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The Story Behind the T-Shirt Chris Watts was wearing during his Sermon on the Porch

At 12:56 in the audio clip below, a female reporter abruptly asks Chris Watts about his shirt. Reporters [and in court trial lawyers] often make the mistake of asking vague and open-ended questions. There’s a place for that, but there’s also a place for targeted interrogation.

Direct and specific questions tend to catch suspects off guard, and sometimes the silliest question [if it’s informed] can solicit an unexpected insight. Well, this was one of those.

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REPORTER: Shan’ann went tuh…where’d you get that shirt?

WATTS: Oh…this is uh…I think she got it off Amazon, but this is the…my favorite college sports team. 

REPORTER: Sh-she…was-wasn’t she just there?

WATTS: She was-yeah, North Carolina, yep. She prob-she actually probably got it from there. Usually she gets stuff from Amazon. But this one…I like these shirts [laughs] a lot. 

There’s so much to mine out of this brief repartee. Firstly, especially when one listens to the same clip a few times, it actually sounds like the female reporter is purposefully trying to catch him out – catch him in a lie.

One suspects she was one of a few journos listening-in while he was giving his spiel and the more he said, the less she was buying it.

Now, when she asks her question, she misspeaks, basically firing off the punchline by mistake before she can lead him into her snare. Kudos to her, she changes her question in mid-sentence, making it sound like she’s forgotten what she meant to say and then just throws out a random question, except it’s not random.

The second point is that the reporter does actually succeed in catching Watts in a little lie. The fact that he lies about something so seemingly insignificant suggests this guy is a lot sneakier in general than we suspect. If he lies casually like this to the media didn’t he lie about anything and everything?

When we look at images of Watts, we forget he’s facing at least half a dozen journos – strangers – standing around him. He’s a fox in front of the media, isn’t he? A silver fox trying to outsmart the journos.

Apparently he’d outsmarted Shan’ann with his smoothness, and it had gotten him this far. Or so he thought. Maybe some wives give the impression to some husbands that they’re good liars, and it leads to false confidence.

The third insight from this short dialogue is that Chris Watts admits to being a big sports buff. I’ve written a previous blog probing at the events that played out over the weekend prior to the murders, and it’s certain there were a bunch of big sporting events he would have wanted to catch. The Carolina Tar Heels first football game of the season, however, was on September 1st. Watts was in jail when they lost 17 – 24 to California.

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There’s something that feels immature about this guy standing on the porch in shorts and slops on a work day, a week day, wearing a t-shirt with the logo of his “favorite” college football, talking to the media about his missing [murdered] family.

It’s difficult to say what it is exactly. Reading between the lines, although Watts avoids saying his wife’s name, he admits that his wife bought him the shirt. There’s a sense there of coddling, assuming it’s true. Consider the cruel irony, to be standing there with your wife dead and buried, wearing the t-shirt she ‘s given to him, and luxuriating in being able to wear the shirt of his favorite sports team while shrugging and smiling for the cameras. It speaks, I think of conceit. And selfishness.

Finally the reporter reminds Watts that she’s aware that Shan’ann was just in North Carolina, and then, easy-as-you please, he changes his story to say Shan’ann didn’t buy it on Amazon after all, but bought it while she was in North Carolina. Actually she probably bought it for him while he was there with her, otherwise when else would she have given it to him?

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In addition, there are a few incidental observations surrounding the t-shirt worth highlighting:

That white object appears to be a holder for the garage keypad. It’s not a light, the exterior lights are similar to the one above Watts head.

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The light on the wall where the keypad is, is just out of picture.

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A zoomed in view confirms the lower part of this plastic object appears to be a receptacle for the remote, which slots in from above.

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Finally, Watts isn’t wearing a watch or wedding ring in these pictures. Going through the archive it’s a mixed bag, with some photos showing him wearing what appears to be a black wedding band, and often a colored wristband on the opposite wrist, and sometimes a watch, but not always. The physical and greasy nature of his work probably meant he often had to remove things from his finger and wrists when he was getting his hands dirty.Fullscreen capture 20181020 233823


  1. Debbie R

    In the top picture, it appears as though there is a lump or swelling on Chris’s left temple. Is it my imagination or a trick of light and shadow?

    • Roxy M

      Excellent way to describe him,”Silver Fox”–Silver Nasty Fox!👹👺

  2. nickvdl

    He’s furrowing his brow, which creates that impression. In the picture alongside there’s no obvious swelling on his forehead. He does have a reddish scratch on his neck though.

  3. Pauline

    The silver fox always seems to be tying to give back what he thinks people want to hear. He slides in and out of the truth often changing his story to fit whatever new scenario emerges. I think he was never going to be much in life the way he was going, and he latched on to Sha’nann like a parasite to a host, until he felt he had enough strength to go it alone. And of course his girlfriend would have gotten a different version of what he wanted to project, likely none of it true either. Because the real Chris Watts was nothing much to begin with. If we can believe Trent Bolte he said – or his brother said – Watts was “trapped in a loveless marriage.” He wasn’t trapped. He put himself there and stayed there until he felt he had gotten some kind of identity for himself,having never had much of one to begin with, and could break free and try living on his own. What kind of message was he given as a boy. “If you work hard son you can achieve mediocrity. It won’t be much but we’ve learned to live with it and some day you might have a nice house to show for it.” Just keep showing up, hit your marks, and play your role.

  4. Kat

    Another thing that really irritates me about this family is that they constantly wore clothing with messages on it. It’s like they were trying so hard to appear normal but even that wasn’t enough, they had to reinforce it with the corny messages on their clothing….even those poor kids.

    • nickvdl

      Excellent point Kat. I’m going to do a post highlighting all the shirt graffiti.

    • Cheryl

      I think wearing clothing with messages is similar to product-labeling, which results in commodifying their own humanity.

      • nickvdl

        Commodifying is the word. Making people into material things means, like material things, they can be thrown away when they’re no longer economically useful.

      • Grace

        “Commodifying”. Love this word, thank you! There was a reason I disliked the disingenuous messages scrawled on shirts, living room walls, etc…I thought it was kitschy, but actually it’s the commodifying of people and places that bothers me. As if we will feel better about ourselves if we have our own slogans.

  5. Cheryl

    As far as Chris’s (the Silver Fox’s) comfort with lying, I’ve lived with two individuals who were both pathological liars (I.e., they lied when there was no reason to do so), one as I was growing up and the other when I became an adult. While this type of lying speaks to a sense of entitlement, it also provides a fantasy world for the liar, where he can avoid, for a time, having to deal with reality. By default, that job is left for someone else, who is often labeled pessimistic, a shrew, even crazy. When confronted with his lies, the seemingly docile liar sometimes explodes into a rage, because the construct of his lies is fragile and undermining it with an insistence on facing reality threatens his artificial self. However, to live for several years with a liar of this caliber requires cooperation: a willingness to suspend disbelief and believe in the lies yourself (e.g., “Chris is my rock, amazing, etc.). While I think Shan’ann regularly challenged Chris’s false sense of self by being critical and dismissive, I also believe she was an active participant in weaving the web of lies that manifested in the macmansion, bloated mortgage, Thrive therapy, too many children, and financial ruin. In the end, none of the perky labels or simplistic motivational messages could camouflage this family’s pathos and now stand as ironic signposts to their self-destruction.

    • nickvdl

      Cheryl I think pathological lying has to do with a convenience-attitude to reality. Just pick and choose the stuff that suits you, and throw away the rest. Unfortunately capitalism encourages this, were we can have everything we want, just as and when we want it, color-coded, customized, just the right flavor etc. And this psychology creates the impression that life is a game that’s simply there to entertain us and make us happy. We get rid of what we don’t like, and at its shallowest, it manifests as getting rid of people [permanently] because they’re spoiling the vibe.
      I’ve also known a few people who lie about insignificant details and appear to be extremely weak people. I do think the more insignificant someone feels the more they try to compensate – and as soon as one does that with deceits, I think there’s a recipe for being caught up in one’s own delusions. Delusional people aren’t only out of touch with reality, but out of touch with their own reality. That can’t or won’t see or accept who they are or the circumstances they have often created for themselves.It’s all someone else’s doing, and getting rid of them is part of their solution.
      Entitlement is also a big part of it. I deserve to be happy, even if it’s at your expense. If you lose, I win. There’s a problem with the wiring, where the pathological liar/criminal can’t seem to imagine real life consequences such as been arrested, going to court or standing trial and actually paying for what they’ve done.
      Their entire lives are geared to not paying for what they get. They simply deserve to have what they want.
      Probably, in jail, Watts is imagining scenarios where he will somehow not be held accountable or not need to. At the same time he’s probably imagining scenarios in which he is, or could be, or should be innocent. Such as that he confronted Shan’ann on the landing at the top of the stairs and she fell down. A change from a previous claim, but that doesn’t matter as long as it sticks. Know what I mean?

      • Cheryl

        Brilliant, Nick. I appreciate that you so clearly tie capatalism to the pathological commodification of our humanity, which makes us all mutually disposable. I also understand exactly what you mean about the self-delusional nature of lying. My father was a consummate liar who was addicted to his own self-delusion. Like Chris, he was a mechanic but was ashamed of his blue collar status, particularly since my mother was a white collar, very well respected high school English teacher. Like Shan’ann , she constantly disparaged my father for what she considered his inferior stature, his inability to measure up. I will never forget accompanying him to the hospital when he was having severe stomach pain due to ulcers. When a practitioner asked him about his profession as part of filling out the intake form, he said he was a professor at a local university. I was astounded, but I also found his self-delusion pathetic. Years later I married someone who was also an inveterate liar. Like my mother, I stayed with him for many years and in doing so was complicit in his fantasies—particularly those he promoted about himself. Years after we separated and finally divorced I wondered why I didn’t see him for what he was: a facile liar. In finally confronting my share of the blame, I realized the signs were there from the very beginning; I just didn’t want to read them.

        • nickvdl

          Thanks for your honesty, Cheryl. It’s only when we admit mistakes – which is painful – that we move beyond them and grow. Ironically, in our desperation to hold onto fantasies, our lies become our prisons. We are our greatest jailers.

    • fromheretohome

      Great observation Cheryl… and the part of Nick’s comment where he says “Probably, in jail, Watts is imagining scenarios where he will somehow not be held accountable or not need to. At the same time he’s probably imagining scenarios in which he is, or could be, or should be innocent – Hit’s the nail right on the head.
      No matter what story he spins or how many times that story changes… everyone MUST believe it.

      • Cheryl

        Thank you, fromheretohome. Exactly—everyone must believe the liar’s lies. Exactly!

  6. Cheryl

    Thanks, Nick. “We are our greatest jailers”—indeed…

  7. Kat

    Cheryl, great posts, “commodifying”, yea.

    Nick, on your next fascinating blog I was wondering if you could post the pics of S and CW on vacation in their bathing suits? There were two or three of them that they showed on HLN. There was something about those photos that bothered me, and I don’t mean her fake boobs, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I’ve looked for them online but cannot find. I’d love to study them and see what it is that bugged me. Thanks!

    • nickvdl

      Will do. I wonder when the fake boobs happened.

    • Cheryl

      Thank you, Kay.

      • Cheryl

        I meant Kat. Sorry.

  8. Karen

    I only have a second here and I’ll post more about this later but when he was doing the driveway interview he’s got his arms wrapped around himself, etc, when he’s asked about the shirt the arms unwrap, feet apart, showing off his shirt. Soon as the reporter goes back into question mode he wraps his arms back up, feet together. Check it out

  9. Grace

    I clearly have found my nook. Excellent writing by the blogger. I especially appreciate the detail and breakdown of his responses regarding the shirt and why one would ask the question to him in the first place. I enjoy reading all the intelligent responses by commenters as well.

    One thing, I noted and it’s been widely discussed is of course the body language-he does all sorts of odd things, like pats his head, sways, touches his face.
    I also noticed how he abruptly changes his intended words-“I.e. “I’ve exhausted all friends” when he probably meant to say “resources.” At the last minute he thought “friends” went along better with his false narrative. Also demonstrated how unnatural his word flow was (as we know now he was reciting his “script”).

  10. This article is too funny

    None of this in this article Actually means anything. Stop trying to come up with stuff. I’m not defending him. I feel he is guilty but I have been the fan of a sports team since I was a kid and I’m in my late 30s now and I have owned many of the sports team clothes and I don’t usually watch them play unless It’s in person. My husband and I have been together for 14 years and married for 11 and we don’t always wear our wedding rings. I stutter, freeze, get a antsy mess up my words when being questioned with questions in front of ppl even telling the truth cuz I don’t like dealing with ppl.
    Does any of this make me a killer?
    You can’t base one person off another. Everybody reacts differently to different situations.
    Ya’ll instigate too much.
    Have you personally spoke to the reporter to see if that is what she was doing?
    If that is what she was doing it was wrong to stereotype ppl like that. Especially when it was known that he was a quiet person who stuck to himself. Well, my husband and I are too but that don’t make us killers or guilty of anything just cuz were nervous in front of cameras or strangers. Geesh

    • Karen

      The difference here is that he actually is a killer and he’s guilty and it shows

  11. Roxy Mare a q

    He’s so nasty. He stinks of guilt. He stands there & smirks & cracks nasty corner smiles. I will never understand how a husband can do this to a wife let alone the children & unborn boy. & i will never try to understand cause it’s not pleasant & i could never be able to– I treat ppl the way i want treated. You can tell from beginning & all the way threw his interview he’s totally guilty. He says she strangled girls ( which we know isn’t true) if he was really upset about that he wouldn’t of skrangled het pregnant & he would of called cops cause he could raise his boy once she’d have it I jail & he’d get his son. So that that showed he did it. He looked sneaky & i believe he doesn’t feel any guilt. What scum to put those babies in a nasty oil tank.

  12. KP

    I’m confused, why is this suspicious? He’s telling the reporter that Shan’ann likely got the shirt for him during a previous visit to NC. They do have family there that they visited. I think the Amazon comment was just nervous babble.

  13. Debbie

    The t-shirts intrigued me too. He was wearing a black one when he left home (neighbours CCTV), an orange one at the store where he got breakfast (store CCTV) and a grey one when he arrived home to see Nickole, Nicholas and the cops. I hope they got all those t’s and had them DNA tested???
    Interesting he’s not having his hair cut by Nickole in one of those pics too – Nickole was Shananns hairdresser before she became one of Shananns ‘Thrive’ clients in May 2017. They weren’t friends long.

    • wolfiebear

      That CCTV of guy at store with orange shirt is NOT CW

  14. Riki lee

    God you women or whoever you are hiding behind your computers are horrible people !!
    Ooo. Send me a pic of her fake boobs so i can study it,,,what the hell do you want to know that for ? What are you .? Obviously not caring sane humans .. just nasty trolls . . Trying to look at photos of the poor murdered woman in bathrrs to see what else you can slam her with .. why dont you post a photo of yourself in bathers on here .. i will pick it to pieces if you like !!
    Oo and they wear tshirts with logos on them .. so What ? The simple explanation is they probably were given them from promoters and/or every store you go into tshirts have logos on them.. and we ALL own a tshirt with a logo on it.
    you are pathetic people. Nasty horrible people . Leave the poor woman alone . You have no right talking about her in such a terrible manner in fact its none of your damned business . So shut the hell up .. and do something productive and go and help homeless people get back in their feet .or assist your elderly neighbour .. you are the sort of people that smile sweetly at your friends and as they walk out the door you stab them in the back with insults . Merry xmas you grinches !!

    • Caro

      well said, I agree it’s quite sickening.

  15. Patrick Tonkovich

    seeing now, who Chris Watts really is, I believe he lied about many things in his life, and was never called out on it. he believed that he could lie his way of of their disappearance, but this was the one lie that was just too much. the mask fell off of the sweet, faithful, devoted father, and we saw a monster underneath. lying has never been new to this guy, lies just roll off his tongue. he really thought he could pull this off, because he always has, in the past

  16. marmal8d

    I think this is all a reach. Especially after all we now know. He seldom wore his ring after losing weight.
    As for the shirt, being from the South, we love our football and represent given any opportunity. Additionally, I’m sure Shanann picked out & purchased the majority of his clothes anyway.

  17. Motiv

    Gute Arbeit. Danke.

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