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If Bella and Celeste’s Bodies were Dismembered or Processed then a Plea Deal – if you’re Chris Watts – starts to make sense

Chris Watts has maintained from the start that he had nothing to do with the deaths of his daughters. Shan’ann killed them, he claimed in his confession. Even to his parents he apparently maintained this psychological distance, telling them “after what she did” there was no way he was going to bury the three of them together.

If Chris Watts killed and dismembered – or chemically processed – the remains of his children, then we can see how this case going to court could play out very badly for him.  The dismemberment theory isn’t wild conjecture by any means; we’ve just seen the same scene [a missing person’s case become a premeditated murder case with missing dismembered remains] playing out in international media while the Watts case was in legal limbo.

Taking on the defense perspective [I realize many are allergic to even hypothesizing this, but at TCRS we explore all possibilities], if Watts is able to win some credit with a potential jury it may be through portraying Shan’ann as an obsessive, compulsive, controlling, abusive partner.

So he might win some sympathy with a jury. On the other hand, if he liquidated his own children it’s difficult to see there being a stitch of compassion for him, especially given the fact that he murdered his wife while she was pregnant as well.

Anything can happen at trial, of course. The Casey Anthony case proved that a slam-dunk case can be undone with a rigorous defense, especially if and when the parents come to the party. The Anthony’s managed to create “doubt” on two important aspects at trial that otherwise seemed certain. Remember the “odor of death” in the car becoming the odor of pizza? Remember the repeated Google searches for Chloroform that Cindy Anthony said she performed [even though she was at work at the time]? It was enough to create doubt in the jury’s mind, if no one else’s.

The two big difference between the Watts case and the Casey Anthony case are:

  1. Casey Anthony never confessed to anything. Not while being interrogated, not to her parents, not to the media, not at trial. Never. Casey Anthony was offered a plea deal and incredibly, refused to take it. Thus far Chris Watts has done all those things that Casey Anthony didn’t do.
  2. Caylee Anthony’s remains took around six months to recover by law enforcement. By the time an autopsy was conducted, the little girl’s remains were entirely skeletonized. This favored the defense case because it couldn’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt [in the jury’s mind] that Caylee was murdered, or even how she was murdered. Was she given an overdose of chloroform or Xanax? If she was, the evidence [as the jury saw it] wasn’t sufficient.  In the Watts case the girl’s remains were located almost immediately, though crucially, it took four days to recover them even after authorities knew where they were.

We assume that the four days of recovery simply involved the time it took to drain the almost full tanks, but I believe that’s a mistake. Theoretically, if the bodies had been dumped intact from above through the thief hatch, they could have been fished out just as easily.


Again, if the oil tanks were almost full, and the bodies were suspended whole inside, all one needed to do was stir the tanks slightly, or reach in with a noose, rope or lasso wrapped in plastic to prevent fiber contamination [CERVI 319 is situated on a cattle ranch] or a blunt curved object like a Bo Peep staff. And that’s if bodies don’t float naturally to the surface. Would they in the case of crude oil is the key question?

And if cadavers do float, wouldn’t Watts have wanted to prevent that from happening? If it was a premeditated murder, wouldn’t part of the thinking have involved preventing the bodies from becoming easily visible to a passing glance inside the tanks through the opened thief hatch?

Were they intact but anchored?


In any event, it seems the District Attorney has withheld the autopsy reports for two reasons. One, to allow the hysteria around the case to die down. And two, to use it as a bargaining chip [potentially] with the defendant. To hold the reports in his hand, to tell him “we know exactly what you did to your children” and to offer him the opportunity to go to prison quietly, without disgracing himself or his family any further at a very public trial.

Watts pleaded guilty


  1. Diana

    Interesting. You may be on to something here. I’ll throw something out here in regards to the Anthony case and no proof Caylee was mmurdered. The one point the medical examiner made in her testimony was the tape that was found over Caylees mouth. The M.E. said essentially said that she could come up with no reason as to why a child would have tape over her mouth other than it played a part in her murder. Obviously that wasn’t enough for the jury.

    • nickvdl

      Yes, the duct tape was the only artifact remaining of the crime at the grave in the forest. Interestingly, also a factor in the JBR case, and some signs it was used to hold together or bind Laci Peterson’s body.

  2. Kaye

    Yes I agree with you. A jury would be viscerally repulsed and horrified by the thought of his dismembering his children. A death penalty verdict would be most people’s emotional reaction. I believe the autopsy will also show evidence of some dismemberment for Shan’ann.

    • nickvdl

      Why do you think Shan’ann was dismembered?
      I remember when it was first reported, the language seemed like it might be a little strange.

      “The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said the body that is believed to be that of Shanann Watts, 34, was found on the property owned by Anadarko Petroleum, where her husband, Christopher Watts, worked.”

      And in this article, at a press conference the words “quite certain” were used:

      • Kaye

        I don’t think Shan’ann was completely dismembered but there could be evidence that he started the job of doing so. I think he probably ran out of time because he was interrupted by Nickoles call.

        I don’t buy his story about purposely keeping Shananns body separate. He would have wanted all the bodies in the tanks. He controlled the access to the tanks and could have fudged the numbers of any anomalies.

        We don’t know anything about the bedsheet found with the body. If it were bloody, would that have been mentioned in the media or would investigators not have wanted to keep that detail to themselves?

  3. Tammy

    It seems if there was dismemberment, there would be blood evidence. I would imagine on tools used or in and around the thief hatch. I would think broken bones ( sad to type that thought) from force or crushing. I imagine rigor may have set in, but don’t know if that makes it difficult to manipulate. This makes me sad thinking of this. I wonder if he was upset doing this or felt detached. Hard to look at all those smiling videos and photos of him with his kids to imagine him hanging over a tank stuffing in their corpse.

    • nickvdl

      You’re right. Dismemberment does suggest a lot of blood and tissue evidence, unless acid or bleach was used to clean it up. As a mechanic and oil & gas operator it’s difficult to imagine there weren’t these sort of products readily available to him.

      • Kaye

        He also could have set fire to sheets and other tools after the job was done.

  4. Pauline

    I’m sorry I’m the only dissenting voice here regarding dismemberment. The other voices are gone. I’ve had a hard time imagining where a dismemberment could have taken place – certainly not at his home, basement, backyard, or anywhere else in his house. First officers on the scene found a cell phone wedged between cushions in the loft couch and sheets in the trash, but no signs of blood, guts, gore, or acid washes clinging to the bathtub. Cervi 319 was likely combed carefully – where were the tools that may have been used. I maintain Watts knew HOW to get the bodies far enough down the tank chutes such that they were immersed in crude oil for days – or he knew how to situate the bodies so that they could be possibly wedged in there minus the head. One way is to turn them sideways, with one arm up over the head and the other used to push down. I think the autopsy will show that his DNA and his alone were on their persons, that drugs were used, or a last meal wasn’t digested. It’s amazing what the body can do when the mind is committed. Arias was able to squeeze through Travis’s doggie door. Van Gogh painted the world on a small canvas. An 8″ hole is unbelievably small – but he’s the mechanic.

    • nickvdl

      I’m sorry I’m the only dissenting voice here regarding dismemberment. The other voices are gone.>>>You’re allowed to be a dissenting voice. In fact, informed, critical thinking is most welcome. What you’re not allowed is ongoing sneering, snide remarks and undermining attacks. I’m all for rational disagreement, but a lot of people – and especially you – dissent without thinking. That gets to be aggravating over time. And it gets to be irritating when you default to the same dissent without thinking.

      I’ve had a hard time imagining where a dismemberment could have taken place >>> yes, you have.

  5. Pauline

    Lets say hypothetically he did cut off an arm or leg. With a high priced attorney it could be argued a leg or arm were lost due to some mechanism inside the tanks that over a period of days caused a limb to be severed. Experts for the defense would be called in, much as Spitz was called in to say the duct tape was found next to the head because the skull was moved (by Roy Kronk). If Chris Watts were an oil rich executive accused of murdering his family his attorney would be able to argue away absolutely anything. If the autopsy shows dismemberment, an autopsy can’t prove who did it. Watts was under-represented, outwitted and outplayed, but it still remains to be seen if he is outlasted.

  6. Shannon

    I don’t think dismemberment. The little ones with hands in air, would have fit in the hole.
    He would have known, by working there Shanann definitely would not fit.
    I really see no relevance to 3 seperate sites.
    By Seperation, it was just easier to get rid of fast. . Do the police have any Shovels?
    Her grave was shallow, sheet sticking out…no mention of blood here or at home.
    He was moving fast…timetable…
    He would have known quite a bit regarding the tanks ie: size of hole, how to open tanks, relock.
    As far as I know…no tools, no blood. Its not easy to chop someone up….fast.
    His whole timeline and Recovering from what just happened, changed when her Friend called him and then the Cops.
    No time to process everything or time to maybe go back and Fix a few things.

    • Sequela Johnson

      If it were premeditated and then delayed because she was delayed in coming home then that would explain why she wasn’t tanked too.

  7. Diana

    I think the wording in the early news reports where they use terminology such as “believed” to be Shan’ann was only due to not having official confirmation that it was her. The dismemberment discussion brings me back to that squicky wording in Chris’s plea bargain documents that state Shan’ann died AS A RESULT of Chris terminating the pregnancy. Maybe he cut the baby out? But I know blood in the home would’ve been an issue though. That wording is bugging me. How did the baby die before Shan’ann did?

    • nickvdl

      I think you’re reading too much into the termination of the pregnancy, and you’re reading it in isolation. There is also a charge of murder for Shan’ann Watts. Seems logical that when she was killed, the baby was too, and vice versa.

      You could be right about the wording. It seems odd to me with a massive manhunt underway and finding her remains at his work site that there would be any doubt. Who else could the fresh human remains belong to? See what I mean?

  8. Shannon

    I may be wrong.
    But I thought after Chris admitted to the deaths. Maps were brought out, a drone, dogs and one report Chris took them to the site.
    I have said before, despite the wording in the findings.I believe the baby died after she died. . Unless he was in such a Rage, he punched or kicked her extremely hard. We don’t know how much physical activity went on in the upstairs of the house. .
    I did look up men killing pregnant Woman. What I said above..
    We have to Monday the 19. I think they have 48 hours to release reports, but they might release late in the day.
    Should be interesting.

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