In POST TRUTH, the 100th True Crime Rocket Science [TCRS] title, the world’s most prolific true crime author Nick van der Leek demonstrates how much we still don’t know in the Watts case. In the final chapter of the SILVER FOX trilogy the author provides a sly twist in a tale that has spanned 12 TCRS books to date. The result may shock or leave you with even more questions.
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“If you are at all curious about what really happened in the Watts case, then buy this book, buy every one he has written and you will get as close as humanly possible to understanding the killer and his victims.”- Kathleen Hewtson. Purchase the very highly rated and reviewed SILVER TRILOGY – POST TRUTH COMING SOON.
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Book 4 in the TWO FACE series, one of the best reviewed, is available now in paperback!
“Book 4 in the K9 series is a must read for those who enjoy well researched and detailed crime narratives. The author does a remarkable job of bringing to life the cold dark horror that is Chris Watts throughout the narrative but especially on the morning in the aftermath of the murders. Chris’s actions are connected by Nick van der Leek’s eloquent use of a timeline to reveal a motive.”
hmmmm – she made 1/2 a million dollars before she was age 20 and had a beautiful house in Charlotte, she furnished all herself, etc? Woudn’t Leonard King of had something to do with this big beautiful house? Again, please no one think I’m dissing the victim – I’m just trying to know the truth here.
How exactly did she make this amount of money?? It’s never really been explained properly has it? Also, if she was so money savvy etc, then how did they go bankrupt? I don’t think they even had one single asset at the end, did they? It all belonged to the bank. Literally nothing said ever adds up.
I think it’s horrible what happened to her and her beautiful children but in order to understand it all, the back story needs to be rock solid and it clearly isn’t. It’s all patchy & full of inconsistencies.
Clearly this was largely a marriage of appearances. A $400K home with that type of income coming in? Living WAY WAY WAY over their heads, and they had to know it. Sending the kids to a private school at $500/week given that same income limitation? It’s seems to me that Shan’aan had some high end tastes that had to be satisfied. All the trimmings and high end comforts that could be imagined, in and out of the home. Didn’t fit their reality, but it did fit their desires (I’d guess Shan’aan had to have all of these things as necessities). Even after bankruptcy proceedings, there was no downsizing in any fashion. This is not to blame the victim, I literally ache for Shan and those children. It’s definitely not to excuse the evil and horrific acts/person that Chris Watts is. But is it part of the onion that needs to be peeled back.
I think it’s not ‘useful’ or even ‘honorable to turn people into ‘Perfect Dead people.’ I went to a funeral …that was Quaker…and after all the glowing remarks about the ‘dead man’ His BROTHER stood up Right there and said’Who in the world are any of you talking about.’ Everyone laughed. The brother then spoke of a human being he loved-but did not take away his humanity..It was refreshing-and brought people together. Because as he mentioned his brother was not ‘easily lovable’ more like hugging a porcupine. However, he also had many other admirable qualities he spoke of.
Very true. Great comment – thanks Molly.
Honestly, I do not see the issue here that’s big enough for panic. 400K debt on a 130K (CW 70K, Shanann 60K) earning is what most lenders in the US would consider low risk (they look for debt as 25% of gross earning). Since they purchased their home post 2008, I presume they made some down-payments as well and actual debt was lower (very few lenders would lend without 20% down post 2008). As per Zillow, they purchased the house for 399K and the current valuation is 504K, so decent equity built up in 4.5 years.
It is not an irrecoverable situation. The private schooling was avoidable and once the kids started kindergarten, they could have attended public schools. They could have sold off the house and used the 100K profits towards downpayment for a smaller house. And since Shanann fretted over 60 dollars, it seems she kept an eye on unnecessary expenses.
Again, it could have been handled better.
$2700/month mortgage payment, $500/week children’s school payments ($2000/month), lavish credit card payments where only the interest was paid (major dept), utilities, etc……and Chris Watts made $60K/year along with what Shanaan brought in. That’s WAY WAY WAY over their means, and it’s not debatable. Let’s see, they had something like a combined $1500 in liquid assets via checking accounts. Do the simple math, they were headlong over their heads and swimming in dept. Watts said he was living paycheck to paycheck. The stress level behind that type of irresponsible finances would be terrible for anyone.
Again, it takes not a thing away from the patently evil and brutal events, but it is part of the story.
I have to 100% agree with Jerry here and taking into account their prior bankruptcy, the bank actually considered them HIGH risk and a liability hence why they only agreed to the loan if Shann’an’s Mom co-signed with Chris as guarantor on the loan – which she did. Shann’an wasn’t even on the loan or home deed.
They were yet again headed down the SAME path and had clearly not learned a thing from their past mistakes. They were living far, FAR beyond their means with all Jerry explained above and Shan’ann herself couldn’t stop spending on literally everything, furniture, gel nails, Lululemon clothing to name a few. Whilst she was doing well at Level, she was still in a job that was solely commission based so she did not have a reliable, steady salary at all. Look at the fact that they owed a tonne of money, credit cards were maxed out and they’d defaulted on their home loan by THREE months. Their house was about to sold by the bank, Shann’an was pregnant etc. Do the math, the home loan was close to 4K monthly, that’s nearly $12k right there, add their other debts, private schooling, daycare, bills, maxed out credit cards and they were sliding towards bankruptcy and shitsville once again! It would have been BEYOND stressful.
The bank was wrong to give them that loan and Shann’an’s Mom was wrong to sign as guarantor. People that had been bankrupt do not then go on to buy mansions and put their kids in private schools. They were extremely frivolous and foolish with finances and were about to bring yet another child into the mix. Disaster all round.
I agree they were spending way beyond their means. Not only Shanann, but Chris too. But, what I meant is it was not at a stage where it was unaddressable by a financial counsellor, had they sought help. If Shanann really brought in 70K (or even 50K) they would pass the lending standards in the USA. Here in the San Francisco Bay area, people buy 1M dollar homes with 200K earnings and do just fine.
If I were their financial counsellor, I would advice them to:
1. Immediately eliminate the private school expenses.
2. With the baby on the way, reduce other day to day expenses by 25%
3. Scale up their respective careers by 20-25% (I think both had the looks and the polish to do so if they wanted to). Chris instead of using his six packs and chiseled looks for chasing NK’s rear needed to be more active on job sites, and Shanann needed to leverage her vivacious, outgoing personality for a stable higher-paying, marketing job.
4. If the Math still did not work, move to a smaller house (though that might not have helped, given the mortgage rate differences between 2013 and 2018).
Also they had no equity in the house. You would think after almost 6 years they would but I looked up the info on the county’s website and the had paid off less than 50k of that mortgage in 6 years and were about to be foreclosed on. The house is already going to auction this month, the bank started the foreclosure on that home at the end of August / beginning of September. Besides my prior comment about her bringing in no money, if you didn’t do the research you can very well see why they were sinking. Chris’s salary wasn’t anywhere near enough and she was losing money pretending to have a job at LeVel, plus all those vacations and whatnot the company gives away don’t cover airfare and most food all they cover is travel and sometimes the crappy few food items right before a speaker does a speech.
They may have covered the car but she would need to keep consistent sales every month or she loses that car bonus for the month. The lease is on her and Chris nut the company and they make that clear if you don’t hit some trivial number in Sales (your sales not your teams) that month you’re on your own paying for it. Since Shanann wasn’t good at finances she got that car the first time she hit that goal and I bet that was a one off thing. They were stuck with that car payment until the lease was over.
Leonard King is an assistant public defender in small-town NC. He *maybe* makes $65k/yr currently. He and his family live in a very small modest home.
At the time he was with Shanann, he was likely in law school, and not making any money at all.
Leonard King is not wealthy, and if he were, he wouldn’t have spent his money on a McMansion.
Its a Lie. Let’s see her taxes.
I noticed that the investigator recorded Jamie’s information and seemed interested in contacting her. But it seems that no one ever interviewed her or Cindy Watts in an official capacity? Wouldn’t the investigators have wanted more info/ background about Chris and the family’s life for a potential trial?
Sylvester. I enjoy your comments.
I’m having a Hell of a time reading the documents. Doing it on my phone….so small.
I wish I could get a printed copy. So I have to be careful how I comment, because I haven’t read all the info. I go off the comments and Nick’s titles and stories.
Stupid way of gathering info.
Shannon, I have to read off my phone also,, I have to zoom in and twist and turn. It sucks!
I know..it’s horrible. I get so frustrated.
How in creation did Watts think he’d EVER get away with this? Really? Wife and kids “disappear”, and husband is last to see them. He really thought and planned to get away with this? How absurd…..how sad they all had to perish at his evil hands for absolutely no reason other than his own personal gluttony.
He was a very stupid guy after all wasn’t he? So much for his photographic memory and high intelligence?! I can’t see it myself. Almost “like” dumb, “like” do you know what I mean?? He sounds and acts like a teenager, at least that’s what I saw in all his videos and interrogations. Every 4th word is “like”. Not one cohesive, articulate or intelligent sentence ever came out of his mouth.
This guy wouldn’t even get away with stealing a candy bar…
Totally agree, which makes this all the more bizarre (and tragic). I cannot fathom a father even THINKING about hurting his kids, let alone actually brutally choking the life out of them-one in a night diaper. I still remain perplexed how this guy could actually think he’d not be suspect #1 from the word go (as the spouse)…..perhaps he felt that even then he’d be able to outsmart LE in their search for evidence. But come on, he had a GPS in his truck which led them directly to the site of the bodies…..he left a sheet there, etc.-they would have found those bodies and connected him regardless. I think he had this in play and expected his wife to arrive home closer to midnight, which he felt would have bought him the time to hide evidence. The 2am arrival combined with a missed Dr. Appt. and the prompt reporting of a friend put LE at his home almost immediately, further foiling what he thought would be ample time to manipulate the scene/scenes. Clearly this guy was stupid thinking he could use his evil hand to wipe away prior life.
While I’m ranting…..I also think his body change and it’s psychology contributed mightily. Here’s a guy who was 5’10” and 225 pounds, a chunky guy and likely always self-conscious. As he lost the weight, muscled up…he became full of himself and saw himself in a new light, a light where women found him desirable and he was intoxicated with that. Almost like a metamorphosis in a very evil way. He told his wife near the end that “they were no longer compatible”…….he was not fully completed in body and soul and felt he was entitled to sleek sultry hotness. Anyway……he was feeling his oats a bit too much. Yet and still, how this guy ever thought he could get away with this is so troubling, especially after watching his interrogations.
Spot on in your assessment of him. He seemed emotionally and socially stunted, his high school friends say he was quiet & don’t recall him having any girlfriends. Perhaps he’d always suffered from low self-esteem/inferiority complex. Fast forward to this year, he loses weight, bulks up & starts getting the female attention he’d probably never had before. All of a sudden his head swells & he’s smitten – like a love sick teenager – & he didn’t have the skills to navigate his emotions and sensibilities or know how to handle or manage the attention she gave him. Hiding in his shell like a turtle his whole life didn’t bode very well for him at all. He seemed to not develop past age 16 for some reason. No real life, social or worldly skills.
Having said that, it still hurts my brain how he thought he’d get away with it all. The neighbours cameras, Shann’an’s baby appointment the next day, the fact that she was always on the phone & now suddenly wasn’t using it etc. He had to have known she was seeing Nicole the next day? The sloppy, rushed job in the house & the staged set that he never had the chance to complete, the gps on his car etc etc. He was a love sick puppy whose mind wasn’t functioning like normal anymore.
It still doesn’t answer why he killed the girls & showed no remorse or sadness. Bella bit her tongue & seemed to be conscious & fighting back. That alone would do in the most heartless of souls – but not Chris!! I don’t think we will ever get the full story.
They called him “Rain Man” at work. So I imagine that he’s brilliant at certain things, but can’t understand emotions and social cues very well.
Loved the last paragraph. Completely agreed. His letters to NK clearly demonstrate fatal attraction, and he was going all the way to get her. He was thinking between his legs and not with the brain. With Law Enforcement, he tried sounding “natural”, but then he sounded way too natural for a grieving husband and father.
Shanann was a beautiful woman. But given Shanann’s OCD, I would not be surprised that she was organized and conventional even in love (somewhere NK said that CW mentioned Shanann did not like getting “messy”). So the extra “kinkiness” that NK brought to his life, compounded by his newly established physique drove him into a fatal attraction.
“Honestly, I do not see the issue here [ito finances] that’s big enough for panic…”
“it was not at a stage where it [the finances] was unaddressable by a financial counsellor…”
So help me out a little with your thinking.
The first thing Watts does after murdering his family is he calls the school, pulls them out of that. Calls the realtor, wants to dispose of the house and move somewhere more affordable. He makes several calls the day of the murder, and even goes to see a house Meadows suggests to him the same day.
Arguably he also tries to make a purchase on his wife’s credit card online, to see if there’s still credit on it, and it bounces.
Later the same day, this we know for a fact, he tells his mistress his wife left her ring on the dresser, and he decides – tells her – he’s going to have it appraised. Kessinger knows the state of his finances, and gives him her blessing to do this.
Maybe all of that means nothing, except all of those factors came up in the Scott Peterson case.
On the Thursday after the murders, the next mortgage payment is due, and the following week he has a court date with the homeowners association who are suing him/them for $1,533.80. In the past year, Shan’ann had neck surgery that cost $100 000. Shan’ann’s mother said in her statement the $25 000 they still owed for that [a year later] was why they were in financial trouble.
And on August 13th there’s also another milestone, a 15 week pregnancy, and a doctor’s appointment that day.
“Honestly, I do not see the issue here [ito finances] that’s big enough for panic…”
“it was not at a stage where it [the finances] was unaddressable by a financial counsellor…”
So if the finances weren’t so serious, what was the driving force – in your mind – behind this extremely serious crime? What went into the triple murder if money wasn’t a factor, or it wasn’t such a big deal?
Do we take what we know about the finances and go, pah, I don’t think it was a factor [because hey, they’re not your finances are they?]. And instead we say, hmmmm, I wonder why this happened. Maybe he was just a strange guy.
Again, if you’re going to dismiss or minimize one aspect, why not suggest [in your mind] a better, more cogent explanation.
I didn’t say finance was not a factor for CW. What I meant was that their finances was not in an unsolvable state for a saner, more responsible individual. A saner individual would talk to his spouse and plan, visit a counsellor. Not murder. As I wrote above, the average 2 bedroom home price in SF Bay Area is 1 Million dollars and there are folks with 200K income who are living jolly well in them without committing murders.
It seems from Addy/Cindy’s interview Shanann had started working on it. The reason she tracked the 62$ dinner was that she had just started managing and curtailing the daily expenses.
Also note that Shanann was pleading for his attention. She was begging him to come back. This was the perfect opportunity for CW to negotiate and bargain for what he wanted, maybe a less expensive lifestyle. But he chose not to. Because he did not want to.
Shananns mother’s writing is terrible and hard to follow. She was aid? What does that mean? I not familiar with any type of aid that has medical training, even if she was a CNA or something I’d get it but the woman seems very uneducated. It also appears she was kept in the dark about the finances which isn’t odd, but why does she mention that Chris’s sister had never met “Uncle Frankie our son”, so? What does that have to do with anything, it’s not really that odd honestly. Why is she mad that Chris showed her the girls private area after the mother asked to see it? She said she couldn’t see that well and was going to move the mouse (maybe she meant zoom?) and instead he moved the camera closer “oh I was mad!!” Honestly the woman sounds off to me. It’s obvious that the family doesn’t have high IQs or any type of formal secondary education, but that doesn’t necessarily mean someone isn’t smart, however in the case of Shananns family that seems to be the case. From literacy to finances they seem to get by knowing the bare minimum. Even and especially Frankie who sounds like a child throwing out a number he thought was alot like when a kid tells you their dad makes a billion dollars. 500,000k is a very high salary and for him to claim that she made that much when only the top 1% of earners in the US pull that in.. Well it just goes to show you how they understand money. Shanann thought her husband’s salary was high as well and that it would floats millionaires lifestyle, I think she found out quickly that while 70k isn’t a pittance it wasn’t going to put her in the upper middle class lifestyle she wanted.
BTW Nick, just to clarify my stance… Their finances were in a mess. But, there is a hint of insinuation that Shanann was largely/solely responsible for this, and the poor boy was left with no choice. That’s what I am trying to dispel. Lot of us went through financial troubles, hit the nadir and bounced back. One should have had the will.
There are families in Detroit or Mississippi Delta or West Virginia that have hit the brick wall and have no way out. But two attractive, urban young people in their early 30s? They had the looks and polish to scale up in their careers. If there was a will, the way was there,
And this is why you and I are crossing swords. You seem to be making the case that Chris Watts was free to do whatever he wanted to do, and he exercised that freedom to commit triple murder. He could do anything but he chose to commit triple murder out of the blue – his first criminal offence in his life – because he failed to appreciate there were much easier options. So you’re saying he chose murder, the more difficult option, because…?
You can make a claim like that, but back it up with something. Did he murder because he’s a psychopath, because he’s stupid, or just because? Or do you say well Chris Watts is a weird guy, who knows how his mind works, and that’s your explanation for why he murdered his family. If that’s your argument, you argument is basically “he committed murder, it was a poor choice and there’s no telling why because he had so many other options.” It’s not an explanation.
Personally I think that’s a very naive, uninformed and intuitively “off” assessment. Are you happy with your answer to why, or is it a cerebral sense of, aaah, but you see, no one can ever know, and anyone who says he does is a fool? So he who doesn’t know is wise, and he who does is a wannabe? That about it?
I don’t really care whose fault the bad financial situation was. It seems when you try to figure that part out it defaults [in many people’s eyes including yours] to victim blaming. So let’s leave Shan’ann out of it, or let’s assume she was actually the sole breadwinner and hypothetically Chris Watts was a gambling addict or similar. Let’s blame him for the financial malaise, or blame a hypothesis where a scammer came along and stole their money. It’s not true, but it gets us around this difficult issue that the finances were anyone’s fault, and allows us to actually acknowledge that the finances were like walls moving in on them, just as the pregnancy for Niko felt like the walls of her womb were growing tighter as he evolved more fully into a living being.
I think you have no experience and no knowledge – for example – of the Scott Peterson dynamic, and the state of his finances, and how crucially that played into his sense of limited choice and ultimately desperation. I think I sent a link. You probably ignored it. Once again, what matters isn’t what you think of their situation, and what you think their options were, it matters what the situation factually was, and what Chris Watts knew [or thought he knew, or imagined] his options were. What did he think his choices were?
You seem to think murder in this case was like a new choice of breakfast cereal. he woke up and randomly, for no good reason, made a different breakfast cereal choice. It wasn’t a big deal, he chose to murder, it was just one of the plethora of options on the table.
But murder is a very big deal.
When you look at the week preceding the murder and you see how often Shan’ann asked him, prodded him and pushed him to tell her what was going on [because she knew he’d changed, and she knew something was going on], why do you think he didn’t just choose the obvious option on the menu and tell her. “Hey hun, I’ve been having an affair. No big deal.” She was already in North Carolina – why not tell her why she was half-moved out anyway, and with the children anyway?
There’s a real reason Chris Watts didn’t see this as an option. Shan’ann had a massive meltdown over nuts that lasted about a month and used much of the 6 weeks she was away. I’m sorry if this appears to point a finger at Shan’ann, I’d really like to leave her out of it, but she was actually married to Chris Watts, and was the mother was his children, so she is relevant to the argument.
She told Watts that, for example, she deserved a fucking gold medal [her words] for the way she treated his parents [based on what almost happened to their children]. Let’s say she was 100% right and justified in doing what she did. If this was how she responded to a child almost eating ice cream with nuts, and she then went onto social media and vented, how did – not how would you – how did Chris Watts think she might react if he told her what was really going on?
You don’t need to answer that question to me. It’s posed to you for you to consider. Your understanding of the people and the circumstances in this case is very shallow, that’s why your assessment of both him and Shan’ann and their multiple options is also off.
Don’t you think Shannons ‘assessment’ of WHY Chris could no longer have any input in finances-is ridiculous…To refresh-it was something about his selling off something for less than owed. I do not know How much ‘was lost’ in the transaction however-I can imagine a scenario where cutting one’s losses -can make sense-In addition-We are back to ‘My husband the incompetent’…shaming that was done daily…He should have had a voice in marriage finances-I personally believe without TWO partners involved-there is No accountability for either-..Just my thoughts..It is a family straight-to go bankrupt together-then move in together-A Generational problem on sooooo many levels.
Lot of us went through financial troubles, hit the nadir and bounced back. One should have had the will.>>>And they did. They went bankrupt, and 3 years later were trying to bounce back. But the bounce wasn’t quite there, was it?
I think you are biased in judging me because of our disagreement on the other post. I actually agree with you that it does not matter what I think and Nick felt he had no way out. Human mind is a bundle of chemicals and each one reacts differently. My tone is not that of accusation but that of regret that he was not like some others, yours truly included. I know what it takes to bring up a family of four with a single income in the most expensive part of the nation and be hit by Lymphoma at the same time. But hey, here I am, 15 years out and replying to you. We crawled out of that distress, and upgraded ourselves.
Bottomline is money cannot always buy love. But, love can buy money if you are focused on a common goal. If they felt strongly about each other, they would have made it work. They failed as a unit.
But as you said, I am not Chris nor Scott..That’s why I can only sympathize and regret, but not empathize.
I think that’s why you feel so strongly. Your transference is so strong, you end up identifying yourself and your situation with one side [Shan’ann’s side]. So part of your argument isn’t hypothetical, it’s you justifying yourself and your situation.That’s why it doesn’t matter to you if you understand their dynamics so well, you understand yours all too well and that’s enough.
I sympathize with your situation, and what you went through, I really do, but your circumstances aren’t analogous to theirs. Their situation is theirs. I don’t think the organism they were in was anything like yours. Not better or worse, just different, and also different people. I don’t know you, but I’d hazard a guess you and your wife didn’t come from a rags to riches background to the extent that Watts and his wife did.
When you come from a hardscrabble past, letting go of the castle is that much harder. When you’re born with a silver spoon in your mouth, when there’s a castles a-plenty in your family tradition, then losing one isn’t a big deal. When everything you are or ever will be is wrapped up in your one castle, then it’s different. That’s why this isn’t about you, it’s about them.
Human mind is a bundle of chemicals and each one reacts differently.>>>Not in true crime. In true crime the psychology tends to conform to distinct patterns. The lies manifest in particular ways, the attempts to conceal and cover up are consistent, the inadequacy chewing at the belly of the criminal is always there, that’s why they’re criminals and you and I – touch wood – are not.
>>So part of your argument isn’t hypothetical, it’s you justifying yourself and your situation
Why Chris Watts, I am open enough to embrace psychological variations that would force a certain Adolf the Fuehrer to do the things that he did. And I come from a so-called “developing world”, which by sheer disparity makes our story in the US a “rags to riches” one.
But, this is not about me. It is about Chris. And I do sympathize with the predicament that they went through.
My siding with Shanann is a tacit acceptance of the patriarchy that we live under. I don’t condone that arrangement, but that’s a reality. As her dad said, “he was supposed to be the protector…”
Love and agree with all you’ve written…..fascinating and true. All of it.
It’s always good to have sympathy for the victims, and to reality check the fact that they are no longer with us. That what happened to them is the worst possible outcome for them, and for any one.
But sympathy for the victims doesn’t mean all thinking and analysis stops once you’re no longer dealing with the victims.
It was a matriarchy in the Watts household until the moment Watts murdered his family. Arguably it is a matriarchy in the Rzucek and Watts senior families too. Only Sandy and Cindy – of the parents – spoke of their own accord in court. Have you seen pictures of the house where Watts grew up in, and Shan’ann’s parents’ home in Aberdeen, btw? Have you seen pictures of the Hair Jazz salon where Sandy works, and the dealership where Ronnie works?
I do think there was a masculine force at work, behind the scenes, but not so much in any of the families, more in the industries surrounding them – the military in North Carolina [Fort Bragg] and Anadarko in Colorado. And I think Kessinger enjoyed that environment until August 13th.
This is an excellent analytical look at both sides.
I learnt an interesting factoid from Jeremy’s interrogation released on Youtube – that Shanann got Chris the Anadarko job.
House going auction. April 17.2019