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Did Chris Watts Kill Shan’ann For Nothing?

First, a disclaimer. There is naturally never a “good reason” to commit murder. In true crime it shouldn’t be necessary to say this, but in this case it is, especially given the hordes doing the rounds making accusations of “victim blaming”.

Chris Watts’ reason for committing murder is what we’re trying to get at. If we do come up with a cogent theory, that still doesn’t mean Watts had a “good reason” for killing anyone, murder is never a good reason. We’re trying to establish whether in Watts’ mind he thought he had a good reason, given his circumstances.

The timing of the murders are important. Without going into too much detail, what was floating in the air just prior to the murders was Watts deactivating/deleting his Facebook profile [August 9th], and the mutual decision to cancel the gender reveal party the following weekend, and instead reveal the gender on Monday [the Monday of the murders].

Now, if there is some truth to Nichol Kessinger’s claims, that she didn’t know Shan’ann was pregnant, or that she’d been led to believe the baby wasn’t Chris Watts’, then a “gender reveal” would clearly change that. Since Shan’ann was very public on Facebook about being super-excited about her pregnancy, and gushing about Chris, he had every reason to fear she’d let the cat out of the bag.

Fullscreen capture 20181225 215129

The above snippet from page 574 of the Discovery Documents suggests Kessinger was under the impression Shan’ann was pregnant as a result of an affair with someone else. It’s unclear for how long Kessinger was under this false impression, but we can see how this aspect as part of his overall narrative to her [that they were getting separated/divorced because of her affair, and because she fell pregnant] would make Kessinger feel a sense of certainty that the marriage was over.

Finding out that the baby was his, on the other hand, would swing everything around, and “ruin everything”.

Yet on the day prior to Watts deactivating his Facebook, the trio of girls decided amongst themselves not to reveal Niko’s gender on Facebook. Fullscreen capture 20181225 213819

This had to be because Watts insisted. For Shan’ann to put every detail over her life on Facebook but not this one was a major concession. So it was part of the deal that she wouldn’t go public, if he would invest in their relationship. But it seems both sort of reneged on that promise. Shan’ann let her inner circle know about the sex of the child [and it was perhaps a matter of time, in Watts’ mind, before one of the promoters blabbed on Facebook], and Watts was never planning on sorting the rift in their relationship. The best he could do was buy time.

By Monday 13th, Watts figured time was up.

Fullscreen capture 20181225 221733


  1. CBH

    He clearly knew time was up, yes.

    I’ve just finished reading the excellent 4-book series on this case. Altogether superb analysis but I do have one question:

    I’ve since been reading the huge discovery documents, and noticed a detective’s remarks to Watts about Shannan being suspicious about Chris’ $60 dinner on credit card Saturday night and the fact that subsequently her attempt to buy hair products online resulted in the card being declined. I now can’t locate when her card was declined. I know the detective said she attempted the online purchase at around 2:30 am. Do you know if this was on Sunday 2:30 am or Monday at that time? If Sunday, she was likely heading home with the idea to confront him. If Monday, this clearly throws out the ambush upon her arrival home, indicating a heated confrontation escalated into an unplanned murder.

    Do you happen to know when the card was declined?

    • CBH

      Addendum: *Discovery p 608*: Watts is told by law enforcement that Shannan appeared to have still been up at 2:30 am after arriving home from AZ. They surmised this because it seemed her credit card was declined on an online purchase of hair care products. They asked Watts if this led to an altercation about the $60 he had spent on Sat. night.

      • nickvdl

        My belief is Chris Watts made the purchase at 02:30 to test whether there was any money on the card.

        There are similar cases of specifically using a phone to try to get money after the murder occurs in the Meredith Kercher case as well, and though I can’t prove it, in the Jason Rohde case. In the Rohde case the bogus message wasn’t meant to get money but to mislead in terms of her time of death. That may also have played into the alleged purchase in the Watts case – to confuse the time of death, and as it happens, we are still in the dark about all three deaths, including who died first, and who died last last.

        • CBH

          Do you now believe it’s possible the children were killed last?

          • nickvdl

            No. It was a premeditated murder, and the premeditation lasted several days.

          • CBH


  2. sheis

    I’m sorry, but we do not know for sure what Nichol Kessinger and Chris actually said to each other. Nichol made statements to investigators that were contradicted by hard data.

    She was just as concerned with her public image as Chris was, and I don’t believe she told the truth to investigators.

  3. Diana

    CBH my understanding is the credit card only sent out a notice via e-mail that her purchase was denied – NOT that the attempted purchase was made at that time. Shan’ann could’ve attempted the purchase hours prior to that notice that her credit card was declined.

    • CBH

      That’s an excellent point, thanks for that.

  4. Eleni

    The leak at Cervi 319 was the catalyst in my mind. Chris Watts may not have gotten another chance at hiding the bodies like that again. If the flight had not been delayed, he would have time before his colleagues arrived and could have used that gas can we see him carrying to the car to set a fire.

    I have no idea why as there are plenty of other men for a single, ambitious woman but Nichol Kessinger’s actions are invested enough that she would have gotten past the baby being his and that he had left wife and babies for her. Mistresses do it all the time. Bella and Celeste were little more than babies themselves. You posted about the one word missing from the Sermon on the Porch and it totally surprised me that you were getting at the pregnancy. Good observation.

    Nichol stated that the children were verbally demeaning him like their mother supposedly did and that the baby was not his. He is certainly capable of lying about siring the child and, in retrospect, set the stage for his future calumnies of Shanann.

    • ganana

      One word missing from Watts’s interview on the porch is “love” (and I am going from memory here).

  5. Ralph Cifaretto

    One of the most fascinating aspects of this case is the digital recording of the Watts failing marriage, and is preservation in posterity for all to see.

    In the lead up to the murders themselves, you can practically see Shan’anns increasingly frantic and desperate response to Chris’ new found sense of personal independence. Chris wasn’t just building himself a better physical body, he was also flexing his mental muscles as well. I think Chris’ rapid expansion of identity and dawning realization of all his combined woes that lead to his emotional divestment from his family drew an interesting response from Shan’ann, though not necessarily due to her sadness. More due to loss of control and bewilderment at the situation.

    Shan’anns attempt to ”fix” their marriage read more like an emotional blizkreig, and ironically doubled down on all the behaviors that had driven him from her. She ordered Chris a book on marriage and sent him marching orders to read it as soon as it arrived, she booked them an trip together to Aspen (more expense for Chris to worry about), she wrote a letter declaring her eternal fealty to him and demanded he do the same, she scheduled ”TALK” in their respective calendars, she finally cajoled him into attending couples therapy. She was even drafting and fine tuning more marital spiels to him up to the moment she arrived on the plane back in Colorado.

    To a man in the midst of a kind of identity rebirth, with multiple other stressors gnawing at him, it might have been the point where thoughts of ”What if?” began to take a more sinister turn.

    • ganana

      Great post. Shan’Ann went about mending her relationship the same way she helped destroy it–by controlling the storyline.

  6. Sylvester

    In interrogation 2 he denies four times he fell in love with someone else or had a girlfriend in the 6 weeks leading up to the murders. He tells Coder he actually began falling out of love about a year before. To which Coder replies “horseshit.”

    • Shannon

      Really as if a cop can tell someone’s feeling about Love.
      Bullshit. Whole case smells like S–T.
      I just wish asshole Chris was smarter.
      Sorry about the lingo……lol
      I’m in a mood.

    • ganana

      Will we ever know when his and Nichole’s attraction (long before the affair) really began. Was that what prompted his new interest in his appearance. Also, I wonder if steroids, testosterone, etc. were part of his program and if so, if they released his long pentup rage.

  7. Sylvester

    Ralph, I really enjoyed your Guest Post regarding the synchronization and recording of steps with the iwatch and iphone and as I struggled to understand how it works, do you have an opinion as to if the watch would have been removed at the same time as the phone was turned off? Also you mentioned had investigators used an “all data” feature on the iwatch they may have been able to determine when her heart stopped beating, as well as spikes during the crime. Since the watch is synchronized to the phone, is it possible they obtained all of the data they could have if the phone was laying somewhere by her side then immediately turned off? I spent the day with a friend who has a fitbit and he showed me how it records heart rate but only if he’s wearing it. Any more thoughts on this?

    • Ralph Cifaretto

      Hi Sylvester, thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      In response to your questions: Its hard to get a clear picture without actually seeing the data from the watch itself. I do believe the watch was removed at the same time as the phone was turned off. I looked through the evidence entered and crime scene photos and both Shan’anns and Chris’ iwatches were recovered from the house. Shan’ann is shown in almost every photo wearing her watch, so id say it was likely she was wearing it when she got home.

      In regards to the synchronization, the iwatch and iphone only synchronize the steps feature between themselves, the heart rate and other biometric stuff is exclusive to the watch, the phone has no bearing on the watches data beyond the step count. You’re correct in that the watch is similar to the phone in that its only recording if it is on your person. Meaning if it was taken off before the murder happened there would be no heart rate fluctuation pointing to the crime.

      If it was on during the murder (for either person), it would have definitely captured the moment of the attack. Iwatches are classified as FDA cleared class 2 medical devices, and the newer ones even have an EKG feature that can pick up irregular heart rhythms.

  8. Sylvester

    Thanks Ralph. So either the iwatch wasn’t sufficiently purged of all it’s data, or she removed her watch before she was strangled – or Watts removed it before she was strangled. Not likely Watts removed it before (but after) and if she was blindsighted not likely she removed it before so all I can think of is the data from the iwatch wasn’t realized. Of course I’m talking about heart rhythms specifically. What a shame! You would think with the FBI and CBI brought into the case and all of the data retrieved from phones – doorbell cameras, sensor monitors, that someone in those departments would be technologically savvy enough to access all data from the iwatch. Footnote: if she removed it herself it would have been on her nightstand. Not underneath a couch cushion.

    • JC

      Sylvestor, I looked up Nick’s last known images post to view that picture taken at the restaurant in AZ. The watch isn’t on her left wrist where most right handed people where it. Her right wrist isn’t really visible. Is it possible that the discovery documents lack the I-watch forensic data because she wasn’t wearing it that day? If that’s the case though, I don’t know why he would hide it in the couch next to her phone.

  9. Sylvester

    JC I suppose it was possible she wasn’t wearing it – or took it off on the plane, but it made it upstairs and ended up in an unusual place for it.

    • JC

      Yes, for some reason CW placed the same or similar importance on the watch as her phone and wedding ring, hiding it accordingly. And I can’t see him digging through her purse or luggage to find it. But, if she was wearing it when she arrived home the DA would have known the time of death. I did find another photo of her wearing on her left wrist, so it appears she wasn’t wearing it earlier on Sunday evening. Not that it matters a whole lot, but I wish the discovery documents addressed it explicitly. Maybe it did and I missed it.

    • Sylvester

      Also JC there is body cam footage of the police thoroughly running their fingers over the stairsteps and I can’t find it – I thought I had bookmarked it. There is a brownish stain on one of the steps and they are seriously looking at it. I would be interested in whether or not forensics took a sample from that stair step before Watts attempted to do a crime scene cleanup. He might have missed that. If anyone can find that footage please post it.

  10. Sylvester

    Nevermind, I found it in my history section. Try this:

    at 8:39 and 9:18

    • JC

      Thanks, Sylvestor, I couldn’t find it but I did remember seeing it when you (I think) posted it awhile back. For having 2 young children and a dog I can’t believe how immaculately clean the stairway carpet was! I guess I chalked up the stain as Deeter or shoe related. Everyone had their shoes on Monday when they went through the house, even CW I believe. He would have had dirt on his boots from the work site too.

    • JC

      You know, Sylvestor, I just realized this investigator cam footage was taken on Monday, the 13th. I was half expecting this guy thoroughly checking the carpet to take clippings of the stain on the stairway carpet as well as at the base of the stairs. He couldn’t do that legally on the 13th as LE wouldn’t yet have permission to take anything from the home. CW had a chance to thoroughly clean that evening, and that carpet doesn’t even look like it needs to be vacuumed or spot cleaned. Now I wonder if the spots were even visible later on in the week when they gained legal access to the crime scene. You always seem to point out the small details that make me double check my own assumptions instead of dismissing them as irrelevant.

      You and Nick, as well as other thoughtful comments, make this case more intriguing by the day. I appreciate your keen eye for details, as well as your insight into the dynamics of the people and circumstances involved.

      • Sylvester

        Thank you JC, that’s nice of you to say. I want to be a true crime rocket scientist but for now I’m just aware of a certain eye for seeing things – as you did too when you reminded me the purse was not on the kitchen counter and found elsewhere – and I have my intuitions and perceptions about things but I often don’t know how it connects. If she were killed on the stair steps then I think the way those officers are carefully looking at the baseboards, the landing, and selected tufts of carpet might be evidence, yet I don’t hear anything about what was collected and tested. They don’t even seem to know what the substances are that were found on the pillow cases and top sheet. How could they not – with a CBI lab at their disposal? A new one too – less than a year old built in Colorado this year. Then Ralph tells us there is data that could have been mined from her iwatch that wasn’t. There are also key pieces missing from the autopsies that would help build a story of their lives, now in death. I”m not saying there is a conspiracy theory going on here but why close a case with missing pieces just because the suspect confessed. So let’s keep our eyes and minds open and keep working the case.

        • nickvdl

          I want to be a true crime rocket scientist>>>Lol. Love it Sylvester. Being a true crime rocket scientist is simple but not easy. It just means looking closer, longer and harder at the case file than anyone else. When you do, all – or a great deal more – is revealed.

  11. A

    Can someone please explain to me why everyone is saying that the pregnancy is such a secret, when there’s a Facebook video of Shan’ann wearing the T-shirt “Oops we did it again” and breaking the pregnancy news to news to Chris, and his then-happy reaction shows that it’s his? Wasn’t that video made public in June 2018, right around the time he started dating Nichol Kessinger? And there’s also another video where they are telling the two kids about the pregnancy.

  12. petecowell1

    Some people would rather blame a woman Chris was having an affair with even though he was on dating websites meeting other people, than think he can be held responsible for his own actions

  13. nancyjames3358

    Thanks for the link Sylvester. Too many to view, appreciate links. I am fascinated wi CW body language and his attachment to his security blanket, aka cell phone in all the video footage. Could he be faking calls.

  14. Sylvester

    He could very well be faking calls nancy – or faking being concerned and busy. Although he has the phone glued to his ear when Nickole and Nicholas are in the house he isn’t going to allow Nickole to go wandering around on her own without him following closely behind. She might see something. I think all of the red flags went up around him for her that day, as she backs away from him in revulsion several times. I just imagine when they left in her white car, she must have sobbed all the way home, suspecting the worst.

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