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What does a tattoo and a song reveal about the REAL Chris Watts?

There’s an easy way to read someone’s mind. It’s so easy, a kindergarten kid could do it. In a few moments, if you’re patient, you’re going to be doing it too. No degree in psychology needed. There is one requirement though. If it’s so easy that we can look on with the mind of a child, we nevertheless have to listen intently to what the suspect is listening to. Agreed?

Before we get to Chris Watts’ favorite song, let’s be explicit in what we’re getting at. Does a criminal’s favorite song say much about him, or the crime he committed? Does it say anything? Does a tattoo say much about someone, or their criminal capacity?

The easy way to answer this question is off-the-top of one’s head. Does your favorite song – current or in the past – say much about you, the you you are now or the you you once were? It has to, it resonates with you for a reason. The ethos of the song matches your interiority at a particular time. The song, for all intents of purposes, is the slippery thing that’s someone else’s interiority.

Further Reading: Understanding Interiority – and how it applies to the Watts Family

My favorite song at the moment – don’t judge me – is this one.

But of course we do judge. We can’t help it. What we like when it comes to music says plenty about not only who we are and the kind of person we are, but what we’re feeling.

The other aspect to interiority is how these sights and sounds allow us to read the criminal mind. Just as writing is telepathy, my words are talking inside your mind right now, music is  the same.  They’re also words and ideas talking to and about who we are.

To the extent that we’re caught up in it, those words are our interior monologue. It allows us not only to read the mind of the murderer, but to look at his heart and soul too.


Before we get to the tattoo, let me clear. In every true crime case I’ve researched it takes time for the character of the suspect to emerge. That time lag isn’t because the suspect has no character, quite the contrary, but because like all strangers, it takes time to get to know them, especially when they’re doing their damnedest to hide who they really are from us.

One of the questions we ask people we don’t know is “what’s your favorite music”? We do this to gauge their vibe, who they are, how they see themselves and  to we see how relatable they are to us, and we to them.

What’s your favorite music?

Doesn’t it make sense, then, to ask Chris Watts this question?

Down the Alley of Criminal Intertexuality

[To skip this section, scroll down to What Does Chris Watts Tattoo Say About him?]

To understand why music may be important, and just how deeply it allows us to penetrate into the psychology of a case, let’s examine this issue through another case first.

Many people don’t know, for example, that in the Amanda Knox case, someone was listening to music at about 05:44 on the day Meredith Kercher’s body turned up with her throat slit.

The music was played on Knox’s boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito’s MacBook computer, but he was an Italian who could barely speak English. So who was listening to American music [see timestamped playlist below] that morning? Who could it be besides Knox?


What the above playlist seems to show is that 1) Knox was awake and listening to music four hours earlier than she said she was on the morning after the murder and 2) through the music we begin to intuit the type of person Knox is. 

The type of person is really the question the criminal trial – and all of us, the media, the public – are trying to fathom. Is this type of person capable of murder? What type of person is this person? Did this type of person really get along with the type of person the victim was?

And what about Meredith Kercher, the murder victim – did her music tastes matter? Why would they? What did a university student’s music preferences have to do with murder? Well, more than you might think.

220px-Mtvema2007logomunichOn the night of the murder the MTV Eurovision awards were broadcast, at approximately 21:00. One of the reasons the British girls departed when they did was so one of them, Sophie Purton, could catch the awards. Well, didn’t Amanda Knox – Amanda Knox who was strumming Beatles songs in her room and always singing – also want to watch them?

Music, especially for young impressionable university students, is one of the important ways they identify themselves to each other. Meredith Kercher, a few weeks before arriving in Italy, appeared in a music video, thus giving her massive social credit as a happening young woman.

Could this, and Meredith’s popularity with the girls and boys, have been a source of burning envy for the younger and not-so-popular American living in the same house?

Another example, this time looking at cinema choices, in the Van Breda case, the axe murderer was a fan [like Raffaele Sollecito – Knox’s boyfriend] of violent anime. In both cases they claimed to be watching anime on the night of the murders.

In the Henri Van Breda case it transpired after the trial that he was also into gratuitous violence porn in movies like Hardcore Henri. See trailer below:

Often television or a movie is given as an alibi for what the suspect was doing at the time of the murder. That’s the case with Knox and Van Breda. What we tend to miss while trying to disprove the “alibi” is the person these movies and music points to and describes. By their own admission, the suspects in these crimes identify the sights and sounds that were filling their heads at the time terrible crimes were committed. Almost no one actually tests this media to see what it was actually saying to and about these criminal characters.

What Does Chris Watts Tattoo Say About him?

I can’t take any credit for joining the dots regarding Chris Watts’ tattoo. Credit goes to Paula Neal Mooney, who put a lot of it together in this thread.

And Mooney is right, that tattoo on his back is the Metallica logo:

Fullscreen capture 20181027 015943Fullscreen capture 20181027 015741Fullscreen capture 20181027 021626

For Chris Watts’ 32nd birthday, Shan’ann gave him a Metallica shirt. Doesn’t he seem more delighted here about a shirt and concert tickets than he was about finding out his wife his pregnant?

The joy is written all over his face, isn’t it?

Fullscreen capture 20181027 014816

Metallica was clearly a very big deal to Chris Watts. He more than identified with the band, he branded himself with it. He identified himself with them. The words in Metallica’s biggest hit The Unforgiven are – as Mooney mentioned in her tweet – very, very haunting.

This whipping boy done wrong, Deprived of all his thoughts…

Think of just those words in the context of what was going on in the Watts home. Him, an introvert, her an extrovert having him perform in her Thrive-inspired spiels.  And then the pregnancy itself, did that really happen the way her words contrived it – something he wanted?

What I’ve felt
What I’ve known
Never shined through in what I’ve shown
Never be
Never see
Won’t see what might have been
What I’ve felt
What I’ve known
Never shined through in what I’ve shown
Never free
Never me
So I dub thee unforgiven

Besides the words of this song, the iconography of Metallica is also worth noting. Given the gruesome body count in this particular crime, the skulls and death symbolism suggests a man who may not have been as uncomfortable with corpses and skulls [and dismemberment] as we first imagined.

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In 2011, while Amanda Knox was in prison, she co-wrote a script for a music video. According to

U.S. student Amanda Knox, convicted in Italy for the murder of her British roommate, has written a music video script for a band based near her prison.

Amanda Knox has “always had a passion for music and poetry” said the band, Hands of Time, ANSA reported Friday.

Knox reportedly sent the script in English and Italian to the band via mail. Hands of Time said the script showed “considerable artistic quality” and decided to use it for their song “The Mistral Blows.”

Knox, 24, is currently in the process of appealing her case in Perugia.

When the music video was released, it bore weird similarities not only to Knox’s personal story, but also to the original music video in which Meredith Kercher appeared.

Settling of scores?

Kercher’s video has remained a lot more popular based on YouTube views. The Mistral Blows has been viewed only 313 times. Some Say has been viewed over 230 000 times. The music business is like the murder business in one vital aspect – it is at its core a popularity contest.


  1. Cheryl

    I am curious about when Chris became a Metalica fan. Did his interest pre-date Shan’ann? If so, did his interest escalate during his marriage to her? It appears the Metalica tattoo was inscribed on his back while they were living at Saratoga? I ask these questions because Chris seemed to passively accept abuse from Shan’ann. Given its embrace of misogyny and its largely white male rage following, the heavy metal music genre would have been an emotional outlet or escape for someone like Chris in thrall to a dominant woman like Shan’ann. However, it seems she co-opted even that bit of release as she recorded his fist-pumping sing along at the concert.

    • nickvdl

      Excellent question. Yes, a form of fantasy thinking all of its own, and quite apart from the fuzzy but fraudulent Thrive Kool-Aid.

      • Cheryl

        Thank you and you make an excellent point: he needed something, a fantasy, a passion SEPARATE from her—yet she insisted on co-opting it, I think, by buying the tickets, purchasing the t-shirt, attending the concert with him (just bet she was one of the few females there), and then filming his trying to fist-pump, trying to release his anger. In the concert video, he appears very self-conscious and his recorded fist pump lackluster. I know this guy likely murdered his entire family, but I can’t help having some empathy for him and disdain for her.

        • nickvdl

          I know what you mean. But you have to imagine her dead body and him putting it in the dirt. Then the empathy quickly evaporates.

      • Kim C.

        I just realized that the famous Metallica Album titled “ Kill ‘Em All “ was released on July 25, 1983. Metallica fans would have known that July 25, 2018 marked their 35 year anniversary. ( I found several write ups giving credit to this marked anniversary)
        Kill ‘Em All is regarded Metallica ‘s groundbreaking album.
        Maybe CW was the kind of guy that drank the kool aid

        • nickvdl

          It makes one wonder whether he woke up one day, was listening to Metallica in a daydream – perhaps on the way to work [and Kessinger] – and was half listening to “Kill ‘Em All” and then sort of thought, hey, why not?

  2. Cheryl

    This is true, and I know when the autopsy reports are released with all of the the terrible details, I will regret my feelings. It’s never black and white, and you have to discipline yourself to remain objective, dispassionate.

  3. Cheryl

    I’ve been thinking about the images of death associated with Metallica and the heavy metal genre. Can someone explain this? I see it as appealing to people (mostly younger white males?) who feel economically disenfranchised and/or socially alienated. They are angry and resentful, but they are also fearful. In embracing the fantasy of confronting death they become it, which is empowering and makes them feel fearless—for a time. In this regard, I also think about the creepy covered doll laid out on the couch and wonder if there’s some correlation to the death cult imagery associated with Metallica.

    • nickvdl

      This is a fantastic question, but I’m no expert when it comes to heavy metal. Interestingly, when Chris Watts goes for his test drive in the Tesla, his chaperone asks him what music he wants. Watts answers with a very specific song:

      Justice for all, by Mettalicca

    • Caroline Sullivan

      it’s actually just cause we think it’s cool

  4. Zindzi

    Did Chris Watts have his canine teeth lengthened/sharpened?

    What do Chris Watts other tattoos mean?
    This article offers some of the best insight that I’ve seen. Well done.

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