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

Two Big Clues Suggesting the Little Girls Were Murdered First

Sometimes what we don’t know isn’t Rocket Science. It’s obvious. Sometimes it’s so obvious we miss it. There are two big contextual clues [besides the premeditated psychology of this crime] that strongly suggest Watts murdered his children before his wife returned home that night.

The second clue involves a throwaway remark from Nichol Kessinger, the last person Watts spoke to before killing his wife [a much under-appreciated, under-estimated and under-reported fact].

Kessinger told CBI Agent Koback that she heard a television blaring loudly in the background during her 111 minute call with him on Sunday night. Since there was no television in the basement, the television was likely the loft lounge or in the main bedroom [although he could also have been the television in the downstairs lounge].

fullscreen capture 20190110 144105

This was very odd behavior for Watts, particularly because his children were such light sleepers. Even pulling the car out from the garage in the morning was liable to wake them up.

This suggests prior to the 21:00 call with Kessinger, the children were already dead which is also – perhaps – what allowed him to make such a long call without any threat of interruption or distraction from their waking up and needing him for any reason.

There is another even stronger indicator that the children were murdered on the 12th, and it shifts the timeline even earlier. Do you know what it is?



  1. tbp

    I thought it was because he sent a picture of Bella to Shanann in Arizona around 1900 when she requested he do so. The picture was on from earlier in the day; not sure if it was a repeat of what he had already sent her, but I think it was.

  2. Sylvester

    I’m glad we are shifting to the death of the children – it’s the biggest mystery of all. Would it be the call to McCoy suggesting Watts take Cervi 319 himself? Or does it have something to do with the picture above? I’ve always thought it odd that the children’s bathroom door is kept locked – and that Watts had a handy reason for it to the officer – that they had gotten into the Vaseline. There was also no water in the toilet. None of that makes sense to me, in the context of killing his children but it has to be relevant in some way because it’s there. The children’s bathroom (which is supposedly never used) connects the children’s rooms I think – it’s a jack and jill bathroom. We only have Watts word for it that it’s kept locked, or that they got into Vaseline. It does appear to be in use at some point in time above – there are towels draped over the shower stall, and Bella looks to have had her hair washed and is sitting on a pad on the counter. No water in the toilet – might he have attempted to flush some evidence down that toilet?

    • laralovesandrew

      I have 3 little ones & there was video of CeCe getting into the sink–small children LOVE to get into the toilet & splash, etc. LOL If they needed to use the toilet, you just have to turn on the valve on the bottom. My kids have gotten into the toilet many times–it’s horrible–you have to pop them into the bath ASAP. And knowing Shan’ann was meticulous, this makes sense to me.

      • Shannon

        Wow I’ve never heard of kids playing in a toliet.

        • Debbie

          I caught mine in there the other day the biggest one dumped a pack of koolaid in there and the rest of em was lined up with their cups.

    • Shannon

      Shanann said they locked the bathroom doors so kids couldn’t get in there.

  3. Liz

    1) A neighbor said that Chris Watts was barbecuing at 7:15 pm Sunday evening by himself, no signs of the girls.
    2) Shanaan’s request for photos that night, and Chris sent an earlier photo of Bella that day.

    Frank Rzucek facetimed on Sunday August 12, 2018 with at least Bella and Chris, not sure about CeCe, for the last time. The time was not noted ….. Has that since been determined?

    • mitzi2006

      He said before he called every night at their supper time which was 5 o’clock, he saw Bella that night and heard CeCe

  4. CBH

    Is it that he wasn’t sending Shannan any pics of them in bed, or getting ready for bed? Or that he was barbecuing alone outside?

  5. Sylvester

    The neighbor said she saw Watts on his balcony but didn’t state that he was barbecuing. It’s where the barbecue is, but his back would have been to her and he could have been doing anything out there. He also saved pictures of four grilled chicken breasts to his phone. He has a grill on that expensive cooktop stove of his I believe. So was he actually barbecuing, or doing something else. The girls shoes were on the balcony, drying he says, wet from the water balloon fight.

  6. tbp

    I am wondering if the locked bathroom door is significant regarding the other clue. His reason for keeping the door locked doesn’t make sense. If he is worried about them smearing vasoline all over then just remove the container. Where is Bella supposed to use the toliet at night? I would say maybe he drowned them like Andrea Yates did her kids, but was the water shut off for some reason. If I recall, there was a toliet without water? Any thoughts?

    • Sylvester

      Agreed tbp. There is something odd about keeping the door locked, no water in the toilet, and a story about Vasoline. I have to go back now and watch the first body cam and search to see whether he took a key or door opener from somewhere and actually unlocked the door.

      • tbp

        Yes, he locked up that bathroom just like he locked up the rest of that house. Too bad they couldn’t get the dogs in before he got a chance to clean it up.

      • mitzi2006

        You find it odd to keep a bathroom locked when you have little ones? I would too, they could be causing trouble in there for some time before you’d realize it. There was another bathroom just across the hall they could use. To shut off the water to the toilet if no one is using that room could just be because as long as there’s water in the toilet the bowl would probably leave water stains and would need to be cleaned. Think we need to go back to when we had a couple really young kids and remember what preventative measures we took

    • Brian

      I wonder if a super high tech house like combined with a high tech water company would leave rough digital record time stamps, just like a phone company, indicating when the water was turned on and off the evening of the 12th and morning of the 13th. In a freakishly tech-heavy house as that on Saratoga Dr., you might even wonder if water company’s records might show in which rooms in particular water was used.

  7. Sylvester

    I will amend that. The neighbor, Bette Margaux, said she and her significant other were barbecuing that night, 7:15, and that she saw Watts was grilling something. So I suppose if you put it together – they were barbecuing with Watts appearing to be grilling something one could assume he was barbecuing. But I try not to assume.

  8. laralovesandrew

    Just wanted to say that the locked bathroom & no water in the toilet are both things I do in my house–we actually flipped the doorknobs around so we can lock the door from the outside. I have 3 little ones & they do love to get into the bathroom and splash in the toilet and get into things. It only takes a moment–you know there is trouble when it gets quiet for a minute LOL. To avoid little hands splashing in the toilet, you drain the water out of the bowl and shut off the water valve at the bottom. My youngest got into BagBalm–it’s very similar to Vaseline–and smeared in all in her hair. It would not come out, no matter how many times I washed it & of course it was right before Christmas. CeCe was very energetic and curious, so the bathroom situation seems normal to me. If they needed to use the toilet, i’m sure they just called out for Shan’ann on the monitor.

    • tbp

      They would also have to lock the bathroom on the other side of the loft. What would stop them from doing the same in that toliet bowl. It doesn’t make sense. Besides Bella was almost five years old. My kids lost interest in the toliet bowl water at that point. The door on her side of the bedroom could have remained unlocked in case she needed to use it. She wasn’t wearing a diaper at night.

      • Lara Martinez

        In one of Shan’ann’s videos, she comments that CeCe was calling her to get out of her room after a nap. It seems that she locked the kids’ bedroom doors, too.

    • JC

      Oh, Lara, you may want to turn those door knobs back around. It won’t be long before they figure out how to lock you, or each other, into the bathroom! I’m also surprised how many Vaseline mishaps happen – our cat had a Vaseline and perfume “bath” one time. You could smell the cat from the next room for weeks after that! She survived it though, and even learned to trust the kids again.

      There’s a common plastic door knob cover that’s childproof, so I do think it’s odd that they would lock that Jack and Jill bathroom. Seems like a big inconvenience to me, so I have my doubts about CW’s explanation about that.

    • Sylvester

      I think that was when CeCe was still in a crib, Lara, just to clear that up.

  9. Karen

    They went to the Denver museum together with her sister and step-mom and I don’t think it’s been mentioned since

  10. Mustang Sally

    The way she mentions he was staring at her during their FaceTime call?

    I also believe the pictures resent of Bella and Celeste from earlier in the day rather than of the sleeping children are important to note.

    • Mustang Sally

      *she = NK

  11. AC

    Would it have something to do with Bella’s tongue? She had bitten it while he killed her.

  12. Georgia

    111 minute call and she (NK) was not certain what they talked about? Just a couple/few days later? Yeah right. I would have thought the bathroom issues would have been for the youngest, so makes sense door locked from Cece’s side but not Bella’s. Sending the same photo later on is definitely suss like Sha’nann wouldn’t notice, he was totally over caring about her response at that point.

  13. Diana

    I found it odd that Chris would photograph the 4 chicken breasts on the grill claiming there was 1 each for Bella and CeCe and 2 for himself when Pop Pop Frank had FaceTimed with Bella and Frank said Bella was eating a supper of cold pizza around 6:00 pm Colorado time, 8:00 pm Pop Pop Frank’s time. Kkeeping in mind the girls bedtime was 6:30 to 7:00, I don’t see Bella awake later eating a second supper of a chicken breast. Kind of makes me wonder if Chris photographed the chicken cooking on the grill in case he had to claim later…”Of course the kids were alive and well, look – I was even cooking their supper!”

    But my guess on the possibility of the kids being killed prior to Shan’ann coming home was Shan’ann asking Chris to send her a photo of the girls While she was still in Arizona and he sent her the photo of them earlier in the day at the party at the Lindstrom’s. He told Shan’ann the girls were asleep already.

    • nickvdl

      Good observation on the 4 pieces of chicken Diana.

      • Teresa

        There is also NK’s testimony that during their 111 minute phone call at 11:00 pm with Watts, she could hear the TV on loudly in the background. There was no TV in the basement bedroom he said he slept in, and since the girls were said to be light sleepers, why was the TV on so loud, unless, of course, the girls were already gone?

  14. Sylvester

    Here’s a brief chronology: 1) Ron Watts wants face time 8/12 2:30 p.m. and is denied.
    2) The girls always have dinner at 5 p.m. (according to multiple people). 3) Chris calls Cody at 5 p.m. that he’ll take care of Cervi 319. 4) 7 p.m. Chris photographs 4 chicken breasts on a grill. 5) 7:15 p.m. Bette M. and her significant other sees Chris on his patio by the barbecue grill – only because they are barbecuing at that time. Chris takes pictures of things so he can “show” or prove he’s at places when he’s not. For instance he took pictures of the tornado and sent them to Sha’nann on the afternoon they were go to get their ultrasound. Hence, since he was “being chased” by a tornado, he couldn’t go. He sends Sha’nann a repeat picture of the girls, on the 12th – and not what she asked for. He took a picture of an oil leak and sent it to his co-worker to document what he had to fix at Cervi. He’s likely a master at digital maneuvering, as well as numbers.

    • Mustang Sally

      Great info.! Thank you, Sylvester. FR also FaceTimed with the girls that evening. He saw Bella and spoke with her but, reportedly, could hear CeCe (but did not see) in the background.

    • Audree

      Sylvester thanks for the comment in regards to the digital maneuvering because he was a mechanic and while not a techie he was tech savvy. I have this nagging feeling that the investigators in this case have most of it if not all of this story wrong especially when it comes to NK and her involvement. I believe CW and NK started out with casual sex while she was still dating the other guy and once that relationship ended she and CW became exclusive. It is pretty obvious CW made every attempt to cover his tracks and once he was caught so early by Nicole Atkinson he bascially erased as much of NK’s involvement as possible so she wouldn’t get in trouble too. I can’t decide whether or not the kids were murdered before or after SW arrived home. I would agree that they were murdered before except for the fact that when the coroner received them they were dressed in clothes that indicated they had been in bed or ready for bed unless CW changed SW clothes. SW would have immediately checked on her babies and if they were dead she wouldn’t have gotten undressed.

      • thetinytech2018

        Did anybody check the photo EXIF data? EXIF data doesn’t lie, and if he was taking these pictures with anything but an old school Polaroid, someone should’ve checked that out. Chris thinks he’s a master of deception but I can guarantee you he had no clue about EXIF data and he didn’t know how to read it, where to find it and that it even existed.

      • Hazel

        Shannon would have definitely checked her babies when she finally got home from Arizona. It leaves me wondering when he must have murdered the babies.

    • lynnenallo

      I agree completely. Looks like he killed them between 5-7:15. UGHHH

    • Brian

      CW’s head was so far up Kessinger’s ass, attention wise on into the evening of the 12th, that one might wonder if he catastrophically mis-administered Bella and CeCe’s dosage of medication before their bed time.

  15. Liz

    Didn’t the autopsies show the contents of the girls’ stomachs to be empty? How long does digestion take?

    • Stephanie

      Liz when a person dies, their body releases everything( fluids, urine, bowl movements)! So that’s why they had an empty stomach!

      • Mike

        It takes 4 hours for food to digest. I work in a hospital and have witnessed many deaths through the years and not always will dead bodies release urine and bowl movements. It happens often true but not ‘always’. Fluid break down does happen yes.This is from years of first hand experience.

      • JustJenna

        It does not release the contents of thel stomach. In fact, where food is in the digestion cycle is part of determining time of death.

  16. Cheryl Filar

    I’ve always tied the order of the killings to Chris’s initial confession, where he admitted to killing Shan’ann by way of finding her smothering Cece. Based on this version Chris notes that Bella is already dead—lying on her bed obviously deceased, blue. When he arrives at Cece’s room, he catches Shan’ann smothering her as well. I believe a killer weaves truth into a larger lie, because he believes this makes him sound more convincing, not only to law enforcement but to himself, because it’s critical that he can have some belief in his own lie. Moreover, it’s easier to tell the big lie If you can tether it to some truth. In this case, I believe the truth was the order of the deaths: Bella, Cece, and then Shan’ann.

    • Cheryl Filar

      I realize the above theory only addresses the order of the deaths and not their occurring on August 12 prior to Shan’ann’s arrival at 1:48 a.m. on August 13. So here goes…Chris mentioned in a phone conversation with Nichol, according to her testimony, that he had washed the girls’ sheets because they stunk. NK thought this was odd. I believe this conversation occurred later on Monday, but I would need to verify this. The stinking sheets would indicate the girls’ fluids were draining from their bodies, which I believe can happen fairly quickly—correct me if I’m wrong. Prior to Shan’ann’s arrival, and assuming he ambushed her downstairs, perhaps he temporarily and conveniently stored the girls’ bodies in the bathtub of their shared Jack-and-Jill bathroom to prevent damage to their respective mattresses. He’d definitely want to shut the bathroom’s doors so as not to see or smell the decomposing corpses of his own children—grisly and horrible. Of course, mattresses can’t be easily cleaned like sheets. His temporarily storing the bodies in the upstairs bathroom may have been a primary motivation for ambushing and strangling SW downstairs to prevent her from discovering her deceased children.

      • Cheryl Filar

        One last thought…he also may have killed the children earlier, I.e., August 12, thinking Shan’ann was going to arrive home earlier—around 11 in the evening on August 12 versus around 2:00 a.m. on August 13.

      • Robin

        Uuugh that is so disgusting but sadly sounds true😪

    • Brian

      This is absolutely what I believe as well. I think you are on the money.

  17. Sylvester

    You know what’s odd too Cheryl? The dog alerted not IN Bella’s bed, but more like under it. When the officer bent down to check and see what could be under the bed, her sunglasses fall off her head. She said I wonder what’s under here – and it was a book. No biggie, but I don’t think Bella, or CeCe, were put to bed at all, period. And, the dog did not alert in CeCe’s room at all. But he did over by the closet door in the playroom – a room I hadn’t noticed before. They are dressed for bed, but it doesn’t mean they went to bed. He just wants everyone to think all three went to bed.

    • Cheryl Filar

      Sylvester, interesting. If you’re right, then my above theory of their being smothered in their respective beds and then temporarily stored in the Jack-and-Jill bathroom’s tub is null and void. 🙂

      • Sylvester

        Well, I do think the jack and jill bathroom had something to do with something Cheryl – I think he would have bathed them after their water-balloon party, and put on their bed clothes. Of course they could have gone down for a nap – in the master bed, together. I mean why else would he throw away his own bed pillow cases and not theirs?

      • thetinytech2018

        Perhaps he threw away that pillow and not the one in either of the childrens rooms I’d because he used that pillow to smother them. I did read however that they said there was no fibers in their lungs indicating that he didn’t use a pillow, but I can’t remember if that was a verified fact or just chatter. Was there any petechial hemorrhaging found on any of the victims or had too much time passed to tell?

    • Mustang Sally

      Sylvester, your theory would explain why CW didn’t take pictures of the kids in bed to send Shan’ann or even pics of the monitor that evening. Taking pics of the monitor would have disabused any argument for disturbing them while they slept or were settling in. He mentioned just putting Bella back to bed. Soooo, a picture from the monitor, please.

    • Robyn Leeper

      If I remember correctly, there was an air freshener they found under the bed that alerted the dog.

      • nickvdl

        Strange place for an air freshener, wouldn’t you say Robyn?

      • Mustang Sally

        My first thought was to think that was a strange place for an air freshener also…unless it was Shan’ann’s habit to purchase those super cheap air fresheners that aren’t particularly attractive but service well-enough (ie Glade). It may have been for aesthetics that it was placed out of sight but still in an effective location. I am guilty of that strategy – putting them on the floor in the corner of a room behind a chair.

  18. julinka1981

    Girls and Chris left the birthday party at 330 according to host but Chris has given 5pm time to police. He states he put them to bed at 8pm(this could be deliberate lie ) .Undigested food is interesting as nothing was found by coroner.In discovery documents Frank Rzuscek states he FaceTimed with Bella in the evening and Chris or Bella told him they had cold pizza,assuming they have eaten at 5pm, the call must have been later.Evening would be anytime from 6pm. If Chris was seen at 715 by neighbours ,then assuming call was promptly at 6pm and finished 615,even if Chris would have started bedtime routine precisely at that time,it would be short of Marvelous if he finished two small kids around 7pm.I assume killing awake children would be too risky as they would scream and it could be heard by neighbours. Still he would have enough time between 8-9pm to do smothering if he thought Shannan is arriving at 11pm and he had a long phone call with NK. Just going to listen Frank Rzucek video on YouTube to determine the last time he spoke with Bella.

    • Stephanie

      When a person dies, one of the first things a body does is release fluids(urine & bowl movements) so that why there was no food found in their stomachs!

      • CBH

        Yes, the bladder and bowels empty, but stomach contents do not. Undigested food is often found in the stomach at autopsy, at time of death is often determined by this. Why these girls had empty stomachs can only be determined by their having been killed 4-5 hours after eating. Very confusing with the idea they may have been dead by 7 pm.

        • Shannon

          24-72 hours internal organs decompose
          3-5 days – body bloats, blood containing foam leaks from nose mouth.
          A loss of control of urine/bowels may occur. Muscles no longer work.
          Gastric contents – take 22 hours to 2 days, to empty.
          Pizza – 2 hours to disgest. No food found dead more then 12 hours. Gastric contents empty more if person is longer dead.
          Remember cold pizza little girls, how much would they eat. Probably not that much.
          All this critical in a Autopsy, and it’s mandatory to be performed.
          Why not released properly….. something not right here…….needs to be questioned from Coroner. Why not being released ?
          Why also these not released along with pictures of the three of them is interesting.
          Most murder cases pictures are released.

          • CBH

            Ok, thanks for clearing that up. It is a question for certain.

      • Shannon

        Urine and bowels do not always release right away. After dead muscles no longer are working to push out.
        Gases need to be present to explode poop which might only oozs out. Just like the coffin birth. Gases in victim push baby out. Organs in the abdomen accumulate gas.
        Food depending on length of time dead, breaks down in body. In the 2 stomachs.

      • atschmid5322

        Quit saying that Stefanie. It’s wrong. When a mammal dies, they do empty their bladders and colons, but even that is not always true. Stomach contents are waaaay upstream of the colon and are not reflexively released on death.

      • ncam619

        That’s not correct.time of death is often determined by stomach content.

  19. Sylvester

    Pg. 678 Frank Rzucek says he facetimed with Chris at 1900 hrs. NC time, or EST, which is 7 p.m. That would be 5 p.m. Mountain time – hence he facetimed at 5 p.m. Colorado time. He said he would always call at the girls dinnertime and dinnertime was 5:00 MST.

    He stated that Bella was eating pizza and asking when mommy would come home. He heard CeCe somewhere in the background but didn’t see her.

    Watts texts Cody at 5:06 p.m. 8/12, and is still talking to him at 5:23 and reiterates “I can go out there though” (to Cervi 319).

    So this is odd. At the same time Frank is facetiming with the girls at their dinnertime, Watts is calling Cody Roberts. So I think it’s possible Frank called a little earlier than 5 p.m. (7 p.m. his time), or the facetiming lasted only one or two minutes, and the girls were still alive at 5:30 p.m. because he’s texting Cody Roberts. With that in mind the death timeline can’t be pushed back any more than when the call was concluded with Cody Roberts.

    • JC

      Remember, Sylvestor, there’s 2 phones. He could have been texting Cody Roberts on his work phone, while Frank was face timing with Bella on his personal phone. Was all of that really going on at the same time though? The 3:30 to 7:15 timeline is fuzzy for me. I’m still not clear on when they arrived back home from the party. It’s about a 20 minute drive home for them.

    • julinka1981

      Sylvester,There is no specific time said by Frank Rzucek-I am not sure where you came up with 5 pm 🙂 in discovery documents Frank says he spoke to Chris at NIGHT! so that pushes the timeline even further,I listened to the interview as well and he says exactly the same thing as in discovery documents.I had this discussion with iIck before that it would be helpful if we knew,Frank also says she was eating whilst they talked and she(Bella) had cold pizza and candy.I don’t understand the police man who was interviewing not asking simple question-do you know what time you spoke to Chris?They are trying to establish when girls died,so this important info is bad investigative work from their side.Interview was on 22/08 so no plea deal yet.

      • Nick

        Julinka, their bedtime – clearly established on Saturday night with the babysitter – was 19:00. So you’ve got to move the FaceTime and dinner and possibly a bath to before then.
        I believe the neighbor saw him barbecuing at 19:00.

  20. Sylvester

    P.S. and it’s hideous to think that he may have smothered them before they went to sleep – unless they could get to sleep before he’s seen at 7:15 on his back balcony porch. Otherwise he enjoyed a nice meal for himself before he smothered them.

    • ncam619

      I agree. He’s too much of a coward to have smothered them while they were alive.

    • julinka1981

      I agree.I just don’t think he would have been nonchalantly barbecuing outside and killed them minutes before.I would have thought he would be preoccupied with cleaning evidence and moving them or something.Unless,as some suggested,he used some drugs then it would explained him talking loudly to NK and not worrying about waking them up,and killing them after phone call.

      • nickvdl

        Well it depends on the murder method. If he physically murdered/smothered them, which I think he wanted to avoid if he could, then I agree, it seems unlikely he would be barbecuing nonchalantly moments later.

        I’m putting together a blog which posits another murder method which requires time to take effect. And as a result, while they were dying/overcome he could be somewhere else and seen to be somewhere else.

        I actually suspected this sedative theory from the beginning, but proving it, and finding evidence, has proved to be quite difficult until recently.

  21. khst1

    Is it Bella’s tongue. The autopsy report says she bit her tongue and put up a struggle. She may never have been in bed or asleep, therefore before Shannon was home.

  22. ianmc1968

    I dont believe for one second that she doesnt remember any part of a two hour conversation a couple of hours before he killed his family. This is strange and unexplained behaviour in my opinion.

  23. kim

    My computer autocorrected Shanann to Shannon, sorry.

  24. Shannon

    It’s not uncommon that a person might be overwhelmed by betrayal, disappointed or feel negative emotions, detach yourself emotionally. No emotion at all.
    While being truly emotionless you can sometimes benefit by appearing to be heartless in certain situations.

    • Mustang Sally


    • Mike

      A real covert narcissist is always, 100% Socio-Psychopathic. They are empty. They are incapable of love and see people as objects that’s why it’s easy for them to detach.

  25. Julia

    I’ve always thought that Bella surprised him while he was smothering CeCe. He was able to take CeCe by surprise (or maybe she was asleep), but not Bella and that’s why she had injuries. Heartbreaking to think about 😕

    • atschmid5322

      Nick vdl has himself postulated that the girls were not smothered, but simply given a lethal dose of drugs. Shanann was likely to have opiates in the house (lupus), and the respiratory failure associated with an overdose of opiates commonly turns coloring to blue — an observation CW has made repeatedly. The torn frenulum in Bella’s mouth far more likely resulted from CW forcing her head and shoulders thru the 8 inch hatch. Post-mortem.

      • atschmid5322

        Oh, and opiates are highly lipophilic. They would readily diffuse into the crude oil the girls’ bodies were immersed in for 4 days.

        • nickvdl

          lipophilic – I’ve learned a new word today, thanks. Great point.

  26. Maura

    Kody Roberts, his coworker, texted Chris back at 1809 (6:09 pm) agreeing Chris could go to Cervi 319 ALONE in the morning. His daughters had already Face timed with Shannan’s parents. He was ready to kill them at 6:09 pm, before their bedtime, once his visit to Cervi 319 was arranged. He had an hour before he was seen out back grilling.

    Chris fed the kids a snack and bedtime medication as routine. However, this time he drugged them with morphine or other medication. It could have been in the kitchen or downstairs while they watched TV. They were dressed for bed. Wasn’t a blue blanket missing from the living room couch? Maybe they last used it and he disposed of it.

    When Chris told police he saw Bella “blue in the face” it was from the morphine he’d given them. One symptom of Morphine overdose is that fingernails and lips can turn blue or purple.

    He had time to store their bodies in the basement freezer, barbecue on the deck and have dinner before calling Nichol later while he waited up for his wife. Killing time, before his wife.

    • Sylvester

      I would agree with that other than there were no drugs – like morphine – in their system at autopsy. Unless the oil obliterated test results. I also don’t know that morphine would be kept in the house – it’s something typically only hospitals administer – when you are in the hospital. Even methadone must be administered from a clinic. What time did Sha’nann text him her flight was delayed? I’m guessing by 9 p.m., the time of his call to Nichole K., he doesn’t know it’s delayed yet so that may be the second clue, and the reason he thought he had until 11 p.m. and no later, so he had planned ahead and killed the children earlier than 9 at the very least.

      • Cheryl Filar

        Sylvester, agreed regarding morphine. I provided hospice care for my father in my home when he was dying from cancer. Eventually, the drugs he was taking were not sufficiently suppressing his pain, and I requested morphine. It was quite a process to get it: had to be approved in triplicate, etc. It’s not a drug you can domestically stockpile around like aspirin.

      • Cheryl Filar

        Sylvester, agreed regarding morphine. I provided hospice care for my father in my home when he was dying from cancer. Eventually, the drugs he was taking were not sufficiently suppressing his pain, and I requested morphine. It was quite a process to get it: had to be approved in triplicate, etc. It’s not a drug you can domestically stockpile around like aspirin.

      • Mustang Sally

        Morphine and oxycodone are prescribed to those who suffer from chronic pain that interferes with their daily life. They are controlled substances and very specific regulations must be followed by the doctors prescibing them, the pharmacies dispensing them, and the patients taking them. Those who are prescribed them for necessity, do not abuse them, and only take them as needed are very likely to have extra on hand. They are also likely to keep those extra in a “stockpile” because of the hoops they must jump through to obtain those prescriptions. There has been so much abuse of those medications that the people who actually need them become the ones who suffer the most.

        Case in point…I have several of both prescriptions locked up in my home at this moment and I will refill one on the date it’s refillable even if I have pills remaining.

      • Maura

        As @MustangSally pointed out Shannan may have been prescribed morphine and oxycodone for Lupus pain management even if she didn’t use it all the time. I read about treatment on another blog written by a lady with Lupus, it appears these are common drugs for Lupus pain sufferers. Chris would know where it was kept in the house. On top of the other medications the girls were already taking how much more would have been necessary to overdose kids weighing 38-40 lbs?

        Their bodies were in oil tanks for 4 days and in bad shape so I don’t believe the autopsy results could be at all accurate. I think Bella’s body was damaged after her death being squeezed into the tank. Chris knew the chemicals would destroy everything.

        Chris planned the easiest and quietest death he could for them. He wouldn’t take a chance they could fight back or scream at 6:15 or 6:30 pm with neighbors so close.

      • atschmid5322

        Opiates are commonly prescribed to lupus patients. Shanann likely had multiple prescriptions. Opiates are highly lipophilic and would have dissipated in the oil the girls were immersed in and saturated with.

      • Pasha

        @MustangSally – I know exactly where you’re coming from in regards to pain meds. The crackdown on opiates is so out of control and ridiculous at this point that people with legitimate medical conditions are being told to go home and suffer and refused pain relief. I know, because I was one of them. It wasn’t until after 4 failed spine surgeries in the past year that finally a doctor had some compassion and gave me something for pain.

        I keep coming back to the fact that Chris was actually searching for “oxycodone 80 mg” on his phone and that is an enormous dose! Could the girls have had that in their system and the oil prevented it from being detected? Is that even possible? I’m going to research it.

        Also, wasn’t a book found under the bed? Could Bella have been hiding under her bead with a book? Did she see something and then get under the bed? I’m mentioning this because it was a comment from someone on a different forum and made me wonder. Imagine if Chris drugged the girls with oxycodone, knowing fully well that the oil sludge would prevent it from being detectable, and Bella got scared and ran and hid under her bed. I mean…..I’m assuming it would be much easier to smother a person while they are sedated than alive and kicking and fighting. That’s just so sick to even think about. This case is horrifying. But that’s just a theory. That would mean that Chris is much more intelligent than we suspect……and I’m just not sure he is.

      • Mustang Sally

        Pasha, I thought the same thing regarding that tidbit of information! Good golly, Miss Molly, 80 mg?! That could down a horse! An overdose of oxycodone would likely induce vomiting which may explain the empty stomachs, too.

        For whatever reason, he was doing laundry that night as well. Television on, washing machine running, talking on the phone, cleaning, vacuuming, AND the girls are light sleepers? He certainly didn’t seem to be very concerned about this during his Thrive-a-thon.

        Think of the marketing opportunity Le Vel is missing out on: Thrive gives you the energy for a full day to make your family breakfast, take them shopping, attend a birthday party, enjoy hours of “epic” birthday fun, come home, bathe your tired toddlers, prepare dinner, FaceTime with family and friends, clean, vacuum, do laundry, and still have enough energy after all of that to get out the grill to begin food prep for the next week before the sun goes down! Folks, if this seems like too much work for you, and you would rather enjoy a more carefree life, one of our best customers even had enough energy, time, and dedication to turn his life around and eliminate all the factors causing many of those chores listed above. The choice is yours! Thrive will give you the energy to make your choices! Call us today for a free sample so you, too, can turn your life upsidedow…erm…around!

        • nichole

          😮 finally. Someone else mentioning Thrive. NK said he started wearing two patches! I think it had something to do with why he snapped and I’m just so surprised no one looked into the affects from Thrive at all!

    • lynnenallo

      I was looking at the docs and he talked to Cody at 6:09, the neighbors said they saw him grilling chicken at 7:15 but the picture he took of the 4 chicken breasts was taken at 6:47. It looks like he killed them between 6:09-6:47. Why he took a picture of the temperature setting in the fridge, I do not know. Odd that if the kids were in bed and he was just chillin and grillin – why didn’t he call Nichole then? I think they went to bed at 4:30-4:45ish. They were still at the party at 3:46 then he was searching for volcanos at 4:46. There is another gap though from 9-11 where he didn’t respond to Shannan but I think that is the 111 minute covo he had with Nichole. So it had to be from 6:09-6:47…unless it was in the morning but then why send Shannan a pic of Bella at the party instead of sleeping. Pretty sure it was 6:09-6:47. 🙁

    • Mike

      Interesting but if that were true then Bella would have been knocked out from a dose of morphine and not fought back I would imagine. She would have easily succumbed like CeCe.

  27. Cheryl Filar

    Mustang Sally and Maura, thanks for the information. I guess, then, under certain circumstances, like chronic pain, people can maintain a supply of these drugs. That makes sense. Therefore, given Shan’ann’s Lupus, she probably maintained a supply, as you state. I agree that Chris wanted to administer an “easy” death to the children—possibly for their own sake but mostly for his. Also, it seems the children were regularly given medicine of one kind or another, so they were already conditioned to being dosed.

    • Mustang Sally

      Cheryl, I hope those meds were able to ease your father’s suffering after a life well-lived. Put bluntly: cancer sucks. I’m sorry.

      I, too, think CW elected an “easy” death for his daughters for the reasons you stated and also as a way to distance himself from the act of murder. What my mind cannot grasp is how he can go from any thoughts of mercy to holding his own child’s lifeless body in his arms, in his hands and dropping them into a noxious tank. Where, when, and how does the separation, that disassociation occur? It’s a rhetorical question, of course.

      • Cheryl Filar

        Maura, thank you for the condolences regarding my father. He died over 20 years ago, but many memories are still with me and still poignant, including his departing humor, which was a gift. He had such grace. Like you, I am perplexed regarding Chris’s callous disposal of his children, as well as, of course, their murder, regardless of its mode.

      • Mustang Sally

        I’m not Maura. 🙂

  28. coolgirlrocks

    I could be mistaken, but on the bodycam aren’t the girl’s beds slept in when the officer enters their room. They are unmade beds. I can’t imagine Shan’ann leaving beds unmade. One of the pillows even seems to have a head imprint on it, so it seems the girls were in bed at some point.

    • atschmid5322

      Shanann left on Thursday. There were several nights the girls would have slept in their beds before Monday morning.

    • Mike


  29. Nick

    It seems very significant this chemical disposal of the children. Wasn’t it to hide chemicals used to sedate/kill them?

    • Mustang Sally

      Well, that makes utterly horrible, horrific, horrifying sense.

    • Maura

      He put his children’s bodies in the tanks to destroy evidence of how they died.

    • Sylvester

      And working in oil for the last two years he would know the corrosive properties of crude oil – also working on cars. He was likely hoping the oil would completely disintegrate their bodies.

      When Agent Koback questions Watts he asked him if he didn’t put Sha’nann down an oil tank because he knew she wouldn’t fit – and remember his answer? It was more like a mumbled “mmhhhm.” I thought that was strange. He’s been so helpful up to that point! Sticking part of the rake into the ground might have been a “marker” – so that he could come back another time, do a little dismemberment, and disperse the parts down an oil tank as well.

  30. lynnenallo

    WELLL what is it True Crime Rocket?

  31. Georgia

    Could the drugs people are suggesting could have been used been strong enough to overdose them so no need/very little to smother? Could he have been grilling his chicken whilst he allowed the drugs to take effect?

    • Mustang Sally


    • Brian George

      I think CW was so “in the deep end” obsessed with Kessinger while SW was in Arizona that it really would have been easy for him to make a non-premeditative, catastrophic dosage miscalulation when administering medication to the girls. That would have necessitated a subsequent, hastily pre-calculated attack on SW as soon as she got home at 1:48 a.m.

  32. Sylvester

    I was thinking about the teeth marks on Bella’s tongue. If we are to go with an overdose kind of situation it’s possible she “seized” isn’t it? Well I do hope with all of the good people in here we will be able to put together a cohesive theory, where the D.A. office could not. If I were the Rzucek family I would want to know when and where. I’m sure they have chalked him up to “a monster” so may not be interested in why, but when and where would still be important, to me anyway.

  33. Col

    Is the photo of the three of them in the bathroom taken the night of the murders? If it’s the last one taken the kids clothes do not match what they were wearing when they were found. Just wondering.

    • nickvdl

      No, it’s not.

  34. Sylvester

    Hi Col – no, it’s an earlier picture. Chris is a little heavier, and Bella and CeCe are younger. But the bathroom does appear to be in use, which is peculiar why one door would be locked and no water in the toilet bowl 8/13.

  35. Ilovedogsandcats

    I think the oil destroyed the contents of the stomach of each child but I’m not sure oil could dissolve traces of any drugs in their organs, which the coroner usually sliced and collects samples.

    To whom did Chris send the pic of his grilled chicken breasts, or was the pic just found on his phone? I think likely two were for his dinner and the other two for his lunch the following day. Or maybe he meal prepped cuz he was on a diet?

    I don’t feel the murders were premeditated. I think shanann woke him up, very angry when her CC was denied cuz she knew he had a large bill at the restaurant and suspected he was having an affair. Bella woke up twice, he said. Weaving some truth with his lies, the second time she woke up she saw her dad killing her mom.

  36. Karen

    I’ve listened to Kessinger until my ears are on fire and for the life of me I cannot figure out what the “throwaway comment” is that she made that suggests Watts killed the kids before Shan’ann got home.

    • Mustang Sally

      Karen, Nick was suggesting NK’s “throwaway comment” was in regards to the television being on so loudly that she could clearly hear it in the background of their call. CW was talking on the phone with NK before Shan’ann arrived home, it was late at the time they were talking, and made it seem surprising upon reflection that CW would risk loud television noise if the kids were sleeping.

      Nick has suggested there is another clue in addition to that mention from NK that evidences the children where murdered that evening.

      • Karen

        Right. He said the clue is a throwaway comment that Kessinger made that is suggestive of him killing the girls first but I haven’t figured it out yet

      • Mustang Sally

        I’m the confused one then! I’m sorry, I thought that was the comment he was referring to and we were looking for another contextual clue not necessarily related to NK! Wait…I think I’m still confused. You don’t think that’s the comment he was referring to? Lol I think I need to go to bed.

  37. Karen

    Sally, lol
    He said, “The second clue involves a throwaway remark from Nichol Kessinger, the last person Watts spoke to before killing his wife [a much under-appreciated, under-estimated and under-reported fact].”

    • Mustang Sally

      I’m checking my reading omprehension skills. Doesn’t the paragraph following that statement in the blog post above go on to explain the remark(s) he is referring to? I’m of the understanding we are trying to identify clue #1.

  38. Karen

    Maybe you’re right and I’m chasing a goose. I’ll ask him to confirm when he sees this

  39. Nick

    Mustang Sally you’re right. The television on late at night that Kessinger overheard over the phone suggests the children were already dead.
    There’s more, even stronger support for this theory besides that.

  40. Sylvester

    Okay, maybe it has to do with the television being on “so late” according to Nichole. She said Chris does not usually watch television late at night, so could it be that it was LEFT ON from earlier when the kids were watching and just not turned off?

    • Mustang Sally

      Sylvester, I think we just exhausted the fact the other clue is unrelated to the television or NK’s remarks. There is something else that should be telling us those two precious children were, in all probability, murdered by the time the sun set on the 12th.

      I have a strong suspicion it relates to either the pictures he sent to Shan’ann or his chicken grilling but I’m unable to guess exactly where Nick is trying to lead us. It could also be related to the cadaver dog hits.

  41. Nick

    Mustang Sally it is the time he sent the last photos, the fact that they were missing from those photos (ito no recent photos of them in their beds as requested) and the fact that when he was seen barbecuing and the girls weren’t. But the main aspect is the requested photos and the time they were sent. Make sense?

    • Mustang Sally

      Yes. A lot.

    • Karen

      so was it the photos, Nick? Is that what you were looking for? If not I have one more rabbit it my hat

    • MissTrixie (@LuvTheGiantsSF)

      If he killed them during the day he risked someone stopping by so I think it was done at night. For the life of me I cannot understand anything about this case. It is all so twisted.

  42. Shannon

    2 thoughts.
    Drowned in bathtub after party while being bathed. Sprinkle drugs on pizza.

    Extra dosage of pills, wait, seconds to smother.
    Bella might not have fought back, hit mouth while pushed into tank.

  43. Sylvester

    Then he flushed pills down the toilet that had no water in it – which caused a clog. Water in tank, not in bowl usually means a clog – or water turned off so only one flush is allowed. I’m pretty much suspicious of everything Shannon!

    That bathroom door was locked, and his excuse for that doesn’t ring true. The bathroom was used – as in the pictures of the body cam search the tub mat is in front of the tub on the floor. If he gave them a shower or tub bath after the birthday party with water balloon fight, I would guess he would use the jack and jill bathroom and not the master bath as it looks undisturbed in the photos. Pristine even.

  44. Shannon

    Don’t forget Chris was cleaning also. I’ve never had a problem with kids and toliet. Sounds wierd to me.
    I think Shanann locked the bathroom door so kids couldn’t go in, just like their bedroom doors.
    I wonder why so much security in a house, doors, cameras, cell phones. It’s not like they were millionaires or a rough neighborhood..

  45. Sylvester

    It is weird. Baby monitors too, when they are no longer babies. Maybe it’s just the idea of having all of the latest high tech gadgets at your disposal in the digital age.

    • Shannon

      Sylvester I’m surprised at you.
      I thought with the way you think and analyze all. You would have figured out the answers to Nick’s questions.
      You do have some good comments.
      Just joking.

      • Sylvester

        What I did is a pretty common fallacy in thinking – we were talking about Nichole K’s call to Watts and clues in that call. But then the question was there was a more important clue – and I assumed it had to do with that call. It did not. Also my brain is fried with too much Watts! I’m finding some interesting things in the new document release (which has been there for a while, I’m just now catching up to it). For now, suffice it to say, it seems that every time Watts and Sha’nann had a long conversation about their marriage immediately after he would transfer a picture of a scantily dressed Nichole K. into his secret calculator. Probably reminding himself of who he was going to do all of this for.

        • Shannon

          Just remember to look after You. Sometimes a little break is good.

    • Ralph Oscar

      Both children were sickly. That explains why baby monitors long past the age when the children are babies.

      • Shannon

        True. They were often sick.

      • Nick

        Yes 100%.

  46. Shannon

    The trigger to kill is often the failure with the mother.
    A desperate last act to regain the power and control.
    Men who kill their families were most likely to kill on a *Sunday in August*.

    Family annihilation. 4 types.
    Self righteous,

  47. Ralph Oscar

    Two questions: Was Bella wearing Pull-Ups type undergarments? It’s now very common to see small children put to bed in these, which aren’t considered *technically* “diapers” to serve the function of diapers for a more highly developed child – I have nieces and nephews who used Pull-Ups until they were, like, 11 or 12. So while CeCe was young enough to still be wearing diapers, which if disposable have velcro tabs that are more difficult for a child to pull down, Bella being older would be wearing these elastic-waist Pull-Ups, which are more similar to adult Depends undergarments (I think – I’ve never actually seen Depends in real life).

    Other question: About Bella’s tongue injury – did the autopsy conclude that it happened before she died? The coroner can often tell if that’s the case.

    Another observation: “Helpful” people like Chris Watts will often include information that is true even while they’re lying. Chris reported seeing Bella “blue” while Shan’Ann was choking CeCe to death; I suspect that Bella was, indeed, blue at some point. Why would Bella be “blue”? Because she’d been strangled, smothered, or drugged. Given the information upstream and in other articles, drugged seems to be the winning option – it would provide “blueness”, which Chris would see as consistent with strangulation and thus evidence to support his contention that Shan’Ann had strangled her.

    The most peaceful way to accomplish the family annihilation is through drugging – carbon monoxide, poison, sedatives, etc. It’s also a lot easier to do without “getting one’s hands dirty” – even though Chris had decided to murder his little girls, he likely wouldn’t have wanted to choke the life out of them with his bare hands the way he wanted to do to Shan’Ann.

    • Shannon

      That’s why I think drugged. I said months ago they were over dosed. They might have just passed away. Or heavy dosed, pillow over faces to make sure.
      Unfortunately this is a common theme for mother’s / fathers. To end a family.
      It’s hard to imagine one moment your talking, smiling….the next your dead.
      YES to those, I know he did it.

    • Nick

      Yes autopsy concluded tongue injury was inflicted while alive. DA also referred to defensive wounds, or the idea of defensive wounds I believe. “Bella fought back…” If so she was the only one that could/did. I don’t believe that is the case. Why would a premeditated murder allow for that from a vulnerable child?

      • Shannon

        Maybe he misjudged how much drug he gave her. I think anyone would move arms legs squirm to get away. Gave drugs, waited to short a time, did the deed, not expecting movement.
        Defensive wounds, brusing on arms, him holding her down. I’m sure a grown man would be able to control the situation, quite quick.
        With Shanann, caught off guard, tired, not feeling well. When she hit ground, maybe hit head, stunned, he’s choking her, to fast no reaction time for her. Him on top, total control with great power and rage.
        Ralph, I’m not sure what type of undies the little ones wore. I’m on a stupid phone, not great for trying to solve a crime……((*-*))
        It’s wierd but I feel like I’m in a Crazy Mood, good crazy.

      • Sylvester

        The teeth impressions on the tongue, or biting the tongue, could be indicative of something being pressed down so forcefully over the face that the teeth are forced down onto the tongue. Or, it could be related to pain – something painful was happening, you bite your tongue, it’s reflexive. A broken frenulum (sp) could also have to do with the lip being curled up, and something hard pressing down forcefully over the face. But a struggle? I don’t know, neither of those two wounds would be called defensive wounds. If there was a struggle with Bella, then it’s possible the scratch on Watts neck was caused by Bella, but without an analysis of nail clippings, we don’t know. I would think it more likely it came from Bella, as if Watts came from behind with Sha’nann, Watts would have been “upfront” and over with Bella. Anyway, am anxiously awaiting a new theory.

    • Shannon

      Mostly I believe Speculation.
      The friggin DA is not releasing all the info.
      No complete autopsy report. No pictures of bodies. Headlines to articles that don’t make sense or are incomplete, or making up stories.
      It’s just to badd Chrissy poo, won’t go to trial. I myself and many more would have appreciated it……
      I guess he figured this is it. Maybe they have a library there and he read some law books. Inmates are quite knowledgeable about the law.
      It helps them and their cases.
      They can tell thru the bars at each other…or a closed door.

  48. Robin

    I read the entire 2000 page report, watched all of the videos, and have read all the comments I could. Here are the things which stand out in my mind:
    1. Shan’aan was wearing an Apple Watch and the watch was not on her nightstand charger when the police first came to the house after Nikki called. Later, in the report, the police and/or CBI had this watch. I think this and her phone is what Chris grabbed out of the Lexus quickly before going into the house. He had no way to get into her phone because he didn’t know her password, Nikki did and it was accessed right then in front of the police upstairs when Nikki’s son found it in the couch. Chris hid the phone, the watch, which was found later presumably by the police, and the wedding ring which he walked out with on his finger… saying she left it. So he had an unknown plan for the Lexus which was foiled by Nikki’s call. The contents of all her devices are in the report and show that Chris was abusive to Shan’ann prior to her trip to NCarolina. She did not answer texts from the others that they were home safe and the order of hair products was an automatic order that was declined, because Chris maxed out the CC’s as she knew while at the airport in Arizona. Her office was a total mess, like someone was looking for something or there was a struggle and this is where the purse was found. Her makeup was not removed and it was on the pillowcase. There is a photo of it. He stuffed the other sheets in the bottom of the trash and wrapped her in one. She was in a fetal position when they found her at the site buried.
    2. The house detection equipment records in the report show that Shan’ann climbed 3 flights of stairs, 3 minutes after she got home at 1:48 and there was no activity at all downstairs until the following morning. This means that whatever happened was upstairs and he stayed upstairs all night until 5 something the next morning. Presumably, he slept on the couch and rifled through the office area.
    3. The dogs on the video walkthrough with the two women were alert dogs of hormones in fight or flight reactions. They alerted strongly to the area under Bella’s bed where the book was found. The other area where they alerted strongly was under the stairs in the basement near the plastic buckets. The report said the cadaver dogs did not really find anything, if I read it correctly.
    4. Chris Watts was full of energy and empty not long after his relationship with NK began. His last photo with the girls at the birthday party show this look and the girls were not happy at all, even while the boy was blowing out the candles. NK said he never slept at all when he was at her house. I think they were both on drugs, probably Meth, and this is why NK found it necessary to keep mentioning Thrive as a reason CW was hyper and her lewd photos and texts were two reasons to try and get rid of her records, all of which were recovered. It is incredible how often she sent him nude selfies of herself, especially while he was on vacation at Myrtle Beach with Shan’ann and the girls. There were a lot of them and both of them thought they could keep this a secret because of the hidden function of the calculator app. They both underestimated the recoverability of technology records, and especially the neighbors video. His plan was foiled then and he thought the police were going to handcuff him on the spot. He was very emotional during that also. I don’t think he slept that night. He sure didn’t count on Nikki calling the police either.
    5. There is a video that shows what might have been a little girl walking out and Chris bending down to pick her up. I have read all the comments under the Armchair Detective posts and both are possible, it might have been Bella and it might have just been Chris. It is a shadow but hard to decipher for sure.
    6. The photo of the dead doll was totally out of left field. Maybe it was Bella trying to tell her mother something. Or it was Chris. Anyway, the photo was from his phone.
    7. NK made a phone call from Frederick at the time of the murders from her phone. This is the big mystery. It was supposedly in a different location but what was she doing in Frederick at 5:30 in the morning. It was a 1 minute call to her friend Jim, who was staying at her house.

    Based on all this, I have concluded that CW killed his family in the morning just before loading them into the truck. Otherwise, the cadaver dogs would have alerted. Bella hid under the bed and he either killed her then or she was ordered to follow him out to the truck and he killed her later. Shan’ann did not remove her makeup because she was exhausted. Chris may even have slept in the bed with her that night because of the motion detectors. Or on the couch. The police would have known if he disabled the motion detectors from company records. He had not slept with her in months but she did say, “thank you for letting me hold you last night” from Arizona. She was wrapped in the bed sheet and carried directly to his truck. The bed sheet was found at the site. He premeditated these murders. It took him too long to get home and he had time to dispose of the blankets and the stuffed toy and clean out his truck on the way back to the house when Nikki called. He was over an hour late. He did not expect her to call the police.
    The thing that sticks is NK phone in Frederick the morning and time he was removing bodies from the house and the emotion dog alert under the stairs. A person would have to be alive to leave that smell there. Maybe it was him. This is a great site and the comments are well thought out. Thanks!

  49. Sylvester

    Well Robin there are a few things that I think you have stated correctly – for sure NK was sending Watts a lot of nude selfies. More than I had even considered before. But here’s where I think you may not have quite right:
    1. “Chris was abusive to Sha’nann prior to her trip to NC” – what texts do you have to back that up? If it’s Nathan overhearing Chris going off on Sha’nann that could be interpreted as a very loud argument. Do you have anything other than that.
    2. There was no movement from the house detection system other than when she entered through the front door. From 0148-0423 no movement at all.
    3. No dog alert in the office. Messy desk – no struggle.
    4. No evidence of either NK or CW being on Meth. If they were both meth addicts there would be some reference to that on their texts to each other – or dealers, or ways to get meth. Also FBI or CBI would have been all over that.
    5. If Bella walked out to the truck with Watts where do you think he killed her? He had very little time to dispose of them at Cervi 319 as was – before other coworkers showed up. Maybe you are getting that from testing done on the passenger side of the truck?

    • Shannon


  50. Sally D.

    Hi — I’ve read through most of these comments, and find them all interesting. But — unless I missed one, didn’t Bella’s autopsy mention that oil and another substance from the oil container (but no food) were found in her stomach? Would that mean that she might have regained consciousness after being but in there? I was just wondering, that might change the time lines a little. I could be wrong though, but I thought it did say that. Awful to even think.

  51. Shannon

    When kids put thru opening, they would have been dead. They would plop downward into the oil and perhaps come back up. The oil would be somewhat thick and they might just sink to the bottom.
    No way alive, screaming, kicking, hysterical.
    No time for that.

  52. usmcvet152

    I also agree with the killings of Bella and CeCe on Aug 12th(evening),still unsure of the how, but not of putting their bodies in the bathtub. Reason for this is,and I am just assuming, I read in the discovery that at Cevi-319 that aside from finding the fitted sheet they also discovered 2 large lawn black trash bags that they said were new and they collected as evidence and stored in the evidence room. I have not read anything else about them as to whether they did any forensics on them or what happened to them unless I missed it. Plus I think the cadaver dogs would have alerted to the tub, unless he cleaned it in what little time he after he killed Shanann because Shanann’s flight was delayed. I believe he had a different story he was going tell police but it fell apart when Shanann’s flight was delayed and he then had to starting thinking of something else on the run and playing it by ear. Once again I believe he killed his daughters on the evening of Aug 12th, put their bodies in the trash bags to contain any DNA, if any,and put them in the garage, then was alerted of Shanann’s delay. Then when she arrived and after waving goodbye to Nickol and closing the door attacked her from behind since her hands would have been full(one hand pulling the suitcase, pocketbook on shoulder, and more than likely her cell phone in the other or quite possibly since I read about there being no lights on in the house hid behind the wall in between the living room and kitchen somehow and attacked her from behind after she set her pocketbook on the kitchen counter. I do not believe he killed her upstairs for the simple reason he would have had to carry her back down the stairs, since he would not want to drag her down and risk leaving behind some sort of DNA. After straightening up what he could do quickly, hiding phone, Apple watch, possibly the IPad which according to the discovery was found in a backpack under the desk in the office, putting pocketbook on counter if he killed her in the living room and putting wedding ring on dresser,etc. He was probably going to do a more through job later not expecting Nickole or anyone showing up while he was at work. Then loaded the trash bags with the girls in each floorboard in the rear of the crew cab and then loaded Shanann in the sheet on the seat because I do not think he could load all three full bodies in that small of an area without being seen from the outside of the truck by a passerby. Of course I could be wrong about all of this. I have tried watching all the videos that are out there, but just when I think I have another pops up from someone, I read through the discovery(2000 pages I believe). I have yet found out anything about their missing blankies, the clothes and boots he was wearing at Cervi 319 the morning he was disposing of the bodies which were described by co-workers that seen him that morning. Also in the discovery, a police officer was sent to I believe the address was 6507 Black Rock or Black Mesa Rd. later on in Aug to inspect some dumpsters that a witness in the area saw Chris Watts and his truck at. A general contractor their told the officer that the dumpsters were emptied every Thursday and on Tuesday if they were full and called ahead. The officer stated he looked through all the dumpsters and found nothing. I believe Chris dumped blankies, clothes, boots and other evidence in these dumpsters. There is so much info on this case and also missing info not told by law enforcement. I am now trying to find out how NK(his mistress) played a role in this, if any. I guess unless Chris confesses out of extreme guilt or leaves behind a letter before committing suicide in prison we may never know the exact timeline of how everything went. Apologies for the long reply I am a retired Marine and obviously have too much time on my hands. I also have become addicted to this case…lol

    • Nichole

      I forgot about their blankies, I’ve been obsessed with this case from the start as well . Can’t believe I missed that. Have listened to NK’s interviews with detectives several times because she must have known something. Why couldn’t she remember what she did that Sunday? Until her dad said the museum, who goes to the museum on a beautiful August Sunday like that? Seemed off, and her mention of Jim was off too.

  53. Tracey

    I think you are right about the murder of the girls, the trash bags etc. However, I believe that Shannan was murdered upstairs as she was getting ready for bed. Not out of her bra yet, but perhaps in the ensuite taking her clothes off. Her suitcase was already upstairs and open, her rings were off on the nightstand. I think she had to have been upstairs and they had an ’emotional discussion’ regarding NK, and he had planned on killing her with emotional pain = NK, then physical death as he watched her.. He was an angry man. He wanted out but needed her to suffer emotionally as well as take her life.

    • Mary Dutchess

      During the video of Watts loading his truck, a shadow of what is believed to be one of the girls walking to the truck and Chris picking her up, to go in the truck. So, it’s very possible that only one of the girls was killed in the home. Bella was the only one that struggled, possibly he killed her in a slightly different manner than CECE. Bella was the older sibling, and most likely would be the one that would comprehend that something was very wrong, and “get in his way.” “She may have been murdered before Shanann even came home.” Also possible, that her little body was placed in one of the plastic bags that was found, and stored in the empty refrigerator downstairs, to prevent the discovery of her body by Shanann. The K9 dog intensely hit on that refrigerator , and continued to focus on it, so it was apparent that this, or something like this, could be a strong possibility! Did anyone ever hear if the police did any forensic testing inside the fridge, if so, what were the results, if any? But if she was inside a plastic bag, there may not have been ant trace evidence. Just writing about these possible actions of Watts is difficult, and very sickening!!!! HOW could anyone take the life away from anyone, especially their own children?

      • Nichole

        I didn’t realize the dogs hit hard on that fridge….hmmm!

  54. katie

    Another indicator? NO WHAT IS IT??? Is it that her plane was delayed, and he wanted to be ready for her to get home at what would have been 11pm?

  55. Lillie

    I have no clue anymore. When I first read about this crime, I assumed the “emotional conversation” was Chris-speak for killing her and then going and killing Bella and Cece in immediate succession. I never pictured a sneak out from behind the wall thing, I always thought he was probably nice to her as to not alarm her and strangled her (on her , it seems?) I have never thought she would have had to check on them before sleeping-I think she was worried about him cheating on her not killing her and her children and taking them out in trash bags. I always pictured some version of him killing them all within like 20 minutes-emotional convo” in which he does all the talking (for once?) Even when he talked about his kids he described them as aggressive -“throwing chicken nuts at me,” “screaming in the car.”

    Then I read insightful comments by people like yourselves and it does seem that he had that Sunday night all to himself-bbq, 2 hour conversation (what I wouldn’t give to be a fly on that virtual wall..) Even though he’s also the most boring person ever, has no personality or humor and is only interesting b/c of this crime.

    Reading his texts from the gravesite really put it into perspective for me. He doesn’t give one single shit. “But he would never do that-at all!”

    Also I just can’t stop over analyzing. You (hi Nick) have that post with the sheet from trash pics and the screen grabs and I was so frustrated. In the first shot he makes an “im clawing my eyes out” motion. Then in the bullshit story he repeated that police made up, he “did to her what she did to them,” clearly making a push-down suffocation motion. Sometimes with him he projects so often you can just insert other people’s names and figure out what he doesn’t even know he’s telling us. He says things like “I haven’t filled her
    nebulizer it’s down to 0.” It said the router made it appear to be a different time zone if that matters and I think he premeditated this much longer than most appear to but the items in the truck were literally two dirty shovels, gas can, giant hose. Everyone says he was gonna move her body and that makes no sense to me-why wouldn’t he just originally take her to her final place? Also, I somehow find it important that the girls’ bathroom door was locked but I don’t know why.

    • nickvdl

      Good point about the bathroom door. It would be useful to know from Cristina and Shan’ann’s parents, and perhaps the Atkinsons, whether this was common practice. It also seems odd that Watts would be so specific in referring to “Vaseline on walls”.

      • nylady

        Like many people, this horrific crime has consumed me. In the early photos of them, they appear genuinely happy and in love. Something happened, clearly, that changed the dynamics between them. I’m thinking he killed his daughters after he killed his wife. He had no way of knowing the flight would be delayed that night and we don’t know if it was her custom to look in on them and give them each a kiss. They would have been cold, etc…and she would have discovered then that they were dead. Honestly, I don’t even think he planned on killing her that night. He was just looking to leave. Do you think he really had a plan, so many loose ends, her keys, her phone, her car in the garage, he knew she had a doctors appointment-he was supposed to go with her. I do believe he had thought about killing her but it was a spontaneous action that night as a result of what transpired between them. And then he killed the daughters. What he did to them and with their bodies, how could that be anything other than the actions of a completely deranged man? And that’s another aspect that was not very well thought out either. The GPS, the signals, the shallow grave, the sheets. Come on, where is there a plan in any of that? The man lost it, the same way Andrea Yates lost it. Honestly, I don’t think this will ever be resolved in way that makes sense to us. Unless he talks, there will always be more questions than answers. I appreciate the opportunity to express my opinion.

        • Nichole

          I dont know if I’d compare him to Yates, she had a very severe case of postpartum depression and other things and wasn’t even supposed to have more kids after the first 2, they also lived in a van and traveled spreading “the good word”, she basically went into a psychotic psychosis type state. I can agree that Watts definitely snapped, and it could be for several reasons, shit built up over the years, but I constantly wonder if the Thrive patches had anything to do with it, considering NK stated her started wearing 2 patches at a time and his behavior and sleep behavior was getting really off. I’m kind of surprised the effects of the Thrive patches hasn’t been looked into more. It just seems so odd this seemingly perfectly normal guy who “saved Shannan from herself” so to speak could just turn around and do all this. If what he said he did to the girls is true, bringing them there alive and killing CeCe while Bella watched etc, was even more horrific then I could ever imagine honestly!

        • skohon

          I think it was such a mess afterwards because he didn’t count on Shann’ann’s friend Nicole being such a nosey busybody ( in a good way). I mean she marched right in with the police without asking or anything and started investigating his house! Under the circumstances it would have looked bad for Chris to object, but honestly I’m not sure that’s even legal. I think he thought he had at least a day to figure something out and get his shit together. Man was he wrong.

        • Lara

          I thought that too, but I think the BIGGEST thing Chris forgot to realize, is what a nosey busybody Shann’ann’s friend Nicole would be (in a good way). I mean 2 hours into the day she marches right into his house with the cops like she owns it and proceeds to walk through and investigate like it’s her job. Doesn’t ask any permission, and his privacy is gone from then on. Under the circumstances, Chris couldn’t protest for appearance sake, but I’m not even sure that’s legal. I think he figured he’d have most of that day anyway to get his shit together. Man was he wrong!

  56. Leha

    How about rigor mortis, it starts at around 4–6 hours after death and ends 48–60 hours after death. Would make it difficult to handle the bodies and putting them in the back of his truck. Let alone dumping Cece and Bella in the oil tanks. I think he did it right before he left, not giving him any time to clean up or get rid of Shananns personal stuff. He wanted to get them out of the house as soon as he did it.

    • nickvdl

      And yet the crime scene at Saratoga Trail is one of the most cleaned up crime scenes in high-profile crime history. I challenge you to name one crime scene discovered as quickly as this one was with less forensic evidence.

      • nylady

        Hello nickvdl,
        Definition of forensic evidence: Evidence usable in a court, specially the one obtained by scientific methods such as ballistics, blood test, and DNA test. They did find all three bodies and the bed sheet. So I’m a little confused by your comment alluding to the lack of forensic evidence. The scene is also part of a regulated area that has requirements for contamination – the bodies would be considered contamination which might explain why it was cleaned up so quickly.

  57. Nick

    Thanks for your definition of forensic evidence @nylady. After writing about a dozen true crime series and sitting in on numerous trials, somehow I’ve never heard or understood that term. Weird huh?

    I thought I was clear in saying virtually no forensic evidence was found at the crime scene at 2825 Saratoga Trail. Did you miss that part?

  58. Shannon

    Maybe Scott Petterson.
    He did some cleaning also.

    • Ralph Oscar

      I have a distant memory, though, of a suspicious spot on the carpet in Peterson’s house and lots of bleach. It was apparently after a crime show became popular on TV (can’t remember which one now – was it Forensic Files?) that police started seeing a lot of bleach turning up at crime scenes – people learned a LOT from watching that show!

  59. Tory Dzuricsko

    I can;t remember where I read this, but there was a mention of bags on each of Shanann’s hands. I have asked about this on a few other blogs and have never gotten a response.

    • nickvdl

      Standard processing procedure of a dead body at a crime scene.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “bags on each of Shanann’s hands”

      That’s to protect any evidence that might be on her hands – blood smears, tissue under her fingernails, stuff like that. The bags come off in autopsy/lab.

    • Nichole

      They put paper bags on her hands to try to conceal any evidence, but there was no DNA under her nails or any defensive wounds

  60. Stacey

    I think when Shannan asked to see pics of them sleeping and he only sent pics from earlier that day was a good indication something had already been done to those babies. I most definitely believe he planned this, although not very well, but still planned it due to his call to his co-worker and insisting he’d go out to Cervi first thing in the morning….plus his communication to make sure others were not on their way as he was trying to get rid of the bodies.

  61. doc

    I haven’t read all the comments so I don’t know if I’m repeating points brought up earlier. I haven’t yet seen enough evidence to exclude the possibility that the children were murdered at the house, but I find two problems with the suggestion that they were murdered before Shanaan arrived at 1:48AM.

    1.) After returning home from her business trip she would have immediately wanted to see her daughters, and most likely to kiss and caress them as well. It’s not believable that had they been already dead, when seeing and touching them she wouldn’t have detected the fact that they were lifeless.
    2.) If she became aware that the children were dead soon after arriving back home, then Chris most likely would have deemed it necessary to kill her immediately. Did he put a gag on his wife and torture her for hours? Is there any evidence of something like that happening? If not, then how would one explain the fact that it was almost 3 1/2 hours after Shanaan arrived before Chris began loading the truck? Why would he wait until it was almost light to remove the bodies?

  62. doc

    “Why would he wait until it was almost light to remove the bodies?”

    Never mind. After some reflection on the matter I’ve realized that Watts’ plan evidently involved efforts, however feeble, to make the start of his day on Monday look as normal as possible to potential observers and surveillance cameras, particularly the camera of neighbor Nate focused upon his driveway. Without considering contrary evidence that I’m unaware of, he might have murdered Bella and Celeste before Shanann returned home, perhaps even hours earlier, and murdered his wife almost immediately upon her arrival.

  63. doc

    The shirt that Shanann was wearing at CERVI 319 when found on 16 August was not the same one that she wore upon her arrival home at 1:48AM on 13 August. How likely is it that she would have changed clothes before going to see her daughters? If the children were already dead when Shanaan arrived home, then did CW change her shirt after killing her?

  64. sunnie23

    Don’t forget about rigor mortis. There’s no way he could finagle their well-fed bodies into those tiny oil tank hatches if they were in rigor. No way.

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