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

Something happened over the weekend in New Orleans…

Are you ready for a Jerry Maguire moment?

It may not seem that way, but the mission statement for True Crime Rocket Science is to better understand ourselves. We start by analyzing crimes and criminals, but that’s not all we do. There’s more to it than that – there must be. We’re not here just to voyeur endlessly in the swamps of Victimhood. True crime is a vehicle towards understanding our fellow man better, and thence, ourselves. Because ultimately, we want to exit the swamp and live triumphantly, don’t we?

Very often, we seem to get stuck in trying to understand [although that’s not really the right word] the criminals in these stories, and we forget the last part – turning that sharp-eyed understanding back to ourselves, our situations and our society.

Molly Golightly [whatever her name is] has been a regular commentator on this case.  She’s clearly a colorful personality and controversial figure. She has offered her opinion on everything from parenting to the efficacy of Thrive patches. And she’s pretty popular with a bunch of people.

Like it or not, the Watts Family Murders are a symptom of our society, and reflects aspects of ourselves back at us. Do we see that though?

Can we?

Like it or not, Golightly is a symptom of our society too, and she too reflects aspects of ourselves back at us. Do we see that though?

So many on social media have been so busy labeling Watts they seem to completely miss all the ways the characters in this story reflect real people, and real pretentiousness in the world. Our world. Us.


Social media is primarily a narcissistic pursuit. So if Watts is a narcissist, he’s not the only one. Are you prepared to be accused of being one yourself, and to face up to that, and to respond to that? Better be if we intend to fix ourselves and our increasingly fucked up society.

If you think Watts is pure evil, a monster and a psychopath, probably all those traits lurk in your world wherever you are, and quite possibly in you. Who knows, some of those traits may appear in Golightly’s neck of the woods – Vegas – from time to time too.

How do we intend to address these troubling aspects, besides wagging the finger at Watts?

To illustrate this point…

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But wait, there’s more…

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If we’re appalled at Watts’ scheming dishonesty and crafty hypocrisy, do we apply those same standards to ourselves?


In The Matrix, Neo is reminded to Know Thyself.

Here at True Crime Rocket Science we also want to remember that criminal motives and psychology provides a glimpse into our everyday motives and psychology. But it’s one thing to chatter enthusiastically about the culpability and ugliness in others; it’s another thing to acknowledge our own flaws and mistakes, isn’t it?

There’s the rub, isn’t it? Can we be ourselves in the world and be loved and accepted for who we are? What if the world saw us and didn’t like what it saw? Would that be a reason to pretend? Or would it motivate us to be better? Honestly, how do we respond to the world’s disaffection? Do we work harder or do we lie and cheat? Or is it a bit of both?

How many of us choose the hardest part of all:



Once we can acknowledge not being perfect, and love our fellow human beings despite their not being perfect [like us], we can be reborn better, and help make our societies and our world better. But it begins by recognizing the flaws in ourselves and working on them, rather than fixating on those of others.

We’re some way on that journey when we come to understand the criminal and the victim/s in a crime as more than that – as people. They may be people we may like in some ways or dislike in particular ways. We may become fond of some of them or develop a revulsion for others, but as long as we see them as people, our own humanity remains intact.

It’s important that it does.

At True Crime Rocket Science we’re not here to judge, condemn or victim blame, we’re here to figure out why people do what they do as a way to figure out ourselves, and make ourselves better, and more accountable.

True justice is accountability and true accountability is when we become authentic people in an authentic world. Authenticity is a beautiful but rare thing these days, but a thing worth aspiring towards, wouldn’t you say?



  1. Mustang Sally

    In a nutshell:

    “At True Crime Rocket Science we’re not here to judge, condemn or victim blame, we’re here to figure out why people do what they do as a way to figure out ourselves, and make ourselves better, and more accountable.”

    This is it for me.

    • Maura

      Nick should Bold this paragraph!

      • nickvdl

        Your wish is my command.

  2. CBH

    Excellent post, and resonates profoundly with spirit and intuition.
    This is the reason I couldn’t stay long at forums such as Websleuths, where the perpetrator is labeled a malignant narcissist/sociopath (apparently they were “wired differently” from birth) , the victims are elevated to Sainthood, and the crime is so individualized that the surrounding culture is not indicted at any point, if mentioned at all. The posters drown in an orgy of ‘us vs them’ smugness and self-righteousness.

    • Kathleen

      Hi CBH! What a reasoned fellow you are, I love that in a person, I don’t know if you live in America, but it’s becoming a lost art here. Nicks books I,ve decided are almost took reasonable if such a thing exists, for example I just read his Jodi Arrias stuff, boy I used to hate her then I read his book and decided that any woman referred to as “a three hole wonder” might just stab the one who offered that moniker, but anyway, I saw that another rich beautiful woman shot her daughter’s yesterday in San Antonio in a million dollar house, this isn’t all that rare here, nor is the press decision to try and explain why the poor thing was driven to it. So Watts, he,s poor, he,s not too bright-poor people who trust the police are actual barely functioning morons I think. Look at how they treated Kessinger compared to him, why because she looked just the sort to lawyer up, he looks like roadkill. All this equals a barely/badly investigated case that is probably nothing like the truth, such a shame for any citizen to forego a trial, sad suicidal poor people. Maybe he,s where he belongs but then again how to know really? I do know that people who have certainty are the luckiest people in the world 🤓 I mean unless they are Federal employees then they probably just think screw certainty, give me a paycheck.

      • CBH

        Thanks for the very nice compliment; yes, I’m a New Yorker.
        I’ve also read the Arias as well as nearly all of NVDL’s books, enlightening material all.
        Yes the investigation leaves much to be desired. Good grief, yet another mother shooting her daughters? I recall the 2016 case in Texas as well as another there.

        • Kathleen

          Ahh well NYC, that answers it. A superb city, second only to one ( SF 💞) at least on our side of the pond. I think this is the 4th case of mothers who aren’t daughter compatible, and I suppose that’s what bothered me in the Watts case, they seemed quite a burden to her, so if I,d been Monday morning quarterbacking it, I would have picked her as the one to look at. I suppose I still would, since no matter who you are, or what ones educational background etc, people seem to make horrendous choices when faced with bodies, Claus Von Bulow, Jeffrey Macdonald, etc, I don’t know quite what I,d do if I stumbled across say Anne coulters corpse in my living room, people might think I,d done her in for example so it’s possible that I,d wish to move her to avoid such dreadful aspersions!

          • CBH


      • EllTee

        I am in agreement with you about Jodi Arias. While nobody deserves to die the way TA did, being demeaned and disrespected as “less than” can make a person lash out. I felt deep empathy for her while watching the trial. TA sounds like he was somewhat of a misogynist, with a strong madonna/whore complex, who wanted to screw around then marry himself a nice little Mormon virgin.

        Also, I’ve never understood how tiny Jodi overpowered him. Clearly, a seething rage mixed with the element of surprise was at play here, but still. She evidently didn’t come at him with the gun to start, and I can think of dozens of ways to protect myself from a kitchen knife.

        Thanks for bringing this up! I fell asleep listening to Martinez’s opening statement last night, thinking about all this stuff and how it reflects our culture and society. I heartily agree that this is what fuels my passion for studying crime. (True crime !)

        • nickvdl

          The ruse to take photos of him in the shower naked [while she was secretly armed] is how she overpowered him. Also, she got in the first blow and caught him by surprise.

        • Kathleen

          HI EllTee, funny thing about Arias, I missed it all, I mean I heard about it but ignored it, there was no money in that case, I don’t mean from a writer’s standpoint, I just mean that if the suspect isn’t rich then a lifetime in prison is pretty much a foregone conclusion and that stuff depresses me. I was busy writing about a billionaire who I knew would get away with a double homicide, because things that anger me are better than sad abused poor people, that other sad abused poor people can then go all mob and pitchfork on. So my first time was 2 weeks ago reading Nicks book-Jesus, what an ugly, horrible, story, up too and including destroying some poor writers book on abused women. It reminded me why you avoid these cases, they,ll break your heart. Best to stay with the rich and famous, to cheer yourself up, here’s a fun one, Google the tetrapak heir, mummified wife in bedroom of 70 million pound Belgravia mansion, sentence ten days house ( mansion) arrest, and then you,ll feel better about stuff sigh.

        • Frances

          If you’re stabbed in the back, repeatedly, there goes your ability to fight and defend..Too injured, already. He had plenty of defense wounds on his hands. Poor guy..

  3. Judith Wallas

    I’m fascinated by true crime because I want to try and get a handle on it. (Too many true crimes have victims that are begging to be victims. Susan Powell comes to mind here.) I do believe in the existence of evil. Everyone has selfish thoughts from time to time, in Chris’s case maybe wishing he didn’t have the expenses associated with a family or longing to be a carefree bachelor again. Lots of guys I’m sure have those thoughts but they are just that, random thoughts. But what is it that turns the thought into the deed, in this case, killing the wife and kids and disposing of them in such a gruesome manner? How does killing become the solution to his/her problems? Is it all nature or all nurture or a combination of the two? I wonder what every human being is capable of including myself and my friends and family, given a particular set of circumstances, so I don’t ever feel superior to a Chris Watts or a Scott Peterson. I agree with CBH that victims are elevated to sainthood while the killers are all demonized as monsters instead of very flawed, twisted human beings. It starts with the media portrayal. “Look at the pics of this smiling happy family living their perfect life until one day dad slaughtered them all!” Then the truth comes out in dribs and drabs, that life was far from happy or perfect: in this case financial problems, unplanned pregnancy, in-law problems, secret mistress, etc. The Watts family was dysfunctional as all get-out but on the surface looked like millions of other families. All the women online who think Shan’ann was a cowering abused wife ignore all the evidence including her own statement that she was the dominant one in their relationship. While he was killing Shan’ann in a rage, I think Chris was also symbolically killing his mother Cindy. In that interview Cindy gave, she seemed oblivious to the implication of what she was saying when she volunteered that Chris didn’t want her to come to Colorado, only his dad. A friend of Chris stated he had a difficult relationship with Cindy. Pointing out that Shan’ann contributed to the stress Chris was under (in addition to acknowledging the stress he put her under, with the ultimate act of snuffing her life) is not victim-blaming. What he did was horrific and in no way justified. This doesn’t mean Shan’ann never ridiculed him in front of others, or did other hurtful things that contributed to the rage building beneath that placid surface.

    • CBH

      “I wonder what every human being is capable of including myself and my friends and family, given a particular set of circumstances, so I don’t ever feel superior to a Chris Watts or a Scott Peterson”

      Very profound and genuine statement. 👍🏼

  4. Edith Ransom

    Do not try and spread blame – **we are all Chris Watts** crap. Don’t you dare make Watts crimes morally equivalent to posting on social media **we are all narcissists now”*” psycho drivel. The article was intellectually lazy and does in fact speak to much of our society excuses the inexcusable or puts the SAME face on everyone with the – **who are we to judge** BS. REGARDLESS of Golightly and her problems – Chris Watts annihilated his entire family so he could go on to his new girlfriend or life. Even Golightly had not done that nor have 99.9 % of posters on YouTube. Enough with the **we are all narcissists** for posting on YouTube – no more so than people who gathered in churches, community centers, or clubs a hundred years ago were narcissists because they did so. The tech world has offered up platforms like YouTube and Facebook etc ad platforms for over worked, over stressed, or people distant from family and friends. By putting many on same level as Chris Watts – you indicate a kind of shallowness and lack of moral depth to comment on anything.

    • CBH

      I don’t agree that anyone is doing that nor does anyone feel “We are all Chris Watts” or that his actions were justified or no big deal. Given certain circumstances we are all capable of evil but that statement is not morally vacuous.

    • Mustang Sally

      Edith, if you have a moment, read this article again and look for the deliberate nuances in the language the author uses to help us see his meaning. He does not write this for himself. It is written for us. There are exercises expressed within his text that are important to understand if you are on any type of a journey towards self-discovery, personal reflection, or simply wish to live each day better than the one before. There is so much here that is written…and unwritten. The unwritten parts are hinted at for our own research. As with anything worthwhile, it’s worth the effort to make. Diminishing this text to be all about blame, moral equivalencies, and psycho babble is doing a grave disservice to yourself and any others who may agree with your outburst. I hope you will give it another chance. I found it quite brilliant.

  5. Sylvester

    I was just watching a little transactional analysis last night for lack of a better word. To get to the heart of the matter one goes through layers. First you get what you’d like people to think about you (called “looking good”). Second you get what you hope people don’t notice about you. Third you get down to the stuff you “can’t tell.” The stuff if anyone ever found out about you you would just die. You think that’s your deepest darkest secret. But then you start to get very moved about yourself. And down under all of the pretense and stuff we can’t say – is I love you. That’s what you couldn’t say, isn’t it. Because it leaves you wide open and vulnerable. And authentic.

    • Mustang Sally

      Sylvester, wow. Great post.

  6. Cheryl Filar


  7. Cheryl Filar

    At this point in time, Narcissism seems to define our culture. I think the advent of social media has generated a lot of it with the ability to parade oneself on Youtube or other platforms. I also believe our obsession with youth and by extension our fear of death–disappearing into the “gulag of the anonymous old”– are complicit in this self-absorption. My experience with it, including Golightly’s antics, is it often feeds on the grotesque and bizarre, whether it’s Golightly or “Orange County Housewives.” In this regard, it’s similar to the old carnival sideshows that featured two-headed snakes, three-eyed men, and fat ladies. It was a place you could go and feel better about yourself, because even if you weren’t beautiful, which is itself an aberration, you could appreciate your mediocrity, your normalcy relative to the poor creatures relegated to the dark tents of society, such as the million dollar mansions in Orange County or even the White House. However, even if you live in the dark tents, at least someone wanders by now and then and gives you a curious glance or, even better, feigns shock and awe. Overall, our narcissism is a lucrative exchange because, without the spectators, the dark tents would fold up and eventually leave town.

    • Kathleen

      Yeah what she said! Good Lord, what a fabulous statement of our totally decayed social fabric. Once upon a time I used to try and argue point by point with trolls but only with half your eloquence still I tried, but eventually I realized I got better responses if I spoke in limericks and referenced people from Nantucket, still that was gorgeous.

    • Mustang Sally

      Cheryl ❤️

  8. Sylvester

    My God you are a good writer Cheryl, and social commentator. That takes an awareness of your environment – and self awareness too. You know the worship of youth took a nasty turn when people figured out they could capitalize on it, exploit it, turn it into profit. It’s nothing new to be turned out to pasture when you reach an arbitrary age assignment called “retired” – but it’s not because you are unable to work or stand on your feet or comprehend difficult problems , it’s because you no longer fit into a society that bases everything on what sells, essentially you aren’t saleable any more. People get face lifts and botox and lipo suction so they can fit in with this world that someone made up. It’s an unreal world – but we act as if it’s real. If sex sells, youth sells more. And yes, as you say, without the spectators and those who pay to see it, it would disappear.

  9. Cheryl Filar

    Thank you Kathleen and Sylvester. Lewis Lapham, who is a former editor of I believe Harpers Magazine used the monthly editorial page of that magazine to often comment on our culture of narcissism. He really got going during the Reagan era. This is where the phrase I quoted above–“the gulag of the anonymous old” is derived. Read him sometime; he’s available online and there are also several anthologies of his essays. He’s brilliant. I discovered him in the library stacks at San Diego State University, where I attended college. I spent many hours there (probably when I should have been studying) reading his work, which is even more relevant now. Speaking of narcissism, I’m off to tend to my lovely tendrils of hair at the beauty salon. LOL! Have a good day.

    • Kathleen

      Obviously, the lovely Mr. Lapham, was some sort of scary Nostradamus like fellow and I avoid them like the plague! 😂 When I was matriculating at Trump University, we were not encouraged to read at all, which is why I for one am so happy all the time, ignorance I,ve found is indeed bliss. I recommend that you Madame spend more time listening to Alex Jones and less time with sad scholarly pursuits! Consider yourself duly chastened…oh and have a great hair appt, me I’m off to a two for one Botox sale, but am in no way a narccisit!

      • Mustang Sally

        You made me snort laugh which caused my coffee to spew from my nose onto my iPad! Yes, you deserved that graphic description for your impertinence. I’m off to clean my screen…and change my shirt. Sheesh! 😂

        • Kathleen

          Humph, I suppose hideous intellectual elites like yourself have two shirts, just hanging there whenever you want one ( mutters darkly). My sort ( realAmericans) have had all our clothes stolen by immigrants and do not posses the ability to just let things come out of our noses.

          • Mustang Sally

            Between your intellectual savvy and sardonic yet oddly delightful humor, I don’t know which to love most. I suppose it’s a package deal. Love your posts and appreciate much of the thought behind them. 👍

          • Kathleen

            God Mustang Sally, you better lay that Mustang down…before you make me cry, anyway thank you very much. Long, long ago I used to do this thing, write books that begged for justice, now I just read them and write about my Romanovs ( the Bolsheviks done it I fear!). This is such a nice blog, and filled with people I,d love to have lunch with if you,re ever in SF. I think it’s an antidote to crueler spaces, funny that it’s a TC blog isn’t it? Stupid Nick and his thoughtful, fair observances, it clearly attracts the wrong sort, people I’m growing fond of, this is not good, I shall now go and shout at random homeless people who are stealing all the good sidewalk spaces to sneak illicit cigarettes ( oh and our tech jobs too!) to make myself feel superior again!

      • Mustang Sally

        You’re absolutely brilliant, Kathleen! We may just have to figure out that lunch someday! We’ll invite Nick to chaperone!

        • Kathleen

          And CDB too! As for Nick, he needs to go on talk show and argue with eejits. You,re also too fabulous, SD,s an awfully pretty city too, but wow that Sherriff, I had to go really old school and load “the night the lights went out in Georgia” on my MP3 player while investigating him. Nick if your listening it really is helpful! Meantime, on a completely unrelated note, have you watched Vanity Fair on Amazon and heard the Watchtower remake? Loved that, but hated the demonization of Becky Sharp, I’m going to rewrite that one day 🙂 poor smart girls aren’t all demon spawn, funny how some things never change isn’t it? Btw I loved what you said to Edith. Beautifully done, I,ll admit to having developed jackal tendencies if that helps, heck there,s a little carrion feeder in us all, even if we,re vegans 😄

  10. Dina L

    Here’s her “explainer” video about what supposedly happened. Comments disabled of course.

    “It was a setup!”

    *SMH.* Another dumb tourist who drinks way more than she can handle and does dumb illegal shit because she thinks no rules apply in New Orleans. She was lucky to be let go, it was $9, and hell yes the Saints winning the playoffs puts people in a good mood (and more to the point: makes hungover court employees want to clear their docket of petty shit).

    I’ve lived in New Orleans for 20+ years. Lived in the French Quarter, worked on Bourbon Street, volunteered with the 8th District Police Dept., which covers the French Quarter. These cops are not in the habit of arresting wealthy white female tourists who do nothing wrong. And yeah those strip clubs are *full* of video cameras that mos def caught her stealing red-handed.

    Play stupid games, win stupid shit.

    • Kathleen


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