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Why can’t Nichol Kessinger Remember her 111 Minute Conversation on the night of the murders?

In the clip below there’s a touching moment at about [1hour38] where Kessinger bursts into tears. She cries for almost a minute. For my part I was touched by her tears and obvious sadness, and sympathy for the children.

Many will sneer at that. So what – I can hear some saying – if Kessinger showed emotion? Or her emotion isn’t real etc. For my part I find it quite touching. Of all the folks involved in this case, this moment seems to be filled with with a great deal of remorse. We see some of the same grief in Shan’ann’s father Frank, especially when he appears in court, but in very few others.

There was some grief in Cindy Watts when she was in court. And a little by Watts himself that same day.

Grief is a redeeming quality. In true crime, wherever we see grief there are authentic human connections and emotions. Real grief overcomes bullshit and bullshit semantics. Real grief means there is contrition after the crime has been committed. But that’s what makes the moment immediately following Kessinger’s tears so gut wrenching.

They spoke for 111 minutes a few hours before Shan’ann was murdered. It’s also possible this crucial 111 minute conversation took place after Watts murdered both his daughters. And yet Nichol Kessinger says she can’t remember what they spoke about.

If Kessinger herself truly wants to know why,  and wants to understand why, then because of the timing of that final conversation, crucial conversation, the contents matters greatly. What was his mood? What did they talk about? What were their plans?

What could they have talked about?

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  1. JuJuBee

    I thought her grief was fake. It comes on suddenly, it ends suddenly, like flipping a switch. “Oh, I’d better screech why-why-why so I look like I care.” Very suspicious she doesn’t remember anything from that particular conversation.

    • nickvdl

      I didn’t.

      • Sylvester

        I’m glad you said that Nick. I didn’t want to admit that when I heard her cry after she said “they were so little” – I cried. And it was the first time I broke through the mind dynamics of this case and actually FELT it.

      • atschmid5322

        with all due respect, I think that’s because you are a man. When a woman cries, you all just go to pieces. Women who watched that video, heard her speech, KNOW she was blatantly lying. It just had zero believability.

      • Mustang Sally

        I’m a woman, I believed her.

      • Mustang Sally

        *believed the tears were real.

      • M. Creekmore

        You should be ashamed of yourself for victim blaming. I don’t know what your obsession is with NK, but you it’s pathetic. She knew CW was married. She is nothing but a narcissistic bitch who is at best indirectly involved in this crime. I don’t care how “pushy” or “bossy” Shannan was, that gave either of these POS (yes, I’m including Nicole too) the right to murder her or their two innocent daughters. So get over yourself and your fantasy of NK and see the real picture.

      • Michelle English

        I like your viewpoints but when you say you think that is true grief….comparable to Shannan’s father…you lose credibility to me.

        • nickvdl

          That’s the fun part of being a reader. You can pick and choose your reality, and whatever you don’t agree with you can say isn’t credible. When you write a book and go painstakingly through the audio over and over again as you transcribe, you get to know a person. You haven’t done that. I have. Apparently that is worth less than nothing to you. If you don’t think my work is credible, quit whining, get off this site and go and join the legions of mindless haters out there. But please, don’t mistake that for intelligence or credibility.

          • Michelle English

            Oh you know it so much better than I do? That’s a misconception on your part. I too have listened and listened over and over and that is the fakest cry I ever heard. If you have listened to her over and over you should see she is totally unconcerned with those dead children. She can’t even be bothered to remember what any of her conversations were about with her murdering boyfriend. Couldn’t even see past her own self to try and help figure out where his head was mere hours before he murdered his whole family. Pompous much?

    • Cheryl Filar

      I agree with you: her “crying” sounded theatrical.

      • Cheryl Filar

        I’m sorry, by “you” I meant Jujubee.

  2. nancyjames3358

    Because she was only “somewhat helpful”.

    • thetinytech2018

      She could’ve been only “somewhat helpful” because of a myriad of things: shock, horror, embarrassment (perhaps they spoke of extremely personal topics that embarrassed her) who knows what. We’ve seen the neighbors footage, if she was there, some neighbor camera or traffic light camera, gps etc would’ve caught her. While the police can miss things, they wouldn’t just let her get away with having a helping hand in him committing murder. I don’t presume to know what she felt, but she’s not a trained actress and I saw actual tears when she cried; Something you don’t usually see when people are fake crying.

      I understand what NK did was wrong, but I think sometimes we forget that she wasn’t married, she wasn’t the person who took vows or broke the vows they had with Shan’ann. I’ve heard that she googled her in 2017, but I’ve also heard that was a mistake in the report. I tend to think it may be, if she was obsessed with Shan’ann then why would she Google her once and then wait over a year to Google her maybe one or two more times? That’s not how obsession works. She wasn’t the reason, or the only reason, Chris decided to do what he did. Nobody held a gun to his head and made him kill his family, if anybody asserted pressure on him it was more Shan’ann than it was NK. We saw a few years of their life through the lens of an MLM, we saw what Shan’ann wanted to project, even if she wasn’t that great at projecting it. We will never know first hand what their relationship was like over the years. I think it is obvious that the marriage we did see a glimpse of was filled with resentment and the dynamic between the family members was nothing short of dysfunctional, but there’s plenty of families in similar situations that don’t end in murder. This was a perfect storm that contained multiple catalysts that led to a huge explosion, as catalysts tend to do. Since we don’t have a lense to look into the past and examine every interaction they had in their eight year marriage, all were left with is a bunch of puzzle pieces, and although we don’t have a complete kit, we have to try and use what we have to make the whole picture.

      I think it’s easy to blame NK without realizing that she was barely two months of an eight year story. If she was the only reason he wanted out, well I’m pretty sure he would’ve divorced her. It’s easy to say he’d look like the bad guy, and that may be true, but lots of men don’t care because for one, those people that make him the bad guy will sparsely (If at all) be part of his new life, and two, at some point if you’re miserable enough you don’t care anymore if you’re the bad guy. If that’s what it takes to break out of a bad situation, then they’ll accept their fate and move on.

      I sometimes wonder how people would analyze this case if there were no kids involved and the times were reversed. If she killed him after eight years of marriage, I have a feeling people would have taken any of his mistakes or indiscretions and amplified them, then used them as justification for what she did (hypothetically). She would’ve most likely been made out to be a barred and beaten down woman, and murder would’ve been her only way out. She’d be praised as brave for escaping with her life, even if that was a false narrative. Sometimes it’s easy to make our opinions fit the situation we favor the most instead of looking at the facts and coming to a conclusion sans any personal bias.

      • thetinytech2018

        Last paragraph had typos, it was supposed to read as follows:

        I sometimes wonder how people would analyze this case if there were no kids involved and the roles were reversed. If she killed him after eight years of marriage, I have a feeling people would have taken any of his mistakes or indiscretions and amplified them, then used them as justification for what she did (hypothetically). She would’ve most likely been made out to be a broken and beaten down woman, and murder would’ve been her only way out. She’d be praised as brave for escaping with her life, even if that was a false narrative. Sometimes it’s easy to make our opinions fit the situation we favor the most instead of looking at the facts and coming to a conclusion sans any personal bias.

  3. Kathleen

    Here is my wishes concerning this woman: 1. When articles use her picture, they would not use the ones she had taken and released subsequent to her notority. 2. That authors would point out how much she lied, saying she didn’t know Watts was marries, saying she knew nothing about Shan’ann, deleting phones messages. She put herself in a position, adultry, where she was vulnerable to loss of privacy in one fashion or another. That we know from discovery her porn interests,, that she searched how to prep for anal sex, and that she shopped for hours for a wedding gown is not our fault. We are naive to believe her. And no reafl portrait of her has emerged. We don’t even know if the witness protection infonis accurate. Research is needed!

    • thetinytech2018

      What does this woman’s sexual preferences have to do with anything? If it added something to the case perhaps I could understand, but it’s nothing more than low level idle adolescent gossip made to portray get in a negative light because she had certain sexual preferences. Chris broke his vows to Shan’ann and we forget that those crazy sexual preferences we mention when we mention NK, that Chris most likely had those prior. When she found out he was married she should’ve dropped Chris, but she wasn’t having sex alone and Chris was the one who suggested alot of those “less than vanilla” sexual exploits. Do we then go into why Shan’ann married him if he had a certain taboo sexual preference? I mean after all, she was married to him and he turned out to be a horrid person, do we go into that next? It’s a slippery slope and it adds nothing of value. Furthermore, Shan’ann cheated on her first husband, if NK is a horrible person for what she did, was Shan’ann just as bad for disrespecting her first marriage?

      Say what you want but just because adults chose to enjoy sex a different way than other people, it doesn’t mean they’re inherently messed up or bad, and it’s only mentioned with the intention of making her look bad.

      • mitzi2006

        I can’t see how she couldn’t have known he was married before they started up. She worked and talked to other people at work, no one mentioned he was married? He was in the office every day before going out to the field. The Watts family are the only ones saying she cheated on her first husband, being she was still very good friends with her ex mother in law that doesn’t ring true. Plus her ex husband was interviewed, he never mentioned it and the worst thing he said about her is she tended to avoid their marital problems by burying herself in work and avoiding coming home

      • Mary

        Anal sex is very far from a “crazy” sex preference, and is honestly hardly even considered taboo in most circles these days. Thank the internet for that 😆

      • Karen


        • M. Creekmore

          I totally agree Karen. It makes me sick to my stomach to see how people are condoning CW’s actions by saying Shannan was pushy and controlling. That certainly didn’t give him the right to murder her, their unborn child, and their two daughters. If he was that unhappy then he should have left. I find the author of this website offensive and so obsessed with NK that it makes my stomach turn. I can’t read anymore of his posts.

    • Mary

      The wedding gown shopping is absolutely pertinent, and I agree with you on the rest, but what do her porn preferences and interest in anal sex have to do with anything? I’m sure most of us wouldn’t want the entire world knowing and speculating on what kind of porn we watch, because we would all likely be embarrassed and subject to some amount of criticism and derision if our porn history were to become known. Hell, I watch porn maybe ten times a year if that, and mostly relatively vanilla stuff, but I would be absolutely mortified. What kind of porn she watches has nothing to do with this case or whether she’s a lying, cheating murderess or not, and while entertaining to us, I don’t understand why this was included as if it were pertinent info in discovery.

      The same with anal sex- it’s perfectly normal and much more common than people think, and it has nothing to do with this case. I guess I can see it being included more than her porn history, because it does (very peripherally) add to the evidence of them having a sexual affair, but there was plenty actual, non-peripheral evidence of that, so I still fail to see why it was included.

      • Lisa

        I do not think people understand that all the documented ‘info’ from the downloading of phones-Was Interpreted and cherry picked-Otherwise we would see a WHOLE lot more info-and since it required an actual PERSON to transcribe-‘mistakes were-in my opinion- likely-also I think transcriptionist-has an unconscious (or conscious) dislike of NK-otherwise why cherrypick the searches referenced?…

  4. CBH

    Although her crying certainly sounds authentic enough, and arouses compassion, I’m still very suspicious of her.

    That she can’t recall so lengthy a conversation along with the fact that she deleted a lot of their text messages would seem to indicate that she believes she has something to hide.

    Her sobbing may have been activated by fear, regret, or her having had some foreknowledge. She worked at the oil refinery and had some professional knowledge of the tanks along with Watts.

    If she had knowledge or involvement on any level, if she encouraged him in any way, then she bears some responsibility and should pay some consequences.

    To pose a question: IF any of that is true (and it may not be) is it possible detectives still have her under surveillance ( witness protection notwithstanding) and are waiting to gather enough evidence to arrest her? Is anyone else puzzled by how very LENIENT detectives were with her, SUSPICIOUSLY lenient? As if trying to throw her off so that she wouldn’t flee the country? How could thousands of posters on YouTube think she’s being deceptive, yet seasoned detectives don’t perceive this or just don’t care?

    • nickvdl

      You’ve stated this very well. You can have genuine grief, or moments of genuine grief and still harbor a sense of conflict and being compromised regarding a particular situation.

    • thetinytech2018

      Very well put, and you did so without having to bring the unnecessary static of version nonsensical topics into it. I very much wish media could follow your lead without making their own unnecessary narrative part of what they call “reporting”.

      • CBH

        Thanks very much.

    • Mustang Sally


    • Kelly Matheny

      I think she doesn’t remember the 111 min call because I think the phone was at her home just answered and left it there… thus pinning her there but she was not there… I also think the random numbers could be a Tracphone I believe they both used them …

    • lisa

      An Anadarko-…does that answer the question-they have more financial and political power than anyone in this cast of characters-and likely? They are why the case-STOPPED-NK was small potatoes -and Not worth the trouble -compared to the financial power of Anadarko.(IMO)

  5. Kaye

    Most of the conversation was most likely related to sex and other intimate matters that she was probably too embarrassed or sickened at that point to want to discuss. If I had phone sex with someone who I later found out had murdered his children shortly before that, I’d probably want to vomit every time I remembered it.

    • nickvdl

      I had that same thought too.

      • CBH

        Maybe that’s why the one investigator had told her something to the effect of, “Initially I was disturbed by your deletion of all those texts…” as though to imply that he was now no longer disturbed by it. Perhaps NK told him at some point that it was embarrassing sexual stuff….

  6. Sylvester

    When she said she first noticed Chris he wasn’t wearing his wedding ring. Then he told her he was married but they were moving toward divorce. Then later he brought up that he had two kids. If you are becoming attracted to someone, and you are young and I consider age 30 to be young, and add to that you have had no luck in the man department and want to get married and have your own family, the clock was ticking for her. As she became more enthralled with him I think she was starting to forgive him some of his transgressions, but toward the end I think she may have been trying to put a little distance between herself and Watts. And we’ve not really talked about this much but I think that could have been one of the biggest motivations for him to go through with annihilating his family. Kessinger told him she had been asked out on two dates with two different men. She wanted him to resolve his marital situation. She said they had sex but she could tell it was mostly performance, in fact he was having difficulties with sex at that point. He told her he didn’t want to talk about his marital situation any more. She may have indicated he needed to do something, otherwise she was going to move on.

    I think she’s deathly afraid that she may have provided him with a motive. She may have said in that 111 minute conversation that when his wife came back from Arizona if he didn’t at least move out of the house she was through. Knowing that he had already “fixed” the situation and was about to fix Shan’ann he may have indicated to her that all would be resolved by morning. Would you want to disclose that kind of information? That she was the catalyst for a triple – and Niko – homicide? I think I would “forget” that part of the 111 minute conversation too.

    • Cheryl Filar

      Insightful post, Sylvester. I think this is a plausible scenario. Perhaps the investigators arrived at this conclusion, too. Witness protection or not, I can’t imagine looking for a job and trying to re-establish some sense of normalcy.

      • Cheryl Filar

        Another thought. I think Nichol is a fairly intelligent young woman. If she were involved in this crime at any level, had any foreknowledge or even an inkling of Watts’s intention to murder his entire family, do you think she would have engaged in an almost two-hour cell phone conversation on the night of the murders? I don’t, which is why I think Sylvester’s scenario has merit.

      • Pam Foldesi

        Officer Coonrod, the first to arrive, knew before 30 minutes of arriving at his house.
        He called “REC 91”.
        91 is police code for homicide.

    • CBH

      Very illuminating and clarifying post, Sylvester.
      This is a solid alternative explanation to her having been an accessory to murder; she feels guilt NOT because she was involved, but because she had given him an ultimatum: Your marriage or me, one or the other, not both. But she didn’t think he’d murder them.

      • Sylvester

        That’s right CBH. No one saw that coming.

      • Sherri

        I totally agree with your thoughts. I don’t think she was involved with the murders, but was squeezing Chris to get a divorce. There could have been texts that implicated her with the crime, like “you need to do something about your wife”, but not that she was telling him to kill her. She may be someone with questionable morals to sleep with a married man with kids, but I don’t think she expected him to kill his wife and kids. In his interrogation, Chris kept saying, “I didn’t know what else to do”, and I think that was the basis of his whole plan–he didn’t know what else to do to solve his problems.

      • Kelly

        Or she wasn’t on that phone because it was left behind at her house after connecting to watts phone and heading there …putting her there (her home)as her alibi

  7. Sylvester

    Donka Shay Cheryl. There are several things you have brought up that have made me stop and consider as well. For instance yesterday you talked about the possibility that Shan’ann (I’m trying to get her name spelled right now, notice how much more difficult it is) might have had some mental instability. That’s not how you said it, but you will recall how you said it. I think that has some merit. There seems to be this kind of “plowing ahead” or headstrong feeling you get with her that she was willing to shut out the people who should have mattered most to her in an effort to present herself as a person who had it all, who had “made it”, who had conquered illnesses, braved a first marriage and divorce, been able to live in (two) big houses, drive a fancy car. It’s the driven-ness to coverup who she really was – insecure, someone who wasn’t making it, etc., someone who wasn’t really affluent but needed to be. I mean I don’t think we’ve gotten to the heart of the matter of who she really was, because the coverup was so well developed. This OCD stuff was just another manifestation of someone who it really just wasn’t okay with to have everything not be in it’s rightful place.

    • joalake

      This case and the people involved is interesting because it is befuddling. After all the info I have read I still cannot get a handle on who SW and CW were.. CW seems to have no personality, no one has said anything other then quiet, introvert. SW was promoting a make believe life. Who was she? Was she or they worried about finances? Or was their game plan to just continue to move and file bankruptcy.
      Their families have been closed mouth and given us little information on who these 2 people were.

      Side note, NK may have been only 30 but a women aged 30 have dated a lot. She would have dumped him asap as soon as she had put all the pieces together. Once she would have found out he could not afford a 2 bedroom apartment and the debt he had, she would run.
      Any one else feel they can’t get a handle on these 2?

  8. Cheryl Filar

    Great post, again, Sylvester. Bottom line: As a further expression of her OCD, I don’t think Shan’ann felt as if she was in her rightful place and by extension everyone else in her life who mattered, or should have mattered, but were sublimated to some idealized image she obsessively tried to capture via her I-Phone.

    • Sylvester

      Yes, agreed Cheryl. And then there’s Le-Vel. It was a perfect fit for her. She got to use Le-Vel to project an image of what she wanted others to see, and also what she wanted to believe about herself. It must have sort of startled her to see Chris really WAS thriving. Why he had lost all of that weight, he was wearing the patches. She was supposed to be at the center of all of this thriving and he was eclipsing her spiel by actually being a walking advertisement for it. That should have been good news, for sales, but I bet it started to piss her off – and frightened her at the same time. I’ll have to ponder why I said that, but nonetheless there might be something there to it. For a narcissist who wants to be at the center of things do you want to be thrown into someone’s shadow? I bet that’s when the real belittling began.

  9. Sylvester

    It’s not that he’s stupid. I don’t think that at all. He’s cowardly. But he did have a good story. If he had stuck to that Shan’ann killed the girls he wouldn’t have had to plead guilty to all nine counts. That was his attorney’s idea. That was the agreement or bargain they made with Rourke. He pleads guilty to all nine counts in exchange for not receiving the death penalty – which he wouldn’t have gotten anyway. What kind of a deal is that? He still has the right to appeal you know. He has that right as long as he’s living. Maybe that’s why we’re not hearing from Cindy and Ron. They might be working quietly to find him a good attorney.

    • mitzi2006

      You no longer have the right to any appeals if you sign a plea deal. You can only appeal your sentence if that was not included in the plea deal but obviously his was as they took the death penalty off the table

      • Shannon

        The plea deal had a clause. He had a limited time to Appeal the plea deal.
        His time might be up. But he could still Appeal.
        Many criminals appeal for years after the crime.

  10. Mustang Sally

    While listening to NK’s interview tapes, I would get annoyingly distracted by her constant rambling yet it did seem to be a genuine moment when she burst into tears and needed a few minutes to compose herself before continuing on with the interview. I was actually surprised at this glimpse into her turmoil. She had been relatively composed up until that point. She may be a lot of things, but I seriously doubt she ever thought those girls should have, could have, or would have been murdered. That’s not going to be a reality easy to live with and much of her dissembling may come from needing to distance herself from any responsibility for it, whether deserved or undeserved.

  11. Mustang Sally

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and express what I know will be a very unpopular sentiment…while I know Shan’ann was not a saint, nor was she the deceitful sinner staging a life moral corruption so many would like to accuse her of being. I know this is highly (and hotly) debatable yet it seems to get in the way of treating her as a human being in this grotesque crime. The same can be said for Chris, Nichol K, Nicolas, and maybe a few others.

    There has been so much effort to attach labels to these people that their true identities are becoming lost in those identifiers. They are often too simplistic, too narrow, too unyielding, and too restrictive to accurately portray the people they are meant to define. While adjectives can help explain a person’s behavior, it doesn’t become their identity. Or it shouldn’t. Perhaps Freud would disagree with me, but since he’s not here to debate me…

    I’m merely attempting to suggest that we remember that these are all people behind whatever labels we attempt to attach to them. They are becoming hidden rather than revealed by these labels. I mention Shan’ann in particular because she is so often demonized or canonized, there is rarely any middle ground.

    To me, she was honest with herself to her friends and family. She tried to be. She wanted to believe in a lifestyle she was being sold, duped into, and was willing to sell it to others for her own benefit, but she would work hard to do it. Yes, she bought Chris a self help book to read…a book she had read first that she thought he might find enlightening as well. Those condemning her for sending him that book leave out that little detail. I could go on and on. This isn’t an attempt to canonize her or open up discussion to demonize her. It’s about keeping it real.

    With all of the others, too.

    • CBH

      While I tend toward the side of ‘demonizing’ Shannon (controlling, belittling, hypochondriac, overbearing mother, obsessive in her social media persona and using family to aggrandize herself,delusional in money making schemes, grandiose in her spending etc.) I am nevertheless very moved by her last texts in which her fear and her vulnerability are laid bare.

      • Mustang Sally

        CBH, that’s fair. I also appreciate the fact you are thoughtful in your posts and do offer a more comprehensive view when expressing yourself. Your comments aren’t labeling so much as describing what you have observed about her specifically. Maybe that’s the distinction.

    • Cheryl Filar

      “She was honest with herself to her friends and family”…yet she was trying to ensnare others into the BS Thrive and other MLM business financial sinkholes. Most of all, she hurt her family by persisting with this business. I have no doubt she was lying about the financial nightmare it was creating until she couldn’t hide it any longer, which would have been about the time she had to borrow against Chris’s retirement fund to catch up on the three-months-in-arrears mortgage—something she couldn’t have done without his knowledge and consent. She was a piece of work—she was rumored to be involved in a financial scam in North Carolina and she continued that pattern by perpetrating one on her own family in Colorado (I’m going to quit my salaried job, be a stay-at-home mom, work at my pretend MLM job, send my kids to a $25,000/year pre-school, and while I’m at it get pregnant with kid number 3–absolute insanity). As I’ve said previously, something was seriously wrong with this woman—as in a willful and protracted break from reality—and it contributed to her family’s and her own demise. Coupled with Chris’s enabling passivity—what a nightmare. The real victims here are the children.

      • Eleni

        I have only ever heard about scams in North Carolina from Watts supporters. Is there anything definitive out there about Shanann pulling fast ones back home? If she spent 6 weeks with her parents in NC, she was obviously not wanted on charges. Back at the start of the social media coverage, I do recall something about a woman with a similar name who had a longish arrest record but that it was not murdered Shanann. I wonder if that coverage about another woman somehow folded itself into this story. Once the wrong gossip is said, it somehow becomes canon.

  12. Shannon

    As for NK, it was her phone, she could and can delete what she wants. As for the cops asking about her sex life, I would have said. What the F–k does this have to do with the murders. As for crying, I believe her, sitting there talking and thinking, her emotions hit her, realizing her lover had killed his family.

  13. Rachel

    An interesting thing I noted was NK tells us how CW had his carpets cleaned in the house and we know he had the Lexus professionally cleaned inside and out all while Shanann was away for 6 weeks… yet everyone thinks Shanann was the OCD clean freak.

    Her work office and shoe closet don’t reflect that though.

    • Mary

      I think it’s highly likely and even probable that Shanann had him get her car cleaned and have the carpets cleaned while they were out of town. It makes sense to want to get both of those done while the baby girls weren’t home, they wouldn’t have to worry about keeping them off the floors while they’re being cleaned and dried, and wouldn’t have to worry about what to do with them while waiting for the car to be completed. It makes total sense to me that Shanann would have a list of shit for him to do while they were gone, with those two things being on it. Chris certainly wouldn’t tell *Nichole* that, though! So he let her have the impression that he was a bit of a neat freak/doing it because he wanted to.

      Another (almost as plausible) possibility is that he already knew what he was going to do, and he knew the house and car would be swept for stuff like blood, semen etc. If I were planning on killing someone who lived with me, I’d of course worry about leaving evidence behind during the killing, but I’d ALSO be worried about false evidence leading to me, simply because I lived there and so do the victims. I’m sure in a household of four, two of them lovers and two of them toddlers, a *lot* of DNA gets left behind from scratches and bumps and bruises and even worse injuries, nosebleeds, DNA left over from sexual liaisons etc- I’d be terrified that even if I was so careful to not leave anything behind on the night of the attack, some old innocent DNA could be found in just the wrong place and it could used to put me away. I could definitely see myself doing a “pre-clean” before the killing for this reason.

      The point is, I don’t think you can necessarily deduce that Chris was the neat freak and Shanann wasn’t from him having professional cleanings that one time.

      Also, it makes sense to me that Shanann would be obsessively neat in almost all areas of her life, especially all public areas, but have a couple of private areas that she let go to shit a bit. After all, that’s kind of a physical manifestation of how she lived her life. She put on this intense front social media, driven by her “business” and her need to be seen as perfect, but in the areas that were just for “her” in the house (her shoe closet, and her office), she let them reflect the chaos that she felt inside.

  14. Sylvester

    Chris didn’t seem to have any close friends there in Frederick. The guys at work would ask him if he wanted to join them in poker games I think it was, and he didn’t, so they stopped asking. He was kind of a loner there – no male friend he could confide in. The same pattern he had in middle school and high school too it appears.

  15. Eleni

    I respect your opinions, Nick, as I read your books so I listened to the part where NK cries. I cannot hear it any other way but contrived, fake crying. That “they were so little” statement makes me cringe.

  16. vanishingpoint

    First time commenting here. When I first listened to NK crying, I felt it was totally fake. So I listened to it again after reading the comments. She sounds fake to me and also her crying has undertones that sound like laughing to me. I am not always right about things of course, but I do trust my instincts and my first instinct was that she was crying for herself and faking tears for the children. She had mentioned that she was the same age as the girls when her parents divorced and it seems to me that she might have been revisiting her own grief and sorrow as a little girl. We can’t know ,very much about her father and mother’s divorce but I suspect that something in her past drove her to the manipulation and lies of this affair. I don’t know if she was truly involved in the anything other than being part of a perfect storm but she seems to have major emotional issues. Also, for a college educated person, she seems to have had some poor speech patterns.

  17. Nick

    Well I think your hearing fake crying says more about you than it does about her, or me. Her father was in the room too.

    It may be a subjective thing but I also think it points to a heartlessness. And many looking at this crime say it was a heartless slaughter.

    Probably you’d also say that Nichol didn’t care about etc etc etc. And thus the crying is fake. So whatever she did that showed evidence of her humanity would be seen as fake. In a world like that I’d also go into hiding because all you’re really interested is judging and condemning her.

    Again, what does that say about you?

    • vanishingpoint

      Sorry you seem to think that it says something about me. I heard what sounded to me like fake tears but perhaps it is something I recognize and that is why you are pointing back to me. It seems clear that no one believes CW when he says he would never hurt his children, but when NK cries it is somehow believable?? All those involved in this crime seem to have emotional issues not just CW and SW and their families. I don’t judge her for having an affair or anything like that. I just feel that she is not sincere and is a very manipulative liar, but I have no idea if she actually participated beyond hoping that he would finalize his divorce.

      • Mary

        Yeah, don’t listen to that guy, he’s obviously just a troll. He can have his own (wrong 😋) opinions, but the minute he jumps in and makes it personal like he did with you (and I’m sure I’ll find others as I keep reading), he forfeits the privilege of being taken seriously.

        I 00% agree and got the same feelings from her interview that you did. Her constant lies and blatant attempts at manipulation in every one of her interviews don’t help that gut assessment, either.

      • Shannon

        The Troll Guy who responded to you. Award winning Author Nick van der leek.
        The Guy who runs this site.

        • nickvdl

          It is quite funny. Thanks for stepping in Shannon. Two more ignoramuses banned.

          • Shannon

            Your welcome.
            Yes there are a few on here now.

        • patpolzin


    • Cheryl Filar

      Nick, I heard, not saw, her crying as contrived. In fact, the very first time I heard it, I winced. That was my initial gut reaction. I’ve relistened to that particular interview and I still wince. I also put what I heard as her theatrics in the context of other moments in her less-than-transparent interview, especially when she talked about her finding out Chris was a dad as “cuuuuuuute.” I wanted to vomit because it just sounded so inauthentic and, along with that, it seemed like overcompensation for possibly being disappointed that he had children, that he had responsibilities, that he was not, most of all, her ideal unfettered male prospect. Having said all that, I’m not intent on presiding as judge and jury over a 21st Century Salem Witch Trial. What does that say about me? I have a different perspective—one that does not necessarily lead to burning Nichol Kessinger at the stake.

      • Nick

        But you are setting yourself up as her judge and jury.

        I wonder if people had access to your personal texts to family and close ones who wouldn’t wince.

        The point is it’s private.

  18. Nick

    A lack of emotion is one thing. Faking emotion is fairly rare.

    And obviously Watts is the least believable character in this catastrophe. He’s a criminal and committed a very serious crime. He lied and lied badly. Obviously.

    • Cheryl Filar

      But it’s not private, Nick—in the case of Kessinger. It’s part of the public record. On the other hand, you’re right: I am making a judgment in terms of the authenticity of her emotional display, just as you are.

      • nickvdl

        My God Cheryl. It was private at the time it was written. They didn’t write their texts wondering how the public would dissect it. The point is, as much as you think you know these people inside out because you have access to a fraction of their recovered interactions you don’t. We don’t. I don’t. We don’t even know if Watts was bisexual. We don’t even know for sure if Kessinger knew Shan’ann was pregnant. And we only have access because a crime was committed – by him, not her. So certainly as far as she is concerned, we ought to be far more careful in our [to use your word] judgments.

        The “fake emotion” theory reduces Kessinger to a one-dimension cardboard cutout villain. That seems to be the way most want to view her. And where does that thinking take you? To some one dimensional label not very far removed from the narcissist/psychopath label for Watts, and the “he just snapped” theory of the crime [which is not a theory at all, it’s just a jumble of nonsense words.]

        The real emotion theory [where someone is really in love with someone, and is really hurt by being betrayed and lied to and very fearful about what is going to happen to her and wants to protect herself] intuits a real human being with weaknesses and flaws and strengths and good qualities. I can identify with a real person who has good qualities and bad, who is truthful sometimes and sometimes not, who feels deeply and shallowly. That’s what a real person is. Real people make mistakes, big ones, small ones, and they also get things right, sometimes big things, sometimes small.

        But you’re welcome to throw all that away and say, pffft, fake!

        While we’re on the subject:

        “I am making a judgment in terms of the authenticity of her emotional display, just as you are…”

        So in your view, do you think your judgment of human behavior and responses is on a par with mine? They’re equal? Equally informed, one is just as good as the other?

    • Nico

      >> Faking emotion is fairly rare.

      There’s literally an entire profession and amateur community based upon faking emotions.

      • Nick

        Give me a few example off the top of your head of witnesses crying about the death of a murder victim and crying “why?” that is fake. Family members of a defendant not included.

  19. Cheryl Filar

    Nick, I agree about Watts. However, getting back to Nichol and faking emotion… At the risk of devaluing my own gender, women are pretty damned good at faking emotion in interviews and in bed–now there’s a trajectory–lol. And I don’t think this stems from some biblical Eve temptress, inherently evil, dissembling figure with the apple. I think it derives from historical/generational powerlessness (relative to men) and using what wiles you have to survive. Of course, in the so-called modern era, women have more power–at least in some spheres: we can vote, own property, inhabit the halls of Congress, the workforce, etc. But look at the recent blowback, e.g., in this country the Kavanaugh hearings. As a result, the powerless resort to subterfuge and inauthentic displays of manipulative emotion, even when they don’t have to, because it is the habit of enduring.

    • marielangford3311

      Yea,, what Cheryl said !😊

    • Nick

      That’s why I think it’s a sex thing. Most women probably don’t believe her and aren’t sympathetic. Most men probably are touched by her grief and tears.

      It’s hard to fake that kind of gut wrenching grief. My impression is Shan’ann was far more artificial and that’s why he liked/preferres K. She was more genuine. You don’t seem to get that. She was in a wrong situation and trying to make it right, and probably put pressure on him to make things right. Because she was a more genuine person.

      He wasn’t. That’s why he did what he did.

      But now it becomes how fake and trashy she was? That’s just a heartless and inhumane assessment. And in my opinion completely false.

      • marielangford3311

        I don’t think trashy it was trashy Nick. After all, Chris was the one with the marriage vows to Shan’nan , not NK. I understand your view of it. Interesting! Thanks !

        • nickvdl

          I haven’t studied all of Kessinger’s statements. The only way to get a feel for whether it is genuine or not is to get to know her. My assessment here is based on listening to this longer version of her breaking down. I did mention in this blog that although I was touched by her tears, the next moment she seemed to be less than 100% forthcoming about the call. That may or may not have a bearing on the sincerity of her grief.

      • Cheryl Filar

        I believe Chris has a largely feminine personality, as demonstrated by his passivity and subterfuge—undercutting versus confonting the much more powerful figure in his life: Shan’ann. In the case of Nichol Kessinger, she appears to have an overriding masculine/dominant personality that she modifies in given situations to appeal to male expectations. I believe this offset involves an exaggerated femininity, as demonstrated by her emphasis on the word “cuuute” when talking about Chris being a dad and her emotive “why, why, why” outburst regarding the children’s deaths. In contrast, Nickole Atkinson’s quavering voice and tears throughout her interview struck me as far, far more genuine.

      • thetinytech2018

        Cheryl, very good observations however I’m not sure we, or more personally I, could compare Nicole Atkinson’s reaction to Nicole Kessinger’s. NA dealt with the kids and Sha’nann on a much more personal level; She knew them, knew their personalities, experienced things with them and was a close friend. On the other hand, NK knew of them and what she knew of Shan’ann was mostly her negatives, while the kids were nothing more than strangers to her. I would certainly expect a much more personal reaction and deeper grief with coming from a friend than a stranger.

        I try not to judge people’s grief too much, it’s one of those emotions that makes people act strangely; Some have very emotional, immediate, outwards reactions to grief while others tend to grieve silently. I’ve myself had a few people pass I the last few years that were close to me, and at first it almost doesn’t seem real. I’m sad of course, but it doesn’t really hit me until later – like when something happens and you go to call that person, only to realize you can’t do that anymore. You can’t share that experience with them that just a moment ago you were so psyched to tell them about, because they’ve passed away. Other times, I’ve broke down crying after the news, and still there’s been times where that wave of longing and despair doesn’t set in for a while. I’ve come to learn that grieving is a very personal thing, and I’ve seen such a wide range of genuine emotion come from it that you just don’t know.

        • nickvdl

          I try not to judge people’s grief too much, it’s one of those emotions that makes people act strangely; Some have very emotional, immediate, outwards reactions to grief while others tend to grieve silently. I’ve myself had a few people pass I the last few years that were close to me, and at first it almost doesn’t seem real. >>>Grief is actually a critical indicator in true crime. Where there is a lack of genuine grief there is typically a lack of remorse, ergo a fully-formed motive to murder. The legions following true crime have spent untold hours analyzing for example the Ramseys and McCann families to try to figure out [for themselves] whether their grief is genuine. The problem is most aren’t seeing as much as transferring their own bias onto these people. So instead of registering their microexpressions, nuances, semantics, gestures etc, people transplant their own paradigms over them which makes it very hard to see reality.

          I do think in order to become a master at lie-spotting and figuring out the criminal mind, one has to become an expert at reading grief. If it’s real there’s some redemption there. If it’s fake there’s likely obstruction of justice. If there’s little or no grief there’s no reason for us to feel any sympathy – Watts being an excellent example of this. Interestingly in the Discovery Documents when Agent Tammy Lee told Watts he hadn’t shed a single tear, he immediately seemed to force a sniffle. He was trying to demonstrate grief as if on cue.

      • thetinytech2018

        Nick, you taught me something today about grief. I’m aware of the stages of grief, but I’ve never looked at it quite how you explained it. What you said makes sense and using the examples you related in your post demonstrates your point quite well. True crime is an art in and of itself and I love learning about all these different aspects that make a case intriguing. I remember the JonBenet Ramsey case and watching it on TV as it happened as a child (I was about ten or so) and I remember my parents visceral reaction when the case first broke and they mentioned an intruder. At the time, I think that case hit a bit too close to home for them, upper middle class suburb, false sense of security, idyllic family, father was an entrepreneur etc.. There were many parallels between their family prior to the murder and my family, and I could see how uncomfortable it made my parents. I also remember my mother watching one of Jon & Patsy’s press conferences, and my mother’s reaction was that of shock. She said that if her daughter was murdered, she’d be an inconsolable mess unable to form a sentence, nothing short of catatonic. I believe that was once of the first cases that made an impression on me as a child, and when I got older I remember reading everything I possibly could get my hands on regarding JBR. Much like that case, I think that people are drawn to this one for many of the same reasons and thus why it illicit such a strong response. In both cases, the family’s seemed to be picture perfect but as it turns out, behind closed doors things weren’t as they seemed. If it could happen to a seemingly picture perfect family, then could it happen to them?

        I eagerly look forward to your next entry, I very much enjoy your writing and I find myself learning new things here all the time. I’m going to take a look at some of the books you’ve written on the case later in the day when I get a moment, I hear they offer wonderful insight into the case and they go a bit deeper than the posts here. At any rate, I appreciate the insight and methodology that goes into your work.

    • Shannon

      Put yourself in her position.
      An affair, you kinda really like the guy. Your going places, dinner, camping, texting, talking, laughing cuddling, getting intimate.
      Now he’s committed not one, but 3 murders.
      What do you think you would do and how do you think you would act.
      She went to the Police.
      She gave her phone….deletes included.
      She did an interview.
      As per interview, emotions will be low and high. Her dad’s with her
      I firmly believe, anyone would start crying.
      If not, then that person is a “cold bitch”.

  20. vanishingpoint

    Women can use tears and crying as a manipulative weapon. Faking emotions is done all the time. Not just in bed but in all kinds of social interactions, such as committees, work, social groups. Yes CW is obviously a criminal as Nick writes, however, NK also lied, just for example, saying that it wasn’t unusual for CW to go to the field instead of the office, when the interview with his co-worker is completely different, saying that he came in every day. Why lie about such things? It is not just the text messages that she deleted. She says she went to the police when she realized something was wrong, but actually it was Anadarko that made the police aware of the affair and who it was, not her.. That doesn’t make her guilty of committing the murders but it does say something and I feel that is what makes this case interesting. It feels like something is missing.

  21. Sylvester

    Having her dad in the room must have been uncomfortable. I don’t think I would have wanted that – but then again he may have been there to make sure she wasn’t going to be in any legal trouble. As I’ve said before she was young, but also a little on the older side of not being married yet. Her search for bridal gowns means she was contemplating a married life with Chris, and I think she first wanted to make sure he really was going to extricate himself from his current marriage. Now it’s a little strange how quickly she began to see her relationship with him as a house of cards built on lies. One wonders why she didn’t see it before. His wife has agreed to sell the house. She’s missing. Her phone is in the house, all in the span of 24 hours – now she sees the lies? I can’t help but think something in that long call on the 12th stood out for her, and she’s not saying what it was.

    • nickvdl

      If she’s telling the truth about not knowing about the pregnancy, or not knowing the baby was his, then suddenly knowing that would quickly – instantly even – reveal the scale and scope of his mendacity. The murders would magnify it even more, also instantly and infinitely. It must be a horrible feeling to be in love with someone, kinda completely – head over heels – and then to realize you didn’t know the real them at all. And so even your love is a lie [and so is theirs]. But worst of all, innocent lives were forfeit because of it, because of your love affair that was all a big lie…

      • Sylvester

        I agree. The pregnancy – I keep forgetting about that. Watts certainly didn’t spill the beans to Officer Coonrod about that until he saw the television display over at Nate’s house. And even then he didn’t mention it during his porch sermon. Then it all came tumbling down very rapidly for her. I think it was a knee jerk reaction to get rid of those texts – then think twice about it, so she went to the police. She may have done a little research too as to how Amber Frey handled it all – and we know she did – but not just for purposes of writing a book. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt. it really is crushing – to be reading hand written love notes one month, then see your lover up for murder the next.

  22. vike530

    First time poster here. Amazing site. Thanks so much, Nick. So glad I stumbled upon it. I’ll say this succinctly about NK… she deserves a ton of credit for immediately calling the cops when she knew something wasn’t right. That takes courage. But unfortunately she paid a heavy price for being forthright, and has been vilified for the way she talks, her lying, her porn preferences, her lack of empathy, her Google search history, etc. I’m not saying she’s an angel. But then again, I have no idea. I just feel terrible for her and what this has done to her life.

  23. Love/hate true crime in equal measure

    I don’t think her tears were fake, although I wouldn’t say they were prompted by grief either. What I heard was an exhausted woman, giving into that exhaustion for a moment, and then using that opportunity to say what she thought an innocent, grief stricken victim should say in an effort to distance herself from the crime.
    Throughout the interview her tone of voice is that of someone who is annoyed at being woken up early from a deep slumber, with her submitting on several occasions on how tired she is, and I think she exaggerated that tone to get the detectives to “go easy” on her or “lay off”, when she couldnt remember (or didnt want to submit) more details.
    I do think she remembers alot more about her 111 minute convo than she admits, but I agree with other people in that it probably had more to do with the intimate details of the convo, and possible ultimatums she gave Chris, than anything to do with murder.
    I see NK as the type of person who manipulates a situation to benefit herself. I dont think for a second she ever suggested or even imagined Chris would kill his family, but I think she probably manipulated Chris into thinking its me or her, and now or never. And that’s where I’m not sure how accountable she should be held for her part in this….

  24. Sylvester

    There is a woman from my mother’s church who with just a little college, and religious background and a career as a registered nurse became a grief counselor. She was very well versed in theology but in her dealings with the recently bereaved, I had never seen anything like how she was able to offer sympathy and counseling without any kind of preaching and was integral in helping me deal with my mother’s death. They were next door neighbors, she had the power of attorney-medical-for my mother and was at my house in a flash when the call came from her recuperative stay at a nursing home in the seconds after her death. Without people like her, who really help people feel their feelings and express their grief however they need to express it, most of us would be lost forever with unfinished business toward those we love who are gone. So a shout out to you Miss Linda.

  25. G

    I believe that she was upset for a variety of reasons. Being sickened at the thought that someone she was involved with murdered his family and also possessed the ability to do similar to her. She was in an affair bubble with Watts and his brutality crashed everything back into reality.

    She was also becoming aware that her life as she knew it was going to be irrevocably altered. Jon Ronson’s book, “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” describes the emotional and financial fallout regular people experience in the aftermath of public scandal and viral shaming. Their lives often aren’t the same or as easy as they were. Despite a new identity and having relocated, she possibly isn’t working in the same career (which is a devastating loss of acquired education and skills) and might not be earning the income that she was. The images and information about her online are still enough that someone in her current life could discover her true identity and could expose her again to further harassment and threats.

  26. Sylvester

    I watched “O.J. The Lost Confession” last night – it’s been around for a while but I finally accessed it. Horrifying. Given his personality, his need to be liked, his love of the limelight, his absolutely out of control rage impulses, it’s not hard to see that even after he brutally slaughtered his ex wife he was still angry at her. It was evident in the show I watched. When someone dies there is unfinished business. But in watching Watt’s videos leading up to the polygraph, he seems sad – but not for his family, and really not for what he did. This is what floors me. He wasn’t a famous football player turned actor. He for all intents and purposes was just a regular guy. He really wants to talk. He wants to express himself. He’s downright loquacious, where was all of that talking when Shan’ann wanted him to talk. But he doesn’t seem to be grieving in any outward way whatsoever. Nor does he appear cocky like Scott Peterson, slouched down into the interview chair with his hands in his bulky jacket pockets. And so I have to wonder how did he work up the necessary anger or rage needed to choke, smother and strangle three innocent people? This is what I need to know, and why I will persist here, with permission.

    • nickvdl

      I don’t think rage or anger are the operative emotions. They were with OJ Simpson. Not the case here. Also consider how the bodies were punctured, ripped and left out in the open to bleed [to humiliate her]. Whereas in the Watts case the bodies and even any evidence of them in the home are very, very carefully hidden.

    • Shannon

      Have you seen the pictures of Nicole and Ron. Oj’s doing.
      I have.
      Slaughter I must say.

  27. Sylvester

    That big brown chocolate house seems to be the breeding ground for quiet secrets but nothing sweet lives there now. It’s large rooms, it’s vast basement-turned-warehouse, sparse furnishings, deep dark colored walls makes one want to whisper. Also the windows are shaded. You cannot see inside from outside because the livingrooms on the first floor have the blinds pulled down, perpetually. Upstairs the windows look out but no one can look it. They are opaque, which just adds to the silent feel to the house. Everything in it’s place and a place for everyone. You are the dad, you are the go-getter mom, you are the rambunctious younger girl and you are the solemn older girl. In a big brown chocolate house where everything is choreographed. The killings were very quiet and the body preps for burial were also silent I believe. And the dog, who’s sharp bark would have penetrated the silence has been sequestered down in the basement where no one can hear him save for a neighbor possibly, but he wasn’t heard when Officer Coonrod was banging on basement windows around back. Everything hidden, and sanitized.

  28. Sylvester

    And it could be that the operative emotions in the Watts case were: Regret.

  29. nancyjames3358

    Regarding thoughts pertaining to the ceiling fans always on and the window shades/drapes/blinds being drawn. I live in the desert in Arizona. During the hot months (May-September), most of us live like this due to the heat. Blocked windows to keep sun/heat out and fans to move the air around. The Watts did not appear to live in the cool mountains. This does not seem unusual or nefarious to me.

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