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

“TWO POLLYANNAS is about victim blaming”

It’s time for some mythbusting around the increasingly popular myth that the TWO FACE series, and TWO POLLYANNAS in particular, is all about running Shan’ann Watts down. The writing is biased; Chris Watts is hero worshipped and Shan’ann deserved what was coming because of the way she treated him.

It’s not true.

It’s not even close to the premise of TWO POLLYANNAS. In fact the title doesn’t refer to Chris Watts or Shan’ann whatsoever. TWO POLLYANNAS is about the two poor little girls at the center of the tragedy, who have been overlooked in almost all coverage.

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Even so, the TWO POLLYANNAS title doesn’t refer to them either. It’s a much deeper narrative than that.

It shouldn’t even be necessary to say this, but I’ll say it anyway.

In true crime without exception no one deserves to die! The very reason we’re here trying to figure out what happened is because of a criminal act that has shocked us to the core, and we want to know why.

Even when we begin to find answers to why, that doesn’t mean we’ve found out that they deserved to die. Why is about motive. It’s why the murderer committed murder! 

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If anyone didn’t deserve to die in this story it was Bella and Ceecee. Who were they? Didn’t their little lives matter?  What were their personalities like? Who were their friends? What impact did they have on their parents as a unit, and on each parent individually? So that’s the perspective TWO POLLYANNAS takes.

What did the Watts household feel like from the inside, how did it operate, and what was it like to experience it? Well, we get that from the perspectives of Bella and Ceecee. TWO POLLYANNAS attempts to show what it was like being them behind closed doors and between Live posts to Facebook.

In every true crime case I’ve made an attempt not just to understand the merits of the crime and the case, but what was going on with the victim, the perpetrator and the true dynamic that existed between murderer and victim. Who were these people really, in life?

So, over the course of several narratives in a series, the issues of all the characters will need to be addressed, and addressed equally. So trying to fathom family dynamics isn’t about blaming anyone, it’s about fathoming family dynamics.

Family dynamics are difficult to get to, and they’re especially so when families won’t come forward and be 100% clear about what was going on. Also, some families will reveal more about their relatives, others will reveal less. It’s up to us then to look at what’s being withheld.

In the the Watts case in particular, the family dynamics isn’t speculation because we’re in the unique position to have a trove of Facebook videos in the public domain showing all four family members repeatedly interacting with one another. It doesn’t take long for behavioral and personality patterns to emerge. Access to them is one thing, but what do they mean?

What if it means that beneath the veneer of a fairy tale on Facebook, the Watts family weren’t quite as happy or functional as they appeared? This sounds like heresy, and some people are aghast to hear it. What? Cracks in the marriage? How dare you! But we do dare, because of the way the family was annihilated. Looking at the fairy tale isn’t the full story for why this crime happened. Looking into the cracks may reveal why it fell apart.

But some people just don’t like that. They want the fairy tale, and part of it is that Chris Watts had to be all evil, and his wife and children all good. Sadly, real life just isn’t like this because – guess what – no one is perfect.

One of the worst reviewed series I’ve written thus far is on the Steven Avery case. People absolutely hated the FOOL’S PARADISE books because it didn’t agree with the popular and mainstream premise in Making A Murderer that Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey were both framed, and as such innocent victims. There is an inverted fairy tale about murderers as innocents. In that story, people want to believe Avery and Dassey are innocent so that their own perceived victimhood is real.

If the innocence story is a fiction, however, then their victim story is a fiction too.

Unfortunately for those bleeding hearts who are desperate about proving Avery’s and Dassey’s innocence, they weren’t framed, and whatever you may think of Making A Murderer’s Sympathy Narrative [also known as True Crime Apologia in the mold of Paradise Lost], however strongly you may feel for Avery, the question around his guilt or innocence is by no means a mystery.

The law, evidence, and let’s be clear – common sense – produces a very different result to Avery’s and Dassey’s guilt than the payoff from the emotional story. That’s why the outcome of the case feels different to the conventional, popular wisdom. But true crime is more than about feelings, it’s about real people, real destruction of lives, real emotions and real reality. That’s the true in true crime.

In the Jodi Arias books, most readers wanted a black and white narrative where Travis Alexander was portrayed as the innocent victim whereas Jodi Arias was sketched as monstrous, and as a hideous murderess.

It should be obvious by now that to say Jodi Arias [or any convicted criminal] is guilty and a disgusting liar and a horrible human being isn’t only stating the obvious, it’s self-evident. How much time do we spend name-calling criminals before we get to the business of dealing with their cases and uncovering the full extent of their lies?

If name-calling and dancing on their graves is all we want to do, then do it, get it over with but don’t confuse that with research or reading or analysis. If you want to feel good about how bad someone is, if you love to hate, spend your time getting your kicks on social media. Every time someone says “monster”, “narcissist” or “psychopath”, like or retweet it, and that’s all the true crime effort you need to “understand” a case.

On the other hand, if you’re more serious about figuring out motive and method, the why and how of these crimes, then climb aboard the Rocket Science rocket and let’s see what we can find out. That’s different. That’s an intellectual journey.

Why would one work on a narrative fixating on the obvious [guilty! psychopath! evil monster!] unless to gloat about someone’s badness and rage about the victim’s goodness. Rocket Science is more sophisticated than that, alas. It tries to do the simple but supremely difficult thing of figuring out the more difficult stuff; why crimes happen, and who the people are that are involved. That’s all.

It’s because of the above that these three reviews below of TWO POLLYANNAS ring false. It’s not enough to shoot down the analysis [because it’s not sufficiently pro Shan’ann, or anti Watts], the writing itself must be seen as a cynical and dishonest effort to make money.

In the first review the indignant reviewer can’t even spell the name of the victim correctly.

I’ve read a lot of Nick’s books and I usually really enjoy them, especially all his books about the JBR case. This book left me with an uncomfortable feeling. I got the distinct sense that he is blaming Shannon for her own murder – as if she was so controlling and impossible to live with that she had it coming. How can he presume to know this so well if indeed it was true – and how does that justify what Chris Watts did? Simply a shocking road to take in my opinion, but in the end I guess it’s all about making money and selling books. Glad I read it for free.

The reason I resent schizophrenic reviews like this, is that they’re from regular readers who ought to know better. They ought to know by now that every aspect of the case is examined – the good, the bad the ugly.  That they wish to conveniently pick and choose their truth based on their own bias is especially out of place in true crime.

A lot of time was spent talking about how Shanann was racking up debt while Chris was working hard at his job. It repeatedly mentions her OCD, illness, and time spent on social media in a negative way. This was not just done from facts, even if the author would like you to think it was. The author seemed to be blaming her for a lot of the pressures on Chris…

This review is better, but it ignores the fact that effectively Chris Watts was for all intents and purposes the sole breadwinner in the household. If you buy into the MLM farce that Shan’ann was truly Thrivin’ and bringing in an income, I can see how you might find difficulty – and discomfort – with that assessment.

All the credit cards in the Watts household were maxed out, not because they were making enough money, but because they weren’t. The bankruptcy filing is adamant that there was only one source of income in the Watts household [in 2015], and the little money Shan’ann was bringing in was about to be diminished by her second pregnancy. In 2018 the credit cards were still maxed out, and now she was about to have a third child.

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The health expenses in the Watts household were all on the one side. Chris Watts had seemingly no medical issues or expenses, hell, he even exercised at home in a homemade gym.

What surprised me in researching TWO POLLYANNAS wasn’t just Shan’ann’s medical circumstances, but the children’s too. Both children were quite sickly. This assessment, which was researched prior to the release of the Discovery Documents, has since been confirmed by them.

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Fact is, one of Shan’ann’s surgeries [to her neck] cost over $100 000. Who was going to foot the bill for that? Putting aside for a moment everything else, the mortgage, the crippling credit card debt, the school fees at Primrose – if your partner had medical expenses of $100 000, and it was your job to pay for it, how would you feel about it?

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The actual state of the Watts family finances, even after the release of all the information, still remains a mystery.

And then there’s this.

Not only has the author nothing nice to say about a murdered woman and her children, what he says is simply not true. This isn’t true crime writing: it’s true fiction masquerading as true crime.

True crime isn’t about having good things to say about anyone. It’s about analyzing evidence and seeing what that has to say.  If you disagree, and you may, well that’s another story, but are you disagreeing from a position of  strength from an informed position, or weakness, based on little more than an emotional position?

The coverage on CrimeRocket is an extension of what goes into the written narratives. How much of the coverage on this site [out of 10] would you say is fictional, speculative, biased or not true?

Buy the TWO Face series at this link.



  1. cameronjenkins80

    Sometimes as straightforward and sensible as things could/should be , there are people in this world that care nothing about those things. You could go to great lengths to explain , prove , demonstate , give solid facts to these people and at the end of the day they will have absorbed nothing . They do not care to get the deeper meaning. Its so much better to repeatedly say the same ricidulous worn out thing that is most simple and popular. If you go to great lengths to inform these people that there are two sides, but not only that , all of the important components that connect these two sides of a story or situation , you will walk away irritated and disgusted . Waste of time. All the while there will be more people than you realize that do “get” the direction you are going and are waiting and wanting to hear more. Thats where your energy should be. Forget the rest. You cant fix stupid , Nick.

  2. julinka1981

    Well said Nick. I learned a lot from your website and even changed (what I thought was informed) opinion on when and where the crime was commited. I am wondering if you ever took an interest in Amanda Know’s case and missing Madeleine. Would be interested to hear your views and analysis on these two cases.

    • nickvdl

      Hi Julinka – I’ve written six books on Amanda Knox and three on Madeleine McCann.

      I’m still not done covering the full narratives of both those cases. Will get to them in due course.

      • julinka1981

        Brilliant,I will purchase when I come back home! Thanks so much.Mist do the people here in UK think Mc Canns are responsible for her disappearance.

      • Haida

        I’m assuming you’ve read the very cohesive and chronologically correct text exchange between SW and her close GF.
        It starts when CW arrives in NC.

        I’ve read so much about this case including all the court documents I could find and this text exchange is by far the most revealing in the rawest way. It endeared SW to me.

        Her AWFUL OBNOXIOUS FB infomercials show her being a salesperson. The exchange is gut wrenching, she CANNOT understand why in the 5 weeks since she’d seen him how he could completely change toward her. She says that it’s really the first time she’d ever had that kind of rift with him, in the 8 years, THATS IMPORTANT.

        The whole then time I’m reading it I’m shocked she’s not accusing him of cheating, ALL THE SIGNS are there, but she trusted him. And you see a woman pregnant with two small kids scared to death of her love no longer loving her, and the WHOLE time he’s communicating with NK and plotting her murder.

        I just really wish the people who want to portray her as a controlling bitch would read it.



    • julinka1981

      Haida, what do you mean by “give a respect to dead??”? Nobody here is disrespecting dead,this website is not a grief forum-it’s an investigative website and the aim is to find a narrative and learn about the crime. There are things said about both sides of families but only for the purpose to get to the bottom of this crime. I think you are barking at the wrong tree.

  3. Shannon

    Ignore the negative reviews. I have learned so much from this site, it makes me think, look at things differently.
    I live in Canada, so we don’t have health debt. Our healthcare is free. Thank god.
    I’ve heard horror stories about debt Re: health.
    A sin for people to have to cover themselves.
    If people are not willing to really analyze all aspects of any case. It shows they really don’t care. Its a learning process.

  4. Sabine

    Chris Watts was the sole breadwinner of the household, however the actual state of the Watts family finances, even after the release of all the information, still remains a mystery.

  5. Shannon

    On RadarOnline,
    Dec 7.
    Shanann’ planned to divorce him days before murder.
    Dec 8
    Secret Wisconsin prison files released

  6. Anna

    Well said! How dare we try to understand and talk about issues like, how personality disorders affect family members – we’re not saying that, if a person who is afflicted with a personality disorder is murdered that it’s their fault, we see the need to talk about it to prevent pain and tragedy, we want to learn more about psychology since so little is understood about it in our supposed advanced society.

  7. P Jg

    Thanks for the site!
    In fact, I was searching for this point of view on Google, as somehow I wasn’t convinced that he didn’t love his girls.. and in all the videos, I saw that Shannon was always forefront and he talking from behind. Somehow I felt bad for him. He was trying his best to be the best person for her, trying to match up to her expectations.. but somehow he failed and tired. He even said in an interview that with NK, he never had to think before saying anything stupid and he was all by himself and this is definitely a big thing for anyone. Though, again killing anyone is not justifiable, but the anger definitely gets built up. From nowhere, I found him psychopath or narcissist as there was no history of he being narcissist. He did everything to make his family, kids, parents feel good.. ultimately, it turned to be very sad, what made him to go in such a darker side of life. Feeling bad for everyone involved. He wasn’t even a good communicator, otherwise he would have simply asked her not to include him in her videos or hes not okay with her being constantly online. Probably, she would have reduced that for him. But he seems to be a silent observer and unable to comprehend what to do in the most rational way.

    • nickvdl

      Thanks for your comment. The trouble is the silent observer wanted to be silent no more, and didn’t just want to observe, but he felt like he had to silence his family – permanently – to do that. There is perhaps a grim lesson in that for us, where are either silent or simply passive observers in our own lives. It’s not healthy. And one has to find a proper way out of the impasse even if one doesn’t feel one has the capacity or the “armor” to do so.

      • Doolallybirdy

        Have you ever pondered the possibility that his first statement is true? That Shan’ann murdered her children, then he killed her? He does give a very credible explanation on the circumstances of this if one hunts on YouTube. Actions, drawings and all. Also, in discussions re Shan’ann’s narcissism, that personality disorder is known to snap. Also there is some evidence of munchausen by proxy in Shan’ann and her obsession with the children always being poorly, taking them for unnecessary tests for all kinds of allergies, intolerances and illnesses. Munchausen is also accompanied by making a person/child ill or causing them harm, mostly for attention. I’m not saying this is the case, but look into it. There is some good evidence out there that Shan’ann was suffering from personality disorders and munchausen. I think his second interview, where he professed he had found god, and took the blame for murdering the children, is flawed in many ways. He is not consistent in this as he was in his first description. He also believed to have found god. It’s possible he will take the blame for something his wife did, as marriage is forever in Christianity. Till death is do part. He’s still living. He was also a submissive male who would have probably taken on the blame for everything Shan’ann did, and possibly even after her death. We may never know the truth about this. It’s a real head banger of a case. Thanks for this site! Awesome job!

  8. Helene

    But here there you see it, normally people don’t go out shooting people at work, because you were fired, or kill your family, because you ‘you didn’t had the ‘skills’ to explain your bossy wife you wanted a divorce.’ Mentally there is something seriously wrong if you belief that’s a solution. Chris being the breadwinner, a staying at home mom, is work too. The whole idea that he is 6 weeks time, ‘because he can be himself with his mistress’, ofcourse hello, on the beginning with no responsibilities it’s oh do fun.. kids, finances being a grown up… again I belief from far, it’s difficult to see, who is a narcissist, psychopath etc, because they are so good, manipulative. Chris is playing a role, he was never able to ‘be’ himself, he learned long ago, some things he thought or did, where ‘wrong’. So better to stay, low, best is to be in a victim role, like this, she is bossy, she that, poor me. I’m sure he manipulated his family, to make Shannon look bad. Ted bundy from far, was oh so charismatic, that’s how he got most of his victims, and pretending to be hurt. We try to find out what caused him to, I think it was just a matter of time. He showed no regret, the moment he was presented by a story a mother killed her kids..he said why.. because she didn’t want the kids to live without her…that’s where he got that idea Shannon killed the kids, and told his dad. He as any psychopath his family wasn’t doing anything for him. Just a burden, he had something new, and for that to happen he had to annihilate his family. It could have been his mistress, let’s say she was pregnant and he didn’t want it, he may have murdered her. If he had gotten away with this, he would have done it again when his family or whomever was in his way and he had no use for them anymore. Can we foresee this? I was in a relationship ship with a person that reminds me of Chris, very nice, subdued, never raised his voice in the outside world, yet he abused me, physically and emotionally and no one believed me, he was so nice, until it was so bad, and he did go to prison as today his new friends still Blame, poor him had to go to prison because I so called made this all up, to frame him. This Person every 3-6 years moves and starts a new life somewhere, he has no friends, or long standing ones, and I recall, that night, and I was lucky I was able to escape, what he said and his his eyes looked, it was terrifying, as if finally he could be himself. Even his voice wasn’t the same. Prior he would tell me in a normal voice. I will kill you. I brushed it no I didn’t hear that… well till it almost happened. These are not people that were pushed… nor did Chris do it, in a rage, he already knew he was going to. He is sorry for being caught, he was ‘mad’ at Shannon’s friend of exposing him. Even if, he had killed due all sorts of stresses, his children don’t fit, there still isn’t an ounce of emotion in Chris about his kids. None. I wished we could ask Shannon today did you see signs.. because I think she saw them, but brushed them off… excuse me for my English I’m not native English

  9. Helena

    And then one last thing, my ex who did this to me, suddenly ‘changed’, he was mean, and Uninterested just as Chris the last month or so, as I found out he had a mistresss, he denied< I was the crazy one of thinking such, I hired a Pi and he had indeed, I too was pregnant of him, but you see he didn’t want to be the ‘bad’ guy, so he was hoping by being ‘away’ would cause ME to leave HIM. But just as Shannon, I was Trying to fix or at least try something. He was done with me he had found someone else who had a better use at that time. Now I was in the way, and yes I think he hadn’t been able to run out the house I be dead today. And yes he actually said several times just out of nowhere I will kill you. He totally lovebombed and gaslighted as well. I have seen his really face he isn’t capable of loving any then himself. Yes the whole situation set Chris off to a path of destruction yet if it had not now it would have at some point because if killing your own children is a better solution then… and have no regret about it, not 1 tear, even in later interviews, he isnt griefstricken, of sorry, there is seriously something wrong with him. It’s 1 million times easier to say you want a divorce then kill your kids. He just didn’t want to be the bad guy, and in his mind he thought people would buy it, Shannon left, she doesn’t want me to have the kids, etc etc apparently people did prior and he looks down on people in general. He isn’t stupid it wasn’t planned out well, luckily, and he didn’t know Shannon that well nor her friends. He is where he belongs, around other criminal minds.

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