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Why is Nickole Atkinson’s Witness Statement Missing from the Discovery Documents?

We know more about Nicolas Atkinson’s version of the crime scene than we do about his mother Nickole Atkinson, Shan’ann’s closest friend. Although Nickole Atkinson has appeared in the media a few times, and although she was interviewed multiple times and gave multiple statements, none of these statements occur in the 1960 pages of released discovery.


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At the same time Watts was giving his first interview with FBI Special Agent Grahm Coder on Tuesday night, August 14, 2018, CBI agent Tammy Lee contacted Atkinson [who was bothered and angered by the call, and her husband was heard yelling at her in the background]. Atkinson initially agreed to visit the police station on her way to work, but then changed her mind.

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Agent Lee despatched CBI Agent Greg Zentner to the Mesa Vista nursing home in Boulder [where Atkinson worked the night shift] to interview her [Discovery Documents, page 556]. The interview itself and any interview notes from it, however, are not part of the discovery file.

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Provision is clearly made for Atkinson’s narrative. Page 469 of the Discovery Documents records an interview by Agent Zentner conducted on August 14 in Boulder. The duration of the interview is not recorded.

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After page 471 in the Discovery Documents introducing the details of the interview there is no page 472. Instead another interview is listed with Troy McCoy, Watts’ colleague at Anadarko follows on pages 473-474. The narrative of the interview with McCoy then follows on page 475-478.

So where is Nickole’s interview with the cops? Why is arguably the most important witness to the whole case not in the Discovery Documents?

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  1. CBH

    I find it strange that she’d asked if she came to the police department building to speak to him, if she would be charged with a crime.

    • thetinytech2018

      I’ve always found that weird myself. I wonder if it was something more innocuous, like perhaps she swiped something from the home when she was there and the husband found out, thus why he was yelling at her in the background when she called, or if it was something more macabre . There’s always the chance too that it was nothing of the sort, but I feel like that’s a quick 180 – She originally says “no problem, I’ll swing by on the way to work” and then calls back a few minutes after completely agitated and standoffish. I think one of the reasons this case interests me so much is because there is just so many unknowns at this point, and even more that’s just omitted completely as if it doesn’t matter. It’s just so strange.

      • CBH

        I recall on another forum posters were extremely suspicious of her, but I couldn’t see why. All of it is puzzling.

    • Kaye

      I know—what crime could she be thinking would apply? Trespassing? Contaminating a crime scene? Maybe after she realized that something was seriously wrong and Chris was probably a murderer, she got worried about having been in the house with her kids, especially her young daughter, who seemed to be all over the place. Although it was hard to see her, since she’s shorter than where the camera is pointing.

      That doesn’t explain why her interview isn’t in the doc though. That is really weird and I didn’t realize it until Nick pointed it out.

      • CBH

        Yes, it’s indeed very strange. You’re right, perhaps her husband got upset at the thought that she and her kids were in a crime scene and that police might suspect her on some level ( which they obviously didn’t, but he may be the paranoid type).

        I can’t imagine why her interview is left out.

    • northlandfox

      Still think there is a lot missing with NA and the 16 yr old son in my opinion as to when they were at the property initially and later including in the house. Then as far a missing content from the get go this is a “redacted copy” of some information for release to the public most of it worthless and out of context. There is no Discovery Pg 469 in two different copies I have although the upload numbers never skip so not really missing. Discovery Pg 470 & 471 are shown as page 1 of 2 and page 2 of 2 not of 3 so again nothing missing. It then “skips” to Discovery pg 473 and the upload pg numbers continue to run in order. So selective cherry picked information. More info like video, pics, meta data, etc. in other data dumps from early on and later so maybe there but never looked. As to why not in written form or audio, without a statement from CBI Zentner, would guess of not much importance and issues with privacy / consent especially since the husband (if that’s who is was) so vocal in opposition. Although should be recordings, notes, and other as this interview post dates the court order to preserve and protect evidence, already known early notes no longer exist so maybe lost or misplaced in the deluge.

  2. CBH

    I meant her ^

  3. nancyjames3358

    Her reported response was odd. Why get angry? They are looking for her dear friend? Why would she be fearful of being arrested? Possible her happy husband putting strange thoughts in her head. From what is written, her reaction does not match the authority requests, nor her previous “helpful” behavior.

    • JC

      Being called down to the police station must feel a lot like being called into the principal’s office – you wonder what the heck you did wrong. The husband’s volatile reaction and yelling in the background didn’t help much, though. At that point on the 14th, before the sermon on the porch, it did look like it could have been a staged disappearance, and Nickole would have been the most likely suspect in helping her friend pull it off.

      Remember when Chris was looking at his phone and said that the garage door was recorded as being left open at 5:37am? He then asked Nickole if the garage door was still open when she arrived at the house. She was the only person, besides Chris, to be at the house that morning. Also, with her son finding the hidden phone in the couch cushion, it may have caused some concern that she would be seen as aiding in her friend’s disappearance. Chris talking to the press that day did more than anything to help take the suspicion away from Atkinson, and the possibility that she was involved.

      She had no reason to trust that CW wouldn’t try to accuse her of chaperoning Shan’ann and the girls out the back door and locking up the house behind them. You have to wonder if that was a line of questioning when LE interviewed her.

  4. Dan

    My first impression was always that her husband didn’t want her to miss work again because they probably need the money to pay bills. And that she was questioning if she “had” to go in (was she free to not go in and go to work instead) or were they going to charge her with something for not cooperating with them. An innocent question from someone who doesn’t know much about police or what the rules are once you’re involved in a murder investigation. She is a CNA, they don’t make much money and pretty much live pay check to pay check. She clearly wasn’t making much $ selling “thrive” at the time as NVDL pointed out how she never got the expensive “free” car like Shan’ann did.

    • Karen

      I agree, Dan. That was my first impression about why she got angry and she was probably more annoyed with her husband than the interviewer, but the getting arrested part has always bothered me.

  5. Sylvester

    She was fully acknowledged by Michael Rourke at the press conference right after the sentencing. She was sitting with the Rzucek’s, off camera, and Rourke called her out and thanked her. I think Nicolas should also have been thanked, but maybe he wasn’t there due to school obligations.

  6. Sylvester

    This is sad, and cute. She tells about her son’s little game he would play with Sha’nann and her “OCD”

    • nickvdl

      Thanks for sharing Sylvester. Very touching. She has a good heart, and so does her son.

      • Sylvester

        You are so welcome, I agree, and yes – they do.

    • Mustang Sally

      This is such an affecting video and I appreciate the glimpse of Shan’ann it gives through the eyes and hearts of Nickole and her son. It’s so easy to imagine that playful interaction between Shan’ann and Nicolas. Thank you for posting this, Sylvester.

    • Geoff

      @Sylvester Thank you for sharing this!

    • sheis

      THEY HOUSESAT? When Shanann was in NC? Why? Chris was there.

      Did she mean they took care of Dieter when everyone was gone that week?

      Or was she coming and going the whole time? Maybe keeping tabs on Chris? That must have put a cramp in Chris’s style, when he was trying to hang out with Nichole Kessinger.

      Am I the only one who finds this weird?

      Also, I don’t find it endearing that a teenage boy was rearranging Shanann’s household items. That’s just rude. I’d be furious if someone did that in my home, and I’m not OCD. Just my opinion.

      • Karen

        Sheis, yes. Nickolas was dog sitting.

      • Kaye

        They only housesat and looked after Dieter during the one week when both Chris and Shan’ann were in NC.

    • Karen

      I got a kick out of what Nickolas did with moving her items because my brother has done this to me for years, but only one item like a picture put upside down or a dime super glued to the walkway in front of my mailbox. I just noticed a dime taped to the top of the door jam in my son’s room that has apparently been there since December. The reason it’s always a dime is that where most people find pennies, I have always found dimes. When he gets bored he’ll text me and say, is anything out of place? lol He knows it sends me on a hunt. Thanks for letting me share

  7. sheis

    Wow, this is why I read your blog, Nick. I never noticed it missing.

    I wonder if Nickole had some other reason, unrelated to the Watts case, for fearing arrest. And I’m in no way accusing her of anything! Maybe something was happening at work, and was afraid the attention from police had uncovered it. Again, not an accusation.

  8. Shannon

    I feel like writing Chris Watts, and ask him if he’s going to smarten up and ask for a trial.
    Too many questions need answering.

    • Mustang Sally

      Shannon, I wonder if we have heard the last from him. Doesn’t he have a lifetime to appeal his sentence? He may just reconsider not going to trial at some point.

  9. Clean Queen

    I’m a little late to the game on this one, but thought I would throw this out there anyway. I listened to a police interview with her on YouTube. I watched it a few weeks ago. There was no video, just audio, and it was probably an hour and a half long. Granted, this isn’t the same as her statements officially being in discovery documents, and it may not be the interview that is being referring to in this post.

  10. Jude Johnson

    We don’t know the half of what was going on ……. I think one day when it all gets too much being in prison CW may leave a suicide letter with the truth ?? I don’t think he would until such a time because it would shame him too much i am sure he does not want his parents to know about it extra activities with certain other questionable people ….. he couldn’t face that …. i don’t know about Nickole there are a lot of missing pieces of the puzzle the dots don’t connect …. it is very very disturbing i just hope the other person involved will get busted so Shann’ann can RIP it’s only right ………..

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