Shan’ann’s father Frank believes when his 34-year-old daughter arrived home that fateful night on August 13, one of the last things she did was latch the front door. It was, according to Frank, something she usually did, and Frank noticed this because he was the one who put it there in the first place.
My initial reaction to the door latch scenario was that Watts put it in place to secure the house [and the crime scene]. In other words, the latch was a secondary measure deliberately used to prevent nosy parkers from accessing the house while he was away [including Nickole Atkinson, who had the front door code].
But what if Watts didn’t even think the about the latch?
Does that change things?
There are a few scenarios to consider here, but I’m only going to be exploring one, and in limited detail.
In one scenario where the latch is left off, when Nickole Atkinson arrives she lets herself in. She enters, hesitates, calls for Shan’ann and the kids, and so does her son. Moving halfway through the lounge, but getting no response [and without going upstairs], she shrugs, exits the home soon after and decides to wait for news from Shan’ann herself.
In this scenario Nickole feels she has done her due diligence and does not summon the cops. She also leaves the home without confirming whether the car is in the garage. She assumes Shan’ann and the kids aren’t there [and she’s correct] but without going through the entire house to make sure [why should she?].
Meanwhile Watts receives an alert indicating that his home security perimeter has been breached by Nickole Atkinson and her son. The Vivint security system tracks miscellaneous moving through the main area of the house. Now [and later to law enforcement] it remains unclear whether Atkinson took his family during this period, whether they were already gone shortly before they arrived, or if they left some unknown time afterwards…
In this scenario, a great barn door of Reasonable Doubt is allowed to open. All because of a little latch that wasn’t left in place.