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

A closer look at the 7th Tranche

Take another look at the 7th tranche of the Discovery Documents. See anything interesting?

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What this reveals is that Chris Watts actually confessed to his father first, but not before being mindfucked by the CBI for 5-6 hours. I’m not saying the mindfuckery wasn’t sterling interrogation, it was. The officer got what he wanted. And he used Watts relationship with his father to get to the other face of Chris Watts [which is also highlighted at least twice in this section].

I recently posted a blog about folks in true crime being either dwarves or elves. It’s a matter of perception, isn’t it? It’s the ability to study a suspect, or a pile of documents and be able to see what matters, what stands out through a meticulous [some might say tedious] process of questioning, filtering, prioritizing, sorting, separating, labeling and integrating information.

Some have a head for interrogating suspects. They’re one step ahead of the criminal, and they can think on their feet. It’s not easy to be one-step-ahead when in reality, the criminal was there, and he is holding all the cards. So technically, he’s always going to be the mastermind.

In the same way that not every civilian has the stamina to stand in a room and question a suspect for hours on end, without getting lost, not everyone can sit with a page of  numbers and spend all day looking at them and making sense of the numbers on a balance sheet. I can’t. I find accounting mindlessly dull.

The number crunchers often find true crime analysis similarly dull. The one deals with numbers, the other deals with semantics. A decent interrogator is dealing with semantics, psychology and some of the forensic facts.

What we see above is the art of seeing meaning and significance in words and how they are arranged in a particular context. It’s the auditing not of financial statements but criminal statements, and trying to fathom the truth of it [just as an accountant assesses the financial integrity of an individual or business]. And then it’s also using psychological means to push the suspect where he wants to go.

Breaking down a mountain of documents takes time and constant, consistent concentration, but even the sharpest blade isn’t enough.

the sharpest blade is not enough.

It’s not just cutting down the true crime evidence mountain down to size, slicing it into ever smaller, digestible chunks. All of it has to be reassembled again into two new mountains: the mountain of what really happened and the rubble of nonsense, deceit and dead-ends. Or in the modern parlance – setting up the authentic narrative out of an inauthentic one.

As much as the interrogator here has to be commended for breaking Watts and getting him to confess to his father, it was only a partial confession, and let’s face it, law enforcement still don’t know when or how the crime actually happened.

There are very, very few who can analyze the true crime regolith and then recreate from the dust – refashion as it were – the original reality, the original sculpture of truth that was always there but covered, muddied, concealed by smears of paint and smoke and debris in order to conceal, bury and deceive.

Lawyers are supposed to do this in a court of law, but while they’re good at analysis, many aren’t very good storytellers. They’re not visionaries. They can tell you what didn’t happen. They’re very good at attacking and breaking down someone else’s story. They’re shit at joining the dots and coming up a scenario. Often it’s left to a judge, or the minds of a jury, to come up with that part, and if they fail, the narrative fails and the criminal walks.

To come up with the authentic narrative requires both a breaking down kind of thinking and a visionary creative mindset to do this. Analogous to this is the sport of triathlon. Most people are either runners or swimmers, you very rarely get both. People are simply wired one way, that’s how it is. But when someone comes along who is wired differently, you start to see reality peering through.

Not everyone in the world has a head for analysis, and not everyone has the mental stamina – the resilience – to sit with a criminal and get him to talk. Not everyone has the capacity to study an infinite series of documents. But there are some that do and even enjoy it. They’re the elves.


  1. Sylvester

    Let me ask you something. Do YOU think Sha’nann hurt the girls, and then he hurt her. Or do you think he lied to his dad, his own dad. He knew he was being recorded. In that room with his dad. That they could watch him and hear him. He also says “I don’t think she did anything to these kids.” So which really is it. Do you believe the liar or not.

    • nickvdl

      You obviously haven’t read any of the books. I’ve maintained from the beginning that the moment Shan’ann entered the house – immediately – she was killed.

      I’ve also maintained that the children died before their mother. So I hope that answers your question.

      I think it’s very significant the symbolic language he uses in the confession. It’s a confession, but it’s not true the way he says it. Nevertheless an aspect of it is true.

      He says:

      “She hurt them…and then I freaked out and hurt her.” Hurt is quite a mild word for murder. So is he referring to that? Or is he confessing to something else? In justifying himself my elf senses pick up a completely different scenario.

      “She hurt them…and then I…hurt her.”

      I think – in his mind – that’s a reference to his parents, especially his mother. Put otherwise, since he was talking to his father, he could have said:

      “She hurt you [plural] so I I hurt her.”

      Of course he had many other reasons for “hurting” her, but that’s what murder is. The murderer is tempted to do something, he feels he has many good reasons to do what’s in his mind…then he gives in, and then he justifies it. He probably does plenty of justifying before the murder too.

      • Karen

        Surely you don’t STILL think she was killed the moment she entered the house? She was in different clothes. A tee shirt and underpants, She had to go upstairs to get them from the bureau because the suitcase was still downstairs.

        • nickvdl

          And then what happened?

          What’s your explanation for the suitcase being left downstairs, then moved upstairs later?

  2. Sylvester

    I actually see the mindfuckery going on and a few things stood out as actually humorous. Agent says “I told Chris that I appreciated him coming to take the polygraph even though he knew he wasn’t gong to pass the test.”
    Some tactics used by interrogators are formulaic. Such as asking the suspect how he would make the victims disappear. Watts seems to take a certain pleasure in providing answers – hiding, lying in wait, running them over with a car, poison, etc. Reminds me of the psychologist asking Burke how he thought his sister was killed and he described something similar to what he might have played on his Gameboy. He even acted it out.

    • Karen

      Nick, This is how I see it
      She kicked off her shows, rolled her suitcase to the stairs and was going to have Chris carry it up. She changed into her sleep clothes, took off her makeup, brushed her teeth. I think they were arguing the whole time since she was already questioning him about the credit card charge. Before she got into bed he grabbed her by the throat and didn’t stop. He went to Bella’s room and smothered her. I think the adrenalin was pumping strong and that’s why her mouth was so messed up. He then went to Celeste’s room and smothered her.

      • nickvdl

        Do you know that Chris Watts’ version was that she went to bed with her make-up on?

        I mentioned earlier that I’m not going to debate this aspect of the evidence. I’ve been clear what my position is, you don’t have to agree with it, and I don’t have to explain it more than I already have in the books, and to some extent here.

        • Karen

          I understand your position, Nick, and yes, I know he said she went to bed with make-up on and the mascara running down her face but he’s a known liar and I don’t believe him.

  3. Blexy

    I think the interrogator gave him the idea to blame Shanann when he asks “what did she do to the girls?” Like a caged animal backed into a corner, then when he hears that… his mental lightbulb turns on. Yes what did she do…. ? Like being given a wild card way out, one that will make him not look so bad, and something that his parents could totally get behind.

    • nickvdl

      I think so too Blexy. A half-truth is halfway to getting to the truth.

  4. Carrie

    I don’t know about all of that. They seem to be very quiet about their arguments. I think Chris was down stairs when she came home. She asked him to take up her suit case and went into her room. Before taking off makeup she remembers she needs to buy more.
    She logs in and sees there S no money. It reminds her of how cold he’s been and she confronts him about restaurant costs and if he’s cheating.
    Again he’s loving towards her and says they will figure it out in moring. That’s why phone was on couch i think.They go to bed and Chris kills her.

    • nickvdl

      If the phone was on the ceiling, would it mean he killed her on the roof?

  5. Carrie

    He never took the suit case up. Oh and dick i mean Nick relax.

  6. Sylvester

    It took a while to get a handle on who this guy is. He’s slippery, and a liar. He lies to everyone – his parents, his wife and even the new girlfriend. Says he is separated – yet he’s still living at home with his family; he says he told ‘her’ he was going to get separated from Sha’nann but he didn’t know what that was going to look like; he says at some point his divorce is almost final, he says Sha’nann told him a week before that she agreed they needed to sell the house and downsize, lies too numerous to list here. This is his racket – he’s a liar – and Rourke called it when he said he doubts we’ll ever get the whole truth out of him. Lying is how he got through life. His lies were kept in place by his parents from early on so that whatever he said they believed, and still do.

  7. Sylvester

    But yes, I like your references to symbolic meaning in what he says. He’s delusional though, looking for justifications as to why he had to hurt her – because she hurt them. He knows she’d never hurt them, not really. His lies throughout his marriage is what hurt them all. A girlfriend of Sha’nann’s said she didn’t think he was cheating but that before they were married (but were headed in that direction) he was still getting texts from other women. He just sort of slips blandly through life, keeping his head down, doing what he is paid to do or doing how he is perceived he should be and no one really knows him, they just think they know him. Like a politician – underneath is something very ugly.

    • nickvdl

      @Karen But if he’s a known liar, which part is is inaccurate? That she went to bed with make-up on or that she went to bed? No need to answer, the question is really do you know what to put in the place of the lie, or don’t you?

  8. Sylvester

    I had to think on this for a minute. It’s a riddle. If he’s a known liar, then neither statement is true. If she didn’t go to bed then she didn’t go to bed with makeup on. Thanks man.

    • nickvdl

      But the make-up is nevertheless significant. If she usually removed her makeup when she went to bed, then this lie explains why she didn’t. But there’s an easy way theoretically to determine whether it’s true or not. 1) Was there make-up residue on the bed sheets? There would have to be if she was killed in bed, and would have squirmed etc. 2) Does the autopsy report she was wearing make-up?

  9. Sylvester

    I have to re read some key transcripts. I thought the investigators mentioned she was buried on her side, knees drawn up, faced pressed into the ground and that there was a mascara streak running down her face. Now I have to verify where I read this and exactly where.

    Also I thought I would go to the end of these documents and read it in reverse. It’s fun that way, you know what happened but it’s like seeing it in slow motion. The build up in reverse. It also solidified for me that this was pre-meditated, not that I ever waivered from that. Here’s what I picked up on:

    A. Nichole has a late night conversation with Watts on the 12th. She hears the television set in the background and figures he was waiting up for S. If he’s waiting up he says he woke her up at 4, they had an emotional conversation and blah blah. Do you wait up for someone and then let them go to sleep and think to yourself I’m gonna kill her, but I’ll let her get a few winks in in first?

    B. As soon as S. arrived at the airport she texted Watts they had landed. He now set his trap, and the doorbell camera. Notice when he set that doorbell camera. If he was in bed asleep and he was going to let her go to sleep, why the need to know precisely when she pulled up and would enter the house.

    C. If she was up and shopping for cosmetics on her credit card, using her phone, would she tuck it into the couch cushions in the loft, go merrily off to bed and get woken up at 4? Not likely. Likely scenario is he took her phone from the kitchen counter, surfed her messages or made the attempt at a credit card purchase and stuffed the phone into the couch cushions so it wouldn’t be easily found. He also doesn’t mention her phone to the CBI guy. Only purse, keys, and ID.

    Then there are things in those last few pages that point to the children being killed first, some time after bedtime I would guess 8/12. S. texts him multiple times that weekend and asks for pictures of the kids. He sends a few from the birthday party and two from the livingroom. The next day he tells her they are asleep at night and she asks for more pictures of them (was her radar going off?) and he sends the same pictures from the birthday party. Either he was lazy and didn’t give two S–ts about what she wanted, or they were dead. He also tells Nichole their sheets stink. Why would their sheets stink? She thought that was odd too. Sorry this was long.

    • Karen

      I literally just read that page. It’s 484 but there’s no mention of mascara. That’s what he told the police about the last time he saw her she was in bed with mascara on her face

      • nickvdl

        Shan’ann’s watch was also found in the couch under the cushions. Pg 467.

        The mascara running down her face is a pretty graphic description, wouldn’t you say?

      • Sylvester

        I just remembered where I heard it – Chris Watts – you’re right Karen. Watts is the source. It’s a pretty stunning visual. Implies too that she didn’t have time to take the mascara off her face before he started squeezing.

  10. amandagildenhar

    With a rube of a father like that who believed him so easily without Chris even deciding if she had smothered or choked them, literally still formulating this shit lie based on the interviewer’s prompts. ‘Them babies’ no wonder this guy thought he was a genius mastermind..gullible people all around him wanting to believe magical truths.

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