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The #1 Word Missing from the Sermon on the Porch, #1 Document Missing from the Discovery Documents and the #1 Evidence Photos We Still Haven’t Seen

Rocket Science isn’t just about the ability to filter, fathom and analyze the information that is there, it’s the ability to spot what’s not there. Over the past few days I’ve challenged the readers of this site to find the most important word missing from the Sermon on the Porch. By the end of this post I’ll reveal what that word is.

#1 Evidence Photos We Still Haven’t Seen

Before we get there, let’s deal with the most important evidence photos missing from the voluminous 1960 page Discovery Documents. Where are the crime scenes photos?  Why are there half a dozen or so photos of Nichol Kessinger, including one in various states of undress, as well as dozens of screenshots of phone messages, including some retrieved from the metadata of Kessinger’s phone, but absolutely no photos of the crime scene?

To be clear, there are two crime scenes at issue here: #2825 Saratoga Trail, and CERVI 319. In all the crime scenes I’ve investigated thus far, this is the first where there is no photographic and/or video evidence of the crime scenes. Not so far. Is it in the mail? Think about the JonBenet Ramsey case, the Oscar Pistorius case, Madeleine McCann, Amanda Knox, West Memphis Three, OJ Simpson, Casey Anthony – all of them have disclosed images of the crime scene.

The Discovery Document dump is a huge mountain of evidence, but the mountain itself is missing something. Why?

There aren’t even any images of the couple’s vehicles.

#1 Document Missing

In the entire tranche of documents the word “bank” appears just seven times, with three of those references coming from a law enforcement interrogator talking about his experience in bank robberies.

The financial situation of the Watts family is CRUCIAL to this case, and yet it’s glossed over. One of the key unanswered questions in this case is how much money was Shan’ann ACTUALLY making as a Thrive promotor, if any? Well, we still don’t know, and until we get those statements, we’ll remain in the dark.

What we can say, through inference, is that Shan’ann was the spouse that was in deep financial shit. Chris Watts wasn’t earning a super great salary, but as so-so as it was, Shan’ann was still very reliant on him for financial assistance [as the excerpts below confirm]. This is why Shan’ann really didn’t want a divorce, especially not in July and August with another child on the way. She also had health issues. Shan’ann COULDN’T let Chris Watts leave her.

Fullscreen capture 20181123 054449

Finances are so at issue here, so central, Chris Watts didn’t just call his realtor shortly after dumping the bodies of his wife and children, he also called Chase bank – twice! Besides all this, it seems he was intent on getting out his house ASAP so he could sell it. He was already half moved out when the murders took place anyway – he was sleeping in the basement and running around after Nichol Kessinger while Shan’ann was AWOL in North Carolina.

Fullscreen capture 20181123 054316Fullscreen capture 20181123 054353Fullscreen capture 20181123 054422

The fact that Chris Watts couldn’t [wouldn’t?] provide the cops with access to the bank accounts and records confirms why this information is vital. So where is it?

And Chris Watts was also a Thrive promoter – how much was he making with Le-Vel?


#1 Word Missing from the Sermon on the Porch

When we go through the call records, we see quite a lot of interaction with Kessinger prior to the murders and just after. On August 13th, the night after the murders, Watts and Kessinger were still in touch, discussing the goings on. Then, the next morning, Chris Watts was confronted by a phalanx of reporters gathering alongside his porch.

During his seven-minute interview there was one word he forgot to mention. He forgot to say Shan’ann was pregnant. The word doesn’t come up a single time. People were getting worried about her, he says, because she wasn’t getting back to her people. And it’s okay if she doesn’t get back to him, but she didn’t get back to her people…

But shouldn’t he be worried about her condition? Isn’t it a pretty big deal that she’s missing and pregnant? Chris Watts slyly leaves this crucial piece information out of his narrative. He also talks about Bella going to kindgerten the following week, but neglects to mention Shan’ann had a pregnancy reveal party that weekend. Why would she disappear if she’d arranged a party?

For Nickole Atkinson the pregnancy, her lupus and the fact that Shan’ann had said she hadn’t been feeling well weekend was central to why she raised the alarm. Another word that doesn’t come up in Watts’ Sermon on the Porch is “doctor” or “appointment”. He simply doesn’t mention it. This was a crucial clue early in the day that something was wrong, and also – if you think about it – if Shan’ann had gone to a friend, why would she miss her doctor’s appointment?

More pertinently, why doesn’t the pregnancy come up when he addresses the media?

Mistress of Chris Watts speaks out

Nichol Kessinger on Nov. 15, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Why? Simple. Chris Watts knows or expects one particular person to be watching, and he doesn’t want to disappoint her. He also plays the interview as a somewhat concerned husband, but he’s casual attitude is meant to show Kessinger that while he’s concerned, it’s not a big deal – it’s not as though he still loves her/them. Once things blow over, he wants to be back to business as usual with her. And he imagines, somehow, the news that Shan’ann’s pregnant won’t come out if he doesn’t say anything [just as Scott Peterson assumed the same thing].

The funny thing with liars and living a lie, is that strategically leaving out information can buy you a lot of room to move with those close to you, and those who have your trust. You can get away with a lot, fool many people for a long time.

In true crime though, and with the media, that game doesn’t wash. The mainstream media is the MSM, not the MLM media. Different folks, different standards, a different kind of critical thinking, and very different speeds at hearing pennies drop.

One world is based on lying and manipulating and scamming to make a living [and not even that]. The other is closer to the real world. But even as the media has begun to report on the Discovery Documents, they aren’t the reality of the Watts case just yet. A few steps in the right direction, yes,  but with a whole bunch of important stepping stones removed. And there’s still no clear way across to the Promised Land of this true crime case without them.

Grey puzzle pieces


  1. Georgia

    Could it have been left out of the info released, and glossed over by the DA in favour of the fresh start with the girlfriend reason given, because it didn’t show Shan’ann in a good light? The DA was very caring towards the family and all they had been through, could he have withheld this to prevent any blackening of her name beyond the grave?

  2. MVM

    If Watts’ information about their finances is true, it not only puts Shan’ann in a bad light, it shows Thrive Le Vel, with $1 billion on sales, is a scam business. She was just in Thrive magazine as a success story, now facing foreclosure. The gratuitously salacious details about the affair are a distraction to draw attention away from the effect of involvement in MLM on this family. Nick, the hallmark of your work is a deep analysis. I think you should take down blog post about Kessingers searches, unless it’s a critique of why those details were released.

  3. MVM

    I completely agree with this post BTW.

  4. Karen

    Kessinger got Getty Images to fo her photographs? A professional photographer? Give me a break.

  5. Eleni Palmos

    Great post! I cannot wait for your next book.

    Surely there is more information coming. Are the 2000 pages it?

  6. Diana

    Speaking of their finances – in the Lie Detector documents report written up by CBI/Colorado State Investigation, it says Shan’ann made $65,000 a year from Le-Vel. I was very surprised to read that since that’s more than Chris makes. If we believe Chris that he couldn’t access his own banking accounts, I’m wondering if Shan’ann lied to him about her true income from Le-Vel. Chris doesn’t come across as very smart, maybe he didn’t realize perhaps Shan’ann was spending $35,000 to make that $65,000 a year. Maybe Chris didn’t have access to cash either and that’s why Shan’ann busted him using a credit card taking Nichol out to dinner among other expenses she questioned on the credit card.

    • Carrie

      Good point.

  7. Karen

    Damn you’re good, Nick. I never even noticed that he didn’t mention his wife being pregnant

  8. Carrie

    Thank you for posting all this nick. I’m on page 26 and I appreciate your postings and input. When is your next book coming out? Much love, Carrie

  9. Carrie

    Oh and try and get some rest… You journalists tend to have strange hours the story is going no where. God Bless.

  10. Carrie

    Also can you PLEASE post the mom of Chris’s mom’s interview? I’m dying to know what she said. Thank you in advance.

    • nickvdl

      Hi Carrie – thanks for your comments.

      You’re right about the strange hours. I’ve had very little sleep the last few weeks writing a trilogy of books, building a brand new blog and trying to maintain two Facebook pages [all while trying to keep a pulse on the case and assimilate all the research]. What’s good is some of the readers who discuss the case keep me on my toes and up to date. What’s not so good are many either attacking each other, or who are stuck in kindergarten mode calling Watts GUILT!!!! and a monster!!!! and demonizing this person or that as the devil carnate. All of that is a distraction in figuring out what happened here, and trying to assemble all the various pieces of this puzzzle.

      The next book will be out early December, but will only touch lightly on the discovery documents. I’m putting together a 5th book in the new year that will focus on analyzing and integrating the key areas of the Discovery Documents with the narrative we have so far – moving it forward but also identifying critical areas where there is information missing, or information that may not be reliable I’ll also be providing a scenario for how the first of the three murders likely took place.

      While I’m here can I ask a favor? Please don’t leave several comments in a row [replies to yourself].When commenting try not to just say what’s on the top of your head reflexively. I’m trying to keep these pages neat and easy to read, and that applies to the comments too. With your help the comments are also an area worth reading, and I’d like to keep it that way.

  11. Georgia

    Apparently Chris Watts worked for “Le-Bel”…on page 1196 of the Discovery document he talks about Shan’ann selling Thrive and explains that it’s a company called “Le-Bel”, and he spells it to them when they question him. Surely sitting face to face they wouldn’t mistake a V for a B? Wasn’t the name all over the product and patches?

    • nickvdl

      That is fucking nuts, excuse my French.

  12. Carrie

    Is Chris watts girlfriend looking for a book deal?

  13. Cheryl

    This is a great blog–per usual. Thank you. I agree that the state of the Watts’ finances underly Chris’s annihilating his entire family, especially in terms of the timimg. Based on what little is offered in the almost 2,000-page release, it looks as if their access to any kind of discretionary funds was finished for the foreseeable future–behind on mortgage payments, homeowners association is taking them to court for what appears to be several months of non-payment, $500 per month for daycare, and, most importantly, ALL of the credit cards are maxed out.

    I recall reading in the release that Chris reassured Nichol that he “would make it happen” in terms of their continuing to see each other when Shan’ann and the children returned. How the hell are you going to make it happen if you don’t have money for dinners out, hotel rooms, tryst trinkets, etc? Since Shan’ann managed the finances and was OCD, I imagine she knew exactly how much room was on the cards, just as she knew when Chris spent a suspicious $60 on dinner. I also suspect she was floating money by paying one card with another and likely told Chris all was well with the finances. When Chris began his affair in earnest with Nichol during the five weeks when Shan’ann was back in North Carolina, I just bet, not knowing the extent of their financial woes, he eliminated what little room they had on any given card. When Shan’ann returned home on August 13 and was trying to purchase on-line beauty supplies at 2:30 a.m., her credit card was declined. Emotional discussion? Do the math; Chris certainly did.

    • Kaye

      In one of her interviews, Nichol said that Chris paid for almost all their expenses with gift cards that he said Anadarko have to him. It was only the final date that Saturday where she said that he used a regular bank card. Where and how did he get all these gift cards?

      • Cheryl

        Interesting, Kaye. Perhaps the gift cards are perks for meeting certain performance goals. I don’t know. It would make sense that he would cash these in first, as they would provide cover for his dating Nichol (Shan’ann could monitor the credit cards via alerts) and also offer more spending capacity, since the bank cards were almost maxed out. That being said, Chris wasn’t going to have discretionary funds available to him unless he did something soon and something drastic, which required him to do a lot more than filing for divorce. What did the DA say when he expressed astonishment at Chris’s murdering his family to get “a fresh start”—“Just get a divorce.” As Nick’s blog discusses, there’s a lack of transparency related to the Watts’ finances—in the DAs simplistic presentation as per motive, as well as in the almost 2,000-page release, which proves that volume does not necessarily equate to veracity. After two-plus years’ involvement in Le-Vel and other MLMs, the Watts had to be thousands ($10 to $20k or more?) in hock to these companies, in addition to all their other debt, including credit cards, which were probably supplementing living expenses. A total nightmare that spawned the final nightmare we’ll be trying to understand for years to come.

    • Carol

      It was actually 500 a week, not per month, or that’s what it says on page 528 in discovery….2000 dollars a month for what they earned as well as how high their mortgage was is an albatross around their necks. Surely there was other daycare/schools that were more affordable than that

  14. Diana

    Cheryl from what I’ve read, they were spending $500 for EACH child for daycare/pre-school. $24,000 per year!! And that’s only the basics! Supposedly BOTH the girls were to start going 5 days per week starting the morning they were murdered. Like most daycares, Primrose Schools nickle and dime families like crazy! Late at pick-up time? That’ll be $15 per quarter hour that you’re late. So many extras come along with any private school, but the school they attended was pricier than most. If, and that’s a big IF, Shan’ann made $65,000 a year from selling Thrive, once you deduct her costs for selling those patches, she was spending her whole paycheck on their school and buying the product herself. I’m not sure if that $65,000 included her $800 monthly luxury car allowance or not. I agree with Nick that it’s hard to really know just how dire their financial situation was without ALL of their financial documents, but it doesn’t look too “Pollyanna-ish” if their credit cards were maxed out.

  15. Diana

    ** My math is off…they were spending $12,000 a year for daycare, not a base fee of $24,000. Still not recovered from Turkey Day yesterday HA! HA!

  16. Diana

    So I commented about what was spent for Bella and CeCe to attend Primrose pre-school. The original number of $24,000 a year was in the back of my mind, but I went with $12,000 since that seemed correct if indeed they were spending $500 a month per child. But it was still niggling on my mind. So I went back and dug through the released documents and VOILLA! I found what I was looking for! YES! The Watts’ were spending $25,000 a year for pre-school! That figure is in paperwork from The Colorado Burea of Investigation polygraph paperwork. Sorry, but that’s considered super-expensive for a pre-school! Its a huge expense for people who were essentially broke. Its no wonder the morning of the murders that Chris called the school to dis-enroll the girls. I will say that the decision to spend that kind of money to prepare 1 child for Kindergarden and to prepare the other child for pre-kindergarden when funds are tight is outrageous! Skipping one month of that would’ve paid a big chunk of the outstanding HOA fees they were going to court for!

    • nickvdl

      Absolutely no way they were going to afford that.

  17. Kaye

    There were sections of the discovery that detailed the handover of a bunch of items to the CBI for forensics testing (the bedding, etc.). Do you think the testing was not completed by the time the plea deal was reached? Otherwise why is the forensics report not included?

    • Nick

      The Discovery Documents are actually all fluff. There’s very little substance in them. The photos that are in them are grainy and poor quality. I’m sure the forensic report was/is ready they just dont want to disclose what’s in them. Ditto crime scene photos.

  18. Georgia

    Apologies if I have missed it on another post, Nick did you come across crime scene photo on Discovery page 817 showing 2x plastic bags and sheet out in open, plus roll of plastic bags found in his work truck.

  19. Shannon

    Maybe he wanted to pull all the money in the account out before cops got to it.
    Wierd no crime pics yet.
    Maybe not mentioning her being pregnant, he really didn’t care.
    Its like they will release information when they seem fit to do so.
    If he shut up, got a lawyer, went to trial.
    To many *funny things * about this case still.
    Wonder if he’s had any visitors.
    Page 91, her ex husband.

  20. Doris Fromage

    Something odd from the “Sermon on the Porch” that no one has commented on yet is the way Chris Watts talks about his children. He starts off with mentioning his hope that they’ll “rush him” and “barrel-roll him”, which sounds nice enough, suggests a loving relationship (they’re excited to see him), but that’s about *their* reaction to him only, not that he wants to scoop them up in a bear hug or anything like that. Then he talks about how what he routinely does at dinner is nag and threaten them to finish their food. That’s gotta get old… And then he talks about them in the evenings simply relaxing on their kiddie couches to watch “Bubble Guppies” while he hands them juice boxes or whatever – there’s no interaction there, either. These aren’t the kind of “things I miss” recollections I would expect a *loving* father to default to in describing how much he’s missing his kids – the first sounds like it’s a relief they’re not there, and the second is as neutral as the cat sleeping on the sofa.

  21. Disgusted

    I cannot believe you sucker people into purchasing your editorial assessments disguised as “books.” After reading through a couple of your blogs on the Watts’ case, it became clear quite readily that what is important to you in unraveling a case depends upon abstract rather than critical thinking skills. You recklessly throw out your opinions, speculations, and theories based upon what you believe are honed instincts. What is most glaring to me is your lack of psychological insight. You do not seem to have the depth of consciousness to understand the depths of perspicacity others are capable of delving. How you cannot see the difference between the love Shannon felt and the love her husband had no idea existed tells me this. We all have characteristics subjective to each of us…hers may have included controlling and financially irresponsible, but make no mistake, they also included loving, loyal, faithful, and devoted. Read your beloved reports again, not only was she in NC to visit family with their children, she was there to increase her business – aka make more money. She would do anything REASONABLE to find a solution to their problems. In your “expert” analogies, find anywhere that proves he knew how to love, be loyal, faithful, or devoted. Prove he would do anything REASONABLE to fix their problems. BTW, since you missed it, he used prepaid cards to finance his trysts. Where that money came from to prepay those cards? Who knows. Who cares. He’s a soulless scum.

  22. Disgusted

    Fact check me: reportedly, before leaving for her trip she indicated one of her goals was to increase her sales team and buyer base. After returning from her trip from NC, she indicated that, indeed, she was very successful in increasing her sales team by quite a few members. In MLM, that’s where their primary income is generated, from the percentages they earn from their recruits. Her video stats would not indicate her texting, calling, or physical hustle to achieve those goals. C’mon….critical thinking!

    • nickvdl

      Are you involved in MLM?

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