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Bella and Celeste Watts: What if the cause of death WASN’T strangulation?

“A mother kills a child somewhere in the US once every three days.” – Cheryl Meyer,  psychologist at Wright State University in Ohio

On Monday we’ll know whether the autopsy reports will be made available to the media and the public or not. In the meantime, a rather disturbing possibility has emerged.

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What if the cause of the little girls’ deaths wasn’t strangulation? The only reason we already know the cause of all three deaths is because that’s the version Chris Watts has given. Should we believe him?

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The prosecution and the defense are in agreement that Chris Watts killed Shan’ann, although the defense will probable argue that her murder was a justifiable homicide. They may argue that Chris Watts, in an effort to subdue Shan’ann while she was strangling Celeste, strangled her. In other words, her murder was contingent on her murdering Celeste and was thus justifiable – Chris Watts was trying to save Celeste because he knew what Shan’ann had just done to Bella.JUSTIFIABLE+HOMICIDE+A+killing+without+evil+or+criminal+intent,+for+which+there+can+be+no+blame,+such+as+self-defense+to+protect+oneself+or.

At this point I don’t want to debate who murdered who. I do want to raise the possibility that the children weren’t killed by manual strangulation. But before dealing with the manner of death, let’s get real about what happened to the Watts children. It’s not nearly as uncommon as Americans imagine.

According to research conducted by Dr. Kimberly D. Dodson, an Associate Professor and Criminology Program Director  at the University of Houston:

Filicide is a serious problem in the United States. For example, from 1976 to 2007, 94,146 homicides were classified as filicides (or approximately 15 percent). Arrest data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Reports indicate that an average of 2,942 filicides occurred annually from 1976 to 2007. There was a peak in filicides between 1991 and 1995, with an average of 3,233 filicides each year. The yearly average of filicides declined between 2001 and 2005 to 2,668. Among developed countries, the United States ranks as one of the highest in rates of filicide (Ferguson, Miller-Stratton, Heinrich, Fritz, and Smith, 2007).

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At this point it’s no more than a hunch that the Watts children weren’t killed by strangulation. They may have been, and the autopsy reports might confirm this.

Strangling is a very personal crime, and one needs to be very invested in it to carry out, let alone more than once. If it’s traumatic for the victim, the length of the time required to choke the life out of the person exacts a degree of trauma on the perpetrator too, in this case the parents.

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One would expect in certain circumstances that a parent might wish to spare themselves – and perhaps their offspring – from this unnecessary trauma. In the Casey Anthony case, was Caylee drowned, strangled, suffocated with duct tape, or sedated not using Xanax but Chloroform?

If Caylee was sedated, then her exit out of this world may have been peaceful, if that’s the right word. This may have been the point, and in a premeditated scenario, although the parent wants their child dead, they don’t want to hurt the child. They also don’t want to be haunted by what they’ve done. It’s also the nature of child-rearing that children are often put to sleep, and this allows the parents freedom to get back to their own lives.

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In a premeditated murder scenario, the harmless and habitual “putting to sleep” scenario is simply extended to a permanent sleep. The drowning is another extension of that, where the children are drowned/suffocated in oil. But this isn’t to kill them, but to make them disappear.

True Crime Rocket Science believes – prior to the release of the autopsy report – there is strong reason to suspect the children were sedated. The Watts family were caught up in the use of chemicals [from Shan’ann’s Lupus medication, to Thrive patches stuck onto the body to oil and gas rigs].

If the children were often sedated to get them to sleep, then the temptation to sedate them permanently may have been too great.

On Monday we may know for sure.


  1. Pauline

    Originally I had wondered, where were the children when Chris was barbecuing. He’s alone with the children, can’t they come out to the balcony while he is making them dinner? Wouldn’t it have been nice for the neighbors to see all three Watts outside enjoying themselves? Yet, Chris is alone. Families with young children leave doors open so that children are not left to their own devices inside the home unattended. It was August too – very warm, not cold outside.

    My theory is that he gave them something he knew would “put them to sleep.” So now, since the criminal mind usually tells a bit of truth mixed in with lies, is it at all possible Sha’nann did make it up the stairs, checked on the girls, found Bella sprawled out and dead/blue and was actively trying to REVIVE Celeste. Not strangle her. This could have been in the loft area. It’s natural to think she would leave her purse on the kitchen table, but take he cell phone with her upstairs. He’d have to make sure no calls were made on that phone as he wrested it from her hands. Dead silent in that house. Even Deeter was locked away. Like a ghost town didn’t Chris say? She was then strangled from behind once she saw what he had done. So it’s just another possible scenario.

    When he is outside barbecuing alone, he has simply put them or laid them out on the couch, with a shroud over them similar to the doll placed on the couch. He covered his dolls.

  2. Pauline

    One other macabre thought – Sha’nann told others she was not feeling well during her Arizona LeVel trip. Might he have been trying to put something in her drinks or food prior to August 11, or given her a drink to take with her? She’s 15 weeks along, all kinds of reasons not to feel well, but I will say after the first trimester (12) you feel on top of the world.

  3. piktor

    State’s public announcements never give all the details on what they know about an investigation, or what they saw at the crime scene. They do this on purpose.
    When cops tell us they showed Watts a photo at CERVI 319, and that Watts told them where to find the girls, well… Watts is acknowledging his involvement in a crime.
    But we don’t know all what police already know. We know for a fact what the state wants us to know. We know for a fact police are on the correct trail to solving a triple murder. We don’t know what the coroner knows about this case. Prosecutors don’t want us to know what the coroner’s report says.

    Prosecution’s argument that coroner’s report is prejudicial is a bogus argument.

    A Jury heard the OJ Simpson case and despite the case looking a slam dunk for the prosecution, it was not. Same with Casey Anthony. Looked like a slam dunk…

    What the jury hears is not what people on the outside know. Juries know only what the opposing sides argue in Court. The jury gives its verdict based on that. Juries don’t get to hear the fulminations and learned opinions talking heads proffer outside the courtroom. The only thing that counts is what juries hear inside, at trial.

  4. Pauline

    I had a thought/question Piktor. Why would the D.A.’s office file a motion to seal the results of the autopsies if it’s prejudicial to the defendant they want to prosecute? Although the defense team has the results of the autopsies, there may be something contained therein that the prosecutors would rather wait to present at trial. What could that be?

    • piktor

      It has to do with a defendant’s right to a fair trial. Theoretically the jury pool could be prejudiced beyond remedy before the actual trial started. But this is bogus. No matter how ugly the facts, a coroner’s report is by law a public document. But… Prosecutors allege they don’t want a defendant’s issues of fairness ruin their case.

      The OJ Simpson case involved horrible crime scene photos, the manner of death was gruesome. Oddly enough, the wealth of evidence that guaranteed his conviction is what exonerated him. Same with Casey Anthony.

      Naked reality, what you and I know about a case, is not the same as lawyered reality. 😂

    • piktor

      This is the baroque degree to which lawyers will twist language in pursuit of points scored… eh…, sorry, in pursuit of “fairness”:

      • nickvdl

        Thanks for sharing.

  5. Pauline

    Also if you recall JonBenet Ramsey’s autopsy results were sealed for a period of time until the state Supreme Court ordered a partial release July 7 1997, seven months after her murder. More results were released 8/13/97. Time of death was not released at the time of this article. Truth is the ME really could not accurately fix time of death as he did not take vitreous eye fluids and instead relied on undigested pineapple in her digestive tract. Unfortunate. I hope the Weld County ME did a better job.

    • piktor

      The case was botched on day one. Local authorities executed a stellar display of incompetence.

      • nickvdl

        That’s a myth. The Ramseys were actually indicted, but kept up a good PR campaign suggesting otherwise. You’re one of millions who’ve assumed they weren’t arrested because of police incompetence. It was never about that. It was about controlling a narrative.

    • piktor

      Nick, the prosecution has to actually prove their case. Once the defense demonstrated the laughable flaws and rampant ineptitude of the prosecution’s forensics, the state’s case would have been laughed out of Court.
      The prosecution knew this. They had a narrative buttressed by a forensics wreckage. OJ deja vu all over again.

      • nickvdl

        With respect, I don’t think your knowledge of the Ramsey case is sufficient or accurate. There’s far more evidence in the Ramsey case than in the Scott Peterson case, and arguably in any other criminal case in the world.
        The Ramsey case is the Mount Everest of case files; rather than about how little evidence there is, it’s about how much. Over 60 000 pages.
        And you don’t seem to be getting the memo – the prosecution DID prove their case, that’s why the grand jury voted to indict both parents individually on two separate charges based on the evidence that was presented to them.

        Yes, the district attorney made an official statement saying HE didn’t believe there was enough evidence:

        “I must report to you that I and my prosecution task force believe we do not have sufficient evidence to warrant the filing of charges against anyone who has been investigated at this time.”

        A few years later Mary Lacy pursued John Mark Karr with zero evidence, and zero link to the case. He wasn’t even in Boulder when the crime happened. You place far too much trust in the authority or honesty of those in charge of criminal justice in Boulder, especially in a case famous for never going to trial.

        Part of the difficulty of the Ramsey case is the fact that Colorado law doesn’t recognize murder as murder if the perpetrator is under the age of 10 years. But being an accessory, and an adult, renders that argument moot.

      • piktor

        You are correct. My knowledge of the case is superficial and shallow.

        Had the defense, at that time, 1996-1999, challenge the state’s case in Court, the Everest would have turned into something less impressive than an anthill.

        It is also my shallow opinion the parents did a successful coverup and the murderer lived inside that home.

        • nickvdl

          I don’t think the evidence against the Ramseys amounts to an anthill. If it did I wouldn’t have had the material to write 3 trilogies +1, but another trilogy-in-waiting. I say again, a single hair in a needle-nosed pliers was enough to convict Scott Peterson. There was a lot more than that in the Ramsey case, and none of them had alibis.

        • nickvdl

          As a matter of fact the defense did challenge the state’s case. This was highly unusual in a grand jury trial, for the prosecutors to actually have a defense case as part of their case. Detective Lou Smit, who worked for both the Ramseys and the DA’s office, and who was a proponent of the intruder theory, was allowed to present the intruder theory to the grand jury.

          Initial reports trumpeted that it was Smit’s successful petitioning of the Ramsey case that got the Ramseys off the hook with the grand jury. The Ramseys also claimed the same thing in their book and in PR campaigns.

          After the grand jury cleared the parents however, the family’s lawyers launched a successful public relations offensive that convinced most of the public that the Ramsey’s were innocent.

  6. Pauline

    Watt’s story – that he saw Bella sprawled out and blue and his wife actively strangling CeCe so he flew into a rage and strangled her, doesn’t make any sense, really. If you are “in a rage” but you want to stop someone from doing something those two emotions don’t play out in a strangulation, which takes time. It’s a slow death. You must squeeze and squeeze until someone’s air is completely cut off, they lose consciousness and die. And they are kicking and moving around at the same time. To stop someone from doing something you would hit them over the head I would think, or shove them away. To stop someone from hurting another human being would your hands go for their throat? If you are “in a rage” you aren’t thinking either. He wants us to believe he first saw the three of them on the baby monitor and viewing them remotely caused feelings of rage. So if this is what he and his dad came up with, it’s pretty lame. I hope he tells us where all of this took place, so the prosecution can totally dismantle it.

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