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

Officer Matthew James’ Call to Chris Watts on the night of August 13th at 21:12 + Handwritten Notes on Yellow Pad Up Close [40th Tranche]

Earlier on Monday afternoon, while standing in the alcove near the stairs with Deeter sitting in a pool of sunlight behind him, Officer Mark James offered Watts his card and suggested Watts call him if anything came up.

[Scroll down to the bottom for the video of the call.]

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By 21:00 that evening Watts hadn’t called the cops to report anything, or to ask for anything. So Officer James called him.

This call was made prior to Watts’ Sermon on the Porch the next morning. It was effectively Watts’ first version where he explained both the trip to North Carolina and how that may have led to their “separation” taking effect that morning and Shan’ann’s disappearance shortly afterwards.

When Watts refers to separation we assume he means separation, but Watts is really using this word symbolically [in terms of his own psychology] as a euphemism for death. He knows it’s a permanent separation.  But in his own mind, separation is a nice safe term to acknowledgesboth worlds, the fictional world he’s selling and the reality change in his circumstances [wrought by him].

He uses the same symbolic euphemism to the FBI when he tells them “I only hurt her emotionally…” and later, when acknowledging the murder itself: “She hurt them so I hurt her.”

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She hurt them -> I killed her -> [Father does a double-take at the word kill] -> I hurt her

Intuitively Watts seems to be talking about his parents here. She hurt them [during the tree nut meltdown] and so he killed her. He’s telling his father this, and saying because she hurt them, he “hurt” her. It sounds reasonable except when you replace the word “hurt” with murdered, and the fact that he murdered both his daughters too, it’s not reasonable in the least.

But this sort of bald-face lying, tailoring and customizing of a version to make it sound just right isn’t new to true crime though. It’s classic to true crime.

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What this shows is how a murderer tries to minimize his actions, and his words, by softening them, just as evidence is softened, minimized, concealed, covered up or lawyered into oblivion.

Interestingly, during the almost seven minute long phone call, the first number Watts gives Officer James is Addy Molony’s. These are supposed be friends Shan’ann may have left with the kids to be with. But Addy doesn’t even live in Colorado. The third name he gives the officer is Cristina Meacham. She’s in Hawaii!

In the end he only gives James four names, and each name is like pulling teeth. Officer James nevertheless follows-up by calling each of the four names Watts has pulled out of a hat. Through them, a portrait of what’s really going on gradually pixelates into something sharper and more specific.

An affair. Facebook deleted on Thursday. Did not want baby.

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In the phone call Officer James also asks Watts to elaborate on their marital problems. Watts makes three very big statements in response to James’ open-ended question:

“I could never really be myself…”

“She could never see me…”

“Right now it’s hard to be in this house right now…”

Notice too the shocked, pregnant pause and awkward response when James asks him point-blank if he’s having an affair right at the end of the telephone interview.


  1. Marie

    It may be of no importance, but what was going on with the bathroom in between the girls bedrooms? Was the toilet just broken? Why was the door not locked when it was usually kept locked?

    • Lana

      I believe water was shut off only in that bathroom, the K9 lady noted toilet was dry and no water in the tank. I always wondered IF he (C.W.) hid something in the pipes… I’m sure there is more stuff hidden in the house, that’s why he confessed so quickly to hide all other evidence.

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