First, watch the clip from 17:55 – 18:18 in real time. Everything happens, from start to finish, in a little less than 30 seconds.
A few things that we pick up when we freeze it down into individual frames:
1. Watts parks his truck in peculiar position relative to the front door and where everyone is. He drives all the way past his driveway. Why? He seems to be hiding his truck either from Coonrod and Nickole Atkinson’s line-of-sight, or from the Trisnatich’s camera view [blocked by the tree]. Remember, Watts has since changed his clothes from earlier in the morning – from a black shirt with short sleeves to a long sleeve, grey shirt.
In order for Coonrod to see Watts exit his vehicle, he has so move from right beside the front door, right out onto the cement slab of driveway, and even then, the rear of Atkinson’s car is still almost in the way.
2. The first thing Watts does isn’t rush up to the house and speak to the cop. Instead he scurries round to fidget inside the back seat of his truck [where we now know all three bodies were transported].
At -27:24 Watts sneaks a quick look back, sees Coonrod, then turns even further [-27:23] and sees Nickole and Nicolas.
Nickole and Nicolas are blocked off by her car, but because Coonrod has stepped forward and to the left, he has line-of-sight to Watts.
Next Watts appears to hold up the garage remote to his audience as if to say: “This is what I was looking for, and I got it.” But why would the garage remote be behind the front passenger seat?
It could also be that in this moment Watts activates the garage door to open. Nickole shepherds her daughter out of harm way as the door begins to open [the line of square windows turn slightly as they curl inwards and reflect the light].
Watts seems to open the garage door from afar to allow him an “escape route” on his approach, so that he doesn’t have to stand for more than a few seconds and be confronted. And so by the time approaches Coonrod the door is virtually half open, and Watts is able to seamlessly shake, move away and duck under it.
3. Watts tucks something under his arm. It looks like it could be Shan’ann’s phone.
Or does he press the remote at this point, to have the door opening – as a distraction – while he’s approaching them.
4. Watts quickly, perfunctorily shakes Coonrod’s hand and without so much as a word, dashes off again. From the angle Watts approaches him, the bodycam can’t see the side of Watts’ body clutching the object under his arm. Watts keeps his left arm folded and tucked in the whole time, as he enters the garage, then almost absently steps back and opens the car door. [ He looks at the floor or the door compartment for some reason].
In his left hand he appears to have his own cell phone, his keys and the remote for the garage.
5. Officer Coonrod and Nickole Atkinson first assume Watts is going to be in the garage checking the car, and so they’ll be able to speak to him in a few moments, but then he does the same thing he did on his approach. He’s moving one way, so the next thing he’s gone inside the house, once again, without a word.
Sneaky. All his movements seem calculated to deceive.
It’s possible – and even likely – Watts’ first stop after entering the house alone was to hightail it upstairs and stuff Shan’ann’s phone under cushions on the couch in the loft lounge. This probably explains why Shan’ann’s phone was off. Taking it out the house meant it had to be off otherwise it would ping and track her/his movements. Perhaps he meant to dispose of the phone somewhere, or leave a message impersonating Shan’ann on his way back from work, implying she was alive and somewhere else, when she wasn’t.
If he had her iWatch in his jeans pocket, a valuable item he might want to pawn if he could, he could have stuffed that in there too, at the same time.
The reasoning behind bringing the phone back into the home if he’d taken it out, may have had something to do with them knowing her car was there. If her car was there and her phone wasn’t that would cause suspicion, and Watts was here to alay suspicion. She’s not here but it’s no big deal. In terms of the car, Watts may have forgotten about the little windows allowing Atkinson to see into the garage, and thanks to Nicolas, someone did. In his wildest dreams he probably couldn’t have imagined Nickole [via Nicolas] jumping on the hood of her car to see inside, but that’s what happened, and that’s what made Nickole CERTAIN something was wrong.
Her handbag, more than likely was inside the home but out of sight, either in the basement, or packed in one of the many cupboards in the house. Once the phone was discovered, he probably figured the handbag needed to be found as well. Between all the maxed out credit cards there was perhaps a card or two with someone money, and thus, his name written all over them. But then he had to give those up too.
Special shout out to Kelly Treybig on the True Crime Rocket Science Facebook group for highlighting this manoeuvre! Nice going Kelly.