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

Did Watts Switch Shan’ann’s Phone Cover at the last Second?

Today, while researching the timeline for DRILLING THROUGH DISCOVERY, the 5th TWO FACE book, I paid particular attention to the moment Shan’ann’s phone was found. The discovery was made by Nick Atkinson, but occurs [not surprisingly] off-camera when Coonrod is as far away from the loft area as he could possible be.

Nevertheless I wanted to review the moment. According to the Discovery Documents, when Coonrod enters the basement at 14:11, that’s also when Watts texts Shan’ann a staged message:

Where are you?

About two minutes later, after mounting two flights of stairs, Coonrod finds Watts in the loft area, alone but with Atkinson’s kid skulking around. Nickole, meanwhile, is downstairs.

At 14:12/13 they announce that Shan’ann’s phone has been found, which is a big deal to Nickole who is just coming up the stairs and starting to really panic. The phone is found shutdown, and has a green protective cover around it. Watts then pretends not to know the password to open up the phone.

The color of the phone surprised me because it appeared to be pink in other screengrabs. Did Watts secretly swap out the pink cover at the last second, because it may have been contaminated with DNA/blood/fibers? Or was the cover removed during Shan’ann’s final life and death tussle? Or did he simply remove the cover to wash it and never got round to replacing it? Or did he remove the cover so that if seen outside the house it may not have been immediately recognizable as her phone?

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  1. Kim

    There was an Apple Watch as well as an apple iPhone each of them had? The report refers to Apple Watch??

  2. Sylvester

    If you look on the office desk there are two devices stacked one on top of the other. One is in a hot pink case, and one on top is blue. Then we have her aqua green iphone found by Nathan, and there is a light pink wrist-band iwatch as well.

    When you look at whatever he has in his right hand after he opens the Lexus car door – he goes into a squat. It kind of looks like he’s throwing something in there, but then again he may have simply opened the Lexus car door to make himself look concerned, as well as leaving the door open so he could provide a distraction as he goes into the house.

    70 some seconds before he opens the front door means he was doing something inside that house – If you use a digital stop watch (which I did) I clocked him at 70 seconds before he opened the front door, and it may not sound like alot of time but it is.

    • Sylvester

      Nicholas found the iphone. I like it that he handed it to Officer Coonrod, not Watts.

      • CBH

        But the officer immediately handed it to Watts.

      • Clean Queen

        Me too! This is one of my favorite moments. That kid really got it from the start.

  3. Ilovedogsandcats


    I think he ran around turning on all of the ceiling fans, in case there was a smell of “death”. All were on when the cop and nickole and nicky went inside, except one of the daughter’s room.

    • Duttdip

      The fans were on in Bella’s room, the loft and in the master bedroom. Among these, the cadaver dog sounded in the former two. The dog didn’t bark in Cece’s room, and nor was the fan on. Interesting.

      • brendaTX

        That wasn’t a cadaver dog

  4. Sylvester

    The dog alerted on the porch; kitchen sink area; Bella’s bedroom by the bed or under the bed; by TV in the loft; basement by the red suitcases, the black curtain and under the stairs and also master bedroom. I thought it odd that the dog (1st dog) who nosed the porch couch didn’t nose the loft couch, but barked over by the television set. Nothing in CeCe’s room – very odd since that was where he said he saw his wife actively strangling CeCe on the monitor. The cadaver dog also alerted under the basement stairs but only a slight interest – and the mudroom. Correct me please if I’m wrong.

    • brendaTX

      It wasn’t a cadaver dog

  5. me

    Chris tells the cops that he and Shan leave the car keys in the car on the center console. Chris opens the car door and looks in to see if the keys are there. Chris does appear to drop something and/or pick something up with his right hand. His left hand already has two devices in it and something is tucked under his arm and all three items were taken from his truck when he arrived.

    When Chris enters the garage man door he walks in the house alone and closes the door behind himself really quickly. Chris is in the house alone for 76 seconds. When he finally opens the front door for the cop the cop is looking in the side light window and you can see Chris comes down from upstairs turns right and goes to the front door to open it, so we know he was upstairs.

    Shan’s phone is found by Nick upstairs in the sofa cushions. The cop, Chris, Nick and Nickole cannot find Shan’s purse despite looking everywhere for it, including in Shan’s office. Later on Nick disappears from the cops camera and so does Chris. Everyone else is in the garage or on the driveway. When the cop is in the garage on the phone with Shan’s you hear the garage man door behind the cop open and then shut. Chris was in the house alone (or with Nick) then Chris appears in the garage. When Chris first arrived home and entered the house he hid Shan’s purse somewhere and stashed her phone under the sofa cushion upstairs. After Chris was in the house alone for the second time, everyone goes back in the house and Nickole finds Shan’s purse in Shan’s office on the floor opposite the door. Everyone already looked there and the purse wasn’t there, so Chris (or Nick) put it there after he was alone in the house for the second time.

    I find it odd Nick finds the phone and Nickole finds the purse. I find it odd that Shan is never seen entering the house after allegedly getting out of Nickole’s car. I find it odd that Nick asked the cop if the cop remembered him as soon as the cop arrived. I find it odd Nick disappears from the cops camera and then the purse is found in a spot everyone already looked for it in. I find it odd Nickole thought she was going to be arrested when the cops called her to do an interview.

    When the cop walked through the house he walks into the office but his chest cam does not film the floor where the purse was found. However, the cop was looking for a purse with his eyeballs and would’ve seen it on the floor and asked Chris and/or Nickole if this was Shan’s purse. Nickole admits she had already looked in Shan’s office and did not see the purse there until she went into the office for a second time after Chris (or Nick) was alone in the house for a second time.

    If Chris turns on all the ceiling fans, I also find it odd that ceiling fans are on in all rooms but CeCe’s room, yet Chris claims Shan killed CeCe in CeCe’s room and then Chris killed Shan in CeCe’s room as well.

  6. Sylvester

    Hmmmm – are you making a case for the Atkinson’s staging the crime scene? I hope not.

    • me

      Something odd about Nick.

      Watch when they find the phone. The cop is in the bedroom and Nickole is downstairs. The only two people in the room when the phone is found is Chris and Nick, the same two people who aren’t on the cops camera later on when everyone else is on camera outside. Moments later then all enter the house and Nickole finds the purse in a spot everyone already looked for the purse in. Where was Nick and Chris since they weren’t on camera?

      Chris was in the house because you hear him walk out of the garage door then he appears on camera behind the Lexus. Where is Nick?

      The cop walks out of the bedroom and Chris says they found her phone. The phone is already on the stair case railing when he tells the cop this. Nick claims to have found the phone. Why didn’t Nick yell out and say he found the phone the second he found it?

      Look at Nick and Chris when the phone is found. The phone was found in the sofa cushion seconds earlier and its now on the staircase railing and Nick and Chris are quietly talking way over by the master bedroom door 15 feet away from the phone when the cop comes out of the kids rooms.

      There is no evidence the phones was in the sofa cushion, other than Nick’s claim that this is where it was found.

      Nickole comes up the stairs and says her phones here, and Nick points and says, yeah, it’s right there.

      Why did Shan not appear on the neighbours camera when she walked into the house after getting out of Nickole’s car?

      • nickvdl

        Hmmmm – are you making a case for the Nick Atkinson’s staging the crime scene? I hope not.

  7. me

    The phone is found during the 11 tiny seconds that the cop is in the kids bedroom.

    When the cop comes out of the kids bedroom Chris is facing the doorway of his master bedroom and Nick is beside him. Because Chris is facing into the master bedroom it means Chris was in the living room are when the phone was found and he was walking towards the master bedroom. In other words, Chris is not just walking out of the master bedroom so Nick did not find the phone while Chris was in the master bedroom.

    Why Does Nick walk over to Chris after finding the phone and not walk over to the cop to tell the cop he found the phone?

    Why does Nick find the phone, not say anything about finding the phone, then walk over to the railing and put the phone on the railing and still not say anything about finding the phone, then walk over to Chris and still not say anything?

    Why does Nick go downstairs after finding the phone, where’s he going to?

    • Sandra Trespeces

      No, when the cop comes UP the stairs for the VERY first time, Chris tells the cop “found her phone” at 22:29. the cop doesn’t appear to understand Bc he says “oh” pauses then “well shoot” as he walks into the laundry room. Also Nick said he found them under the couch pillow, not cushions. Chris stuck it there when he ran upstairs or before he left in the morning. When Chris first arrives, he has two phones in his hand, his iPhone and a burner phone. He has clipped on his hip his work phone which you can see as he bends over into the Lexus.

    • Sandra Trespeces

      Her phone is on the railing already before the cop comes up the stairs. You can see it when he comes out of the laundry room. And even better when he comes out of the girls bedrooms and Chris announces for the second time that her phone was found, when Nickole is there to hear the announcement finally. There is another phone or black and silver type object close to it on the railing too.

  8. me

    Is Nick one of Chris’ gay lovers?

    Did Chris recruit Nick to help him kill Shan and the kids with promises of money from the $140k Life Insurance money Chris expected to collect?

    Many say Chris had help, so was Nick his helper?

  9. me

    The cop is only in the bedroom for 11 seconds when the phone is found. Nick is walking around the sofa when the cop is walking into the bedroom. There are a lot of cushions on that sofa – over 10 pillows. How did Nick know what cushion to look under to find the phone and still have time to walk 10 feet and put the phone on the railing then walk another 15 feet to where Chris is standing by the master bedroom door in 11 tiny seconds?

    Why is Chris the person to announce they found the phone if Nick actually found it?

  10. me

    Chris is standing by the master bedroom door 15 feet from the railing. When Nick allegedly found the phone in the sofa Nick walks it over to put it on the railing, then walks 15 feet over to Chris. Chris knows Nick found the phone seconds earlier and he saw Nick put it on the railing because as soon as the cop walks out of the bedroom Chris points to the phone on the railing and announces her phone is here.

    Why did Chris wait till the cop walked out of the bedroom to announce the finding of the phone?

    Why didn’t Chris announce the finding of the phone when he saw Nick find seconds earlier, or when he saw Nick put it on the railing seconds earlier?

    • Sandra Trespeces

      The phone is already on the railing when the cop walks up the stairs for the first time. You can see it when he comes out of the laundry room and even better when he comes out of the girls bedroom.

  11. Mustang Sally

    If you are going to put Nickole and Nicolas Atkinson on trial here, you may want to explore why NA started texting SW that morning, why she went over to the Watts’ house after not receiving any replies back, why she would leave there to check at the clinic where SW was scheduled for an appointment, why she would return to the house after discovering she hadn’t shown up there either, why she would call SW’s mother, why she would call their Thrive group, why she would have them all on speaker phone during the search inside, why she would look so concerned and frantic…

  12. me

    If Nick was Chris’ helper then what Nickole did doesn’t matter. What Nick does matters.

    Watch the videos closely.

    Nick finds the phone when only Nick and Chris are in the room.

    Nick stays in the neighbours house after Chris leaves and hears everything Nath tells the cop. After hearing what Nath told the cop Nick then walks back to Chris’ and walks into his house through the garage. Chris and Nick are alone in the house. Nick is reporting to Chris everything that was said in Nath’s house after Chris left.

    Coonrod’s camera shows Nickole, Madison, neighbour Nath and Detective Baumhover in the garage or driveway. Nick and and Chris are alone in the house.

    Chris’ comes out into the garage and Nick is alone in the house.

    Nickole, Madison, Chris, Coonrod and Baumhover go into the house and Nickole finds Shan’s purse in the open on the office floor opposite the door, a spot everyone already looked for the purse in, including Nickole.

    Only Nick and Chris were in the house alone.

    Who put the purse on the floor in the office, Nick or Chris?

    • Ralph Oscar

      The problem here is that it was not in Chris Watts’ best interest for Shan’Ann’s phone to be found at all at this point. IF Nick was an accomplice, couldn’t he have simply pocketed the phone or put it in the back waistband of his pants or up his sleeve or something? No one was really paying attention to him, after all. IF Nick was involved, I would more expect him to remove the phone and get it to Chris later on.

  13. Nick

    Accusing Nickole or her son, or Nichol Kessinger of being accessories to commit murder, or accessories after the fact are serious and defamatory accusations. Please don’t make them here. If you do you will be booted off this site and banned from commenting. It’s True Crime Rocket Science not Conspiracies. There is so much to still figure out about this case, and we need to be imaginative. Don’t know why that means seeing ghosts and jumping onto conspiracies.

  14. me

    I’m not accusing anyone; I’m asking questions.

    Watch the videos closely and hopefully someone can tell me who put the purse on the floor in the office since the cop and Nickole had already searched the office and the purse wasn’t there?

    It could only be Chris or Nick.

    Nickole only found the purse in the office after Chris and Nick were in the house alone. The cop already searched the office and so did Nickole. Nickole only found the purse on the third search of the office. The purse was sitting in plain view on the floor opposite side of the door and it’s not possible Nickole and the cop would not see the purse on the floor during their first searches.

    Shan entered the house at 1:48am and went straight up stairs because there was no movement on the main floor since 1:48am. If Shan put the purse in the office then she had to enter the house, take off her flip flops, put the luggage by the stairs, walk to the office, put her purse on the floor, walk back to the stairs and go upstairs before the house security system clock struck 1:49am.

    Shan did not walk all the way to the office just to put her purse on the office floor then turn around and go back and walk up upstairs.

    Someone else put her purse on the office floor.

    • nickvdl

      Okay let me be more specific then. Speculating on whether Nichol Kessinger, Nickole Atkinson or her son were accessories to murder, before or after the fact will get you an express ticket off this site. You might think that’s censorship, it’s actually to discourage conspiracies and dumb discussion.
      Throwing around ideas like that just because they popped into your head isn’t reasonable or reasoning, it’s trashy, it’s cheap, it’s rubbish “analysis”: If you seriously entertain these ideas, how do you they line up with motive, and what actual forensic evidence is there to back it up?
      But you haven’t thought that through, have you?
      I can assure you that other, better minds have, and there is such a thing called an “alibi” that actually holds water in true crime.

      • Mustang Sally

        My comment below was not intended to pile on your comment. Yours was not here when I posted.

    • Mustang Sally

      me, Nicolas is a young teenager, a minor, who does not deserve your scrutiny or to be put on blast in such an accusatory fashion. While your questions, observations, and whatever else may seem fair game because of his involvement and your speculation, it’s simply grotesque and inappropriate. If you truly believe your suspicions have merit, discuss them with the investigators handling this case…I believe their information is widely available.

  15. me

    I think Chris acted alone and I said so all along. Some people think Chris had help. NK had nothing to do with this and Nickole had nothing to do with this.

    The video’s speak for themselves; Nick’s actions on video don’t make sense so I am trying to rule him out but can’t yet, no one can if you watch the videos. So I’m watching the videos to see where someone could’ve helped Chris.

    Nick drives Nickole’s car. She went to bed when she got home at 2am. He has access to her car when she’s sleeping. Chris drove off at 5:46am. Another car does pull up by Chris’s truck and I’m not talking about the neighbour who went to the gym. The only part of the loading the bodies video that makes no sense is when Chris closes the driver’s door and the club cab light above the truck bed goes out which means he closes the door. He walks into the garage and while in the garage the truck driver door opens because the club cab light comes back on.

    This could mean someone was in the truck helping him and THEY opened the door.

    Now, again, Nick claims he found the phone and only him and Chris are in the room when he claims he found the phone. His actions after finding the phone make no sense.

    Then, Nick only enters neighbour Nath’s house after Chris leaves Nath’s house. Nick heard everything Nath told the cop after Chris left Nath’s house. After Nick leaves Nath’s house he walks directly into Chris’ house and they are alone in the house. And even after Chris leaves the house Nick stays in the house alone.

    Like it or not, the purse was placed on the office floor when Chris and Nick were in Chris’ house alone because the office was already searched twice. The cop tells Shan’s mom on the phone they can’t find her purse.

    And that purse was placed on the office floor after 2:42pm.

    The sole motive for Chris killing them was the $140k Life Insurance money and the motive for someone to help Chris would be to receive a cut of the money.

    So yes Nick, I have thought about it.

    Chris could’ve just killed them in the house, and taken Shan’s wallet, and easily said he slept in the basement, got up, packed his lunch, went to work, and never looked upstairs before leaving. His neighbour’s camera would see him leaving like every other day. This way Chris doesn’t have to take the bodies from the house, dig a hole, put his kids in the tanks, and there are no cameras in the back of the neighbour’s house to capture an alleged intruder. He could’ve just left the back patio door unlocked and made it look like a robbery gone bad. He could’ve said he forgot to lock the patio door after he put the kids wet shoes out there after getting home from the birthday party on Sunday. Shan texted Chris at 11:01pm Sunday night and told him they just boarded the flight. Chris texted Shan at 11:23pm and told her he fell asleep on the sofa so he can say he got up from the sofa still half a sleep and forgot to lock the patio before going downstairs to sleep as he knew she’d be home within 3 hours. Chris also told the cops there were recent B&E’s in the neighbourhood, which his neighbour sorta confirmed, so for all Chris knows someone could have entered and killed them upstairs while he was asleep in the basement. He even has Shan’s own texts to her friends talking about Chris sleeping downstairs as they were separating.

    However having three bodies found dead in the house (especially in 3 bedrooms) means the house loses more than $140k in value, so there goes the $140k Life Insurance money Chris planned on collecting.

    Chris wasn’t prepared to lose money on the house so he did it the way he foolishly did it.

    The only question remaining is if he really had help.

  16. Nick

    Turned my computer off and am using my phone to comment otherwise I’d have blocked you from this forum already.

    Hope it was worth it.

    If Nick Atkinson was an accessory why is he the key player in getting evidence against Watts? He saw the car in the garage and found the phone. So would a genuine suspect help solve a crime on the crime scene, such as handing the victim’s phone to the cops (according to the cops). As you were saying, you’ve thought this through.

    Let this be a lesson to others on how to get kicked off this site.

  17. me

    Your site filled with mistakes anyway.

    Just because He stood on the car to look in the garage doesn’t mean it was his idea. Nickole would’ve took him to do that. You think he should’ve said no, mom, I’m not doing that.

  18. me

    By the way, either Nick or Chris wanted the purse to be found so they put it on the office floor after no one could find it. The hubby is always a prime suspect, so yeah, if Chris put the purse on floor, a genuine prime suspect wanted evidence to be found for whatever reason. Chris probably put it there because he knew he was now a prime suspect and the cops were going to do a full search of the house and would find the purse in the spot Chris originally hid it in so he took it from that spot and put on the office floor to be found so he wouldn’t have to explain why Shan’s purse was hidden in the back of a closet under a blanket, or wherever he actually hit it.

  19. me

    And Nick never handed the phone to the cops. What murder you following? He placed the phone on the staircase rail and walked over to whisper talk to Chris 15 feet away by the master bedroom door. The sofa is right in front of the door way of the bedroom the cop is in but Nick decided to go whisper to Chris instead of telling the cop he found the phone under the first cushion he looked under.

  20. me

    When you watch the phone being found segment you see the phone is upside down when Chris picks it up. Chris has to turn the phone around when he picks it up. If Nick found the phone and put it on the staircase rail he would have put it right side up when he put it on the staircase railing. The phone being upside means the phone was probably placed on the staircase rail from someone on the other side if the rail.

    Chris was walking into his bedroom when the cop walks out of the kids bedroom. Chris turns around and points to the phone and says her phone’s here. Chris walks to the other side of the staircase rail and the phone is now upside down because it was right side up when Chris placed it on the rail after coming out of his bedroom.

    I bet Chris hid the phone under Shan’s bed, and walked out of the master bedroom and walked to the staircase rail and placed the phone on the staircase rail right side up. This is why the phone is upside down when Chris picks it up from the other side of the staircase railing.

    Nick was standing there watching Chris do this.

    Why didn’t Chris continue on into his bedroom since that’s where he was headed?

    All of Nick’s reactions and movements on this day are super suspicious.

    There is no video proof Nick found the phone.

    Based on the video evidence, Nick finding the phone is complete bunk.

    • Mustang Sally

      There is nothing funny about this crime nor laughable about murder yet I found myself laughing at your statement “The sole motive for Chris killing them was the $140k Life Insurance money…”

      Do you really think insurance companies, or that even CW believed his insurance company, would fork over those monies without evidence of their actual death…those bodies his intent had been to hide, never to be found?

      If that was his SOLE motive, he really was incredibly stupid as he and his equally stupid accomplice would have had to wait at least 7 years for his family to be declared officially deceased before he would have been able to collect on those policies. BRILLIANT DEDUCTION!

      He could have just liquidated all his assets, lived more modestly, enjoyed his own salary for awhile, and then waited for that little nest egg to come in! None of us gave CW enough credit for his brilliance and way too much credit to his libido…

      I’m gonna miss your perspective here! 😂

      …I couldn’t help myself, please don’t boot me too! 😂😂

  21. Ralph Oscar

    I’m confused. First image shows Shan’Ann with a pink phone cover; second picture shows Shan’Ann with a mint green phone cover that matches the “found” phone a couple of pictures later. Apparently Shan’Ann had two different phone covers.

    • Ralph Oscar

      IF we have any pictures of Shan’Ann on that trip she was coming home from that night/morning, showing her phone with the pink cover on it, then I’ll think that the mint green phone cover is an issue.

  22. Pam Foldesi

    Why can’t I post now? It’s Jan. 14, 2019.

  23. Pam Foldesi

    At 41:55, Officer Coonrod says, “I’ve got my detective coming, just cause this is kind of an odd situation.”
    The only time he could have done that is at 29:40: “DISPATCH REC 91. CANCEL MEDICAL FIRST STAGE”[?].
    I’m guessing that ‘REC 91’ is short for REQUEST, but who can tell us what that statement means?

    • Mustang Sally

      Pam, that could be a really interesting catch. I just asked a family member who happens to be joining me for lunch today and is also a sheriff deputy 😉 if he knew what that meant. He said it wasn’t exact as the specific code would have been 10-91…but they often refer to the end of the code while on the radio (open channels as required by law and easily monitored by average citizens)…91 is code for homicide. I wonder if they immediately suspected a homicide and proceeded forth under that belief.

      • Pam Foldesi

        Well, aren’t you the clever Detective Sally! Good work!
        Nick should be commenting soon, I hope.

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