True Crime Analysis, Breakthroughs, Insights & Discussions Hosted by Bestselling Author Nick van der Leek

Shan’ann Watts could have known the sex of her baby at 7 weeks

Shan’ann Watts was suffering from an autoimmune disease called lupus. In some ways, lupus corresponds to the very early stages of pregnancy – its symptoms may be difficult to diagnose.

One way to monitor lupus is through blood tests, including via skin prick.


According to WebMD:

Blood work…can also help monitor [lupus] and show the effects of treatment.Doctors often use the ANA test as a screening tool. Plus, looking at patterns of the antibodies can sometimes help doctors determine the specific disease a person has. That, in turn, helps determine which treatment would be most appropriate.

There are a battery of tests related to lupus, but the one that applies directly to Shan’ann Watts seems to be this one: Antiphospholipid Antibodies (APLs)

APLs are a type of antibody directed against phospholipids. APLs are present in up to 60% of people with lupus. Their presence can help confirm a diagnosis. A positive test is also used to help identify women with lupus that have certain risks that require preventive treatment and monitoring. Those risks include blood clotsmiscarriage, or preterm birth…


One 23-year-old lupus-sufferer, Tessa Shoemaker describes going through  “a billion finger pricks” en route to her diagnosis. What does this have to do with the sex of Shan’ann’s baby? Actually, a lot.

To begin with, lupus sufferers have an elevated risk of miscarriage, so vigilant monitoring is a given. I’ve maintained from the beginning that Shan’ann knew she was pregnant virtually immediately, probably due to her obsessive compulsive monitoring of her health in general.

Thanks to some of the stars following CrimeRocket we’ve established that besides knowing when she was pregnant, there was also a way for Shan’ann to have known the sex of her child prior to that doctor’s appointment she missed on August 13th.

According to

Parents dying to know the sex of their baby may no longer have to hold their breath until halfway through a pregnancy. A blood test can reveal a baby’s sex as early as seven weeks into a pregnancy, which is earlier than many doctors will see patients for an initial prenatal visit.


The blood test, called a cell-free DNA test, has been used by European doctors for years and has actually been available to American consumers in drugstore chains and online for a few years… The simple test analyzes fetal DNA in the mother’s blood, looking for traces of the male ‘Y’ chromosome. News of the surprising accuracy of the test (98.8 accuracy for a boy and 94.8 accuracy for a girl) was originally reported yesterday [August 10, 2011] in a meta-analysis of 57 studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

 Doctors hope the test (which costs a few hundred dollars, including lab fees and shipping costs) will help families with a history of sex-related genetic disorders such as hemophilia (which tends to affect boys) avoid unnecessary invasive procedures, like chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis, that carry a small risk of miscarriage. And, in fact, in England, where the test is already in use, many moms are already skipping invasive tests, thanks to this blood test.

It’s certain that Shan’ann’s lupus treatment involved blood tests as a matter of course. She may even have actively monitored herself. It’s very likely then that she would have monitored the lupus side more closely because of her pregnancy, and vice versa.

The lupus aspect also raises the possibility of numerous medications being in the home – beyond the norm. If Shan’ann was skin pricking herself regularly as part of her own self-monitoring regimen, and if she had some pain medications stocked at home, then this may well have set the path to his murderous psychology. Pain medication in high doses can be used as a sedative, an anesthetic or a murder weapon.

This issue goers to motive. It’s vital to the narrative simply because if Shan’ann knew the sex early on, Chris Watts probably knew too, and the more he knew about the child in her womb the more he felt trapped or pressured by the baby’s relentless development.  Given the circumstance of this, that he knew more sooner rather than later makes sense.



  1. Pauline

    The following is a list of medications used to treat lupus. But of course stronger pain killers may be in order if the patient feels that aspirin, Tylenol or ibuprofen isn’t enough:

    I believe it was Celeste who had nut allergies and an episode of anaphylaxis. “Children at risk of anaphylaxis should be prescribed an auto-injector of epinephrine (adrenaline) and carry two doses with them at all times.”

    • nickvdl

      I see Tylenol’s on the list. Do you remember in the Christmas video in front of the house [2016 I think], Shan’ann mentions giving one of the kids a lot of Tylenol, and then corrects herself. In any event, that was definitely in the house.

      • Pauline

        Absolutely I do! I was going to bring that up. She says she has them doped up, or words to that effect, I assumed it was either because they were sick, or because they were afraid of Santa Claus.

  2. Spock

    She had neck surgery. That had to hurt. I’m sure there was pain meds prescribed for that.

    She says she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. There’s a laundry list of anti-depressants, anti-seizure, muscle relaxants, sleep meds and pain meds prescribed to treat that.

  3. Georgia

    So a test like that being a few hundred dollars when you’re already not able to pay bills would add financial stress, unless it was funded due to her medical diagnosis.

  4. Pauline

    Yep, you are right Spock. Here’s what is so crazy to me. She had for real health problems diagnosed by a physician, for which there are medications prescribed to keep it at bay and yet she’s using weight loss magic powders and patches that are not FDA tested and approved. There just seems to be a real contradiction in what is necessary to maintain one’s health and thrivin’, something that might not be good for you but paired with magical thinking makes one think it’s good for you. And on top of that she was pregnant, and should have been started on prenatal vitamins, rather than Thrive crap.

    • Spock

      Pauline – I understand what you’re saying but I’ve become highly cynical of Shanann’s disingenuous diatribe on social media. She could’ve been taking her prenatal vitamins and wearing decorative band aids after she found out she was pregnant. Who the hell knows what she was diagnosed with (I think the Lupus was probably real) or what symptoms she actually suffered. Whatever it was Thrive was, as you call it, the “magical” cure for everything. Sell. Sell. Sell.
      I’ve looked hard for clues to the real Shanann. Here’s an interesting one. Her mother calls her “Shannon” not “Sha’nan”. Yet her husband and Colorado friends call her “Sha’nan”. At what point did she change her name? Common sense would tell me her mother’s pronunciation is the original. She freakin’ named her she should know. Did Shanann change the spelling when she changed the pronunciation? Who knows?
      What we see is not what we get with this woman. The information she’s left behind is all a smokescreen.
      (Ha! and you thought you were cynical).

      • nickvdl

        My editor was just saying how irritating the spelling of her name is [with the apostrophe]. It does seem a tad pretentious. How many names are there in the English language with an apostrophe? D’Arcy…M’Lynn…JonBenet has a little cap on the ‘e’.

        • Spock

          Irritating and pretentious. Two very accurate words.
          My pointy ears will not allow me to type the asinine apostrophe in her name. Not going to happen. I’m willing to bet that apostrophe is not on her birth certificate.
          I feel bad for your editor – that apostrophe is obnoxious.
          In the dictionary next to the word pretentious you will find a picture of Patsy Ramsey.

          • nickvdl

            Yeah, Patsy = pageantry, Speaking of JBR I hope to see a few new rvws from you soon Spock.

          • nickvdl

            I started doing it ever since the funeral. My personal view: I think the least that we owe the victims is to get the spelling of their names right. As much as we might like or dislike Shan’ann, she’s dead, and she deserves our compassion. Although her obsession with MLM makes me angry, I feel sorry for her that she was consumed by it. If she’d chosen a different path, probably things would turned out very different not just for her, but her daughters too. Every true crime victim deserves our respect, love and sympathy. The aspects that may have played into motive are important to figure out, and they are important to indict and condemn her murderer. They should never be used to condemn the victim. When we do that we’re no less heartless than her murderer.

      • BAMS13

        You nailed everything I’ve ever thought about her from day one. What about the famous interview with her old drama teacher who couldn’t even get her name pronunciation right? He stumbled and then said, “oh I called her “Shanna-Anna” or whatever he said.

  5. Cheryl

    I think Shan’ann was complicit in the deaths of her children, because she created a toxic, volatile environment in the Watts’ home that led to her own and her children’s annihilation: abusing Chris and the children; spending beyond the family’s modest means; quitting a salaried job while having a sizable mortgage, etc. Irresponsible and deplorable behavior all the way around. While I don’t believe she deserved to die, I cannot love and respect her just because she’s a victim, as the ultimate victims here are defenseless children—three of them. It is for them that I grieve. Between their two parents, Bella, Celeste, and the unborn Niko had absolutely no protection.

    • nickvdl

      I suspect if you saw Shan’ann’s corpse in the dirt you’d feel differently. You’re right, the three children were truly innocent. Such a heartbreaking case this.

      • Cheryl

        Nick, I don’t hate Shan’ann, but I do see her as culpable. I believe I’m having a visceral reaction to her because I grew up in a household with a mother who had similar excesses: verbally abusing my father and me; over-spending —thousands of dollars in clothing bills; rage-induced beatings—with fists (of course, there’s no evidence Shan’ann did this). Anyway, it’s a terrifying environment for a child. And, you’re right, it’s a very sad case, especially for the children who never had the opportunity to grow up and experience real joy, wonder and love.

    • Spock

      Cheryl you are so adept and graceful at putting your feelings into words. With your talent you have so eloquently described how I feel.
      I try to keep an open mind about Shanann’s level of culpability because I still feel that justified speculation has colored some of our impressions of her. There is a high probability that we will be wrong on a few of those impressions but she herself will have led us to be absolutely correct on the remainder.
      I feel she must answer for the part she played in the deaths of those little girls.

      • Cheryl

        Thank you, Spock. I always look forward to your posts, as you have an incisive and nimble mind. As far as Shan’ann, I agree: I think she is both a victim and a victimizer. When I refer to Shan’ann as a victim, I’m doing so because, of course, she was murdered, but also because I believe she suffered from insecurities that informed her abusive behavior. As you say, to what extent she is of either end of the spectrum will probably be revealed as this case progresses.

      • nickvdl

        I try to be omniscient but I actually missed the change in court dates. Thanks for being my eyes and ears on this one!

        • Spock

          Your welcome. You have a lot of irons in the fire.

  6. nickvdl

    Well, it’s good to have a visceral reaction because it means this case matters to you. It means something. As an author I have to be very wary of transference though, as it clouds judgement. As soon as I have a personal stake in the crime, then it’s no longer fair to anyone [except me perhaps]. You’re allowed to be a voyeur, and you’re allowed to be caught up, and probably, your feelings will fluctuate as both sides of the story emerge. True crime delivers when you no longer see the bad guy as bad or evil, or the victim as good or innocent, but simply as who they were, somewhat like us, and in special ways, not like us.

    • Cheryl

      Nick, that’s good counsel. I am trying to follow suit, as I have all of these years with my mother, whom I love despite the abuse and despite lingering feelings of anger. It’s extremely complex, as are the human excesses, weaknesses, and sometimes just pure evil that lead to true crime.

  7. Pauline

    I’m a bit biased as well, against MLM companies. Conversely there are many things about them, for me, that were an excellent training in sales. I loved the product and still use it. I also enjoyed the camaraderie with other women. We weren’t a hen party of overweight ladies, we strove to be business personnel, we wore suits, we were professional. But on the dark side, the thousands of dollars that were spent to stay afloat, crushed me after 6 years. I can’t blame it entirely for the collapse of the marriage, it takes two and there were signs early on that we both brought particular behaviors to it that were well rooted in childhood, as to how we responded to feelings of being shut out, alienation, needs for affection and how we expressed it. Relationships are tough.

    I really don’t know what went on when the camera wasn’t rolling on those two. There is one video I’ve mentioned where she’s doing one of her spiels and CeCe is climbing all over her, really bouncing off her and Chris and his father are watching TV. Bella is in his lap. Then CeCe climbs up on her trike and stands and he says very forcefully twice “CeCe get down.” Because he thinks she might fall ten inches onto the carpet? Or because she irritates him. Was she an irritant to him? Her constant movements and squawks are annoying, but he makes no move to go and get her, and she’s really just craving attention. He seems pretty abrupt to me. And at this point I still don’t know why he felt it necessary to kill both of his daughters. Perhaps he was rationalizing “she killed them” but it couldn’t have been easy squeezing the life out of them, even if he did sedate them or poison them first and put a bag over their faces so he couldn’t watch. It’s very calculating, cold, and doesn’t jive with the happy smiling pollyanna we see in so many videos and I guess that’s the point. We don’t really know these people, and we need to.

    • nickvdl

      Pauline can you put a link to that video here. I’d like to see it.

  8. Pauline

    I’ll look!

  9. Pauline

    I found it, but am having difficulties sending it. Also the “pop pop” who’s there is Sha’nann’s dad, not Chris’s. It’s titled “Chris Watts parents will come & They’re gonna take care of these wild animals” and the trike incident is at 4:06. I’ll try again:

    Maybe someone else will have better luck sending it.

    • nickvdl

      Can’t see anything. What’s the name of the video, then I’ll Google it.

  10. Pauline

    ok, I have it now

  11. Pauline

    Did I make too much of the “CeCe sit down” comment? Usually we see Mr. smiling passive so I thought it was a little shall we say, abrupt. Also notice how Bella is sitting nice and happy and calm in Daddy’s lap. Clearly, to me, Bella was Daddy’s girl. She wasn’t Mommy’s girl. Mommy has had many references to Bella being a Grinch, or a grouch. Bella gets a facefull of squirt bottle as well. Over and over.

    I think you said you were going to talk about the dynamic between Bella and CeCe in your book 3. It’s worth exploring.

    • nickvdl

      I think you did make too much of it; earlier she almost keeled over the couch. But this is nevertheless an excellent find because I deal with the in-laws babysitting during their trip to the Dominican Republic and wasn’t aware of this video. So high-five for drawing my attention to it 😉

  12. Shannon

    I’m not sure, are there any medical reports of any drugs in the 3 of them. Or a list of drugs found in their home.
    Would be interesting to see, what they took and if she was telling the truth about her sicknesses.
    I have a hard time reading disclosure, small print on my phone.
    It seems alot of cruical info, missing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *