crime is chock-full of murder-accused who deny this. OJ Simpson. Scott PetersonCasey Anthony. Burke Ramsey. Amanda Knox. Oscar Pistorius. Henri van Breda.

The issue isn’t whether their were arguments, but when they happened. We know there were arguments.

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But we should be cautious taking Chris Watts’ word – for anything. Here’s why.

In excerpts from the affidavit below, reading between the lines, Chris Watts is careful to describe a “quiet” argument. In other words, they’re confronting one another about separating and about his affair with his work colleague, but neither him nor Shan’ann are raising their voices at 02:00 or 04:00 or whenever this emotional conversation was supposed to have happened.

If it happened, did anyone hear it? The neighbor who heard how the tone of the dog’s bark changed in the day, could they not hear raised voices in the dead of a summer night?

When, in the history of confrontations between couples about cheating has the aggrieved party not raised their voice? And yet the affidavit uses words like “began talking” and “civil conversation”. It was “not an argument” because he “told” Shan’ann this and went to “speak” to her about that.Fullscreen capture 20181028 030600

What about Shan’ann? Did she respond to being told and his speaking by telling him things in return, and speaking in a civil tone in her response? There’s nothing here about how she’s speaking or responding to being told – in the wee hours of the morning after her business trip – sorry honey, I’ve been cheating on you, I’m done.

His first story in his Sermon on the Porch was that they had this quiet conversation and Shan’ann simply said, ‘Okay then, I think I’ll go visit a friend today.’ The affidavit is an adaptation of that ruse, and not a good one.

Knowing what we know about Shan’ann, that she was pregnant, that she was an extrovert, that she was the dominant factor in the relationship, that she was the more emotional of the couple, and what happened during her first marriage [see below] does this quiet, civil conversation nonsense ring true? It shouldn’t.

What Chris Watts is playing for in his affidavit is a credible excuse for why no neighbors heard arguing that night. Either they argued quietly, the first couple in history to do so, and the first family murder to take place after a polite conversation in history, or it was a premeditated murder and it was silent for that reason.

The Drive to CERVI 319 [in PICTURES & VIDEO]

The screengrabs from Google Maps below are in chronological order taken along the 39.3 mile 47 minute commute between Saratoga Trail and Cervi 319. This was the route Chris Watts rose to drive to each morning, five days a week. These are the sights he would have gotten used to seeing twice each day every day, on the way out and back.

It also provides some idea, when the cops called at noon on August 13th, how long it would take to get home, even if he was driving as fast as he could.

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What does a tattoo and a song reveal about the REAL Chris Watts?

There’s an easy way to read someone’s mind. It’s so easy, a kindergarten kid could do it. In a few moments, if you’re patient, you’re going to be doing it too. No degree in psychology needed. There is one requirement though. If it’s so easy that we can look on with the mind of a child, we nevertheless have to listen intently to what the suspect is listening to. Agreed?

Before we get to Chris Watts’ favorite song, let’s be explicit in what we’re getting at. Does a criminal’s favorite song say much about him, or the crime he committed? Does it say anything? Does a tattoo say much about someone, or their criminal capacity?

The easy way to answer this question is off-the-top of one’s head. Does your favorite song – current or in the past – say much about you, the you you are now or the you you once were? It has to, it resonates with you for a reason. The ethos of the song matches your interiority at a particular time. The song, for all intents of purposes, is the slippery thing that’s someone else’s interiority.

Further Reading: Understanding Interiority – and how it applies to the Watts Family

My favorite song at the moment – don’t judge me – is this one.

But of course we do judge. We can’t help it. What we like when it comes to music says plenty about not only who we are and the kind of person we are, but what we’re feeling.

The other aspect to interiority is how these sights and sounds allow us to read the criminal mind. Just as writing is telepathy, my words are talking inside your mind right now, music is  the same.  They’re also words and ideas talking to and about who we are.

To the extent that we’re caught up in it, those words are our interior monologue. It allows us not only to read the mind of the murderer, but to look at his heart and soul too.


Before we get to the tattoo, let me clear. In every true crime case I’ve researched it takes time for the character of the suspect to emerge. That time lag isn’t because the suspect has no character, quite the contrary, but because like all strangers, it takes time to get to know them, especially when they’re doing their damnedest to hide who they really are from us.

One of the questions we ask people we don’t know is “what’s your favorite music”? We do this to gauge their vibe, who they are, how they see themselves and  to we see how relatable they are to us, and we to them.

What’s your favorite music?

Doesn’t it make sense, then, to ask Chris Watts this question?

Down the Alley of Criminal Intertexuality

[To skip this section, scroll down to What Does Chris Watts Tattoo Say About him?]

To understand why music may be important, and just how deeply it allows us to penetrate into the psychology of a case, let’s examine this issue through another case first.

Many people don’t know, for example, that in the Amanda Knox case, someone was listening to music at about 05:44 on the day Meredith Kercher’s body turned up with her throat slit.

The music was played on Knox’s boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito’s MacBook computer, but he was an Italian who could barely speak English. So who was listening to American music [see timestamped playlist below] that morning? Who could it be besides Knox?


What the above playlist seems to show is that 1) Knox was awake and listening to music four hours earlier than she said she was on the morning after the murder and 2) through the music we begin to intuit the type of person Knox is. 

The type of person is really the question the criminal trial – and all of us, the media, the public – are trying to fathom. Is this type of person capable of murder? What type of person is this person? Did this type of person really get along with the type of person the victim was?

And what about Meredith Kercher, the murder victim – did her music tastes matter? Why would they? What did a university student’s music preferences have to do with murder? Well, more than you might think.

220px-Mtvema2007logomunichOn the night of the murder the MTV Eurovision awards were broadcast, at approximately 21:00. One of the reasons the British girls departed when they did was so one of them, Sophie Purton, could catch the awards. Well, didn’t Amanda Knox – Amanda Knox who was strumming Beatles songs in her room and always singing – also want to watch them?

Music, especially for young impressionable university students, is one of the important ways they identify themselves to each other. Meredith Kercher, a few weeks before arriving in Italy, appeared in a music video, thus giving her massive social credit as a happening young woman.

Could this, and Meredith’s popularity with the girls and boys, have been a source of burning envy for the younger and not-so-popular American living in the same house?

Another example, this time looking at cinema choices, in the Van Breda case, the axe murderer was a fan [like Raffaele Sollecito – Knox’s boyfriend] of violent anime. In both cases they claimed to be watching anime on the night of the murders.

In the Henri Van Breda case it transpired after the trial that he was also into gratuitous violence porn in movies like Hardcore Henri. See trailer below:

Often television or a movie is given as an alibi for what the suspect was doing at the time of the murder. That’s the case with Knox and Van Breda. What we tend to miss while trying to disprove the “alibi” is the person these movies and music points to and describes. By their own admission, the suspects in these crimes identify the sights and sounds that were filling their heads at the time terrible crimes were committed. Almost no one actually tests this media to see what it was actually saying to and about these criminal characters.

What Does Chris Watts Tattoo Say About him?

I can’t take any credit for joining the dots regarding Chris Watts’ tattoo. Credit goes to Paula Neal Mooney, who put a lot of it together in this thread.

And Mooney is right, that tattoo on his back is the Metallica logo:

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For Chris Watts’ 32nd birthday, Shan’ann gave him a Metallica shirt. Doesn’t he seem more delighted here about a shirt and concert tickets than he was about finding out his wife his pregnant?

The joy is written all over his face, isn’t it?

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Metallica was clearly a very big deal to Chris Watts. He more than identified with the band, he branded himself with it. He identified himself with them. The words in Metallica’s biggest hit The Unforgiven are – as Mooney mentioned in her tweet – very, very haunting.

This whipping boy done wrong, Deprived of all his thoughts…

Think of just those words in the context of what was going on in the Watts home. Him, an introvert, her an extrovert having him perform in her Thrive-inspired spiels.  And then the pregnancy itself, did that really happen the way her words contrived it – something he wanted?

What I’ve felt
What I’ve known
Never shined through in what I’ve shown
Never be
Never see
Won’t see what might have been
What I’ve felt
What I’ve known
Never shined through in what I’ve shown
Never free
Never me
So I dub thee unforgiven

Besides the words of this song, the iconography of Metallica is also worth noting. Given the gruesome body count in this particular crime, the skulls and death symbolism suggests a man who may not have been as uncomfortable with corpses and skulls [and dismemberment] as we first imagined.

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In 2011, while Amanda Knox was in prison, she co-wrote a script for a music video. According to

U.S. student Amanda Knox, convicted in Italy for the murder of her British roommate, has written a music video script for a band based near her prison.

Amanda Knox has “always had a passion for music and poetry” said the band, Hands of Time, ANSA reported Friday.

Knox reportedly sent the script in English and Italian to the band via mail. Hands of Time said the script showed “considerable artistic quality” and decided to use it for their song “The Mistral Blows.”

Knox, 24, is currently in the process of appealing her case in Perugia.

When the music video was released, it bore weird similarities not only to Knox’s personal story, but also to the original music video in which Meredith Kercher appeared.

Settling of scores?

Kercher’s video has remained a lot more popular based on YouTube views. The Mistral Blows has been viewed only 313 times. Some Say has been viewed over 230 000 times. The music business is like the murder business in one vital aspect – it is at its core a popularity contest.

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