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Did Watts Know Shan’ann’s iPhone Password – and what it means

On the face of it, Watts appears to be the dumbest high-profile criminal in true crime history. And yet he defeated the cops in many areas in terms of the crime scene. We still don’t know where the crimes were committed, or when, why, and we’re not 100% sure how they were committed. Nothing of value came out of the autopsy reports either.

There’s also uncertainty about how the bodies of the girls were dumped. Could they really have fitted through those tight orifices below the thief hatches without breaking bones? The only way to definitely test for this possibility is to use the cadaver of a similarly sized animal…

One of the dumbest mistakes Watts appeared to make was his story. His story was that his family had vanished, and also that Shan’ann had taken the kids on a play date, or gone somewhere to decompress after an argument. He didn’t seem sure which story to go with, and none of it held water in the context of her car, purse, medication and phone all being at home.

But what if her phone hadn’t been found at the scene?

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What if, prior to the murders, Watts had what he thought was a surefire way of getting away with murder. If he had Shan’ann’s phone [her lifeline] he could artificially keep her alive by having her check in on Facebook and via messages to his phone. He might delay things for a few hours, perhaps longer.

Did Watts know about her 10:00 doctor’s appointment?

Since Shan’ann was always on her phone, many could easily but wrongly assume she was somewhere virtually when she wasn’t. For example the 02:30 purchase may have been an early part of the ruse intended to make Shan’ann appear alive and well [and shopping] when she wasn’t.

Much of this theory rests on the idea that Watts believed he knew Shan’ann’s password, but after he murdered her, he found out she’d changed it.fullscreen capture 20190106 151710-002

We know when the phone was turned on, Watts claimed not to know the password, which seemed a tad unusual, whereas Nickole knew it [ditto]. Watts also knew the password to Shan’ann’s laptop, although seemed reluctant to give that up. He claimed he had the username to their online bank account, but not the passcode.

We also know Watts had a sophisticated knowledge, via the Secret Calculator app, for keeping streategically valuable data secret, and knew the importance of keeping a secret password for that data.

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Since Shan’ann was using his Facebook [and perhaps borrowed his phone to post messages], it’s conceivable that they were one of those couples who had easy access to one another’s phones [and passwords]. Furthermore, the Secret Calculator app seemed designed to defeat someone who was given access to his phone, and we know Shan’ann did have access to his phone, because she knew messages he’d sent to his father had been deleted in early August.

Shan’ann told Addy Molony on August 9 that she hadn’t looked through his phone. But what if that was his plan? To use her phone after she was dead to throw the investigation off track, just as Frazee allegedly did with Kelsey Berreth’s phone. What if that was the plan, but once Shan’ann was dead, Watts realized the phone was of no use because she’d changed the damn password…

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  1. Ralph Oscar

    If Chris had only gotten a few days or a week before everyone caught on, he could have gotten away with murder. With the little girls decomposing inside those giant tanks – one in each so that the tanks’ readings would remain consistent with each other – and him in charge of tank maintenance, no flags would ever have been raised about the contents of those tanks and they would have disappeared. Since that site was his area of responsibility, he could have gone back later and done a better job of hiding Shan’Ann’s body. If he could have sent out messages with the phone, he could maybe have kept it quiet, strung everybody along – perhaps telling Shan’Ann’s friends that she and the girls were sick with the flu and couldn’t have visitors? With Shan’Ann’s phone, he could have notified her friend Nichole (sp?) that she’d rescheduled her dr. appt. – if he’d known about it (why wouldn’t he?) and if he could have gotten into her phone to send the messages. He just didn’t have enough time. And calling to dis-enroll the girls that morning – with her phone, he as Shan’Ann could have sent out a message that she’d decided to homeschool the girls. Even the school thing could have been covered up. Just long enough for the trail to go cold.

    • Shannon

      Yes correct. But her stupid friend came in the picture.

    • Sylvester

      There were no steps recorded on her phone after 2:00 a.m., correct? If Watts is going to place an order for hair products at 2:30 that means he killed her in the first 30 min. after she arrived home. And, that her phone was on and logged in. So did he go upstairs to the loft area to place the purchase order? That would be “steps.” If he truly didn’t know her password, then once he’s turned off the phone there’s no getting back on it to continue the charade, using her phone. Unless he would have been able to figure out her password. So I think he did know her password, took her phone with him to work, and was planning on doing something with it when he was abruptly called home. Now he could have left it in her purse – placed the order from the kitchen (hardly any steps), put it back in her purse, then when the Atkinson’s and Officer Coonrod showed up that’s where he ran – to her purse, and deposited her phone in the couch cushions. But I agree – he could have done some serious damage control, by using her phone to make imaginary texts, further delaying the discovery of her body in a shallow grave. I think one of his biggest mistakes was not taking her purse with him to work to dispose of it somewhere out there. Maybe he just couldn’t stand to get rid of the credit cards.

  2. Kaye

    I think it could be possible that she upgraded the phone and actually got a new phone without his knowledge. I recently did this with an iPhone. All of my contacts, messages, and my personal phone number transferred to the new phone. The only difference with the newer model is it required a six-digit passcode, rather than an older four-digit passcode.

    In the bodycam video from Officer Coonrod, Chris mentions that he knows a four-digit code but is thrown off by needing six digits.

    An upgraded phone could also explain why the pink case was not being used. The newer models have slightly larger screens, so older cases wouldn’t fit.

    It would be sadly funny if Shan’ann did this without Chris’s knowledge. Her ability to keep on top of the latest and newest could have been a last slap in his face.

  3. Nick

    That makes sense Kaye.

    My gut says he did know her pass code. He was a numbers guy. But it seems like he didn’t. He did and he didn’t. Your explanation makes sense.

    • Kaye

      Yes in the bodycam video at about 24:15, he says about the pass code that “it used to be 3385 but now it’s six digits.” I am not aware if you can pick a six-digit pass code on an older iPhone so maybe somebody else here will comment about that.

      In any case if she changed it and didn’t let him know, is it because she hadn’t had a chance to let him know about the new phone (in her mind, most likely a business expense) or because she didn’t want him sabotaging any of her Thrive business?

      • MattyO

        She was snooping on his phone (she knew he was deleting his dad’s texts). And she was talking smack about him in her texts to the Thrive gaggle. Throw in some projection and she changes her passcode. It’s also possible he knew, but didn’t want to give the cops (or Nickole) access to phones evidentiary value. Sorry. I’m undecided here.

  4. Sylvester

    If he thought he knew it then it could explain why he turned off her phone – he thought he could log back in later with no problem.

  5. Sylvester

    Watts did seem conflicted, or split, in just how he wanted to portray the absence of his wife and kids. If you recall he also suggested that since there were no cameras in the back area behind his house that someone could have taken her from there and no one would be the wiser – but wasn’t able to explain how that could be so when the back door was locked from the inside. He knew “vanished” wouldn’t work, so he had to interject a possible motive for a “walk out” because they were going to be separating – in fact he offered corroborating evidence of that by saying he had been sleeping in the basement – sprinkled with an emotional conversation which he at first (on the porch interview) was not going to elaborate on suggesting some things just have to remain private between a man and his wife. Fact of the matter is he didn’t know Nickole Atkinson was going to be worried enough to show up at his door and despite his request that she not call the police (or break down his door) she did anyway because he took his sweet time getting there.

    So one gets the feeling Watts had to improvise, go with the flow of the investigation, and at least try to appear helpful and hopeful for his family’s safe return.

    I think he had been contemplating getting rid of his wife for some time. His budding romance with Nichole K., expressing his love for her and receiving an “I love you too” in return, may have emboldened him to include the children in his plans. If he could make his wife disappear wouldn’t everyone believe that she took the children with her? By including the children, it gave his original plot to murder his wife credibility. Who wouldn’t believe that wherever she went, they would go too.

  6. CBH

    I think he must have originally planned on several things:

    1. Having far more time (didn’t anticipate delayed flight or Nichol A)
    2. Having her phone passcode and posing as her on Facebook for a few days to delay things
    3. Having time to hide or dump her shoes, purse, keys, and possibly her car

    It appears the delayed flight and NA being concerned and calling 911 too early, with police seeing that she left behind her phone, shoes, purse etc. completely foiled his plans. His story of her having taken off with the kids no longer made any sense. Not having the new phone passcode didn’t matter once NA and police were in the house.

    As Murphy’s Law advises, whatever can go wrong, will.

    As he had already pre-tested the neighbor’s CCTV (under the ruse that some tools were possibly missing from his garage) he wasn’t all that worried about it UNTIL it was in the context of her purse, phone, shoes STILL IN THE HOUSE.

  7. atschmid5322

    If that was a new phone, it would have screwed him over no matter what. Those new phones have GPS tracking devices, that continue to ping even when the battery’s dead. So if he had dumped it somewhere, they would have been able to find it.

    Also she had that iwatch her mom bought her. Was it recovered with her body? It seems they ought to have been able to recover her body using that GPS as well. So a weeks long timeline really wouldn’t have happened.

  8. ncam619

    Imo shanann didnt have a reason to give chris her new passcode. She was in NC alone for 5 weeks. When he went to NC for their last week they weren’t exactly getting along. Then they went back home (still not getting along) and 2 days later she went to AZ. She was so obsessed with trying to fix her marriage that I don’t see when she would have said “oh, btw here’s my new passcode”. Once he realized he couldn’t get back into the phone, I think he just turned it off. But one thing he didn’t count on was the fact that someone else besides him knew the code. When the FBI agent asked him if he thought it was strange that shanann’s friend knew the code he said “yes, usually she only gives me the code”.

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