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

Ronnie and Cindy Watts believe Chris Watts didn’t kill Bella and Celeste, say Shan’ann “changed” him, was abusive and isolated him from his family

A trial means the whole truth comes out, is put under the light. It’s not just the story of the defendant, it also allows the victim’s story to be told. More than anything, it gives the community an opportunity to learn from their mistakes, potentially valuable and meaningful lessons.

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Now, with the sentencing less than a week away, we’re starting to learn that there’s more to the Watts story than we’ve been told. Who Shan’ann really was is the focus now, based on these admissions by Chris Watts’ parents. But are they telling the truth about Shan’ann, or they doing whatever they can to save their 33-year-old son from a desperate fate – life in prison without parole.


According to his parents believe he killed Shan’ann, but not his daughters:

“He did kill her, but the kids, no. It’s very difficult, very difficult. I can’t imagine my son doing that. He couldn’t have done that,” Watts said. Cindy Watts spoke from her home in North Carolina. She says her family is not being allowed to speak to Christopher and she thinks he was coerced by prosecutors into pleading guilty.

“I want to stop it before it’s too late. I want to talk to him. I want to be able to talk to him. I love my son no matter what and I want to fight for him, and I don’t want him to go down for something he didn’t do,” Watts said.


In their interview with ABC13, yet another side of the story has emerged:

Chris’ parents said their son changed once he met Shanann. “He was in sports from when he was 5 until 17 years old,” said Cindy. “There’s not one person you can talk to that will say anything about this kid. He was normal, he didn’t have a temper, he was just easy-going like his Dad. He’s not a monster.”

Chris’ parents said their son’s relationship with Shan’ann was abusive and they felt she isolated Chris from his family in the time they were together.

“It boils down to: I just want the truth of what really happened,” said Ronnie Watts, Chris’ father. “If he did it all, I can live with it. If he didn’t, I want him to fight for it.”

It seems incomprehensible that his parents wouldn’t go down to the jail to talk to their son ahead of the sentencing hearing on November 19. There’s still time to have a change of heart, and they have. But will he?


  1. sunkissed748

    So what are his folks going to do now?

    • Cheryl Williams

      They’ll continue hating, blaming and supporting their monster child THEY created….while the Rzuceks on the other hand will quietly grieve as they trust in God for His help with this AND they will ask God to give them the forgiveness CW does NOT deserve and neither do the Watts!

      • Melissa

        First off…they created no monster and are grieving as well. They too lost their grandkids and their son. Cindy should fight for her son as he doesnt know how. Obvious since his wife told him how to feel and. Controled everything in their lives.

        • Shay

          I agree Shan’anm was controlling but it’s not an excuse for Chris to kill his wife and kids.
          while i understand no one wants to believe their kids can be killers or what have you, I tend to just roll my eyes and keep it going.. only because the parents are victims too.

  2. Karen

    Chris has a sister, her name is Jamie. The night of, or the night after the plea deal Jamie’s best friend of many years was on a podcast that I listened to. I cannot recall her name but she said that the day of the -plea, before court that Jamie, his mom, and dad Ronny all had 30 minutes each with Chris before he went into court. 30 minutes each. She wouldn’t say much about their conversations(out of respect for the Watts family) so I find it hard to believe that speaking about the plea never came up to any of them. I just don’t think Chris will ever completely tell the truth about what really happened. The autopsy reports will tell a lot.

    • nickvdl

      Do you have a link to that podcast? If you could find that for us Karen I think we’d all be very grateful.

      • Karen

        I’ll get on that right now, Nick

      • Karen Chris & Shanann Watts; The Day in Court: Part 1 of 2 go to > Sesh 13 episode 13. This is part 1 then part 2 is on or it will direct you. Sorry, I always have a bit of trouble with these kinds of things. If you can get to part 1 you can find part 2. Let me know if you need any more direction. I’m not 100% sure this is the one I listened to but there are many

        • nickvdl

          Not very helpful. At what point in the podcast is this mentioned?

          • Karen

            Sorry, I don’t know at what point its mentioned in. I’d have to listen to the whole thing again

          • Petunia Picklebottom

            “Not very helpful”. My how appreciative. Do you want to be taken by the hand? Google it yourself if you’re not happy with what you were provided, by someone going out of their way for you. Sociopath.

          • nickvdl

            I was watching an episode of The Bachelor in Paradise [Australia]. One of the unwanted woman [who was throwing around champagne glasses] called a man who wasn’t returning her affections a narcissist and a sociopath. These terms which are really the purview of criminal psychology, especially sociopathy, are now in the mainstream. Don’t like what someone does? Don’t understand something? Now they’re a sociopath – rendering the real meaning the real danger of real sociopaths meaningless.

  3. Karen

    Didn’t Chris Watts, in the very beginning, admit to killing the kids? Only after speaking with his dad did he turn around and say Shanann did it?

    • Kaye

      Good question; from what I remember, he said he would tell where the bodies could be found but I don’t think directly he said that he killed all of them. But I think it was an unspoken implication that he killed them if he knew where their bodies were.

      • Karen

        I’ll try to find it but it I seem to recall him saying he killed them all and would tell where they were after he talked to his dad. Thanks, Kaye

        • nickvdl

          He never said he killed everyone in the affidavit. He did say he knew where the bodies were.

          • Karen

            gotcha. thanks

    • Joey Martinez

      You were misinformed.

      • Karen

        yep, I found that out 2 months ago today Thank you though

  4. Karen

    Cindy Watts thinks the confession was coerced but how could it be if the defense went to the prosecution (2 x’s) wanting to make a deal. The 1st one was turned down, the 2nd accepted. Just want to understand is all

  5. Pauline

    It also beggars belief if Sha’nann killed the kids that he would not call the police. Lets say he flew into a rage and killed Sha’nann as he says, to retaliate for killing the kids. Then his next thought is I’ll stuff them into oil tanks and dig a shallow grave. Then I’ll pretend they must have vanished, no wait they are visiting a friend.

  6. Tammy

    I feel sympathy for his parents. After all, he is still their son no matter what vile thing he did. I wonder if he just doesn’t want all his secrets coming out . He knows he is going to prison for quite some time either way. Why have his dirty closeted secrets spread across television for all the late night talking heads to analyze night after night. I wonder if he’d rather everyone believe he killed his family than have all the secrets he had hidden away broadcast? I wonder if these secrets aren’t the real trigger. Did Shanann know something in her final days?

  7. Shannon

    Her whole family knew Chris wanted Out.
    Maybe Her Family needs to Rewatch her Dominance, her Controlling ways. She was No 1.
    You never see Chris not once out with the Boys, no sports, no male bonding…they say gay affair not true.
    She made him her Slave, and the kids bothered her.
    At first he admitted to killing her…not the kids.
    He needs to Appeal this Deal.
    Something not right here.

    • Cheryl


      • crytearsz

        CW lies are the ONLY “thing” he can use to have a little bit of control…is something he’s done his entire life, like the lie’s he told about going to China during the summer. WOW, how odd he went to such lengths with his lies. There were a lot more, but we’ll never know as mama Watts believes her son is perfect.
        He IS PERFECT…the PERFECT MONSTER!….scary!…Maybe they’ll make Halloween mast with his face….now THAT will be terrifying!

    • And

      This is a textbook case of a family annihilator, with the question of being under the influence of an altering substance (thrive).
      These cases almost always follow the same outline. Husband “snaps” and kills wife then kills children because he thinks they will be “better off” and then when his heinous crime is finally uncovered, they often lie and cite that exact same bs story that the wife did killed the children and he killed her in some kind of rage or retaliation. Logically, that makes no sense, and sounds exactly like what it is; a weak man’s excuse after the fact and not wanting to accept responsibility for his actions. And on that note, watts’ parents can love him all they want but they should stand up for their grandkids and make him take responsibility for his actions. It’s probably a pattern in their life though, hence the blaming Shan’Ann for everything in his life. Not that she was the best spouse she could have been.
      I know I’m a few years late on this, but I have really been enjoying reading these posts and the ensuing comments.

  8. Shannon

    I’d like to know Why her first husband Divorce Her? Why did she sell her house and leave all furniture…….Super fast….to move her.
    Too many Questions….not enough answers.

  9. Cheryl

    Last night I rewatched the 30-minute video where Shan’ann claims she worked hard and “built” the house in North Carolina. She bought an existing house; she didn’t build it—embellishing the “truth” here. Later in the video, when she’s talking about her health “challenge” (which she interestingly fails to identify as lupus) and how she was misunderstood by friends because she looked perfect on the outside, she slips and says, and they didn’t realize “ I felt perfect on the inside,” then quickly corrects and says (I paraphrase), “I mean bad on the inside.” This makes me wonder if Shan’ann concocted or embellished an illness as an excuse to quit her job in North Carolina due to issues there or due to wanting to shift financial responsibility to Chris, as she did by quitting jobs in Colorado (this time to stay at home with the kids). Bottom line: I suspect Shan’ann “manipulated reality” to craft her self-truth no matter how damaging it might be to others, including Chris and the children. Again, there’s a lot more to this case…

    • nickvdl

      I think she did manipulate reality but I don’t think that includes making up anything about lupus. She was following about a dozen lupus-related accounts on twitter.

      • Cheryl

        Understood. However, in several of the videos, she doesn’t seem to have an aversion to the sun, which I thought was off-limits to lupus sufferers. Could she have been on the lupus sites to gather information about it to support the artifice of her having the disease? Did she imagine she was sick with lupus when she was not? Do we know she had been diagnosed with lupus versus another more ephemeral illness? Claiming to have a chronic disease would be another attention-getting opportunity, as well as a reason not to work. I don’t know—just throwing it some thoughts out there. At this point, I have such low regard for the woman, I have to watch out that I don’t try to make the “facts” fit a preconceived and/or desired narrative. As you say, it ends up clouding the truth and in doing so negates the goal of true crime: finding the truth.

        • Teri

          Vampires have aversion to the sun. Not lupus sufferers.

          • Petunia Picklebottom

            Lupus sufferers absolutely have an aversion to the sun. It’s one of the first things doctors warn newly diagnosed patients about. It can trigger a flair, and can be fatal under the right circumstances.

            “If you have lupus, protecting yourself from sun exposure is an essential part of managing your condition. Many people with lupus experience photosensitivity or unusual sensitivity to sunlight. This can trigger symptoms such as skin rashes, itching, and burning. Excess sun exposure can also cause flares in systemic lupus, triggering symptoms such as joint pain, weakness, and fatigue. In some cases, it can even cause internal organ damage.”


        • Petunia Picklebottom

          She also wasn’t taking any medications for lupus, no rx’s On record, which is almost unheard of. She claimed Thrive “cured” her, and that’s just not possible.

          No mention of any disease pathology in the autospsy report either, which is odd considering that she claimed a total of three or four.

          I feel fairly certain, given the facts, that Shannan was not only a hypochondriac herself, but that she also suffered with MBPS.

          • nickvdl

            She was. The basement was chock-full of pain medications.

    • Karen

      I posted a link to the podcast and the girl said that Shanann really was sick and Chris Watts always said that yes, she was really sick

      • Cheryl

        This is good but do we know if she had actually been diagnosed? Does the friend know? Does Chris know? Shan’ann put up a lot of smoke screens, so I’m questioning her having lupus. She didn’t seem to have problems going out in the sun or getting pregnant, as per a lupus diagnosis. The third child seemed to be conceived very timely in terms of trying to salvage a deteriorating relationship. Could Chris’s figuring out she was full of it in terms of her chronic disease assertion have informed part of his rage toward her? Could this be subtext for Chris’s saying, “When you want it, it happens”?

    • allie

      Lupus is a health challenge. Most die of renal failure. And whatever you may think of her, she didn’t deserve to die. What if that was your mother, sister, or daughter? And all men who are abusive try to turn it around on the victim as they are either crazy or abusive.

    • Shannon

      Yes Cheryl your right. Even today no concrete health info about all 3 of them. She might have been following to make it seem like she had lupus. Plus no sun, hard to have babies. I think she lying like many other things she’s lying about.
      No info about lupus with the babies, doctor reports.
      Her parents never gave to lupus or any of her so called charities?
      And as of today there still fundraising, 4.5 months later.
      Too many lies here.

    • Cheryl Williams

      CW lies are the ONLY “thing” he can use to have a little bit of control…is something he’s done his entire life, like the lie’s he told about going to China during the summer. WOW, how odd he went to such lengths with his lies. There were a lot more, but we’ll never know as mama Watts believes her son is perfect.
      He IS PERFECT…the PERFECT MONSTER!….scary!…Maybe they’ll make Halloween mast with his face….now THAT will be terrifying!

  10. Tammy

    It’s very difficult to get a lupus diagnosis. She probably went through a lot of testing to find out. Not much is known of the disease, but it can have debilitating effects on a person. I have a friend that suffered from it. She had to quit school because she suffered joint pain, and had kidney problems from the antibodies (autoantibodies) attacking her renal system. Not everyone gets a butterfly rash or pain from the Sun.

    I don’t think there is anything that justifies murdering your spouse. I am sure he has his reasons, but doesn’t want to share.

    • Cheryl

      Do we know she had an official lupus diagnosis. I’m not trying to be argumentative; I’m genuinely curious if this has been documented.

      • nickvdl

        It is documented, but we don’t have access to those records. We do know she quit her jobs to be a stay at home mom, and the household medical debt was high. If you think the lupus is a conspiracy, well then I guess when she referred to being diagnosed in 2010, during her “dark episode”, that wasn’t fact.

        Amanda Thayer has spoken to the media about it, and I think if it wasn’t true, the Rzuceks would have corrected the media reports. In her obituary her family also make indirect reference to it:

        “Oh how Shan’ann was so excited to be able to have another child because of her battle” with lupus, wrote her family. “She was determined to stay healthy and with her love for her Celeste, every moment with her was a blessing.”

        People magazine removed the quotations around “lupus” not because it’s not mentioned in the obituary but because they misspelled it with a capital “L”.

      • And

        Have you ever heard of hipaa, Cheryl. Strangers and the general public aren’t privy to a persons medical records even death.

  11. Diana

    Dominance and Contolling does not deserve Shan’ann receiving the Death Penalty from Chris!

    • Cheryl

      Agreed, but we’re trying to figure out why and relationship dynamics are a part of that answer.

  12. Pauline

    I believe I read where she originally thought she had fibromyalgia. I remember in the 1990’s it was a “popular” diagnosis for sort of vague symptoms of musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, mood swings and sleeplessness. It became a popular diagnosis because treatment included vicodin and hydrocodone. Which of course lead to opioid dependency. The pain is real. If Tammy is right, above, then it may have taken some time for her to have been diagnosed with lupus, and what was thought to be fibromyalgia may have been lupus.

  13. Pauline

    By the way, I’m not on a “team”. I admit after Watts plead guilty to all nine counts, and I heard Rourke at the press conference, I felt an overwhelming sadness for the victims. And anger toward Watts. It’s ironic because when I read Nick’s book Slaughter I could actually put myself in Adam Lanza’s shoes, I felt a tremendous amount of empathy for him even though what he did was heinous. I’m sure if I had had a child in the school I would feel differently. But i could see clearly how his mother smothered him and his father abandoned him and locked him in to a very strange and weird family dynamic which I hope people will read about in the book so I won’t say any more. I do admit that I lose my objectivity regularly, and I struggle to get it back because it’s always important that we try to understand. Maybe with more understanding we can actually predict – and prevent.

  14. Sam

    I thought the interview was very weird.
    If you don’t know about the case, you would think right away that he was the victim.
    And no mention of their granddaughters?
    And just bashing SW…
    I’m just saying, maybe there’s a lot of fucked up family dynamics we are witnessing through that interview I cannot quite gasp

  15. Diana

    As a nurse, I just wanted to throw this out here. There are actually two types of lupus, one kind is REALLY bad, the other kind – not so bad. The worse kind is referred to as systemic. Systemic lupus can and usually does affect the organs and life long steroids are just one part of the treatment. The second kind of lupus is a milder form that doesn’t systemically affect the organs. For those of you who believe Shan’ann played up her illnesses, perhaps she had the milder form? This would explain her seemingly appearing healthy. Will add that Shan’ann also claimed to have fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia can be very debilitating, I should know – I was diagnosed over 10 years ago and was forced to retire in my 50’s due to fibromyalgia. I have my good days and bad days, maybe Shan’ann’s fibromyalgia affected her the same way – good days and some really bad days.

    • nickvdl

      Diana if you had to guess, how would you diagnose the severity of Shan’ann’s lupus? I think the fact that she wanted to work from home is symptomatic of something, don’t you?

  16. Kaye

    it’s possible Chris did change and isolate himself from his family, but it could be the case that he did that on his own initiative. If he was realizing that he was bisexual or having other urges he was ashamed of and he kept all of that secret, it would have affected his family relationships in all likelihood. If that’s the case, blaming it all on Shan’ann is sad and a convenient way for them to project their frustrations.

  17. Diana

    Nick I really have to wonder which type of lupus Shan’ann had and if it was debilitating for her. Here’s why. I’m assuming you don’t live in the U.S., but that’s not to say you’re not knowledgeable in how things are here, so just in case, I’ll explain where I’m at with Shan’ann’s illnesses. If Shan’ann was unable to work why didn’t she collect Social Security Disability/SSD? SSD is like insurance program with workers paying premiums from each paycheck. With Shan’ann’s work history she likely would’ve qualified for SSD. It would’ve paid more than what she made selling Thrive! Now, there is a different program for those who don’t have enough work credits and that’s called SSI. SSI is paid for by taxpayers and it pays a lot less than SSD. SSD is not a welfare, freebie type program for the needy like SSI is either. Chris’s income would’ve had no bearing what-so-ever on Shan’ann getting SSD. With the Watts financial situation, I would expect Shan’ann to go get a real job or get SSD if she couldn’t work due to medical issues. So judging from her videos, social media postings, no SSD and what her lifestyle was with all the vacations, I’d say Shan’ann had the non-systemic, less serious type of lupus or that whatever medical issues she may have had were under control.

    • nickvdl

      That’s interesting, but how do you know she wasn’t collecting the insurance? It does raise an interesting point though, which is – if she was capable of doing business trips and holidays, wasn’t she capable of working a real job? My understanding of lupus is it’s a horrible disease, comes and goes, and one of the biggest problems is people who don’t have it struggle to understand those who do have it.

      Another aspect is Shan’ann looked pretty good towards the end of her life. She’d lost a fair amount of weight, and appeared healthy. I’m not sure if that means she was healthy though, or less symptomatic. I mean, the Thrive thing was/is all about bullshitting how great every aspect of your life was/is.

    • nickvdl

      I just came across a post where Shan’ann said she was diagnosed with lupus and fibro and was “at her worst” in 2010. She describes that period feeling like her world was “crumbling” around her. I think the fact that she was led to believe she couldn’t conceive or would struggle also suggests it wasn’t a mild form of the disease. What do you think?

      • Karen

        My ma has fibromyalgia and has had it for years. She doesn’t take any meds for it simply because she has an aversion to pills. She has good days and bad days. On a good day when she gets out and does her business, IE: Shopping, banking,etc…, it sets her back days. She is literally in bed for 2 to 3 days. Maybe the meds Shan’ann took helped to keep that from happening. Maybe also she had her age going for her. Lupus in and of itself is debilitating, so to add fibromyalgia and the negative thoughts of not being able to have children I can easily see her feeling like her world was crumbling.

  18. Chip

    How can one person have so much going on in their life? Lupus, fibromyalgia, daughter with “severe” peanut allergies and so on and so on. Was she also gluten intolerant? I worked with a girl once back in the 80’s who claimed to have fibromyalgia. She was a real bitch. One of the meanest people you could ever meet. Blamed it all on the “disease”. She constantly complained about her husband. He could do nothing right. I listened to her rantings almost daily and pittyed him. I think she was suffering more from opiod addiction, ocd and being a narcissist than any so called “disease”. If SW acted that way to her family behind the social media then it is no wonder things ended up the way they did. Maybe I’m a terrible person but I feel sorry for Chris. He has to live with what he has done. She does not.

    • nickvdl

      Appreciate your perspective Chip, but I reckon if you saw the autopsy photos, and the dead bodies where they were found, your sympathy might be altered somewhat. It’s easy to be dispassionate about someone else’s life – and death. Death is the most personal and permanent thing that will ever happen to us.

  19. Shannon

    On YouTube, they have sites for people like you. Forget what there called, but there for people who don’t Think..maybe go have a look.
    Your only here to Bash the Watts, without learning anything about their lives, who they were and WHY Chris Watts killed them.

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