Three coffins, not four. Three hearses, not four. Three graves, not four. And the unborn child’s name was Niko, not Nico.
At the end of the funeral service at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pinehurst, North Carolina on September 1st, 2018, a video recording [see below] shows three coffins exiting the church.
The autopsy results aren’t available, but the funeral and grave site suggest that Niko’s remains were either removed, destroyed or buried with his mother.
Was Niko Buried With Shan’ann Watts?
It’s difficult to speculate what the norm would be in a criminal case, especially where an autopsy would need to be performed on both the mother and fetus. But generally speaking, if an early term pregnant woman dies: is the baby removed and buried separately?
The answer probably depends on a case by case basis. What is the the wish of the family?
In some cases, such as this one reported by The Sun, a young mother who died of cervical cancer had her baby sewn back into her post mortem and buried with her [as this was apparently her wish]:
…five-and-a-half months into her pregnancy [Scarlett De-Lacey, 18] suddenly collapsed and was rushed to hospital after suffering deep-vein thrombosis which caused a blood clot in her leg. Doctors were unable to save Scarlett or her unborn baby Rocco, and after delivering him by caesarean, sewed him back inside his mum for burial. Gayle, from Newport, Wales, explained: “Rocco was too young, legally, to require a separate burial and I was asked if I’d like him put back inside Scarlett.”
“I knew that was what she would have wanted, so they’d be together forever. Her baby was back where he belonged.”
It’s possible that 15-week-old Niko was also too young to “qualify” for a separate burial, as Colorado law currently only recognizes the rights of a fully-fledged person at a particular point post-conception. What is that point? Live birth.
According to Westword:
To be considered a person…a baby has to be born alive. As proof, t[lawyers] cited a 2008 case in which doctors performed a C-section on a woman who was five months pregnant when she was in a car accident that caused her placenta to detach from the uterine wall. A Colorado appeals court ruled that she could sue the driver who caused the crash because the premature baby lived briefly — even if it was only for an hour and six minutes.
Count 6 of the arrest affidavit states “the woman died as a result of the unlawful termination of the pregnancy”. Does this mean the fetus was removed from Shan’ann’s body, prior to the first burial at CERVI 319?
One reason for the murderer to do this would be contingent on rational premeditation: to break the link between the remains of a pregnant victim and and Shan’ann – assuming Chris Watts succeeded in getting away with her murder. Let’s face it, he thought he would as all would-be-murderers do.
In other words, by sequestrating the fetus from Shan’ann’s corpse, if Shan’ann’s remains were ever found, the absence of the fetus could “prove” it wasn’t her. In such a scenario her DNA would need to be destroyed too, perhaps through chemical means.
In the Scott Peterson case, the mother and child’s remains washed up a mile from one another. At the time, three months after Laci’s disappearance, there was uncertainty whether either cadaver was related to the Peterson case. It required specialized DNA tests to confirm the corpse as Laci and the smaller body as Conner’s.
Without access to the autopsy evidence, we can’t know for sure whether this grotesque processing of the corpse/s occurred or not. Given the efforts to dispose of the three bodies, all three in separate “graves” at a remote site under the cover of darkness, there appears to be some reason to suspect the defendant may have made the effort to remove the fetus before burial and disposal.
On the other hand, the affidavit makes no mention of blood evidence inside the Watts home when the first safety inspection was made. A removal of a living fetus, if it happened, would have been very bloody and difficult to clean up, especially if it occurred over a short span of time – only two to three hours in this case.
What’s in a Name?
At the grave site and in the funeral flyer, Niko’s name is spelled “Nico”. This has led some to speculate that Shan’ann named “Nico” after her “best friend” Nickole Utoft Atkinson.
It’s a nice story. Going through the media narrative it’s clear that the Watts themselves intended to call their son Niko. Niko with a K, not a C. This has led to speculation – not unfounded in my view – that the name-choice and the specificity of the spelling was a nod to another Nichol with a surname beginning with the letter K.
Niko with a K is unusual. I should know, I’ve seen my birth name – Nicolas – misspelled over the years, but never as Nikolas, and almost never shortened as Nik or Niko.
There’s something else too. Celeste, the second-born daughter, took their mother’s second name. Niko was the first child to take Christopher Lee Watts’ middle name as his own. Niko Lee may or may not have been a symbolic message to his mistress-in-waiting. Maybe if the third child was unplanned, as a gesture of good faith or his future commitment, or even as a kind of apology, naming his son in some way after his mistress may have sent a symbolic message to her.
If so, it wasn’t enough.
Significantly there appears to be purposeful changing of the spelling at the funeral and the grave of the unborn child’s name, as if to undo this intention. Either that or it was a simple mistake, a misspelling.*
*Shortly after the murders in mid-August, an effort was launched to initiate “Niko’s Law”. The ongoing petition is in aid of changing Colorado law so that it recognizes unborn children as people. As of this writing, the petition has over 96 680 signatures.
TWO FACE is the definitive narrative on the Watts case available exclusively on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.