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Shan’ann’s Phone Was Left HERE – and what it means

When retired Detective Karen Smith went on HLN on October 4th, she didn’t go further than to say Shan’ann probably didn’t hide her phone behind the couch cushions, Chris Watts did.  He put it there.

True, but if he did, then what?

Assuming he testifies in court, Chris Watts might say:

  1. Shan’ann and him sat on the couch for a few minutes while having a civilized conversation early that morning. They were discussing his idea of a separation when the phone slipped out of her pocket…
  2. Another possibility is that there was a tussle right there, and that the phone fell between the cushions between an altercation. Since the children’s bedroom is upstairs, and Chris Watts’ version contends that he went from downstairs back upstairs to confront her after seeing her on the baby monitor strangling the children, the upstairs landing area makes sense.
  3. In the same way that Casey Anthony fielded a second defense long after the investigation started, Chris Watts might claim he pushed Shan’ann and she fell down the stairs. In other words, he killed her but “it was an accident”.

What’s the view of #tcrs?

According to the arrest affidavit, the phone was left behind in the loft area between the upstairs bedrooms in the loft area.

Fullscreen capture 20181007 152102

There appear to be two large cushions, grey and white [or tan] on the leather couch.

Fullscreen capture 20181007 141027

Where did HLN source their image of the couch? The “decor” in that image reappears elsewhere in the house too as indicated by the red arrows above.Fullscreen capture 20181007 151003

Without an accurate floor plan it’s difficult to be absolutely certain whether the area indicated is the loft or not, and thus whether this couch is the right couch. But let’s assume for the sake of argument, the information HLN has and the location for Shan’ann’s phone is correct.

The sketch in TWO FACE BENEATH THE OIL provides a detailed explanation for where the crime scene happened [where Shan’ann was killed]. It’s not upstairs.

If the sketch is correct, then it suggests after committing the crime, Chris Watts went upstairs with Shan’ann’s phone and put it under the cushions in the area closest to the landing; there it could be plausibly present but nevertheless hidden from plain sight.

A much murkier question is: did Chris intend for her phone to be found, or was he planning on discarding it later? If he planned to get rid of it, why didn’t he dump it during his long outbound trip before dawn to CERVI 319? There was clearly the opportunity, and no one to see what he was doing, so why not?

Also: why not destroy the phone?

It’s unclear whether her phone was on or off [Nickole Atkinson might know], but if Watts wanted to delay discovery, then he probably knew her phone needed to be around to mislead people that she was still alive. Sometimes Facebook and WhatsApp can lead [or be used to lead] friends and followers to believe someone is online or around when they’re not, the phone is simply on.

In the Scott Peterson case Laci’s phone was found in her car, not turned off. The battery had run down over several hours. Scott Peterson seemed well aware that by calling Laci he was allowing himself to be tracked not only by cellphone tower pings, but by leaving messages. He appeared to do this deliberately to establish plausible deniability.

There is another possibility too. Perhaps Watts’ original plan was to return home and to send messages from her phone, leading others to believe not just that Shan’ann was alive when she wasn’t, but perhaps that she was going somewhere, or would be going offline for a period, when she was already dead.

Since Chris Watts said he sent several messages to Shan’ann’s phone when he knew she was dead, it makes sense that the idea of leaving misleading digital breadcrumbs must have occurred to him [just as it did to Jodi Arias, Oscar Pistorius, Casey Anthony and the murderer of Meredith Kercher*].

And just as it makes sense for him to say he saw what was happening on the baby monitor while downstairs [in other words, he wasn’t upstairs when the children were murdered], by placing her phone upstairs, he also places her elsewhere to where he probably was when she was killed.

If Shan’ann was murdered at the foot of the stairs, then a claim that she’d fallen down and landed beneath the stairs would also pass the evidentiary test.


QUESTION: Where do you think the murders took place, and why? #tcrs

*On the same night Kercher was murdered, Knox and Sollecito [the original suspects and both twice convicted in the murder] both turned off their cell phones. In addition Kercher’s two phones were removed from her room and disposed of outside the house. It later transpired that someone had attempted to use her phone to hack into her British telephone banking account. Only someone very familiar with Kercher would have known about this account. #tcrs investigated the Knox case in a series of narratives, licking off with Despicable.


  1. Pauline

    Question here: Nickole A. sounds the alarm. Chris takes his sweet time about driving home, also claims the garage door code isn’t working, buying more time so that the police officers can’t immediately gain access to the house and begin a search. Did Chris call Sha’nann from a location outside the house? I think he claims he made several calls, possibly a text or two. Were officers present when he made those calls, close enough so that they would hear her phone ringing inside the house or not?

    Also I think he ditched her phone upstairs between the lounge cushions intentionally, but given his slipshod disposal of the pillow cases I haven’t quite figured out why he ditched the phone there. I mean did he think that well ahead? That he would come home later and pitch the phone somewhere else? Or that it would make for a good alibi – she was actually upstairs herself? I doubt that, since he changed his story 3 times. So I’m still mulling that one over. Why the phone ended up specifically there.

  2. Pauline

    Also Minnie Mouse is in a different location as well – downstairs, then upstairs. So yeah, I’d want to know where HLN sourced their picture of the room they have depicted.

  3. Cheryl

    I’ve often wondered about the final resting place of the phone, and, again, thought it may have been located there due to a struggle between Shan’ann and Chris. However, assuming the murder was committed downstairs upon Shan’ann’s arrival, I envision that Chris later on sat on the upstairs couch to look through Shan’ann’s messages to figure out her commitments/plans for the day or to even try to break into her phone if he wasn’t privy to the password or code. If he did do this, it would likely have been a cursory look or a hasty breakin attempt given the time constraints and general stress he was undergoing. Also, stress causes memory lapses, and given that Chris’s stress was acute, that he had murdered Shan’ann, likely his two children, and needed to process and dispose of their bodies prior to reporting to work, it’s possible that the phone slipped between the cushions and he forgot where it was. In a large house like that and given the general chaos and Chris’s panic, I think it’s possible he couldn’t locate it after disposing of their bodies and ran out of time to do so.

  4. Pauline

    That’s an excellent theory Cheryl. And I agree, that if he killed S. downstairs, when she arrived home from her trip it doesn’t mean he did not have occasion to do more work upstairs before leaving with all three bodies in the truck. Taking her phone upstairs and looking through it seems very plausible to me. He also wouldn’t want to turn on lights, so dropping it or losing it where he did makes sense.

    I’m wondering how much they found on HIS phone – calls to the co-worker, etc. I don’t believe Trent Bolte however. Damaged people tend to come out of the woodwork for their 15 minutes of fame in what would be perceived as a high-profile case. Who would save soiled towels from an encounter (his story)?

    • nickvdl

      I wonder if they’ll find his fingerprints on her phone.

      • Cheryl

        Good thought, Nick. We shall see…

      • Karen

        even if they do wouldn’t that kind of be expected since they live together?

    • Cheryl

      Thanks, Pauline, sometimes I wake up at night thinking about this case and its vexing details. I don’t know exactly why it’s so compelling to me, other than Chris’s passive-aggressive nature reminds me of a previous relationship. Once I understood it (or thought I did!), I thought it was fairly benign, but now realize that’s not necessarily or always the case.

  5. Pauline

    I hear ya sister! Several weeks ago I dreamed I was smothered in patches.

    • Cheryl

      Very funny! Good one!

  6. piktor

    Top of stairs to the left, loft area can be seen from ground floor (June 17, 2017)
    Family sitting on loft couch (April 9, 2017)
    Shanann’s two Instagrams confirm this is the upstairs loft couch

    • Pauline

      Just another comment on the loft area. And thanks for a bigger picture Piktor. I think the one supplied by HLN may have been a much earlier picture. Some of their toys, like the Minnie Mouse, the “washer-drier” and the two little chairs may have been moved downstairs to the playroom, freeing up the loft for adults. It’s a big house, and a nice one. I have no doubt CW would have wanted to keep it at all costs. Maybe this does come back to greed. The thought of having to sell the house, and buy her out, just the thought of losing the house would be something he just couldn’t have happen.

  7. Karen Welch

    Concerning the phone, who found it between the cushions? Did that person hand the phone to Chris and have him take it to the police or was that just a theory?

    • Nicole

      Nickoles son found the phone in between the cushions

  8. Karen Welch

    okay, forget the part about Chris taking the phone to the station. I just read the affidavit

  9. Karen Welch

    I did notice that Shanánn got home at 1:48 am on the 13th and the affidavit was printed at 1:50 am. on the 16th. Almost 72 hours to the minute that it all began, although he was arrested on the 15th. Was he at home when he was arrested?

    • Nicole

      No he was at the police station. They did the lie detector test on him and he failed that is when they started asking him to tell the truth. Then to get him to confess they started acting like they were on his side n asked if shanann hurt the girls. As soon as he heard that he went with that story which they knew was a lie n then he was arrested

      • Karen

        Thanks Nicole. I posted that back in Oct. I didn’t know yet at that time

  10. Karen

    There is always some truth in lies. We all know that so I’m wondering how the baby monitor(s) factors in. He said he saw Shanann in the monitor so no doubt somehow they do factor in.

  11. Karen

    I was just sitting here thinking back a couple years ago when my daughter was here visiting me. She’s 5’4 and weighs about 150 lbs. I’m 5′ and weigh about 130. She had been in her room reading for about 3 hours. I went in to ask her about lunch and found her unconscious. I was thinking about the struggle Chriss Watts had to get Shanann into the truck, It took everything in me to just get my daughter off the bed onto a flat surface. She was extremely heavy. I know my adrenalin was pumping and it was still difficult and I imagine Chris Watt’s was as well. Imagine he had to get her out to the garage and lift her into the truck. It took 2 paramedics to lift my daughter onto a gurney. Dead weight in both cases. ( I hate to use that term but that’s what it is) Imagine the smaller confined space of the backseat of the truck. He had only the front doors of the truck and he had to get her in the backseat. If you’ve ever seen a truck like that you would know how small the space is.

    • pamela devereux (@galeazzosgirl)

      I had no idea. Well-reasoned point,and important information.

    • Ralph Oscar

      Shan’Ann was certainly not a petite woman – she’d have been quite a lot of weight and mass for Chris to horse around. And just think about when rigor mortis set in!

      That’s terrifying about your daughter – I hope she’s okay.

  12. Karen

    I hope everyone doesn’t think this is a stupid question but does the cell phone still ping to towers if the battery is dead or if the battery is removed?

    • nickvdl


  13. LGW

    Suppose she came home and they really did get into it. She confronts him, says she has evidence of his cheating on her phone. He says Give me the phone. She says No. She stashed it in the couch before she approached him about it. Just maybe.

    • nickvdl

      Did she also take off her watch and stash it there?

      • LGW

        Ah, the iwatch. Forgot about that. I know the phone was found in the couch, but I don’t know what happened to her watch.

    • Nicole

      The thing that makes me think she was asleep when he killed her is #1 she was found with just her tshirt and underwear on and #2 her dad said he really thinks she had to be sleeping because he said shanann was a fighter and very good with her legs as in kicking. So i wonder if he was in the basement sleeping when she got home because he had been sleeping there since the return from north Carolina and she went straight to bed upstairs being tired n not feeling well as her friend confirmed and when she went to sleep that is when he got her.

  14. Shannon

    Her wedding ring, phone, watch off. Chris gives cops her ring.
    I still think he killed her downstairs, near the garage area. Easier to move.
    If he did push her, she would still be downstairs.
    I think he came up behind her, after she came home, purse bag downstairs. It would take her a few minutes to get in.
    Lights off, he’s waiting.
    Her one hand comes up to grab his hands other hand might not able to come up.
    They fall to ground, he’s on top of her.
    If in Rage, you can be pretty strong.
    Maybe she didn’t even make it upstairs.
    No mention of what she Wearing on plane.
    Bra, top on already. He takes off her pants.
    Grabs sheet to wrap her, in truck or ground. Interesting how he placed her body in the ground….the position. Not flat.
    They say hole about 9 inches deep…which her position would be hard to cover?
    Probably dragged by her hands.
    Kids already in truck. Oh maybe not…truck only moved once.
    Kids probably already gone.
    He’s running around like a lunatic, throws phone in the coach. Maybe doing a few other things.
    Gets truck, loads it.
    Deed done.

  15. Shannon

    This crazy case is so time consuming. It drives me crazy. But I like it…….lol

  16. Hides

    What if he had already planned this out, weeks, months a head of killing all 3 and baby Nico. No doubt he was once in love with Shanann and was a good dad. But deep down he wasn’t truelly happy, a lot of debt, Shanann constantly on Facebook with her thrive, he was stuck in a rut, going to work, coming home, kids then repeat. He fell in love hook, line and sinker with a new younger woman, he finally found that spark in him again and wanted to be with her and leave Shanann. He must of been pretty dunusional to think he could of got away with it, and who knows how long the circus would of continued if it wasn’t for Shananns best friend. I personally think he had already murdered the kids before she came home, I say this because when he was interviewed he said that one of the girls were already blue. If the body was already blue then she must of been killed prior. I believe with all the texts Shanann was sending him it was making him more distant and angry, she become a problem that needed to be dealt with. Shannan came home took her shoes off left her suitcase at the bottom of stairs came upstairs to see the girls, noticed that they were dead, Chris already waiting for her, with Shanann phone in hand, tussle happens, Shanann drops the phone on floor outside kids room then he kills her

  17. Karen

    Her dad said she was a fighter. There was no signs of a struggle on either her or Chris. Only bruise was where she was strangled. I think she was asleep when he killed her,maybe her arms trapped underneath the covers. I read that a coroner said she would have been aware before dying that he was killing her!😢

  18. Roelle Downer

    I too believe that there’s some truth to the baby monitor story except it was Shan’ann who saw something. Shan’ann’s flight was delayed so maybe Chris would not have known the exact time she would get home but he knew the exact time she walked into the house. What if Shan’ann got home, put her suitcase down, took her shoes off, put her bag in the kitchen, walked up the stairs to remove her pants quickly before checking on the girls but notices that something looks wrong on the baby monitor…either the girls are uncovered and look strange or Chris is in the middle of finishing his horrible deed. Based on how important her phone was to her for work etc. I believe it was with her when she went upstairs and must have grabbed it to call 911 while running to the girl’s rooms but Chris got to her before and a struggle ensued by the couch and her phone fell in between the cushions. Based on the autopsy report on the girls, it seems that Cece was asleep when he smothered her. Perhaps, Bella woke up because Shan’ann interrupted Chris and maybe Shan’ann was strangled and then he went back to Bella. I don’t think Chris had a clue that her phone was there. I think he then pulled up the sheets on their bed, tossed the pillows and then wrapped her in the sheet. Her body was in a fetal position, head down and one arm extended, which could mean that he dug the hole and then rolled her out of the sheet by pulling on it. In other words, he didn’t lift her or roll her out with his hands. He was planning this for a while. Remember the picture of a doll covered by a blanket that Chris sent to Shan’ann while she was on that last trip and she responded by saying that she doesn’t know what to make of it? It was taken by his phone. I believe he did it as a sick way of warning her of what was going to happen but she was busy questioning him about why he was so distant and didn’t ask him more about it and she probably thought the girls did it. Finally, his mistress seems so guilty to me and her phone interviews just seem off. She was interested in Shan’ann since September of 2017 and constantly looked her up. I’m not saying that she made Chris do what he did because he alone is responsible for his choices but I believe she knows much more than she claims to know.

    • joe

      Roelle that makes sense why she was wearing so little. Im pretty sure she wasn’t a sleep when she passed cause I dont think she wears bras to bed and her tooth brush was still in her bag.

  19. Meredith

    She was absolutely asleep. The fact that there were no defensive wounds alone pretty much guarantees that, but also consider the kind of person Chris is. He wouldn’t want any confrontation. If he could have made it so she never even knew what he was doing to her at all, I’m sure he would have.

  20. sheryl b

    I would never wear a bra to bed except when I was pregnant. Your boobs can become so tender and painful during the first few months that your bra can provide some relief while you sleep. I can totally see her sleeping in tshirt bra and panties.

    • Karen

      I agree about sleeping in a bra during pregnancy. As a matter of fact ,I remember my OBGYN recommending it when I was pregnant.I think she was in bed asleep when he killed her. Her Dad said she would have fought him if not because she was a fighter! There was no bodily signs of a struggle! I think he trapped her arms under the sheet, maybe strattled her with his knees on either side? She would not have been able to fight as she awoke even if she had realized what was happening and she would have awakened, I think! So sad!!! So awful to die knowing the father of your children was killing you!!!

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