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On the Night of the Murders What Was Chris Watts Doing?

In a previous post I’ve addressed the issue that Chris Watts’ head space – based on his social media – shows he was interested in sports on the weekend before the murders. This aspect forms part of research I’ve been digging into for the third TWO FACE book.

Now as a matter of fact, there’s another clue to Chris Watts’ habits when he was home without Shan’ann, and it comes from Shan’ann herself. It’s not easy to find but it is out there:

Fullscreen capture 20180909 073728-002

The t-bones for dinner three nights in a row suggest he was fond of barbecuing, and the sleeping in and working out also suggests – when given the choice, when given the freedom – how he preferred to hang out.

Remember June 30th Shan’ann and the kids were in Aberdeen visiting her folks in North Carolina as part of her six-week trip. Chris Watts was alone at home enjoying the run of the house.

Incidentally, the above post is now no longer available on Shan’ann’s Facebook feed. Her posts stop at around the June 28 mark. I was fortunate to take a screengrab early on before Shan’ann’s most recent Facebook posts became inaccessible, otherwise this crucial insight wouldn’t be available.

I will deal with the dinner, what it was on August 12th and its importance to this case in a separate post. For now we want to look at what Chris Watts was doing besides eating dinner.

If he was watching sport he was likely on the couch, and if he was on the couch with his kids, or monitoring them after they went to bed but before he went to bed, or if he wanted to be close to them while they slept while watching sport [perhaps with the sound down], then he was probably in this room:

Fullscreen capture 20181007 141027DpBVbk3V4AAUyDODpBVelRUcAAUtznFullscreen capture 20181010 195123

In his August 14 Sermon on the Porch Chris Watts mentions briefly how he spent the night of August 13th alone without any of the kids in the house. The clip below opens at the relevant moment.

WATTS: Last night I had every light in the house on…I was hoping that I would just get- just ran-over by the kids just runnin’ in the door. Just-like barrel-rushin’ me. But it didn’t happen [holds back a smile]. 

We’re not going to spend much time analysing this, except to note:

  1. Why is it necessary to say he had every light on in the house? Was that because he was conscious of having all the lights off [or on] on the night of the murders?
  2. Whether or not he really wanted to be “barrel-rushed”, what’s interesting here is his default impression of his own children. That they sort of physically collide into him and push him around inside the home.

Now we jump to Shan’ann on the loft couch, in the loft lounge, with the kids doing what they do on the couch.

SHAN’ANN: Look at this monster. This is what I deal with. She’s a monster. Don’t you jump off the couch. [Groans as Ceecee falls against her hip]. [Whispers]: She’s a monster. Like…she doesn’t stop. Like seriously…this kid…[grunts again as Ceecee falls on her chest]…hasn’t napped today…

Notice in the background to the above the screengrabs is the television. The kids are basically between the viewer and the screen.

So what I want to illustrate here, and I guess juxtapose, is the situation that was probably going down that weekend. Some have speculated that Chris Watts “just snapped”.

I think that’s simplistic, but it’s not to say the kids being rambunctious while he was trying to watch sport, and Shan’ann was AWOL in Arizona, didn’t trigger some sort of reaction. It may have, especially when we look at what Chris Watts may have wanted to watch on that final weekend before the family murders.

Although I’m presenting a scenario here, I nevertheless want to be clear that I don’t believe this was a case of a sudden fit of pique. The psychology doesn’t match, and neither does the cool calculation of the disposal. Even so, the situation in the home and circumstances over the weekend and leading up to the night of the murders are of VITAL importance.

And it all started with this…


We know for a fact that the Watts parents were ardent Steelers fans. Guess what happened on Friday August 10th, the day Shan’ann flew out to Arizona?


Fullscreen capture 20181015 192249

Since this was the first Steelers’ game of the season, it was likely to be a big deal, something Chris Watts [and any Steelers fan] would have looked forward to. Now imagine trying to watch the game on Friday with the two kids wanting to do their thing on the couch, and Shan’ann not being around to do her share of the parenting.

Fullscreen capture 20181015 192436

Besides football on Friday, there was also another big game involving a big local team.


Fullscreen capture 20181015 191730

Chris Watts liked this tweet [see below] by NFL Receiver, 2 time super bowl champion, and co-host of 104.3 in Denver Brandon Stokley. Notice the date. It suggests 1) Chris Watts is a supporter of the Colorado Rockies, and 2) that he watched the game.

In the same way the Steelers game was a big deal, so was this game. We don’ know whether Chris Watts went to the concert, or wanted to go [with someone], but we do know Shan’ann mentioned the social calendar in Colorado and how often they could go to concerts, and THRIVE gave them the energy to do so with their kids.

Besides football and baseball there was also a third big sporting event playing out on that fateful weekend.


Fullscreen capture 20181015 194904-001

It’s not 100% certain that Chris Watts was interested in golf, but we know he also liked Stokley’s tweet posted on August 12th about Tiger Woods. Well, Woods was playing in a three-day tournament that lasted the entire weekend. If Stokley was saying Woods was fun to watch, and Chris Watts was agreeing, then doesn’t that suggest Chris Watts was watching the PGA – and Tiger – the entire weekend?

If the sport was compelling, exciting and ongoing, then we can imagine what “two monsters” may have been like to deal with not just on one day and night, but three in a row, when Watts wanted to get his football, baseball and golf fixes.

The fact that Shan’ann’s flight was also delayed by several hours may have meant Watts eventually did snap. Maybe one of the kids barrel-rushed him one-time too many and he COMPLETELY lost it.


  1. Pauline

    Well, I have entertained the idea that the long weekend with just Chris and the kids may have played a part in this. Add to the mix that he wanted to do something for himself – watch the sports he wanted to watch with two girls who just won’t quit (and who can blame them, their mother is constantly talking to pictures on a laptop or cell phone as they beg for attention) he may not have necessarily snapped but “lost it” – does that work? He was obligated to take them to a kiddie birthday party, when there were other things he wanted to do too, which he dutifully did, plus always being told what to do by a bossy wife it all could have come to a head. Then of course he has no choice but to take out the mother when she comes home, how else could he explain what happened. He couldn’t. Put it all together with not liking his home life, having a girlfriend, etc. I’d still like to go with that he planned it though. Because if he did lose it or snap, wouldn’t he have regrets? Yet there he was, barbecuing on the porch as if he hadn’t a care in the world.

  2. Pauline

    I’m kind of in shock. It could have been just that simple. Because it all does have an air of not being planned. Certainly not in the way Scott Peterson planned. More in alignment with Casey Anthony. Too many long days and weekends cooped up with her daughter when there were so many other places she wanted to be. – and a dominating mother telling her no, you will stay home with your daughter, you will be a good mother. We’ve all been wracking our brains trying to figure out if he ever loved his kids, or maybe she caused him to start seeing everything as disconnected to him, or that all he needed was a weekend when she was going to be gone so he could carry out his dastardly deeds. But afterwards he knew what he had to do, and he had to do it when she walked in the door. And by the way, there is a video where he is watching TV with Bella and his dad is there in another easy chair. Sha’nann is, of course, trying to do her video with CeCe climbing all over her and jumping on the couch. Then CeCe gets up on her trike and Chris says, really quite sternly, “CeCe get down.” She doesn’t so he says it very forcefully the second time, and he sounds mad. He doesn’t sound like the smiling two faced dad he has performed for for the camera.

    • nickvdl

      So if Chris Watts’ defense at trial is that he “just snapped” you’d believe him?

      • Cheryl

        Not having all the facts, I don’t know. Based on what we do know, I think a good defense could make a case for it. Having said that, I always travel back to the total lack of remorse displayed during the porch interviews, which makes me think there was some thought devoted to the murders. However, It may have been a fantasy of escape and redemption set in motion by an unplanned scenario such as the one you describe.

        • nickvdl

          That’s what caught the public’s imagination – his strange affect on the porch. The Casey Anthony case – and Jodi Arias and Amanda Knox too btw – shows that acting weird may awaken public ire, but it doesn’t always fly in court. Ironically, Scott Peterson’s tone and attitude in his recorded calls to Amber was what got him convicted. Not evidence.

      • Pauline

        No, and I don’t think for one minute the defense will offer that scenario. For one we have no evidence of it at all, it’s just a theory. The concept “just snapped” means different things to different people too – for some it means some kind of psychological break with reality. For others it means they have anger management “issues”, none of which we’ve seen any evidence of or read anything about his behavior with past girlfriends or his parents or friends. In fact, we’ve heard the opposite, he was dedicated diligent, studious, etc. It’s hard to believe someone snaps because their kids are jumping all over them when they’re trying to watch a game.

        However when we take everything else that was going on for him that we do know – financial problems, a wife who is making videos and starring her family in them constantly, his on-going affair, their recent arguing, the long 5 week separation, his disinterest at the 6th week time frame – and finally a long weekend at home with kids by himself he may have lost it. Or another scenario is that he could have drugged them so he could watch his sports (after the party of course) and he overdid it or intentionally overdid it.

        His defense will show that it was a happy loving family, as best they can, and that his wife believing her marriage over did the unthinkable. And he was just trying to stop her – and was unsuccessful. His body hiding activities will, of course, be hard to explain. As will his porch sermon when he knew what he knew.

    • Marie

      I don’t know if we can read too much into the tone of voice when correcting his child. There are always going to be times when children need to be spoken to sternly, or sharply. I don’t think that plays into the idea of being two face. That is just parenting. I just think Its become hard to separate the footage of what we see in the past without the knowledge of the tragedy that looms in the future.

      • nickvdl

        Maybe. But when you’re live on Facebook you know people are watching and listening, so you’d think the tone of voice is kinder than when the camera’s not on. Shan’ann’s tone of voice in several videos is quite sharp.

  3. Cheryl

    Very Interesting context for the immediate catalyst that resulted in Chris’s murdering the children and later Shan’ann: wanting to binge-watch sports but female children and an absentee mother are interfering with male joy. Football, in particular, is a very masculine sport. Culturally, women don’t have entree into it, other than as spectators or cheerleaders whose appointed realm is an end zone seat or the sidelines. There are big, sweaty male bodies slamming against each other and, along with that, a prevailing danger of annihilation, whether it be career- or life-ending. It is a completely male fantasy, a weekend virtual man cave that provides men with a refuge from what many regard as an increasingly pussy-inundated world—at work and at home. In Chris’s case, contrast this stud muffin fanatasia with a snarky, domineering wife, unruly female children, who, in his mind, she’s failed to properly discipline, and then add to this misery a struggle with one’s sexual identity while retaining a mistress likely making her own demands on his time and masculinity, and you have a pressure cooker of frustration, misplaced anger and resentment ready to blow the lid and boil over. And it did.

    • nickvdl

      They do seem unruly don’t they? The issue of whether they’ve been properly disciplined is a tough one, but one I’m delving into in TWO POLLYANNAS.

      • Cheryl

        I’m looking forward to your next book on this case. I’m currently reading the Dark Star series. I cut my teeth on the internet following the Jonbenet case in the late 90s. However, I became so disgusted with the lack of political will to bring rich people to justice that I just abandoned it. Reading your series is a retrospective for me and has reinvigorated my interest in the case.

      • Pauline

        The way she disciplines them are time outs and sending them to bed. How can she provide structure or boundaries when she’s constantly talking into an electronic device. When her husband comes home there is hardly any acknowledgment – like when he got the pizza for them, no ” thank you”, no “daddy’s home.” Many times it looks like she’s withholding food. Waiving pro bars around but not allowing them to have it except when she’s ready seems like torture. Then there were all of the childhood illnesses, which is natural, it’s how they build up their immune system, but the camera keeps rolling. If he could make a case that Thrive killed all of them ……

  4. nickvdl

    Well Pauline, as I explained exhaustively in a previous post many criminals use the “just snapped” defense, and do so successfully.

    Oscar Pistorius did, Jodi Arias beat her death sentence with her fog, and Casey Anthony arguably also used the “just snapped” defense. She wanted to be free and “just snapped”.

    You’ve just admitted to being duped by it yourself, as long as it’s the prosecution’s version. The “just snapped” theory will never be the prosecution’s version because what it does is it divorces the circumstances completely from reality, and actually pleads for automatism. It’s a motiveless murder, or an intentionless murder, and if you know the law, you need an intention to be found guilty of murder. That’s what “just snapped” means, and why it’s used in so many defense cases.

    What beggars belief is how many people on social media and in forums repeat the same thing – monster, psychopath, narcissist, just snapped. They don’t realize they’re all are perpetuating a defense, a defense case and a defensible case.

    “Just snapped” invokes automatism:

    “Automatism means that the defendant was not aware of his or her actions when making the particular movements that constituted the illegal act.”

    If murders through automatism were as common as you imagine, then every day millions if not billions of people would be murdered because parents and children “just snapped” at each other. People “just snap” at each other every day. Teenagers “just snap” at their parents, and parents “just snap” at their teenage children. Why don’t all these instances lead to murder? Most right-minded people realize that murder involves a teeny little bit more context than a mood swing.

    So no, I don’t think Chris Watts murdered his daughter because she spilled a vanilla milkshake on his shirt. And yes, I do think their murders had something to do with slightly big issues like bankruptcy, living beyond one’s means, having a mistress, coming from a hard-scrabble background, an imminent third pregnancy, the malaise of MLM and the myriad other factors that formed part of the fabric of their reality. Family dynamics also played an important part in the overall the dynamics of the crime.

    But one thing this wasn’t was “JUST SNAPPED”.

    Here’s the definition of automatism. You might want to look it up and read about it, so you know when you use the “Just Snapped” theory again, what you’re actually referring to [which as I say, is a legal defense]:

  5. Pauline

    Sorry if I gave that impression, that I buy into a lost it or snapped theory. I don’t. I’m merely considering that he could have been pushed to the limit on a long weekend home with the kids when he’d rather be doing something other than babysitting. That’s why I said it was shocking to even consider snapping. I think he started to think about getting rid of everyone when she left for North Carolina for 5 weeks. And that he needed an opportunity – some time when she would be out of town without the kids, and his opportunity came with her trip to Arizona. As I said there are factors that lead up to a killing, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum, especially three people. Not likely that wanting to stay glued to the television and watch sports would have caused any kind of “snapping.” He had a large break from child-minding in there too – he had to take the kids to the birthday party. Other people could tend to the kid activities in such a setting. Jeremy Lindstrom, who hosted the birthday party for his son, said Chris and the kids appeared normal, nothing out of the ordinary. To me he already knew what he was going to do, and wanted their last day on earth to at least be a fun one, and one where he too could appear calm and his helpful wonderful self.

    Just from a psychological perspective snapped means something different when we’re talking about a break with reality. He exhibited none of the telltale signs afterward of someone who suffered a breakdown from reality. Even considering the word snapped from another perspective, that he became angry and “lost it” – it doesn’t fit what we know about him and his past, and what his friend said about him. Persistent and diligent, yes, short-fused, no.

    • nickvdl

      Okay, continue using “he just snapped” to explain crimes. I just don’t know what value you find on this site. This site is about advanced psychology and trying to understand intricate dynamics. “He just snapped” is the kindergarten section where you purposefully exclude everything about a person, and boil it down to a reptilian response that any other person substituted in the same situation – including you – would have. Because that’s what “he just snapped” means. It means “I could see myself snapping under those circumstances, now I understand the murder.” No, it means you’ve just sticky taped your own psychology over someone else’s.

      How many times must I explain the same thing?

      • Pauline

        I just said, multiple times, that I DON’T buy a “just snapped” theory to explain crimes. How many times must I explain the same thing? I’ve never bought it, ever.

        I knew this would get contentious at some point and like Terri, I’m out of here.

      • nickvdl

        Glad you find it amusing. If you follow her comments, Pauline says she’s shocked, because the “just snapped” theory actually makes complete sense.

        Then when I asked if Chris Watts had to use that as a defense, if she’d believe him, then she said no.

        Pauline has read many of my books. It’s depressing that she still thinks so simplistically about cases when I’ve gone to so much trouble to connect the backstories and the psychological fabric t the circumstances leading up to the crime. For followers of this blog it’s fine if your true crime skills are a little rusty. For someone who has read even one of my books, it ought to be clear by now how many elements knit together to form a murder. Even murders like Oscar Pistorius’ aren’t accidents if they’re accidents waiting to happen. It’s not a case of “just snapping” as much as someone snapping all the time, and then the inevitability of murder.

        I also don’t think muddying the psychology is amusing at all.

  6. Pauline

    What the prosecution will use is his on-going affair with the girlfriend. And the autopsy results, which I think they are sitting on something stunning.

    • Karen Welch

      I’m quite fascinated myself that the ME and the prosecutor want to keep the autopsy reports sealed until trial. Have any of you read through all of the documents on the motions?

  7. Karen WelchKaren

    remember though, Shanann hadn’t made any videos at all in Aug and only a handful in July. I think maybe 5 or 8.

  8. Karen Welch

    do you know when your next book will be out?

    • nickvdl

      First week of November.

  9. BAMS13

    There was a recent case in Australia of a Father that snapped and killed his adult son so he could watch his favorite sport game. His 23 year old son asked to borrow his Dads car which infuriated him and made him snap as he needed it later that day to get to his friends house. After killing his son, he started to bury him in the garden but stopped so he wouldn’t be late to watch the game. The other son was asked to finish the job. It does happen. Crazy but true.

    • BAMS13

      Oh and for the record, these aren’t my words but the words all over the news. He “snapped” was their simplistic explanation. Nobody ever just snaps. There’s a complicated history and story behind what happened.

    • nickvdl

      Do you know the name of the father and son. Would like to look this case up. There was probably abuse and problems leading up to the snap, I imagine.

      • BAMS13

        Yes you’re exactly right, the father said there had been ongoing abuse leading up to the murder. The names are Ernest Albert Fisher and Matthew Kyle Fisher-Turner.

  10. nickvdl

    Excellent, I’ll look into it. Thank you.

  11. Shannon

    All of the Comments are Good. I personally think She drove him to kill them all. After years of being abused by her.
    I don’t understand why he accepted this Plea Deal and now finding out there is a Clause for him to maybe fight for a lessor sentence. I wrote it down, what’s its called and now can’t find it.
    I love this Articles on this Case.

  12. lee

    Here is the Police body cam 6/13/2018 Monday 2:28pm- 2:49 pm –When Chris Watts was shock by neighbor’s surveillance footage. What was Chris texting to mistress ?. Mistress texted back to Chris at 8/13/2018 2:44pm “AMG, That is redicilious, THEY will be FREAK OUT ” * copy and paste from here- The mistress and Chris’ partially recovered text message screen shot ( **By the way, this police bodycam time was setup wrong , When *police first arrive should be 1:40 ( or 1:50pm) ; This police bodycam time need to minus– 6 hours =correct time calculated based on discovery police report ) pdf page5 _

  13. Green

    Was the mistress in Watts house for dinner ( after 5:47 pm) on the night of murder?
    Why did Chris take photo of his cooking- “four chicken breasts”( too much chickens for himself)? Unless….he was inviting his mistress over for dinner?
    (discovery pdf page1922 : Chris Watts phone activity:
    “8/12/2018 Sunday 1847 hours( = 5:47pm) : a photo of four chicken breast on a barbeque grill was created in his image file”)

  14. bassekrokke

    If Chris Watts suddenly had a decent amount of disposable income what do you think he would do with it. (Without considering spending in re to Nikki.) He seems content with the work truck, an he probably already has lots of new and new-ish clothes complimenta of Shanann … image is all, y’all.

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