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

The Dynamic between Chris Watts and Nichol Kessinger that everyone is missing

I don’t usually discuss dynamics here simply because it’s not something you can come to lightly, and it requires a lot of focus, concentration and backstory to understand. The other issue with discussing dynamics on an open forum is it attracts the most biased and closed-minded folks of all.

These types are likely to rush in and begin lecturing on why their opinion is just as informed if not more so, and in fact better. So that’s why I don’t discuss dynamics here.  It’s not about who is right, or who is more right, it’s about figuring out the true nature of this crime and why it happened. So we want to see where the insights take us, not bicker about whose insights are best.

Relationship dynamics are a sensitive subject. Whatever we say tends to reveal our own views of others, and ourselves, and it may expose others and make them feel judged or otherwise uncomfortable. That’s why this discussion sits better in a narrative that one has to pay for and will spend time with – pondering it in private.

What I will say, as I reach the finishing stages of the fifth book in the TWO FACE series, is that the dynamic between Chris Watts and his mistress will never be understood as long as people continue hating and throwing stones. If you wish to feel good about how awful Chris Watts is – go on.  It seems some people don’t tire of this pursuit after weeks, months, perhaps even years. If you think Kessinger deserves to be lambasted and accused and insulted till kingdom come, don’t expect to ever understand the dynamics of why the crime happened. You can’t have both. You can’t have emotional/ego satisfaction and expect to gain any intellectual insight or understanding.

One can’t hurl insults one day and on another, innocently go: “Why? Why don’t we know why?”

To understand their emotional dynamic we have to put our emotional dynamic [our projection, transference, bias] aside. Are you ready to do that? If so, then read on.

An Inferiority Complex

Chris Watts felt inferior in his marriage. His overall introversion suggests a crisis of confidence in general. It’s clear from the videos, he played second-fiddle most of the time to a domineering wife.

Initially he probably liked that she took control and perhaps it worked very well for both of them. Maybe he wanted to take the back seat, wanted her to be in control. But after a while it got old. He tired of being told what to do and how to do every damn thing. That’s not being unkind to Shan’ann – she was OCD so it was natural for her to be antsy about everything. The problem was that he probably allowed it to get out of hand. Instead of setting boundaries, he allowed her to walk all over him, and when he wanted to stand up for himself it was too late. He didn’t know how to and perhaps even if he did, she wouldn’t let him.

With “three girls” in the house, over time he felt increasingly impinged in some way. Probably, over time, the spark did start to disappear in their marriage and probably, at the time, the idea of having a third child made sense to bring them back together.

It’s clear to me that shortly after mutually deciding to have a child, Watts had a change of heart. This may have been because he had an epiphany then about their finances, or because he realized he’d developed feelings for someone else, or both. It may also be that he had the idea but hadn’t thought through what it actually meant, and what consequences came with it [just as occurred with the affair, and the murders].

Rediscovering Himself

It could also be that at the same time the spark was fading in their marriage, Watts’ sense of inferiority was changing. Even though his wife still had him in a box [she thought], a part of him was starting to escape and rediscover himself. His work life was one area where he was growing and enjoying respect. Of all the Thrivers in this story, Watts was arguably Thriving the most – he looked the part, he was developing in his career, he was also living the part [including with the hot mistress from work].

But despite Watts’ newfound freedom [to cheat, to go camping, to eat out and hire a babysitter], the other aspect was that because Shan’ann was in total control of everything, she was also in total control of the finances. Her control of the finances meant at the end of the day she was in control of Watts’ ability to conduct an affair [especially once she arrived home].

Whether you wish to believe Watts was bringing in 100% of the income, 90%, or 50%, whatever is the case Shan’ann was the one controlling the money and also spending a lot of the money. Besides the mortgage they couldn’t afford, a lot of the money was going to medical expenses for Shan’ann and both children. Watts had virtually zero medical expenses; he didn’t even spend money on a gym. If Watts was contributing most of the money to the household [and I believe he was] but spending hardly any of it, then this was cause for massive resentment when he found out how little money they actually had.

Realizing the True Scale of their Financial Debacle

Throughout this case people have pooh-poohed the financial situation. Even the District Attorney did at the sentencing hearing. A triple murder happened, no one knows why. And the finances weren’t really that bad. Really? Watts must have felt they were really that bad for him. Three months behind on their mortgage, a mortgage payment due the day prior to his arrest, hefty private school bills that he did his damnedest to avoid on the day after dumping their bodies, about $10 000 in credit card debt [all credit cards maxed out]and another $25 000 still outstanding on Shan’ann’s neck surgery.

How was Watts going to continue to conduct an affair with no money? And why had they fallen behind on their mortgage in the first place? Who was supposed to be paying for that? And where did the money for the house go if it didn’t go to the house? Did it go to San Diego, North Carolina and the flights to and from Arizona?

Giving Away Control – Then Taking It Back

Watts had given control over many things to Shan’ann, and one of those included control over the finances [including his money]. Possibly he discovered the true extent of their financial woes while Shan’ann was away. He took some time off and maybe opened a few bills, looked at their account online, looked at the accounts in her office.

I believe a huge area missing in the Discovery Documents and the text messages on their phones, are arguments about money. Put otherwise – why are there no arguments about money given their disastrous financial situation?

When Watts bought a meal for two for $62 on Saturday, August 11th, Shan’ann immediately alerted to this expense. What about all the others? That conversation leads somewhere, and somewhere very serious, but I won’t be discussing that dynamic in any more detail here either. Let’s deal with one dynamic at a time.


At some point in 2018, Watts found himself in an affair that allowed him to be someone else. He wasn’t being ordered around any more. He was being listened to. He had become someone again. Moreover, he was interested in and wanted to know about the woman he was with, and wanted to converse with her, and be with her. But he also felt incredibly inadequate around her.

He had good reason to feel inadequate. She was better educated, solidly middle class [whereas he was blue-collar trying to be middle class], and probably better paid than he was. Kessinger’s finances were clearly in far better shape than his were but besides that, his wife was pregnant, and their finances were eating them alive. Plus he had two children to take care of as well.

So there was no way on paper he “deserved” Kessinger unless he lied to her. He knew that. If he told the truth he knew wouldn’t have been “good enough” for her. He wanted to be good enough. He didn’t want what he had in his marriage, which was to be relegated to an ATM, errand boy, video prop and baby maker.

So all things being equal, Watts found himself in an affair with someone who liked him, and whom he liked, but nevertheless wasn’t right for him. She was smarter, she was available but in a sense, was out of his league. Most of us can’t see just how out of her league he was because we can’t stop demeaning her as the wicked mistress.

But if we look at them as people on paper, he wasn’t as smart as she was, he wasn’t as available as he pretended to be, and financially he definitely couldn’t afford to be in a romantic relationship [with all its ancillary expenses] with anyone.

In order to be in a relationship with Kessinger, he needed to be divorced. But if he divorced he’d likely lose the house directly or indirectly in terms of alimony and many other mutual debt obligations.

He would have calculated that in order to be with Kessinger he needed the house. Not to keep or to live in, to sell. To be engaged in a relationship with a woman, especially one a man feels is better than he is, he’s going to feel he needs a lot of “spending money” as the old George Harrison song goes.

To understand the dynamic between Watts and Kessinger, we must understand how and why he felt inferior to her and with her. His appearance counted in his favor. She found him sexy and attractive, and obviously his Thriving and jogging and working out at home had imbued him with a good physique. So that part was good.

But the rest wasn’t. He needed to be divorced and he wasn’t [hadn’t even discussed it]. He needed there not to be a pregnancy [but there was]. And he needed money [money that wasn’t there unless he sold the house soon, and at a profit].

Murder was Watts’ way of balancing out the equation, at least in his mind. Of course, as soon as he committed the murders his inferiority to Kessinger became manifestly clear, both to her and to him.



  1. LaraLeon

    Imagine 10000 clapping emojis. You are right on the money. Pun intended

    • Mustang Sally


    • Linda Cranmer

      I am so thrilled to read the same perspective that I had concerning all the players in this tragic scenario. I tried to reach out to some of the YouTube followers; but I got tired of all the absolute stupidity and immaturity I was encountering. Everyone is asking why, but no one wants to take the time to analyze the facts pertaining to the motive. You were spot on and I applaud you.

    • Annie

      Great analysis! You must be a psychologist or detective . Good work

    • Mac

      The only thing I don’t understand why if he killed them with drugs wouldn’t he admit to it ,the other narrative is quite disturbing and as you said he was a guy who cared what other people thought of him. He must know the confession makes him seem like a monster

  2. atschmid5322

    I love that you are now going to a big picture view of what happened here. The one with which i disagree is the view that NK was different from Shanann. She was manipulative, duplicitous, and most of all, domineering. Telling chris that the food at the first Rusty Bucket they went to was not what she wanted to put in her body, then retrenching to another location of the exact same restaurant — that was an obvious power play.

    No normal person would ever do that.

    • nickvdl

      Well I’ve had the “big picture” view for several months if you happened to read the early Shakedown posts about interiority etc.

      With respect, I’m not sure if you understand men very well. If a man is being crushed and pushed around in his marriage [or any relationship], he sure as nuts isn’t going to replace that pride swallowing siege with another one.

      I think you like the idea of Kessinger as a….all the things you mentioned. I don’t think you have or possibly can imagine why Watts was [for him] truly in love with her, and why she was very in love with him. Because that component was there too. Maybe someone cheated on you during your marriage, hence the need to make the mistress despicable and subhuman. Understandable but of course has no place in true crime, unless it is for you to feel out and flesh out your own bias and share your sense of victimhood. If that’s the case, there are Facebook groups that revel in it. It’s called Perpetrator Blaming.

      That’s not what we’re here to do. We’re here to understand them first and through that process, perhaps get a handle on our own experiences. You clearly never get a proper handle on things [least of all yourself] if you keep projecting your own past onto everyone and everything.

      • mitzi2006

        According to psychologists we do pick the same people over and over again. He was used to controlling women, his mother, his sister and his wife. We go to what we are comfortable with. It’s why daughters of alcoholics often marry someone with alcoholism.

        • influencemoon

          Jason While I do not condone the horrific murder Chris Watts committed which was premeditated I can understand to some degree the reason for him doing the ghastly crime. Chris allowed Shanan to be domineering and controlling for too long and resented it all through his marriage till suddenly he could not take it anymore. Nichole Kessinger is beautiful and while she should not have got involved with Chris as a married man all too often a physical attraction dominates people. Chris was in a loosing position financially and thought murder would solve his problems. The odd thing about this tragedy is that Chris did a poor job of concealing the murder. After watching him on You Tube I would say the weight reducing patches interfered with his brain. I have read the book “Letter from Christopher” and there is no doubt the crime was premeditated and I am sorry for Chris, Shanan the three children his family and Shanan’s family.

      • atschmid5322

        What? Where did all of THIS come from? I simply pointed out that i am enjoying your posts that explore what the data means, rather than justlisting it. I thought i was complimenting you. And my comments on NK were brief and, I thought, sensible and straightforward.

        Instead, you took this as a starting point to insult me personally, commenting on my being bitter over a failed marriage and having a poor understanding of men, and of the “other woman”, none of which is true! I am rather stunned at this and feel personally attacked.

        I bought all four of your previous books, NvdL, but won’t be doing that again! Jesus.

        • nickvdl

          I did respond – with respect – to your comment on its own merits, and as someone who has read all four books you ought to know for how long I’ve been taking a “big picture” view. There is no bigger picture than writing a narrative let alone 4, with the 5th book due very soon, and more in store.

          So to say thanks for taking the big picture view now in late January is a frankly ridiculous comment.

          I also suggested you may be transferring your own bias. Simple and easy to set the record straight.

          You do seem to have a poor understanding of the other woman based on your crass description of Nichol Kessinger [in your words] as “manipulative, duplicitous, and most of all, domineering.” Domineering? Based pray tell on what? And if you were caught in a similar situation, in a romantic relationship with someone who turned out to be a murderer, and you’d sent nude photos of yourself, would you turn them over lock, stock and barrel to the media and authorities? Perhaps you would. Most human beings no matter how honest would not.

          • rachelkrissinger

            Wow! What is wrong with you?!
            Btw, Kessinger is a manipulator, as was Shanann. I can look at this objectively and still see both of these woman for the assholes they are and we’re. Doesn’t mean I thought shanann deserved to die or Nicole deserved to be in a relationship with s murderer. Get over you!

          • Yasmine

            While I totally agree with you on the fact that the deeper reason for the familicide was Chris’ inferiority complex, probably already starting as a kid, due to a dominating mother and being overweight (as to be seen in earlier pictures of him; he just had recently lost a lot of weight thanks to the supplements his wife was marketing, besides his work out), I though have to disagree on your assumption that he wouldn’t fall for an other dominant woman, after his dominant wife. Since he generally lacks self-esteem and self confidence besides never having found himself, an other dominant woman, as was Nikki, falls right into his pattern. And as to be seen by the retrieved text messages and emails besides her FB and internet activities, she not only stalked Shan’ann on FB since Sept. 2017 but also knew about their life which Shan’ann documented in detail. She also emotionally blackmailed Chris by making clear that she doesn’t want to be involved with his kids and can’t see herself marrying and starting a family with a man who already has a family. At the same time he was pressured by his wife assuming him cheating on her. He now in jail claims he snapped as she threatened that he can’t see the kids after he wanted to divorce. I believe he just exploded and then on autopilot (as he said like being led by someone else) killed them all. It might have been in the back of his mind to free himself for the new woman and fresh start but I don’t believ it was planned or that Nikki was involved. She was more or less into it for approx. 6 weeks for the exitement not regarding the consequences and mainly for the sex and he for the new found identity and freed from all the duties of living with 3 chron. sick females (his wife had Lupus and the 2 girls were also sick and back in development). An important trigger I see to is the fact that his mother didn’t accept Shan’ann and them having ongoing arguments because of that. Being a mothers boy, the fact that his mother didn’t see Shan’ann up to their family standards (as you rightfully bring in the factor of soceity hierarchy) probably subconsciously eased the killing and as he admitted it might have been in the back of his mind. I think it is really sad how the dynamics unfolded and all in such a short time to lead to such a terribly poor and wrong decision and a tragedy remaining. I feel sorry for all, even for Chris. I do believe he does regret all he did, as he said, he had lost himself totally in a short time…but I believe he was aready lost before Nikki.

          • nickvdl

            I don’t think you understand how premeditated murders works – the operant criminal psychology, I mean.

          • Yasmine

            Well, that’s still an assumption, as he never confirmed to his crime being premeditated but in contrary denied it! (Please listen to the interview he lately gave in jail)
            Considering that he had only sexually got involved with Nikki by end of June (as to be made out by emails and text messages), so approx. 6 weeks before his crime and he just on the day of his crime had confessed to Nikki of loving her and they had not exchanged any messages via email or text concerning the crime, it might most probably be that he, as he claims (….and he’s nothing to lose anymore), didn’t plan it. Considering the fact that it all went wrong and he confessed to it just after 6 hrs speaks for itself.
            Of course you could argue that his marriage was unhappy to him, as he was suppressed by his wife and resented her for her life style, besides overwhelmed by the ongoing health issues and financial problems and Nikki being the catalyst as well as a way out of his undesired life, but the truth is that he indeed did love his family and after all was a family man, also if many protrait him as an evil narcissistic con man.

          • nickvdl

            he never confirmed to his crime being premeditated but in contrary denied it!>>>Aah shucks, I missed that. So you’re saying what he said happened exactly as he said it?

          • Karlyn Finnegan

            Oh yea she did say she couldn’t see herself getting involved with a divorced man with kids? That is kind of a thoughtless thing to say.

        • Karlyn Finnegan

          There is no evidence Nicole kessinger is manipulative or dominating. But yea it’s true people can repeat the same mistake. The witch-hunt against her is hard to understand. Tho

          • Confuseusaye

            She told him he had to delete his social media and he did, how is that not considered domineering or controlling?

            Chris acknowledges in transcripts that Nicole was flighty and would make him do things he didn’t want by chucking a tantrum.

            She was certainly domineering and controlling.

        • Maom90

          This is all very noteworthy and a lot of thought has been put into the dynamics which may have caused this act. I have a lot of respect for the opinions that have already been shared.

          But to me there still stands a major unfounded gap. Thousands of couples endure similar problems. Financial issues, control issues, sick family members etc…. Its a part of life. Some people persevere and work through it. Others leave and file for divorce. That’s a normal outcome for such a play out of dynamics.

          Another question, why is there not thousands or more cases of a similar nature. Where Husbands choose to act this way in response to overwhelming circumstances. Of course there are some but not in proportion to the dynamics you have discussed. I understand that your intention is not to justify his actions, however the hard truth is that you simply have. By collecting an understanding as to why he did what he did you have told your viewers maybe not intentionally that such reasons can lead to murder. While I understand what you meant it is hard to accept this for several reasons:

          One, If you are a parent which I am you have a natural chemical instinct to protect your child above all else. You won’t allow harm to come to them. Not only did he kill his two daughters but also his unborn child. I’m sorry but this can’t be natural. No circumstances no matter how overwhelming or stressful would cause a parent to smother their children unless they are extremely unwell and take their own life too in the process as someone already stated as they feel their children couldn’t survive without out them.

          This man, even if the circumstances caused him to do the inevitable has showed no sincere remorse. In fact he states in later prison interviews that his child has visited him in the prison and has danced for him. This highlights a man who is trying to prove to the world that he has been forgiven by his children.

          My understanding is that he has not agreed to take part in any psychiatric evaluation. This would be a factual assessment that would determine his level of well-being at the time.

          To conclude, the reason why this topic is still confusing for people and that books are still been written about it is simple. This man is not an every day man that you fear could become your worst nightmare. He is one in a million of men that has committed an act of this gravity.

          I don’t think he deserves our understanding or our research. He murdered his children. Justice has been served. Other women like perhaps Nicole who may not have been innocent either but other women that he may have bumped into in the future are now safe from such a man.
          Such a man, a mother’s worst nightmare has now been locked up for life.

          He doesn’t deserve our understanding or our forgiveness. This is between him and God. I believe only God knows what took place that morning.

          But please what parent can dump their child in an oil tank and than later say the child danced for me in prison. This is not a rationale person we are dealing with.

          For all our sakes if people like him had proper evaluations and of parents picked up on triggers earlier and early intervention measures are put in place for such people (people whom I work with on a daily basis). They would not only keep society safe but they would be kept safe from themselves.

          This man has only expressed remorse for the life that Nicole who is still alive may have lost due to his actions. I have yet to see information about how his daughters, wife and children were robbed of their lives. I hope I do….

      • olivetreecottage

        I agree that if we are to come closer to an understanding of why this tragedy occurred, we at least should attempt to move out from beneath our own biases and projections. That is very difficult to accomplish (for me, anyway), however, because children essentially were erased. There probably are many parents out here who have gone through challenging times in our marriages and relationships, but chose to work harder at them…for the wellbeing of our children. In contrast, this man not only refused the opportunity to do just that with his wife, but instead killed her, their two little daughters and unborn son. Why…?? Yes, why?

        I disagree that in Kessenger, Watts had found a woman who no longer ordered him around or controlled him. As if following links in a chain, this murderer again was paired with someone who was choosing where he would live…despite knowing him for approximately three weeks. She was the one who chose the restaurants and the vacation destination. I would not be surprised to learn that Watts has never known a time in his life (till now) when a woman was not making choices and decisions for him.

        This leads to another relationship dynamic. Unlike Shan’ann, Kessenger was unencumbered by dependents. Her attention could be solely focused upon Watts.

        I have just begun reading your first book. Its subject certainly is two-faced. On a deeper level, he may bear two hearts, or two souls. One heart – that which he showed to the world – loved his children. The other, that only he knew, may have had conflicting emotions. He stated that he’d wanted a son. I wonder how the hidden side of Chris Watts really felt.

        The serial killer, Israel Keyes, stated that he was “basically two different people.” Yet, whilst Keyes’ shadow fell across random strangers, that of Watts blackened his entire family. He snuffed out the lights of those nearest to him.

        The closest we may ever get to comprehending this tragedy is through meditating on the lyrics of Watts’ searched-for song, ‘Battery,’ by the band Metallica. In addition, if Watts was the one who placed that doll under the Twister mat and sent the photo to Shan’ann, it provides a view into his hidden, twisted soul.

        As for Nichol Kessenger: she was lucky to have been entwined with Watts for only three weeks.

      • olivetreecottage

        I must ask: how could Watts and Kessenger have been truly “in love,” after having spent less than a month together? Kessenger stated that while she and Watts had breathed “I love you” to one another, she was taking their relationship slowly. At the same time, they had become physically involved almost immediately, and she began searching for wedding dresses. She knew that Watts was still married, had two precious daughters and was living with his wife and family. Considering the other Internet searches that she performed, Kessenger likely was aware that Shan’ann was expecting a third child.

        Nichol Kessenger was twenty-nine years old when she met Chris Watts. She was not a young girl, and had been in previous relationships. She is intelligent; far from naive. Kessenger should have known not to trust the words of a married man…that his marriage was over, and he would leave his wife for her.

        She turned a deaf ear to conventional wisdom, and chose to become involved with Watts anyway. Her insecurity is revealed in the pressure she placed upon her lover to find an apartment.

        Sadly, worse than a “hot mess” resulted in Nichol Kessenger’s decision to pair with Chris Watts. Might he still have taken the lives of his family, without her presence? Yes, in my opinion

      • olivetreecottage

        I’m on the plot, but disagree with you. Thanks for your research.

      • rachelkrissinger

        You’ve got it wrong. That is exactly what he will replace her with.

      • MAC

        Kissinger may have not been controlling at first but it’s sounds like she had the potential later on and he also had the personality of falling back into that same dynamic. I am sure he was telling her all of his wife’s short comings so what is she going to do with that become an excellent listener ect. ect. She seemed to be pushing him for more than he was ready for maybe that’s why he snapped too!

    • olivetreecottage

      What normal person would wipe out his family over financial issues? We are trying to place Chris Watts, and his relationship with Kessenger, within our own understanding of morality. That may be impossible (hopefully).

      Nichol Kessenger is no mouse. It was disturbing to listen to her interviews with investigators. She seemed to be the one who was in control.

      • Shannon

        Do some reading on parents. Killing for financial reasons. It’s not at uncommon.

      • olivetreecottage

        “ … killing for financial reasons.” Really, Shannon? I inhabit a different world. Adieu

        • nickvdl

          You’ve completely lost the plot and are missing the point. If we say Watts [or any criminal] committed any particular act for a particular reason, we’re not saying, “That’s a great reason, I understand, I support what he did. He was right to do that because of that.”

          True crime in general and this site in particular is about figuring out motive and criminal psychology. That means we try to understand the criminal and his circumstances, and how his mind worked. When we do we say “this is the kind of guy he is and because of X, and because he was habitually doing Y it would make sense for him to think Z and do A, B, C.” It’s never about justifying the crime or the killer, it’s about understanding why he did what he did from his perspective.

          Understanding criminal behavior doesn’t mean we endorse it, support it, or heaven forbid, approve it. We’re simply seeing how it makes sense in his world. And Shannon is right, finances played a massive role in this case. If that means nothing to you it’s irrelevant – what matters is how much it mattered to Watts, and it’s abundantly clear it was a huge burden for him and weighed heavily on him. The way he chose to solve his problem was crazy, but that doesn’t mean his troubles didn’t exist or that he didn’t execute a plan in order to solve his dilemma in a way that made sense to him.

          If you don’t care about his perspective and don’t think it is worth trying to understand why, and all you wish to do is emphasize how irrational the crime was and how wrong they were [all of which are true but completely obvious] then TCRS isn’t the place for you, and all you will do here is attack everyone who is trying to figure out why.

          Why matters.

          Why these crimes happen tends to boomerang back at us [yes, including you] as much you may wish to demonize these criminals and insist they are nothing like us. Until this crime happened Watts was a well-liked father, husband, son-in-law, adulterer, worker, neighbor and member of society. Shortly before he murdered his wife, his wife wanted him to stay married to her. His wife wanted a third child with him. His mistress appeared to want to marry him too.

          By failing to understand why and what happened, someone else that looks, sounds and acts trustworthy [such as Patrick Frazee, for instance] could do something similar and we’d be none the wiser. Many of us want to be wiser, and when we are, society as a whole and even folks who don’t care about this stuff benefit because we’re able to recognize the same thing in our friends, neighbors, partners, perhaps even ourselves. It doesn’t mean murder is lurking around every corner, but crime and criminal psychology take many forms. This case shows the damage and distraction [for example] excessive social media can have on a partner – that is something all of us have to deal with in some small way every day.

          If this crime teaches us anything it’s the valuable role the community can play in participating in crime-solving. Nickole Atkinson and her son were the first to go “this isn’t adding up”. But the District Attorney, law enforcement and others dropped the ball at some point. They could have found out why, they could have made the plea deal conditional or contingent on Watts himself standing up and explaining himself. Perhaps part of his deal was an agreement not to disclose this. Perhaps Watts himself doesn’t know why.

          I can’t imagine how Shan’ann’s family are going to feel for the rest of their lives, as the absence of their daughter and sister and her children gets more difficult with each passing year. And at the back of their minds will be the same, singular, unvoiced, unanswerable question:


          What if there is answer?

          • Yasmine

            I t0tally agree with you and had the same thought, of the importance of the good social network exiting in this case.
            NA was Shan’nn’s BF, besides Shan’ann always contacting her every morning and always being present on internet and also as she didn’t turn up for her ulta sound at 9o’clock, they both wanted to go to. Shan’ann was a very organised person and this was too unusual to be ignored.
            The anonymous handwitten letter also turned up very soon at the police claiming to be by a medium and explaining all the crime details.
            Then NK got in contact with the police, after her boss had found her email correspondance and wanted to pass it on to the police – so it was out of self protection…also turning up with her dad and denying to have known about Chris’ marriage and kids etc.

          • Karlyn Finnegan

            Right he had his reasons with his delusions and thats not to be confused with excuses or justifications. His wife had a part in the dysfunction and that’s not blaming her but it helps to be more aware of those type of dynamics because we live in systems and do act and react off of each other. You wonder what happened to Shannon that made her behave like that? And how can you help someone like that? How much did her neurological disease have to do with her behavior? His video admitting he married the wrong person and decided never to argue is really such a lonely and isolated situation. It is resigning himself to a life of pretense and lack of real intimacy and I don’t think she was aware enough to see or hear him in that video and understand what he is saying. So many people avoid levelling with each other. He seemed to believe from early on she was someone who wasn’t going to change. But doesn’t describe why. No detail. It’s like superficial empty jargon. Maybe that attitude or unspoken vibe was crazy making for her and maybe the kids picked up on it and acted it out. He said he was experiencing being a man without a family while they were gone. So I guess he really liked it. He said nothing about financial concerns but the stress can be very debilitating. It’s not like they’re saying he did it to be rich. The financial situation was impossible. His mechanics mind could not compute a solution. There was no fixing this machine. The entire system was exploding on every level. His wife so emotional. In those last texts. And him just saying he’ll fix it. His lack of emotion is incredible. And then calling the girlfriend up talking romantically that night is inconceivable. It is completely split off. The entire procedure may have been very mechanical. He showed intense emotion about them bringing Nicole into it and his co workers finding out where it happened. You just don’t see that anguish regarding his family and wonder if he is just upset that he was found out. I guess he is either not levelling with the police and is saying what he thinks people want to hear. Or is that superficial that he just wanted what he wanted. It really makes me wonder if he really knows reality at all. Why eliminate all three? Maybe he just cheerfully did this crime without ever breaking out of this cheerful nice guy persona.

        • Shannon

          After you have read all Nick’s posts and the comments. You might be able to understand alittle better.
          In a personal killing…ie: parent killing other parent, kids.
          There are a multitude of reasons as to why this has happened.
          In this marriage, Financial disaster. Plus much more.
          No mom/dad just suddenly kills the whole family.. something has happened in their dynamics, for this to happen

          I see your commenting all over the place. I’m assuming your a newbie.

        • influencemoon

          I have been a telephone witness to a man who wiped out his wife and two children by drowning bar one child who was washed up on the beach alive because of debt. He was a heavy gambler. The little girl who broke free when they were all tied together was adopted by her maternal Aunt she survived and did well in life. What a tragedy that this family went to their deaths because of finances!!!

  3. Sylvester

    This is so right on. He was in a lose-lose proposition. I wanted to add something too. I tried to send the link but for some reason I couldn’t do it. It’s a video Shan’ann made of Watts arriving at the airport in NC on July 31 – the one in which she said let me know when you arrive, I want the girls to see you walk up. It’s heartwarming. The girls run up to him (and trigger the airport alarm), he reaches down to hug them, then bends to hung them again. He’s got a sincere smile on his face. But I bet as soon as they got back to her family’s house she began bugging him about the peanut thing again, and nagged him to cut off his ties with his parents. If he was trying to distance himself from his children, he was not doing that on July 31. He was not being fake or phony, that was real. Even if he went to NC to have some kind of conversation with her, as NK asked him to do, I’m sure he quickly found that he couldn’t.

    I just wanted to add that I was getting a little one sided believing he had no moral compass at all, or was a chronic liar and I think he really did love his children – and that’s what makes this all the more tragic. Breaking out of his rut, finding love, and the impossible situation of the F’d up financial burden weakened whatever resolve he may have had to do things the right way, rather than the way he ultimately did it.

    • Sylvester

      My above comment was @Nick.

    • LaraLeon

      I can see all the reasons that are justifiable for him to do that, but I believe there is no love for your child if you look in their innocent eyes and still decide to snuff their lives out of them. It is already hard imagining him doing that to SW but it is less monstrous. What shocks us most is to do that to your own child, that you saw being born, that you tucked into bed every night, that is what gets people. I can’t see the moral compass, especially when you think about how he disposed the bodies.

      • nickvdl

        Do you think there was love for them, or that there never was?

        • Jolene Fugate

          I think he loved his girls but deeply buried in his subconscious mind was deep ambivalence towards them. Subconsciously he hated them for being chronically ill. If you look at your children coldly; with no love or compassion your children become defective , expensive drains on your own resources. This is what baffles me when I watch the videos of CW with his girls . There’s no shadow over them , no hints of the harm that he’ going to do to them in cold , totally cold blood. I think how often he must’ve seen the tanks at his job and thought about what perfect sepulchers they would make

          • nickvdl

            There are hints of harm. Shan’ann was swearing at him and the children were repeating these slurs to his face, and throwing him with chicken nuggets. There was also Nut Gate, where Shan’ann said his parents could have killed their child. The children would have registered this, and Bella clearly did. The tension is palpable during this scene on the beach.

      • Shannon

        People will kill their kids, so they will be with the parents. Believing there better off dead, then be allowed to live without them.

      • olivetreecottage

        There are no justifiable reasons for what this man did.

      • pam lantz

        i totally agree.i think kissinger told him to make a move or she’s gone (when they returned from trip) and he was desperate to hold on to her at any cost…this blinded him to rationally knowing he would never get away with it..she could of said “you got 3 weeks to do something”…just my thoughts on this

        • Lundi Belleau

          I read somewhere that before Chris went to North Carolina, Nichol said she told him that maybe he should try to work things out with his wife. I don’t believe that she really felt that way–beings how she was looking at wedding dresses on the Internet–but I think Chris thought that she was wanting to break it off with him, which is exactly what she was trying to accomplish.

    • olivetreecottage

      This monster lacked a “moral compass.” He probably was a chronic liar. He did not love his children. He is not a normal human being, no matter how much we wish him to be so.

      • marielangford3311

        He loved his children at one time. He detached from them, he detached from all of it.

      • olivetreecottage

        To marielangford3311 – he probably was born “detached,” or became that way at an early age.

      • Ralph Oscar

        “This monster lacked a ‘moral compass.'”

        I very much object to using de-humanizing terminology to describe someone who has done frightful things. My interpretation of this is that yeah, it’s terrifying to think that someone *decent* might have been able to do such things. Surely that person had to be a “monster” – and wouldn’t we all recognize such a “monster” if we saw him? We’d know to stay far away from him – because he wasn’t human! He was a “monster”! Believing that there was something significantly, distinctly “off” about him allows us to reassure ourselves that *we* would never have been fooled, so no one like him could ever harm us that way. It’s a mechanism for soothing our anxiety and reassuring ourselves that our own perceptions are acute enough and dependable enough that we can keep ourselves safe from people who do horrible things.

        Did you read the article discussing studies of “family annihilators”? It’s from Britain, but I think the conclusions serve us adequately. In order to discuss Chris Watts in the context of being a “family annihilator” from an informed perspective, it’s required reading.

        “…those who committed family annihilation were in no way ‘typical’ murderers.”

        “So-called ordinary men who were loving husbands and fathers could do quite extraordinarily appalling things to their partners, ex-partners and their children.”

        “Family annihilators were overwhelmingly not known to criminal justice or mental health services. For all intents and purposes these were loving husbands and good fathers, often holding down high profile jobs and seen publicly as being very, very successful.”

        There have been no reports from any source that describe Chris Watts as “a chronic liar” who “did not love his children”. Unless you knew him personally and observed behaviors that would support those conclusions, there’s really no point to just plain making stuff up to make yourself feel better about this case. By all accounts, Chris Watts was a loving, devoted husband and father, reliable, quiet, brought home the bacon, and was a really nice guy to be around. That is the information we have to work with. Those are the facts. I’m sorry you don’t like these facts. I know you prefer to believe he was different (and somehow, you could discern without even meeting him, while no one in his life who actually knew him could), but such beliefs don’t help with the task of understanding what happened and why.

        What Chris Watts did made sense *to him*; we seek to understand his perspective. That will provide us with the “why”.

    • olivetreecottage

      You were correct prior to writing this post. Chris Watts has “no moral compass at all … [is] a chronic liar.” Would you murder your own children in order to break out of your rut and find love?

      Unlike Nichol Kessenger, I would be out of breath and vomiting, had I had anything to do with the murders of this family.

      • marielangford3311

        Olive tree, you did not comprehend what I said and what has been discussed on other posts. Watts had to disconnect from the children to murder them. Take time to get acquainted with what Nick is trying to make people understand.

      • olivetreecottage

        Marie – please forgive me as I am new to this forum. I would like to just shut up, but as with many…this case brings tears. Being quiet is hard to do.

        I hear what you are saying about there having been a disconnect on the part of Chris Watts. But when did that take place, to what degree and how? Something must have been seriously wrong with him, prior to 2018.

        Thanks to the author of this forum, and his books. He indeed was correct that some subjects are best considered in solitude. I’m off to more reading.

    • olivetreecottage

      I am not ‘right on,’ regarding these posts.

      The parents of Chris Watts should be asking, ‘Why?’ How are they going to feel for the rest of their lives?

      • marielangford3311

        Olive tree, I did not mean for my comment to offend. I have learned so much from this forum and so many insightful posters far more articulate than me!

    • Karlyn Finnegan

      He talks about his crime with the voice of the nicest guy in the world. How “authentic” is that? Nice loving people don’t eliminate pregnant women and helpless babies. He sure thought he could fool everyone though. He seemed authentically caring when he lied on tv about their whereabouts.

  4. Kaye

    I agree with everything you wrote, and I believe that the main reason the girls were also considered part of the “equation” was that I believe he discovered that he really wanted his freedom again. Being free of any child care obligations for five weeks probably added to his enjoyment of the affair. The fact that he could pretty much set his own schedule was something he realized that he missed. He was tired of the flying chicken nuggets, having to clean sand out of bathing suits, and the other messes that come along with young children.

    I am a parent so I know how wearying it can be sometimes to be responsible for children. Most of it is worry and fear about how to do the job of parenting! On my worst days I remind myself that there will be a day when they’re both 18 and out of the house. But he went to the extreme and was more concerned about shaping his own well-being and life and he decided it wasn’t important to him anymore what they wanted.

    • Pam Foldesi

      IF ONLY THESE COMMENTS COULD BE PLACED IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, so we’d know who is replying to whom!!
      They pop in out of order.
      Not a good way to assign comments.

      • marielangford3311

        Pam, Nick has addressed this issue before I believe. It’s word press format

      • Pam Foldesi

        WORD PRESS, could you address this issue, about replies being placed in chronological order, instead of popping in the most recent comment above the others, AS THEY ARE NOW BEING DONE?

      • thetinytech2018

        Pam, Word Press is a website where one can run a blog or a site and integrate its features with domain names, not a person. If you want the comments fixed, you would have to find the company’s contact info and then beg them to change the way their SQL is setup (could also be another protocol) which would probably require an overhaul and lots of coding. Either way, you won’t find them reading comments on websites that are running their platform. Even with contacting them directly, I seriously doubt they’d do a project like that by request.

      • Shannon

        If you hit reply, then your replying to that person. Other then that, it’s a general comment.

      • nancyjames3358

        An option would be to reference who/what you are commenting on in your post.

    • Seymour Glass

      Hi Kaye,

      I’m also a stay-at-home mom, and have two children close in age just like Bella & CeCe. This case has hit me so hard. You have no idea. I’ve been married for 20 years but had our children later in our marriage by choice (we both worked for years w/out children, and saved, making investments while our peers were having children a few years after getting married). We got married young, and were dirt poor.

      Even though I’ve know my husband (20+ years), this case has made me side-eye him a few times e.g., business dinners, taking the “team” out for drinks, etc.) I never second guessed my husband until the developments of the Watts’ case unfolded all over the news and social media. It really begs the question –
      How well do you really know someone? 8 years? 20 years?

      I have always done everything domestically – cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping (walk-up with 4 heavy canvas grocery bags), dr/dental visits, school runs, make lunches, baths, birthday parties, play dates.

      Never nannies, never housekeepers, never nail salons. In fact, when we first moved to Manhattan, our rent was $6K/mo in a snobby doormen building. The only people in the building who spoke to us were the doormen. We were one of the few renters, most were owner-occupied, multi-million apts, including a few celebrities. I was a stay-at-home mom with 2 toddlers then, and so lonely. I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there. Today, our rent is really cheap but our apt is nice. We live in a gentrifying neighborhood by choice.

      Having money and expensive things doesn’t bring happiness. What Shan’ann had, besides her beautiful babies, was the rare ability to cultivate real and lasting friendships like with Addy, Nicole A., Michelle? – the friend from Hawaii, who came to Colorado and took care of Shan’ann for 6 weeks, Amanda Thayer – friends who go looking for you when you’re not answering your phone, and don’t quit until you are found. In addition, Shan’ann had an amazing father, mother and brother. Shan’ann was a very wealthy person in friendships and extended family. My own family of origin wouldn’t look for my ass.

      On another note, I did notice that the Twister mat was encircled around the doll and not just laying over the doll. I find that could be rather hard for a 3 or 4-year-old to have the coordination to wrap a large Twister mat neatly around a large doll several times.

    • olivetreecottage

      You and I must be very different parents. Most of us treasure each moment with our children (despite the frustrations), and are aware of how quickly they grow up. If you are looking forward to the “day when they’re both 18 and out of the house,” I feel sorry for you.

      Christopher Watts will have much time to contemplate such dates: his childrens’ graduations from high school, their potential marriages; the lost births of his grandchildren.

      Watts went beyond “the extreme…[and] decided that it wasn’t important to him anymore what they wanted.” Horrible. If you are comparing your experience as a parent to that of Watts, your empathy is misplaced, to say the least.

      • Seymour Glass


        I don’t know if you are referring to my post or not. A bit confused. Just wanted you to know that I’m a stay-at-home mom by choice, and my husband and I love our children immensely. They are our total joy. We had them later in life because we were so poor when we first got married at 24, right out of university. I worked all those years because I wanted to stay home with my children. Everything we do is for them, and their future. We only go on one date night a month because we love hanging out with our children on weekends. They are happy, healthy and thriving in every way.

        What I was trying to convey is that we were very poor, but saved and worked so hard and put off having children until one of us could be a stay home parent. That was important to us.

        What I meant was more commentary on the people in that high end building, where on the outside everyone would say to us, “Hey, you guys made it living across from Central Park” when just the opposite was true. We are much happier in a gentrified neighborhood, where we feel we belong b/c we both come from humble beginnings and that will never leave us. Like Shan’ann, she had this big house and on social media, everyone would think, “Wow, what an amazing life.” What I was trying to say but clearly didn’t covey was looks are deceiving.

        • Lana

          Be mindful of not have your own financial stability and career. The Betty Broderick story is a clear message about that. She helped put Dan Broderick through medical and then law school, and happily agreed to be a stay at home mother. They were blissfully happy until one day he found a younger version of her and took custody of the kids and repartnered. This destroyed her emotionally and financially. One thing my mother aptly taught me ‘never rely on a man for money, have your own career, income and financial independence’.

      • Amber patterson

        I felt it unkind to share you “feel vert sorry” for her, comparing parents like yourself to parents like her. She may be struggling with the day to day of parenting small children, but that may just imply SHE IS TRYING TO DO IT CORRECTLY each day. One could say that parents like you who are focused on “cherishing each moment every day” are intrinsically selfish and just making enjoyable observations of your children rather than taking seriously the pressures and challenges of parentig. Best to watch placing yourself on a parenting pedastal because you may fall off.

    • Ralph Oscar

      The fact that, according to the CDC, murder is the #1 cause of death in pregnant women and the murderer is overwhelmingly likely to turn out to be the babydaddy, means that there is something very significant going on in men with regard to the fact that their partners became pregnant. If we’re going to clutch our pearls and shriek “They’re all monsters!”, we’ll never get anywhere. We need to understand why this is happening and see what we, as a society, can do to change this sad statistic. Since this is the #1 cause of death in pregnant women, it is a huge public health crisis! Nick’s work here has the potential to provide some data that can be used in crafting public policy, but only if it produces actual data. Knee-jerk assignations of blame/random negative personality characteristics waste everyone’s time.

      Let’s get to the bottom of this.

  5. Kathleen

    Just a word about another possibility? I wonder if his buff new body and new girl, in addition to being fun and sexually exciting, didn’t also make him feel good about himself? Kessinger told others that Watts was the best sex she’d ever had. I’m betting she told him that too. And remember Shan’ann telling her friend that Chris had no game in terms of having another woman? She underestimated him in this regard. Except for the affair, he did feel inadequate, especially financially. I love the metaphor of him as an ATM. But it was all hitting the fan and soon. Small claims court the day after the murder, foreclosure on the horizon, thousands of other dollars owed, his parents disrespected, her family given preferential access to the kids, his escape was a night out with his new girl and he got busted. I’m certainly not saying anything about the murders is remotely justified, but I do think I sort of get it. He was cornered. I doubt that he is a psychopath, because he confessed so quickly, and they like to toy with law enforcement and the courts, not confess. He is a family annihilator who was overwhelmed. Remember in his interrogation he said there’s a reason I’m here talking to you (detectives) and talking to you without a lawyer? He knew it was all over. But in his mind it was all over before the murders too. The game was up. No winners. The cop who gave him a confessional out was a genius…she did something to the kids, he said, and Watts had the way paved to stàrt telling some truths. Obviously, just some thoughts.

    • nickvdl

      I wonder if his buff new body and new girl didn’t also make him feel good about himself? >>>Absolutely. Part of him discovering the New Him.

    • olivetreecottage

      I don’t “sort of get it.”

    • Seymour Glass

      Hi Kathleen,

      Love your post.

      You wrote, “his escape was a night out with his new girl and he got busted.” Busted is the operative word here. Do you think on his last date with NK at Lazy Dog, Chris had, at the very least, entertained the idea of killing Shan’ann; that maybe Chris using his credit card that evening (instead of the usually pre-paid gift cards with NK to date) somehow signaled that Shan’ann finding out about the charge, and she did – real fast as we know from the discovery, would have no relevance anymore, a moot point – and not because he was going to ask for a divorce. Cheating on your 15 week pregnant wife doesn’t look good to their family, friends, co-workers, divorce court. What was the other option?

      It’s so eery to me how prophetic Shan’ann’s texts were the last month of her life. It was as if the truth was hiding in plain sight and she couldn’t see it. Like saying to her friend, “Chris has no game.” You write that Shan’ann underestimated him, and she did so at her own peril. Chris had game and then some. In addition, Shan’ann texts Chris about trying to protect her girls from the evil in this world and that she didn’t need to protect them from evil in their own family, too (meaning his parents – maybe even Chris unconsciously). Lastly, telling Chris she doesn’t feel safe if he didn’t want Nico (Niko?).

      This is powerful, intuition at play here. If only she would have listened. Even Shan’ann’s mother, Sandy, wanted her to stay in NC. And isn’t it interesting that Sandy told the officers that first day they were missing to look in the oil tanks.

      I know Nick doesn’t like labels and lazy thinking, and can appreciate that. But they say sociopaths hide in plain sight, too.

      • Ralph Oscar

        “isn’t it interesting that Sandy told the officers that first day they were missing to look in the oil tanks.”

        I missed this detail.


  6. CBH

    Beautifully written analysis. As horrific as his crime was, I feel sorry for Watts.

    • Janny Free

      Same… I feel sorry for him too. However I don’t fully believe he killed the kids. I’m in a couple fb groups, one secret that has all kinds of information, pictures – that don’t correlate with her texts, etc…. I think there could have been enough of a case made for reasonable doubt with the girls, maybe even enough for a crime of passion charge instead of 1st degree. I don’t know, something about this is really off…

      • CBH

        If true then let’s hope he gets an appeal and a new trial.

      • foxie

        eye agree

    • nancyjames3358

      I get why you feel sorry for CW, CBH. He truly is depicted as pathetic.

      I see him as an emotional coward who took the “easy” way out of his “problems”. He blamed everyone but himself for his situation. People without personal insight, who refuse and/or cannot look inward, live a rote existence with sporadic episodes of “a life high”. Emotionally lazy or emotionally stunted?

      For whatever reason, he deferred adult responsibilities to his overbearing , intense, gaslighting wife, preferring to be the dull, millennial butler of the house.

      There are so many healthy resources for people to get help with their problems. Without the gift of introspection, ego rules. And here we are, trying to figure out another self imposed victim who made the wrong choices.

      • CBH

        Excellent insights.👍🏼

      • Shannon

        Does this theory apply just Chris Watts, or all killers.

  7. Sylvester

    I think any conversations they had about money were done in private, not on the phone. But it seems like every chance she got she reminded him of some other expense they were going to have – like special shoes for CeCe, and would he please take Monday off and go with her and Bella to her first day at the expensive Primrose school. And then there’s that Thrive. The higher you climb the more it costs YOU. It’s a fallacy that the more people you have under you the more money you make. The more you have to spend is more like it.

    • CBH

      It’s ludicrous to me that they were facing foreclosure, couldn’t pay homeowner association fees, and yet SW expected to put 2 children in an elite day school. What was she thinking of?

      • thetinytech2018

        She didn’t think, but I think you know that acc bbs most likely your question was rhetorical. But.. She didn’t think critical at all if ever. I don’t know how to say this without sounding like I’m bashing her, but she didn’t appear to be very smart. No practical smarts, no financial smarts whatsoever, and as far as higher education goes I honestly don’t think she had the drive or the smarts to get through it if she would’ve attended. She fell for multiple get rich quick schemes, she demonstrated a complete lack of financial common sense time after time, she seemed to have a very limited scope of how the world worked and I greatly believe it was due to her upbringing. Her parents babied her. She had very limited life experience, she even married the only two guys she was ever in a serious relationship with. I very much believe that she was taught it was a man’s job to make the money and the woman runs the household, but she really didn’t know how to do that aside from cleaning. She didn’t cook often, she led them to bankruptcy twice basically, she couldn’t budget, etc.

        In her mind, she preferred her fantasy world where she gets what she wants and ignores anything else. She wanted that middle class life but she didn’t want to work for it, so she’d run up huge bills and disappear or max out credit cards then file bankruptcy. I honestly believe she thought that she’d be able to claim bankruptcy again so whatever she spent didn’t matter because “it’ll just go away”, not knowing that they didn’t qualify for it again so quickly after the last one. She was on the brink of being homeless and still she would take ridiculous trips and spend money on her pyramid scheme. It seems she never learned from her mistakes and she just kept on repeating them.

        • CBH

          Very astute critique. I agree fully. I had a friend like this and he had a similar upbringing and same perspective. People like this also think, they can spend now because in the near future, just around the corner, they’ll make a big lump of money with their schemes.

      • Janny Free

        I firmly believe her upbringing played a role in this. Her mother appears to be just as controlling from stuff I’ve seen and read about her. Shanann didn’t always have a good relationship with her mother, that much is clear.. All she did was lie to try and make herself look better than she was… for instance, all over her fb she’s bragging she’s going to nursing school… she wasn’t… she was studying to be a CNA, a prerequisite to nursing school, but she had to mislead everyone to make herself appear better. Bragging of sorts I guess? The stuff I’ve seen and read about her makes me believe that she very well could have killed her girls… always putting them down, not feeding them when hungry, the bruises in suspect areas on the girls, the countless naps, it just goes on and on… Then faced with the fact that her marriage was over, that her fake facade that she pushed to everyone was going to crumble, that she’d be a single parent (even she herself said she couldn’t stay in Colorado), to her, that would be so humiliating, after she spent years creating this fake image she had.. I can fully see someone like her snapping…You watch, more will be coming out about her in the near future…

        • Pam Foldesi

          Janny Free.
          Chris Watts said, those kids never missed a meal.

      • Ralph Oscar

        “It’s ludicrous to me that they were facing foreclosure, couldn’t pay homeowner association fees, and yet SW expected to put 2 children in an elite day school. What was she thinking of?”

        It seems she was disconnected from reality, doesn’t it? As if she had adopted “Fake it ’til you make it” as her approach to everything in life.

        It’s magical thinking. It’s “The Secret”. It’s “Prosperity Gospel”. It’s “If I simply wish hard enough, sincerely enough, my passion will re-create reality in the image I have defined”. It’s the idea that reality is subject to our will, that we can bend it to our specifications and desires, if we simply believe strongly enough.

        This was the message of Shan’Ann’s videos.

        It’s an incredibly toxic mindset – I know; I’ve been subject to it at times in the past. Fortunately, I had people around me who could rein in these self-destructive impulses so that nothing disastrous happened. But Shan’Ann didn’t have any such people around her. She was left to her own devices, and she was woefully inadequate to the task. “It takes a village”, and Shan’Ann had no village. Her Thrive “tribe” were like fellow meth addicts – can’t be trusted to give you decent perspective.

        • CBH

          Very well stated.

  8. LaraLeon

    I dont think she is a saint that really thought he lied about everything. She has her part on it, whatever indirectly it might be but I have to say that I would totally choose another place to eat if I couldnt find anything to eat and I dont eat greasy food at all, which is normal in these types of bars. So I dont see a power play situation here. But I see a manipulative situation when she says other guys are hitting on her and he better get his situation resolved soon. Her saying “it is not going to cost you any money to go to such and such place” makes us think she doesnt care about him not having money. But when she asks “do you have 401K?” and later tells police the financial situation of a partner is important for her shows us a picture of CW indeed needing money to maintain the relationship.

    • thetinytech2018

      They left one restaurant, just to go to that same restaurant in another part of town. Both restaurants served identical dishes, so not really what you’re describing.

  9. CBH

    Just an additional thought: I really like NVDL’s analysis but there is one aspect I believe may be somewhat different to what he’s stated.

    I don’t think NK was any more solidly middle class than CW.

    First, she began at a community college and did the last 2 years at a state college. I’m certainly not putting this down in any way, but the standards are not high and many, many working class people go this route. She began as a bookkeeper.

    Second, while her father certainly acquired some technical expertise, he does not look refined nor does his wife. I do not believe online stories about his wealth or power: He doesn’t have any. He may have sat in on a police interview with his daughter, but he secured no high power attorney.

    I know Nick is not American, so he doesn’t recognize Nchol’s lower class manner of speaking. Again, I’m not in any way trying to demean her. In one of her texts to Charlotte she says, “Don’t tell nobody.” No one raised in an educated middle class home speaks this way.

    Nichol’s gushing over the Watts house is a dead give away as to her background: She thinks it’s “beautiful” and full of “super-expensive things”: Meanwhile those raised in solid affluence recognize Saratoga Trail as the tacky, pretentious, squalor for lower middle class pretenders that it is.

    I believe Nichol was in awe of Chris and Shannan, and hoped after the divorce she might get to build that life with Chris. She said so herself. Chris’ s feeling of inferiority was felt by Nichol as well.

    • Sylvester

      It was a big house made of ticky tacky, wasn’t it?

      • CBH

        Good way of putting it.

    • LaraLeon

      I believe indeed she thought that that house was beautiful and that she was not higher class than he is but I come from humble beginnings (my dad was a navy sargent in Brazil but with great effort I did graduate school here in the US) and I can see that house as you described, just an ugly pretentious thing that was not built of quality materials and full of unnecessary crap, with mismatched colors and cheap furnishings. A McMansion for sure. So you can come from a lower class and still realize if something is of good quality, which was not her case.
      And since we are talking about financial problems, I was dumb folded by the amount of stuff in that house, so many women shoes and purses, the kids always wearing different shoes and clothes, with shirts that usually had cheesy messages like ‘most likely to spend daddy’s money” or “Boys play, girls win”… I see a lot of consumerism that was overwhelming. And I had a feeling most of the spending came from SW, although CW seemed to enjoy or not complain about the “free” lifestyle trips”. How he allowed that to continue until he didn’t and expressed in the most cruel way is beyond my comprehension although I can see why in his mind he justified it.

      • CBH

        Absolutely, many people from humble beginnings have a sense of refinement. That Shannan and Nichol apparently did not speaks to their feelings of inferiority which clouded their perception and in Shannan’s case led to a dangerous out of control consumerism.

      • nancyjames3358

        How could CW buy anything when he wasn’t allowed to hang a picture on any of the many walls in the house?

      • Seymour Glass

        Great observations, LaraLeon.

        What do you think about Shan’ann and Chris not having a honeymoon? They had a beautiful, classy-looking wedding that was way nicer than mine. Does it make sense to spend thousands on the wedding but ditch the honeymoon? Isn’t that the point of the wedding? I think this may be a symptom of what’s to come in the future. Again, about the show and not about the substance.

        Italian culture (Sandy is Italian from NJ) often demands the big wedding, lots of good food. There’s a Soprano episode, can’t remember which one, where Tony and Carmela are sitting at their kitchen table, all dressed up, before a wedding, writing down in a notebook how much money they are giving to the bride and groom. Meadow questions them about it, and they said something about when it’s your wedding, they better do the same, or something to that affect. I know this well, real Italian culture is like that, about the show; about respect even when they don’t deserve respect; about sucking it up, even when you shouldn’t; faking it until you make it.

    • Mustang Sally


    • Mustang Sally


      This is a wonderful addendum to Nick’s very astute characterization of this situation as a whole. Your thoughts add to the very well-developed picture that is emerging of this catastrophe.

      I’d just like to point out that Nick did not put a particular emphasis on social status or class of either Nichol or Chris for the very reasons the nuances you suggest impact such roles. Isn’t the point that Nichol was in more familiar territory having grown up with more advantages than Chris probably had due to the circumstances of their birth?

      The roles you mention have much more clearly defined parameters amongst “high society” and what behaviors would be immediately revealing to those of privileged affluence. Would anyone among the “middle class” have immediately suspected Nichol to be a pretender due to her poor grammar and questionable style? Nah. She’d be judged, for certain, and has been quite thoroughly, but it would not be fair to say she was judged and classed as “poor white trash” for those transgressions.

      Chris may have tried to articulate himself well once upon a time, participated in the portrayal of a solid upbringing, but there would always be much more than mere nuances that clearly defined his social status…what he prioritized in importance, his spending habits (not a whole lot more responsible than Shan’ann’s) what his interests are, and other things such as his family dynamics. That’s a big clue.

      This has been one of the most valuable and enlightening blogs for understanding “why”; the discussion has also been very helpful towards a very comprehensive understanding. I always appreciate your contributions and those others with significant insight as well. Almost everyone has provided some food for thought.

      • CBH

        Thank you for your insights which I’m in agreement with. I too find your input enlightening and the blog in its entirety.

  10. Lynda Gallien Pringle

    I have to wonder what special kind of stupid it takes for a man to allow his wife total rein over the finances after a bankruptcy and what kind of stupid does it take for a man to suggest a third child with two already draining his resources and finances? I also noticed that he wore nice clothes, had a FIT watch and enjoyed the THRIVE vacations. He could not have been unaware of the costs of Primrose. This is a man who exhibited no boundaries and who was magnetically drawn to strong willed women like his mother, Sha’naan and Kessinger. Components of the murder obviously were a total lack of self-awareness, his attractions to perhaps inappropriate women and inability or lack of knowledge of setting personal and financial boundaries. There is so much to his personality as well as the dynamics of his marriage that led to this tragedy. I don’t think I can fully understand nor will I unless I can do as Nick suggests, try to put myself into his head, think as he does, leaving personal projections aside.

    • thetinytech2018

      Even worse, those weren’t fit bits, but Apple Watches. Granted, they were the cheapest model available, they still looked like walking advertisements for mass mindless consumerism. Think about it, Shan’ann would get things she considered “designer”, but many were the cheapest version that company offered. Instead of getting something of quality without the designer name, she went for the extensive garbage because “labels”. It was very clear that she was trying to show off, but what’s funny is that people in the upper echelon can see her kind from a mile away, and they usually laugh about it. Look at her friends, anyone she was friends with marveled at her tacky crap. I think she liked it that way, no threat or feeling of inadequacy if your friends are on a lower social class than you. What she failed to realize was that she was in that same class but spent like she wasn’t yet nobody was making the money to pay all it off.

      I agree with you though, after filling bankruptcy he should’ve taken the reins but I fear he was too far gone at that point. Shan’ann would’ve laughed him of or made it a power struggle. The children aside, money was the only thing she had over his head and it wasn’t even her money, that’s gotta hurt. Nick wrote a wonderful article about them being “unequally yoked” and the more people see what was going on behind closed doors, the more you see just how right that article was.

      • Pam Foldesi

        Shan’ann’s mom said she bought that Apple watch for Shan’ann.

    • Janny Free

      I fully believe Shanann lied about their finances and what she made. He couldn’t even log into their bank accounts… why? She was always sending out sample packs… that product is not cheap. I believe she spent more than she made in hopes of hitting it big, but tried to hide how much she spent on product, networking (lunches, etc) and I think he was completely clueless about it all. Think about it, they got TWO car bonuses…. that’s $1600 month.. (if the bonuses were indeed $800 each like she claimed) She sold under his name too and got him the bonus… where did all that money go to?

      If i were him, I’d definitely be questioning why I didn’t have access to bank accounts… But then again, even she bragged about her italian temper, and with the snarky comments we see directed at him thru her posts and videos, she probably had him beat down so low that he’d do anything to avoid the wrath of shanann. I think she’d have made his life a living hell if he left.

      • mitzi2006

        He may not have been able to access finances online but it was a joint account and he had credit cards plus could go to bank at anytime and see what was there being it was a joint account. Being lazy isn’t an excuse for having no idea about their finances.

  11. ldks

    There has been so much discussion on this site about MLM, perhaps there would be interest in this article from The Washington Post:
    And the comments are gold.
    nvdl: if you feel this is not appropriate and need to delete, I understand.

  12. Kaye

    The penultimate line of page 575 of the discovery doc is appropriate here:

    “NICHOL said she is very financially stable, and CHRIS said he did not know women like her existed.”

  13. Aaren

    100% agree. Furthermore, he was head over heels, about NK too. Like: “I love how your booty tastes” (or was it smells?). None of this would have ever happened if he didn’t meet NK and had “his breath taken away.”

    It’s not her fault. But she is the driving reason. Sucks for her to live with all this now.

  14. Sylvester

    CBH you are so elegant with your wording. I can see you wearing a silk smoking jacket, sitting in a large velvet arm chair, sipping cognac while petting a large Afghan hound at your feet – or perhaps in the grand halls of academia smoking a pipe preparing for a lecture on Romantic Literature and the works of Lord Byron. I’m so glad you came here. You are a touch of class.

    • CBH

      What a vivid compliment. Gee, thanks. 😂 Much appreciated.

  15. KerryA

    I realize NK is not well regarded in many circles. However, I listened to her police interview tapes and I came away with the impression she was a level-headed, independent and intelligent young woman. Leaving aside the moral questions of the affair, I believe that Chris was somewhat taken aback by how ‘together’ she appeared. IIRC he told her “I didn’t know women like you exist” and when she questioned if his lifestyle was sustainable, she remarked “ I would never let someone put me into a bad financial situation just so people think we are fancy”. She was obviously a disciplined person (early hours at her job and exercising), and mentioned she lived modestly and has built up her credit, savings etc. Nick has also mentioned her education in the area of geology, a fairly difficult physical science. I think Chris was impressed by her as a whole person, especially the discipline and control she had over her life. He probably thought about how his life would be if he had been with someone responsible like this, how different it would have been. Maybe he thought about how his life could be going forward with an independent partner that would contribute equally to the finances and respect their money. It certainly would be less stressful for him and he would not feel that he was living a lie (pretending to be well off while being crushed with debt and the reoccurring threat of losing his home)

    • LaraLeon

      I wonder if in the beginning of his relationship with SW he also thought she was an independent woman with a house already, just to find out later she was very dependent on him financially and on “her team” for attention. Little by little his admiration for her ended because of the financial recklessness and how she treated him (like he was stupid, when he was the one really making the money). I guess she felt he needed to emasculate him to feel like an empowered woman and she probably thought having his children would make him subdued to her needs and wants forever. This crime as horrendous as it is shows that CW is telling her he is the one with all the power, all the strength and all the intelligence. They both had tremendous emotional issues and combined together with his crazy family and an affair was the a terrible mix that resulted in this tragedy where innocents paid with their lives. One thing I agree with Cindy W: They shouldn’t have gotten married or the marriage should have ended a long time ago. That speech he gives for one of his classes shows that there were many issues in that marriage already in 2002 and that the solutions he had in mind were having a child or having an affair with a coworker! He forgot to say murder as a final option……

      • Ralph Oscar

        “she probably thought having his children would make him subdued to her needs and wants forever.”

        When they married, she was under the impression she probably could not get pregnant due to the fibromyalgia and other health problems she had. So when he married her, he might well have never wanted nor expected children. Their children had loads of health problems, too. And all of a sudden, there’s a third one on the way…

        • nickvdl

          There probably is some truth to that. Who knows, maybe she saw the video he made during their marriage about another child fixing or healing a broken relationship.

          As you say, it’s possible when they met and he married her that he assumed they wouldn’t have children because she couldn’t. [She didn’t conceive during her first marriage].

          A friend of mine ended up marrying someone for the same reason. She told him she couldn’t have children and the next thing she fell pregnant. So they had the kid and got married. Not that long after she started having second thoughts about “giving up her life” for him etc.

          Based on a thorough study of her texts to Watts ass well as to her friends, it seems clear that Watts did initially consent to the third pregnancy, and may even have suggested it. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have a change of heart [Kessinger] and mind [finances] very soon after. It’s difficult to say – one way or the other – in the pregnancy video if he’s really unhappy about the third pregnancy. But there does seem to be some hesitancy, some stiff holding back and some doubt right from the moment he knew, and it only grew from there [unseen] just as the fetus was growing.

    • Shannon

      Very true

      • Shannon

        Oh dear, my comment for KerryA.
        Because he couldn’t do any socialization with other Humans (tks to Shanann). He never knew any woman who were much more controlled with their lives. Completely different then Shanann…..Wow…..the poor guy.
        Or that normal woman treat guys with respect and actually care.
        Remember he probably knew about Shanann’s past, the ugly side of her life before and with him.
        With Nicole, he sees an independent caring person.
        I like the pic of him kissing her on the cheek, her eyes closed.

  16. nancyjames3358

    Excellent narrative, Nick, on a complex, multi-faceted story. There are so many angles to the Watt’s tragedy, I am challenged to stay with a sole angle to make any sense of it. Appreciate your ability to focus.

  17. LaraLeon

    To answer your question Nick, I actually can’t decide if ever loved his children or not. That is why this case is so fascinating. We see him and we believe he loved his children at a certain point. But it is hard to reconcile with the crimes he committed, the disposal and nonchalant attitude during interrogation and media interviews. I cant really tell how somebody can disconnect so much and I am actually relieved I can’t. I felt he showed remorse during the sentencing when Bella was mentioned and he showed a little bit of humanity there. I even felt sorry for him. A mix of anger and sorrow for him actually. To be honest, I cannot really answer this question, if he loved them or not. In hindsight it is easy to say he didn’t but when we see all the videos, pictures and that last video in the airport, where he shows true happiness in seeing them then I go back to the same questions. It made me think if different types of love are possible, maybe people can love and then not love anymore, even if its your own child? Or you may think you dont love at a moment to later realize you do? Maybe love is not this solid feeling we want to believe it is? Maybe love is more fluid and dependent on circumstances and conditional? Or perhaps how we experience love is what we learned about love in our childhood?

    • Wallflower

      I agree with this too LaraLeon. Chris seemed to lack true emotional love and feeling. He googled “when to say I love you” and “how does it feel when someone tells you I love you” on July 25. I feel this was because perhaps his yearnings or feelings were alien to him. They were driving him because it was the most profound feeling he had experienced. He is emotionally defective. He may not have even loved Kessinger but the physical aspect was powerful and confusing. He repeated words of Shanann used kiddos, peanut, and even ball of energy type words. He repeated actions he saw others do as a father. He followed orders Shanann gave. He packed bags, mowed with them on his back, took a pie in the face and read. He says that a lot. But no actual earnest descriptions of heartfelt interactions. Kessinger pushed a relationship from the beginning. She was telling him to try with his wife as she googled porn prep for their dates. #not that innocent. She did not like he had kids. She wanted her own first and my bets are she dated a separated man with kids that interfered before. Perhaps Kessinger is the catalyst for the plea deal. He became angry and finally knew it were best for him. Maybe because she was a protected witness with knowledge or planning the crime. Maybe that would provide witness protection. Maybe that would explain why DA did not make him give details of girls as part of the plea. I see a Kessinger the same way I see Shanann only wearing workboots and not high heels.

    • nickvdl

      “I actually can’t decide if ever loved his children or not…”

      @LaraLeon It’s easy to see the answer to that question, but not by looking directly at it, if that makes sense. Obviously looking at the end result of the crime, the murders of his wife and children, it seems logical that Watts didn’t [or couldn’t have] loved either his wife or children when he killed them.

      But emotional reality isn’t logical. If we take other crimes like the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, and the murder of Reeva Steenkamp [Oscar Pistorius’ girlfriend], and Travis Alexander [by Jodi Arias] it would be absurd to say the murderers in those cases never loved their victims once upon a time.

      To me it seems clear that Watts loved both his wife and children at a certain time. Many people experience genuine love and then as circumstances [and perhaps finances] change or deteriorate, an affirming relationship can feel like a bind or a cage.

      Many people following true crime don’t like to look into the subtleties. They want quick, straight answers. Guilty. Innocent. Monster. Victim. Psychopath. The reality is that people [criminals, victims and the rest of us] aren’t black or white. People evolve just as relationships evolve and change. People change. They fall in love, and they can fall out of it.

      We like to believe Watts was incapable of love because the alternative is far more terrifying and troubling, and it reflects reality at *us*. That alternative is that Watts was a good husband and loving father and genuinely cared about his family. And then, for real reasons [based on real events that happened within the marriage and outside of it] Watts started to feel different about his wife and children.

      Eventually those feelings of disassociation gravitated to a mercenary sense of turning people – living things, flesh and blood – into disposable objects. We may be quick to judge that and call it monstrous, but every day we block and write off people we know on social media [those close to us and strangers]. We dispose of them like they are nothing, and we mean to do that. It’s not murder, of course, but it’s the same psychology of writing people [and sometimes family] off. The Chris Watts case isn’t nearly as alien to us as many believe it to be. If he is a monster, then so are we. Our society, our culture, is more disposable in the way we treat others, and other living things, than it has ever been.

      The way this case was tossed aside without any real attempt to understand why is a further indictment of just how shallow we [via our various systems] have become, and how even the justice system doesn’t seem to care about why.

      Why matters if humanity to our fellow man is something we cherish and care about. It doesn’t matter when our humanity is gone. And if we can’t see why, something in our humanity is already slipping away…

      “I actually can’t decide if ever loved his children or not…”

      So the short answer is I believe he did love his children. He did love his wife. And then he didn’t.
      He may even have still felt love for the children when he killed them.
      Because of this he may have felt the need to take special care to kill them in a gentle and painless manner [if that makes sense].

      So why did he kill them, and how could he kill them, if he loved them? He loved someone else [and something else] more, and felt justified in the transaction – their lives, for another life with someone else. He also felt he had no choice, it was their lives or him giving up his shot at some other, better, life. Again, a transaction. In a materialistic, consumer society, something or someone is always expendable on the yellow brick road to profit and prosperity. Someone has to pay for the fairy tale.

      • LaraLeon

        Great points!!!

      • caseykaufman84

        I am in a similar “marriage” dynamic – with my business partner. Of everyone involved, I am “thriving” the most, spending the least, and micromanaged/complained to more than I think is deserved. [in a very summed up nutshell]

        I am not as socially robotic as Chris, but I think that’s mostly thanks to practice and self reflection. Still, out of everyone in this entire case – I can, and have always, related to Chris the most.

        Like Chris, I also tend to make decisions by categorizing my options in a very black and white way. I am able to compartmentalize and put feelings aside (even if only for a short while) once my mind has been made up, in order to justify my decisions.

        Though people like to point out how SW & NK are so similar, I believe Chris was looking at strictly their differences when determining who was better for him. Black and white.

        * NK doesn’t “live large” – chooses small housing, not very materialist
        * NK saved money, and views saving as a higher priority than SW, so much so that she was willing to help Chris with any money related/cost effective concerns
        * NK didn’t use Chris as a prop. She didn’t even have social media – this is in huge contrast to SW – and Chris likely constantly noticed and enjoyed this aspect of her
        * NK was into things Chris liked – car museums, exploring outdoors, camping, etc
        * NK works with him – though she does not do the same job he does – she would likely be more understanding of his position & they would have this in common
        * NK want to be around him because of who he is, as opposed to “hey smile for the camera and make a comment about how good this shake is”
        * NK has been to his house. She likely commented on how “wowed” she was by it. To see her enthusiasm would make Chris excited but also concerned – in order for her to keep viewing him as “successful”, he will need to make some drastic changes financially
        * NK was healthy. She didn’t use Chris as a crutch, or as her therapist.
        * NK was in good shape because of her own choices, like Chris. She didn’t boast about it on social media, even though she looked and lived the part more than all the Thrivers ever looked. (this is on a similar level as the Dunning Kruger’s effect, to me. It annoys me when people in my life who should be less humble [SW & Thrivers] are instead the most “confident” and showy. When people like me [Chris and NK] are aware enough to understand we still have room to improve, and don’t need to shout to the world about our achievements to feel good about them)
        * NK is more independent seeming – it’s safe to say that Chris doesn’t view her as a “please go with me to expensive Primrose on Monday” kinda person
        * NK = less dramatic
        * NK = less complaining
        * NK listens to, and is interested in helping Chris with things he views as important (finding an apartment within his budget in an area he would like to live in) as opposed to SW who would likely not help him unless she also benefitted, and if in this situation would likely “help find an apartment” by picking out something that she liked best, instead of listening to what Chris thinks is best

        I could list more, but you get the point. I can see how in Chris’s eyes, Nicole was VASTLY different than Shan’ann.

        With that all said, when it comes to his love for his daughters, I believe he loved them. I believe he was able to “shut off” his feelings about them by also compartmentalizing, as well.


        * I cannot be good enough for them alone, they need their Mom
        * They will eventually hate me for their mom not being around
        * In order to get out of my financial rut, I will have to discontinue their private schooling and they will not receive the spoiling like they are used to.
        * Nicole and I both work all day, and I do not have any family or close friends out here that can watch my girls/take them to school/doctors/etc
        * I will forever have to remain in contact with Shan’anns family so they can have a relationship with the girls
        * I will forever be questioned by Shan’anns family if I have to remain in contact with them
        * Shan’ann has always bought the girls everything, I do not know the first thing about buying things like clothes and bedroom decor, and all other
 “girly things” for growing children
        * The parent/control/boss dynamic will confuse them, and me, if I am a single father
        * I will not know how to emotionally attend to their crying and sadness over their mother being gone
        * They will resent Nicole
        * I will not get away with this murder unless people believe Sha’nann left me. No one will believe she left me if she did not take the girls with her.

        Black and white decision-making formula:

        I am in a financial hole + I resent my wife + I believe I am in love + Pros with Nicole + Cons with Shan’ann = I choose Nicole

        I choose Nicole = Shan’ann must be killed

        IF Shan’ann must be killed AND children are alive THEN I will be caught
        IF I am caught THEN I have no life with Nicole
        IF Shan’ann must be killed AND children are killed THEN I will not be caught
        IF I am not caught THEN I have life with Nicole

        The final “obvious to Chris” outcome:
        I will NOT be caught so I WILL have life with Nicole

      • Ronald

        Aside from whatever motivated him, is there an explanation for how poorly conceived this all was in terms of any expectation that he could ever get away with this? He appears to be of normal intelligence.

        • nickvdl

          Do you think this was more poorly conceived than the double murder of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman? How about the murder of Caylee Anthony? The list goes on.

          • Ronald

            I do, at least more so than Nicole and Goldman. Those murders were done remotely not at the killer’s home. No need to dispose of the bodies, as in this case. No GP S evidence re the killer’s whereabouts, as there was here as he disposed if the bodies. No affair partner to point to as motivation. No need for OJ to appear on T V and fake concern about the whereabouts, a real challenge , subjecting Watts to scrutiny as to his demeanor and body language etc.
            I just cannot understand how this guy could have reasonably expected to get away with this if he had even a cursory understanding of the level of sophistication in investigation of these crimes.
            And then, he did not even lawyer up and he acquiesced to a polygraph.
            So, I question if he had normal intelligence.

          • nickvdl

            We’ve discussed the “lack of intelligence” in this crime before on site, so I won’t deal with it here again. In terms of the technical execution, this was one of the best executed crimes we’ve seen in a high profile case. No crime scene, no known murder weapon, no times of death, no known order the victims were killed, virtually no crime scene evidence besides possibly fecal smudges on sheets. And very little usable intel on the criminal’s phone.
            More here:




  18. Pearl

    We talk about women in an abusive relationship but we don’t take in consideration when man are in an abusive relationship and what happens with they mental health. I agree with you all along, this guy exploded, has never been violent and I suppose his mother was dominant towards him as well. I know he murdered his entire family but I still believe in a new trial that take also in consideration his mental health.

    • thetinytech2018

      I love that you said this because I said it on one of my last posts. I phrased it a bit differently but still, my statement was “If the rules were reversed, we’d be rushing to the defense of the killer, mentioning every marital indiscretion and claiming this was her only way to break free of a controlling relationship.”

      I don’t know, but I’ve noticed a propensity to go with “he’s terrible, she’s a saint” or vice versa, but life really isn’t like that. There’s grey (gray?) areas too. We’re not badly written characters in a Rom-Com, human beings are multi dimensional so it’s not as easy as she’s good he’s bad. I think she relished in the “I can treat him however and he won’t leave me, how can he leave his sick kids and wife?” (I notice her sickness came into play alot when it was something she didn’t want to do or needed an excuse). I mean, she tried it with her first husband and it didn’t work in her favour. She thought he’d never leave and that she was so great, she never thought Chris would grow a spine.

      Short of a psychotic episode or mental break, seemingly docile people with no history of violence don’t go 0 to 60 in a matter of weeks. He showed know signs of mental illness that would cause a break from reality, however, I think he let things simmer, so there wasn’t one nail in the coffin, there were many and eventually the structure caved. He may have seen it as “If I bring up these issues, she’s gonna start a war and I’m exhausted from working all day.” and let things slide. There was no winning with Shan’ann. Granted he took the cowards way out but I think he saw no other choice, and if the kids were going to grow up in a broken home with a mentally and emotionally unstable mother in a life of poverty (knowing she’ll never get an actual job) he may have seen what he did as a way to end what would’ve been a life of misery in his eyes.

  19. marielangford3311

    Speaking of only dynamics between Chris and Nickole,, notice the photo of Chris giving Nickole a sweet kiss to cheek,, and her eyes are closed. An innocent and sincere moment, I think. Just something about it that I never saw with him and Shan’nan.

  20. Deborah

    Very insightful article. What really strikes me about how the power play changed in their marriage ; Shan’ann was cowering when she realized he no longer loved her. She was begging him to work on their marriage, texting her friends her angst. She had lost her control over him.
    I also agree that he should have had a mental evaluation . At any rate his life is over.

    • nickvdl

      Deborah, she was cowering in the sense that she was shocked, and afraid given that she was pregnant and financially insecure. But she wasn’t in terms of getting herself a small army around her early on – Nickole, Cassie, Addy, Cristina etc. She was also swearing a lot and taking control of her husband [she thought] just before her trip. So overall I don’t think she was cowering. I’ve made a very careful study of the interrogation video. When Agent Tammy Lee asks Watts how he woke her up that morning, you can see who was cowering in fear. Ironic giving what ultimately happened.

      • Sylvester

        oh my God, there were rrequirements as to how he was supposed to wake her up

      • LGW

        Can anyone be so kind as to give me the basic bullet points of what he says here? I have hearing loss and I’m finding it very hard to understand what he is saying.

      • Maura

        @LGW who asked about the video:
        He’s asked how he woke his wife up. He said he slowly rubbed her back/shoulders a bit until she opened one eye like an alligator. He doesn’t want to jolt her awake. When asked if he was outside the bed, he replied that he had slipped back in the bed.

        IMO all lies since she never made it to bed that night/morning. Especially since her friend Nickole told police Shan’ann said Cece would be waking up at 5:30. Why would she go to bed at 2 and get up at 4 after feeling sick all weekend and after a delayed flight?

        • nickvdl

          Thanks for transcribing Maura.

          If you read Drilling Through Discovery you may be surprised [and alarmed] to find why there’s some truth to these words and gestures. Which is why I’ve highlighted them…

      • LGW

        Thank you so much, Maura. God, there’s something extra-unsettling about him describing her with one eye open.

      • Ralph Oscar

        Another thing about the interrogation – Chris repeatedly denies “doing anything” to the missing persons, saying such things as “I never put my hands on them”, “I didn’t hurt them”, and other sort of *detailed* negating comments! I can’t remember exactly where I saw it now, but I was kind of shocked reading it, frankly. Sort of like when a child is professing innocence when accused of taking a donut without permission: “I didn’t take that delicious donut with the rasperry jelly filling! I didn’t get any on me! I didn’t even know there were any donuts there!”

      • Ralph Oscar

        That “one eye open” bit would be consistent with her having been strangled while prone on the bed, fitting the “Chris giving her a backrub” scenario I described here:

        Shan’Ann had had neck surgery; I’m guessing she had a more restricted range of movement for her head than normal because of that. If the surgery was on the left side of her neck (the scar there we can see in some of the pics), she likely would have been more comfortable turning her head to that side so as to not pull against scar tissue. She would have been lying face down with her head turned to the side. One eye against the bed; the other above. Her left eye up; right eye against the mattress, assuming she’d turn her head as little as possible to still be able to breathe, given an assumed restricted range of motion.

        If Chris strangled her while pressing down on her, her eyes would have flown open with shock and terror. But if he’d been pressing her down against the bed, that lower eye wouldn’t have been able to open, since it would have been pressed against the bed. Once she was dead, her left eye would be frozen open, while her right eye would remain shut.

        Like an alligator.

      • Ralph Oscar

        “He said he slowly rubbed her back/shoulders a bit”

        This just struck me – I suspect that Chris was inserting facts into his testimony where possible, like where he said he saw that Bella was blue via the baby monitor. I believe Bella was blue from being drugged/suffocated.

        The scenario I’ve been suggesting tonight is that Chris was giving Shan’Ann a backrub when he strangled her – that would put her face-down on the bed and more helpless.

        And now here’s Chris, describing rubbing her back/shoulders a bit…

        • Shannon

          Apparently both Shanann and her mom Sandi, had to be Woken, very Carefully.
          Otherwise I think they went ballistic if woken the wrong way.
          Both Chris and Frank said this.
          Pretty Pathetic.
          So it shows who Rules in both these households.

    • Janny Free

      I think if one would give them both a mental evaluation, Shanann would be the one with huge red flags coming up, Chris, yes, maybe, but not as much as her. Her posts and videos clearly show she had some major issues.

      • Nick

        I think the whole mental evaluation line of thinking is a symptom of psychological laziness. It seems we cannot resist the urge to slap a label of this or that disorder onto a person. Once done then we know who and why and what really happened. That’s bullshit though. We know what happened when we understand -intimately – the underlying dynamics driving their narrative. That takes a lot of work and effort and another very difficult thing: thinking. Concentration. Our society abhors thinking and self-inspection. On the other hand we love to label and assign blame.

  21. tbp

    I agree he should have had some type of mental evaluation. It might show something or nothing at all. I don’t think CW even knows what made him kill his family. He seems to make decisions, but doesn’t consider the consequences to these decisions. Isn’t it the frontal lobe that makes decisions for us? But it’s the other parts of the brain that connect to the frontal part that allows us to think about the consequences of the decision. ( As if there is a connection between the two parts that make us rational thinkers ). I think this part of the brain develops in adulthood, which is why so many teenagers do things without thinking about the repercussions later. CW’s brain reminds me of a teenager’s brain. He just does without thinking about the consequences. He didn’t think about later on down the road with the pregnancy, the affair, and the killing of his family. He figures he will just lie as the lies come to his mind. The investigators probably saw this and started putting ideas in his head just to get him to talk about where the bodies were. It worked.

    As for emotions, he doesn’t feel for anyone but his own needs. I found it interesting how he is trying to convince the FBI agent how he is such an easy going guy. That when people yell at him, he doesn’t react. Mmmm. He doesn’t know how he should react because he doesn’t feel much emotion. He will mimic what he has learned, but sometimes it comes across as inappropriate for what is taking place. I don’t think he really loved his kids. He more than likely viewed them as one would a pet that they could play with when it suited them. When that pet gets in the way of ones plans, one might give it away to a new home. He probably ignored his children when he wasn’t being filmed or watched by someone. He acted, for much of the time.

    I agree that NK was out of his league. She was smart, pretty, and into healthy living. She would go on hikes and probably wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. I believe he wasn’t in love, but he was very attracted to her. I don’t think their relationship would have lasted, though even if he divorced. She would have wanted something more for a life partner. He knew he wasn’t good enough, and it made him all the desperate to prove her wrong.

    I have trouble with the financial situation. I think he needed money to spend on the affair, but I don’t think he was all that worried about careful spending. From the evidence, it appeared he may have sold that house and bought himself a car that was more expensive than SW had. Those Audi Q7’s are pricey. If he was so concerned about money, why not get a standard Ford SUV

    I have read and researched true crime for a long time. I was a Courttv junkie form the early 2000’s. I usually don’t hang around reading about a case as much time as I have spent looking at this one. I can’t seem to figure the “why” aspect. If he murdered SW, I think I would have thought “he was tired of his wife and, in a rage, killed her”., but there is the kids that I just can’t get my head around. Many that murder their spouse don’t murder their children. I know some do, but not most. Another aspect that makes me read more is the oil tanks. It’s completely inhumane to do this to your own children. The only thing I can come up with is something is wrong with his thinking. Is it nature or nurture? I don’t know, but I do think he should have been evaluated by a professional.

    Just random thoughts.:)
    I enjoy reading the blog and all the comments. Thank you.

    • nickvdl

      tbp the why of this crime lies in fear, shame and materialism – not mental illness, not rage [although resentment was a factor], not psychopathy or lack of emotion [though there’s an element of that too], not narcissism, and not “he just snapped”.

      As crazy as it sounds, Watts was desperate to win over the “regard” of others. In the beginning this seems to have been in terms of his own immediate family. Later it was everyone besides them, and one person in particular. In my opinion. You clearly see how much he cares about the opinions of others during the interrogation. After admitting to the FBI that he killed his wife he begs them not to think less of him. He said something similar to Cassie on the morning after the murders.

      • Sylvester

        Shan’ann may have helped him along his way of desperation, wanting to cull favor, etc., but I believe he was that way much earlier. It’s kind of a “so what”, really, but he chose a dominant partner in order to be dominated because he got something out of it – she chose someone she could dominate because she got something out of it. She could control her environment and everyone in it. She didn’t make him the way he turned out, he came that way. I would guess that Leonard King was not someone who could be dominated. And so, she moved on. As her illnesses reared their ugly heads (or gained speed as she felt out of control) she became more intent in finding someone and something to control. And there he was, ripe for the picking. I don’t like either one of them, but then that’s a so what too. It’s not integral to crime solving that I like them or not.

      • Mustang Sally


      • Teresa

        Well, extreme narcissists do want other to think well of them, very much so. Ted Bundy was extremely materialistic, stealing from an early age and showing disdain for his step father who “only” drove a Rambler car.
        He preferred to relate to the Cowell family (his mothers side) as his Uncle was a professor of music at Puget Sound University.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “She was smart, pretty, and into healthy living.”

      Also, look at all the pictures showing NK without any makeup on. Would Shan’Ann ever go out without first spending however long it took to “get her face on”, much less allow herself to be photographed like that? NK was completely comfortable with being herself! People have criticized NK as being unattractive, but the reality is, she had a very fresh, natural look because she wasn’t caking on a lot of fake.

      I imagine this was a breath of fresh air to Chris.

  22. Sylvester

    When I go back over the one on one between Agent Coder and Watts, I think Coder was very good at getting Watts to talk about his life, something he needed to do for a very long time. He had a lot he needed to get off his chest. He was also wary, and understandably so, that Coder was trying to get a confession out of him. But there are moments, like when he said Shan’ann took over the finances early on because “I sold a vehicle for less than I paid for it and she thought that was stupid.” And yet he still can’t say “and that made me feel exactly like how she saw me.” He also tells Coder he did everything around the house. He did the laundry, he did the cleaning, he fixed their backpacks and made their lunch. Nothing makes me feel sadder for him than when he comes home with a pizza and he’s not acknowledged. Thank you for dinner. Thank you for working a full day and then running out to buy us dinner. And no acknowledgment when he comes through the door – because she’s doing a live feed and pitching a product. He wants to tell Agent Coder all of this, how humiliated he was made to feel so many times but Watts can’t provide a motive. He then tells him, sort of man to man, how he met someone who just took his breath away. He wants Coder to understand him and how that might have been for him. He really wants to tell him everything but he can’t.

    For Watts, NK was his lifeline. She was more than someone he fell in love with. She was going to save him from what his life had become. If we can just stand there, for just a moment and know what that was for him, it fills us with sorrow and sadness, and we maybe can see instances in our own lives where we needed something just like that and would have done anything to hold on to it.

    “She walks in beauty, like the night
    Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
    And all that’s best of dark and bright
    Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
    Thus mellowed to that tender light
    Which heaven to gaudy day denies” – She Walks in Beauty, Lord Byron

    • Mustang Sally


    • Sherri

      Your post gave me chills. To be honest, I consider Shan’ann to be a victim, so I haven’t criticized her in any way.. despite the fact that I hate MLM’s and all the people on my Facebook feed who promote them, she considered herself a “stay at home mom” when she put her kids in daycare all day, she bought way too much stuff for how much money they made, she encouraged the purchase of a way-too-big house when they didn’t have any kids yet.. etc. I know if she had been my friend in real life, I would’ve unfollowed her on Facebook like 2 years ago.

      Anyways, I think a lot of this case and the relationship dynamic between CW, SW, and NK has made me examine my own marital relationship. Am I expressing affection, grace, and thankfulness? Shan’ann expected to receive it, but didn’t always give it. Marriage is a 2-way street. CW finally had NK who expressed her thanks and was happy to be with him. However–I think NK was just as domineering as SW, just in different ways. And over time, would NK have eventually morphed into being as controlling and thankless as SW, as many marital partners do over time?

      • Ralph Oscar

        “Off Topic: Still stunned at the amount of SW’s” stuff; especially her mommy shoes . . . and then NAU states she wore the same pair of flip flops every day.”

        Let’s not forget – CW and NK were still very much in the “honeymoon” phase of their new relationship, when both parties are on their absolute best and most appealing behavior. Who knows what NK would have turned out to be. It’s very likely, given CW’s mom and wife, that he was choosing someone else who was also very much an in-charge type of personality.

        Does anyone know what NK was like at work? That’s the NK whose behavior CW would have originally seen and subconsciously evaluated. And I think that’s where a control-freaky person’s efficiency, attention to detail, and take-charge approach would be regarded positively. The car dealership where SW worked in phone sales before CW took the oil company job said she was very good in that position.

      • Ralph Oscar

        I’m sorry, I just left a reply to your post with the wrong quote at the top (about SW’s mommy shoes). I meant to put THIS quote:

        “I think NK was just as domineering as SW, just in different ways. And over time, would NK have eventually morphed into being as controlling and thankless as SW, as many marital partners do over time?”

        That should make a little more sense.

    • Shannon

      That was nice Sylvester.

  23. Diana

    tbp I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree that CW didn’t really love his kids, I’ve thought this since looking at several of the videos with CW and the kids. What stood out to me was that I rarely, if ever, saw CW kissing and hugging the girls, loving on them the way Shan’ann did in many of those videos. I believe CW did help Shan’ann care for them, as a father should, but I think it was more out of a sense of duty, not fatherly love and affection. Its quite possible he came to resent the kids for soaking up so much of his hard earned money for their needs, plus all of his time in the evenings to assist Shan’ann in caring for them while she worked at making Thrive videos. I think by the time CeCe arrived, CW had enough of being a dad.

    • Ralph Oscar

      I keep wondering if CW ever *wanted* kids in the first place. When he met and got involved with Shan’Ann, her narrative was that, due to her health complications, she probably couldn’t ever get pregnant. And then all of a sudden, two kids and a third on the way. If he’d never really wanted kids, and the kids he got were rather a burden, what with the health complications and tantrums and not sleeping and won’t eat normally and all the rest, well…

  24. polin

    I like you grasped the biased psychoanalysis theory . But the Shan’anns situation must be considered as well … Carl Jung stated that motherhood alters personality of a woman , she is not that easy going captivating girl anymore , she transposes her ego upon her child, and a toddler becomes the center of the Universe , this is her instinct she can not ditch it , while a man is still the same guy, who is craving for a bachelors vivid life , of course he maintains the responsibility he got, but his personality does not change , having regard to all the circumstances and the tensions they endured Chris had another choice to get out , but in this case he would be deprived of all the pleasures he had due to the bills and child maintenance… Michael Rourke admitted that is the most ferocious and severe case in his entire career…

    • Shannon

      Doesn’t say much for Rourke.
      Considering 40 woman were killed in his state, in 2018!
      This is and was not as horrific a case as the next one.
      Chris figured kids dissolve before found, they were breaking down in the tanks already. He figured he would be able to either fix Shanann’s grave or move her..
      He thought more time alone at home, to go over, fix any problems.
      Unfortunately, he didn’t have Time……tick….tock….Nicole showed up.

  25. Shannon

    There are many relationships, where one partner is more dominant, one partner less.
    I don’t think Chris had alot of affectionate relationship’s before Shanann. He really had no one to compare her to. Her grew to accomodate her. She said before thrive, she was moody, bitchy, not a good mom. After thrive….can you believe it….lol….she was better……Eeeeek.
    With NK, feelings he never experienced before. Freedom with her, camping, no kids, no one screaming, no videoing. Actual talking, smiling, feeling like a man. Most woman want to be treated like a lady, and the guy like a man. He couldn’t be this way, he was ordered to be that way..
    I’m sure he loved them all at one time. But yes we can fall out of love. He started to pull away, detach himself from all of them, prior to murders. For them, the emotion of wanting and being with them, loving them, protecting them, was no more.
    He became cold, distant.
    He decided their fate.
    I think he snooped around in the house, realized how screwed they were. Anger sets in. Don’t know if he did any research on divorce, support payments, losing your house.
    Figured I’m better off without them. No more, nothing.
    His money, was not paying the mortgage, Shanann was lying, spending, moving the monies around. He seemed to have no idea what she was doing with his money. I’d be pissed if my money was not paying the mortgage. He realized, foreclosure, no more home, daycare too expensive, medical bills…still owing. Being sued.
    Now everything a liability.
    Will we ever understand why someone kills. I don’t think so. But we can still try to understand why.

    • Ralph Oscar

      Some witness reported that Chris had much less patience with the children when he joined them in NC for that last week of their trip, if memory serves.

  26. Shannon

    Financial problems.
    Men kill because the have lost the ability to support their family.
    Male ego, identity.
    Losing ones identity is a key component here.
    Immediate need and gain in the moment, premeditated built up in weeks or months.
    Not spontaneous.
    Confess because they see the reality of what they’re facing.

  27. Kat

    Too long to read….he is a fucking killer who cares if Shanann walked over him,he deserved it

    • Shannon

      I guess she deserved to be killed also.
      If you can’t Read, a narrative, how could you even fathom making a constructive comment?

    • marielangford3311

      Took you a long time to think that one up, huh Kat?

  28. nancyjames3358

    I can’t stop ruminating on this post in your True Crime menu.

    #ChrisWatts this comment was left for me on YouTube from a
    childhood friend of Chris Watts! It offers insight about Chris, and
    his family.
    8:09 AM – Jan 22, 2019

    If true, it answers many questions.
    If true, disturbing how he could keep this in check so long.

  29. voici je

    i doubt one thing in Watts-Kessinger time story…i can’t believe Chris watts would have murder his family for a 2 months love bubble affair….my guess….they engage in that relationship months earlier..sorry if i make spelling mistakes…english is not my mother tongue…

    and some people react to that in very bad comments…i am not stupid for not knowing english perfect…just need to clarify it…!

  30. LGW

    I just wanted to make a general statement. I think the CW case is going to do as much for true crime as Ted Bundy did. The case of Bundy broke the mold of what people pictured a killer would be or look like: he was good-looking, college educated, somebody who was so approachable, he was able to get away with murder many, many times.

    Now comes CW. Like Bundy, this guy is breaking the mold. He seemed to have it all and in my opinion, had the most “normal” prolific social media presence of anyone in true crime so far. He should be studied as much as Bundy. We have to learn from this case.

    In the early days of AOL, I belonged to a true crime chat group participated by Ann Rule. She once remarked “the most gentle people were the ones most fascinated by true crime.” Maybe there’s some truth in that.

    I love this site and everyone’s different perspectives and insights. Thank you.

  31. Ralph Oscar

    I was pondering the financial angle, which I feel is the wild, drunken elephant in the room in this case. I was talking to a new acquaintance online, who revealed that he was twice divorced. Something he said brought to mind the Watts case, and so I’ve been quizzing him about the finances of divorce 😀

    He and his first wife divorced in a state with *permanent* alimony. Even though his ex now has a really good tech sector job, he still must pay her alimony. He’s asked if they can change this; she says no. Who would turn down free money? He remarried, had two daughters. His financial situation has never recovered – he’s been unable to set aside anything for his two daughters’ college. He lives paycheck to paycheck, and meanwhile, there sits his first wife, who is earning good money, receiving permanent alimony. He describes the two divorces with child support/alimony leaving him with “virtually nothing”. Some of his observations:

    “It’s virtually impossible to stop or modify the alimony as long as she wants it. I’d attempt to talk to her and she’d say things like ‘would you stop taking money if you didn’t have to?'”

    “It can get pretty bad financially when you’re busting your ass at work and doing well but still taking home as much as if you were working for minimum wage. The wife getting alimony … lives in a paid off home with her mom.”

    “Meanwhile I can’t save to retire although I can modify or stop the alimony when I’m ready to. The catch 22 is that I can’t save to retire but that’s the only way to stop it.”

    “Many angry men and a few women in my shoes. Very frustrating but you need to make it work somehow.”

    “I can’t honestly relate to the idea of killing someone to avoid giving them money but I do understand how another might get there. I also can’t honestly say I’d mourn her passing if that did happen. I’ve joked about loosening the lugs on her car wheels but that’s just out of frustration, etc.”

    “I haven’t been able to recover financially. I’ve gotten raises at work and the dollar amount of my commissions increase but never enough to pay bills without having anxiety about next week or next month.”

    “I had two daughters with my second wife and haven’t been able to save anything towards college.”

    “The person making the payments becomes nothing more than a source to enable the other to be ok with no consideration regarding its affect on the payer.”

    “The ex who receives the alimony seems to feel fully entitled to my money to this day. If I bring it up in any shape or form she will move away or discontinue the conversation immediately.”

    While Colorado is not a permanent alimony state, in 2014 a new law went into effect that prescribed a formula for how to determine spousal maintenance payments: 40% of the higher-earning spouse’s income minus 50% of the lower-earning spouse’s income. Shan’Ann would finally have incentive to come clean about how much she was *not* making on her “business”, or at least there would finally be an accounting of just how much it was *costing* her to make that income amount (which means that’s not the actual income). If she’d been making $80K/yr in actual income, they’d have been paying their bills. That’s all there is to it.

    While my acquaintance would never countenance murder (he has two daughters from that first marriage), he is clear that the financial fallout of his two divorces, particularly that first one with the permanent alimony, has changed his life for the worse. His perspective is that the financial situation for the Watts family was likely a very important factor in Chris Watts’ deciding to do what he did.

    If Chris and Shan’Ann had won the lottery the day before the murders, I’m confident there wouldn’t have been any murders.

    • nickvdl

      Fantastic post Ralph and some wonderful authentic responses here. I’d like to put this up as a Guest Post. Happy with that?

      • Ralph Oscar

        Certainly – I’m honored to contribute to your site. I’ve enjoyed your work so much. Thank you.

    • Shannon

      Shane about your friend. With her having a job, it’s interesting he had to pay her. He should revisit this issue. Check online and maybe talk to a lawyer. Usually lawyers give a free consultation.

  32. CDB

    “Besides the mortgage they couldn’t afford, a lot of the money was going to medical expenses for Shan’ann and both children. Watts had virtually zero medical expenses; he didn’t even spend money on a gym. If Watts was contributing most of the money to the household [and I believe he was] but spending hardly any of it, then this was cause for massive resentment when he found out how little money they actually had.”

    Erm… are you suggesting that it was unfair for Shannan and the girls to spend so much on MEDICAL CARE when Chris had no medical bills and… that keeping his family healthy would breed resentment? I mean… come on. I bring home most of the money, but if my husband and child had severe medical bills and I had none that would not be a source of resentment… or the cost of the mortgage for our SHARED home. Now, if the spending was all on personal things (clothes, going out, etc) just for Shannan, maybe I’d buy that.

  33. nancyjames3358

    Thanks Ralph Oscar!
    Your post inspired me to see what see how Colorado awards alimony.
    Since we do not have financial facts, if SW and CW had similar salaries, he may not have had a huge financial alimony hit. Child support, yes.

    The Worst Alimony States for Men

    Colorado: Does not care if one or the other party to divorce can adequately support themselves.

    Instead, they use a formula they call “temporary.” It takes 40% of the higher income deducted by 50% of the lower income. It is not based on financial reality. This “temporary” formula often becomes the long-term, more permanent formula.

    Furthermore, Colorado is a community-property state. That means all property is divided equally. So, you could lose half of your property and assets. And then, still pay out 40% of your income.

    In Colorado, spousal maintenance is awarded in situations where it is deemed appropriate by the court, or situations in which “a spouse needs support and the other spouse has the ability to pay support.”

    Colorado statutory law has guidelines for determining the amount of alimony so that it is a streamlined and more objective process. When the parties’ marriage has lasted for at least three years and they have a combined gross income of $240,000 or less (or a combined gross income that is at the uppermost limits of child support obligations), then the court calculates the amount of the award like this:

    Amount = 40 percent of the higher income party’s monthly adjusted gross income, minus 50 percent of the lower income party’s monthly adjusted gross income.

    To give an example, if the higher earning party has an adjusted gross income of $8,000 per month and the lower earning party has an adjusted gross income of $4,000 per month, then the court will take 40 percent of $8,000 (or $3,200) and subtract 50 percent of $4,000 (or $2,000), making the spousal maintenance award $1,200 per month.

    There is an extensive table in the statute that sets forth the duration of the award based on the number of months of marriage.

    Spousal maintenance factors, including but not limited to:
    Gross income of each of the parties;
    Marital property distributed to each of the parties;
    Financial resources of each party;
    Reasonable financial needs as it was established during the marriage.

    Off Topic: Still stunned at the amount of SW’s” stuff; especially her mommy shoes . . . and then NAU states she wore the same pair of flip flops every day.

    • Ralph Oscar

      Thank you for posting those details. I wonder – did CW’s phone or computer show any searches on divorce details in Colorado?

    • Ralph Oscar

      “Off Topic: Still stunned at the amount of SW’s” stuff; especially her mommy shoes . . . and then NAU states she wore the same pair of flip flops every day.”

      Yeah, me too. Imagine every pair of heels cost $80 (which would be rather inexpensive, given Shan’Ann’s “Thrivin'” tastes and need to always be shown with the best of the best). Adds up wicked fast… And that’s *just* the shoes!

  34. laralovesandrew

    Nick, I totally agree that Watts was enjoying having his balls back while Shan’ann was in NC. He had found a kindred spirit in Nichol–they were both into fitness & body image, among a lot of other things. He got to go on fun and interesting dates and she didn’t demean him, control him or emasculate him. She made him feel like a man and not a submissive non-entity. I’ve never understood women who insist on infantilizing their men–reducing them to the opposite of what it means to be a man.

    The fact that he discovered that he was utterly and totally TRAPPED b/c of the financial situation that I believe Shan’ann was responsible for creating and the new pregnancy that seemed to come from outer space (I don’t believe he was aware that she probably made the decision to get preggo) led to him annihilating all the “objects” he felt were standing in his way. I believe he felt a real desperation to get free from Shan’ann and the children so he could be with Nichol. It was life or death for him. He felt he had to sacrifice the family that made him feel so inferior. The problem is that he somehow convinced himself that doing that wasn’t evil.

  35. Karen

    When C. Watts made his speech for his communication class about relationship deterioration and repair, in April 2012, it was an ominous foreshadowing of his future. He did exactly what he spoke of in that video and he did it with the person he spoke of in the video as well. Yes, he actually talks about relationships. He outlined what was going to happen when his marriage broke down. He gave the whole outline of what was happening why it broke down and what he did wrong. The interesting part was a message at the bottom of the video from Shan’ann that said, “Great job Christopher.” He didn’t take any of his own advice, so forgive us for not taking it as well. Forgive me for not posting the video link.

  36. Nicole

    Really enjoyed your analysis, Nick, and I totally agree with your assessment of the situation. The best part of this post, however, is the George Harrison video. Ive l loved that song since I was a little girl!!

  37. Ally

    CW must of felt such inspiration and relief to finally do the things that HE enjoyed such as camping, car shows etc. and to be with a woman who was not materialistic; enjoyed being in the rugged outdoors and didn’t have to glob on make-up for FB videos every 13 seconds. I feel very bad for how destroyed he was and now remains for the rest of his life.

  38. jessie essex

    I quite enjoyed reading this alternative insight and I feel I have gained better insight myself after having read it.

  39. dennis shin

    Because chris watts deserves something worse than a life sentence, many people’s haters for chris watts spill over to his mistress Nichol Kessinger as well but when you think about it, Nichol Kessinger is a victim too!!! She never signed up for any of this! to her, chris watts was just somebody who is getting divorced… it was wrong for her to sleep with chris watts and she acknowledges this herself but many people makes the mistake she made!!!
    i was literally horrified at all the horrendous terrible “witch burning” that people were pouring out on Nicole Kessinger and i thought it was SO unfair.. i’m sure chris watts REALLY HATES Nicole Kessinger for cooperating fully with the police which resulted in chris watts being sentenced multiple life sentences without any chance of parole… chris watts keeps going on mass media to tell people that the horrible thing that he did was all because he met Nicole Kessinger… i’m sure chris watts hates Nicol Kessinger very much for cooperating 100% with the police!!! chris watts was a married man actively seeking multiple extra marital relationships… chris watts actually was having extra marital relationships with MULTIPLE people as you can see in the video i listed below… EVEN IF CHRIS WATTS HAD NEVER MET NICHOL KESSINGER HE WOULD EVENTUALLY HAVE MURDERED HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN!!! the only thing in chris watt’s mind right now is the fact that they would never have found the dead bodies of Shannon and the babies and that he might have escaped being sent to prison if only Nicole Kessinger had not called the police…

    • Ralph Oscar

      Are you thinking of Nichole Utoff Atkinson, Shan’Ann’s friend who called the police to report her missing that same morning? CW was *definitely* annoyed with her, telling her to stay away from his door because she was making the alarms go off.

      NK wasn’t able to really reveal much of anything about CW – he *confessed* to at least one murder *and* led the authorities to where he’d disposed of the bodies! That was all CW – NK had no information and did not point investigators in any direction that proved helpful. CW folded under questioning – after only 3 days or so. The NK information came out later and did not include any incriminating details that moved the case any further from where it already was.

      All NK did was confirm their affair – her “contribution” didn’t have any effect on his sentencing.

      Now, that in Patrick Frazee case, where he bludgeoned his fiancée Kelsey Berreth to death with a baseball bat, Frazee’s former girlfriend, *who cleaned up the crime scene* and helped dispose of the body – SHE is a different case entirely:

  40. Carmen

    I would like to reply to all of the above comments. As I lived through my own life experience of being married to a man who murdered his parents, my husband was very similar in some ways to Watts in as much as he was charming and seemed happy, but he had a dark side, a dark side that I didn’t even see until it was too late. He also had a dominant mother and father. His parents didn’t want to attend our wedding either like Watts. This is when his dark side started to show when his parents put him under pressure to leave me. My story is far too long for me to tell on here however in my opinion he killed his parents because he was sick of the pressure of the constant pushing. It’s like a pressure valve constantly under pressure will eventually blow. The only reason he didn’t kill me was that my baby son was in bed with me. He said he had intended on killing himself but didn’t . If someone feels like they are at the end of their tether, they do something drastic and not think of the consequences. In Watts case the mistress is the excuse, Watts would have done it anyway. He wanted things to stop. He felt like his life was out of HIS control. So like my husband they think that killing the problem they will regain their control, but because they are not thinking straight, they only create more problems for themselves. And yes they plan it ahead of time but they want to be caught because to be free of the pressure is all they want . So even though we think of these people as evil, I look at them like a trapped animal, years of abuse what do they do. They don’t look at things in a logical way they just want out.

    • nickvdl

      Well said.

    • nickvdl

      Were there a lot of grudges from your husband’s side of the family, besides those directed towards you?

  41. Carmen

    Yes he had been bullied by his parents for years. They didn’t care that I made him happy. They were Italian, I am Australian.

  42. Megan C

    Spot on. That being said I believe Nichole Kessinger wasn’t a murder accomplice but a moral accomplice. I believe to a lesser degree she exhibits the same psycho or sociopathic traits Chris himself has. I believe her lying even going to the cops to throw Chris under the bus and later googling a book deal shows just how willing she was to THRIVE on life’s lemons. The court of public opinion is a brutal one but a court nonetheless. On paper superior she was but morally bankrupt. She was definitely the same alpha female Shannann was and would have found herself in the same position had he have got his way, an unloved married woman cast aside for a younger prettier version as he climbed the corporate ladder. Fortunately nobody should lose their life to poor moral character as I firmly believe she was no murderer and she should count herself lucky that her moral plans in disrupting their marriage didn’t come to fruition. Unfortunately for Shannann her sentence was much more severe as were her children’s. Women do need to take account for their moral character. Unfortunately Shannann doesn’t get that chance. Lets hope Nichol learns a lesson about herself from this horrible tragedy it needs no more victims.

    • nickvdl

      That’s an interesting notion – a moral accomplice. I’m not sure I agree but it’s certainly food for thought.

  43. Kathy Nenadovich

    I’m sure there are a lot of couples out there with similar dynamics…but it doesn’t excuse killing 4 beings! A REAL man would sit down with his wife and say “the way you spend and manage money isn’t’s my turn to manage!” Counseling should have been mandated by him or her for the kids sake. He lost weight…was told he’s so sexy and it went to his head. Very immature..and his evil mom putting the bug in his ear that Shanann is no good…he needed family support especially from his dad….a MAN. He called out to his dad after the murders…too late. Shanann may have been ‘overbearing’ but she was a good mom…wasn’t a druggie or drunk…wasn’t whoring around…kept a clean orderly house….what the hell was so awful about her besides the money issues? He’s a wimpy man wanna be….did you notice during his interrogation by the female detective wearing the black and white striped sweater she asked if Shanann hurt the girls and then he had to hurt her in return…a few minutes later when his dad came in the room he said that scenario to save his ass….this man tells half truths…we will never know the details. Through it all hes not remorseful…he paints himself as the victim. Women…use your head and stay away from married men!!!!!

  44. joanne wilkins

    Your theory of the dynamics between Wife,husband and mistress could be feasible.I noticed though that people often assume that Shanann is doing all the spending. I question that. She had quite a lot of money behind her before she met Chris. She bought houses renovated and flipped them for a profit. So she was good at least back then with money so what has changed? Chris said that Shanann took over the finances when Chris had sold a buggy or something like that and didn’t pay the loan off just spent the money. Which is pretty irresponsible. I fairly remember reading that there was student loans which I imagine was from Chris going to college that weren’t paid. Yes the medical bills from Shanann neck surgery and the girls health issues would of contributed. I think when Chris met Shanann he thought she was quite successful. His own family were living a rather modest lifestyle living in a tiny house. Where Shanann had her own place and she was a go getter. Maybe with the bankruptcy issues he never thought he would be in this situation with Shanann. It would of added stress to their relationship surely. Unless they were sticking there heads in the sand. Chris even said to Nichol about the ring he took off shanann’s finger after death “how much do you think I could get for this?” That’s a clue that money was an issue I think. It’s possible that Chris wasn’t good with money and he wants what he wants. Like a kid he Is thinking of the now rather than the consequences later. I say that Shanann had to rein in their spending. Chris resented Shanann for this. So he thinks he is trading up if he goes with Nichol. But Nichol is no fool about money either. I doubt the relationship would of lasted between Chris and Nichol. They were in that honeymoon faze. Chris comes across as weak and vulnerable but I don’t think that was the case. This is just the persona that he puts on. He is highly manipulative. The OCD that people claim Shanann has I think Chris has too then. Nichol said he was constantly cleaning the house when she was over there visiting him. The way he would vacuum etc. People tend to Blaim shanann’s controlling ways that Chris is so clean. But it could be that Chris is OCD himself. They both may of been really organised.
    Going back to Nichol and her position in this I think she may of innocently flirted initially with Chris but wasn’t planning an affair. Not saying that is ok. But when it went into full blown affair I do believe her that she thought that they were separating but living in the same house. I guess the confusion for her was that chris was at her place everyday in July. He seemed to be always available to her. She probably didn’t know Shanann was away on holiday for 6 weeks. Nichol probably felt guilty in the fact that even though she thought Chris and Shan’ann were separating and divorcing soon she should of waited until their Divorce was finalised . She saw herself as a mistress. What are your thoughts?

  45. Katie

    Is this Nichol writing this article?

  46. Annie

    When dating Nicol, Chris used gift cards that Shanann got from LeVel – until the day she was returning home and spent $62 on a meal for them.

    • nickvdl

      No he got the gift cards from Anadarko.

  47. Jason

    This essay is all about your perceptions of CW and NK. How in the world do you know what NK’s finances were and that “Kessinger’s finances were clearly in far better shape than his were”? Are you privy to that sort of information? Please direct me to the paperwork that shows her finances and if she was/wasn’t in any sort of debt. And for the record, NK had a bachelor’s degree. Let that sink in. A BACHELOR’S DEGREE. Nothing more. She had nothing to show for her money. No house. Just a rented apartment. She was run of the mill and that’s it. It’s not like CW was having an affair with the CEO and founder of Anadarko. Now that would be out of his league! NK was not out of CW’s league. In fact, she was right up his alley. A superficial former fat girl with new-found confidence. JUST LIKE CW—a former fat boy with new-found confidence. If she thought she deserved better, she wouldn’t have been porking a married man with 2 children and one on the way. That’s how much she thought/thinks of herself. Deep down she knows no decent man would want her (and she’s right!). She has low self-esteem and low self-worth. She had it before she met CW. CW was exactly what she “deserved”. And she was exactly what he “deserved”. For some reason, CW didn’t get the memo that no decent woman is going to have an affair with a married man.Did he internalize that NK was not a decent woman? And if he did get the memo, perhaps his inner voice told him that he didn’t deserve a decent woman anyway….so go after the one that won’t mind boinking you if you have a pregnant wife and two children. Yeah, she certainly was NOT out of his league. She was sent to him directly from hell. Just what a family annihilator deserves.

  48. Nightsky

    Wow, so many excellent insights, thank you! I only recently stumbled onto this story, after watching An American Murder: The Family Next Door, and felt some strong suspicions that there must have been other important dynamics going on behind the scenes (as depicted in the Netflix doc, and in Shanann’s glossed over private and business social media). Other, perhaps more serious factors at play.

    I am on the fence about Kessinger. I find her personality and manner of speaking and behavior to be grating, aggravating and offputting. She strikes me as a self centered, narcissistic manipulator. Immature and deceptive. Who knew far more about CW’s family life than she let on. And I believe she was deeply jealous of Shannan as Chris’s wife and mother of his children. And I firmly believe she knew Shanann was pregnant before the family disappeared. I do not find Kessinger to be someone I can relate to or sympathize with. But your insights do offer many answers and clarity as to the true nature of CW’s and NK’s relationship dynamic. And gives me a small shred of understanding for NK’s role in the affair.

    Not to mention shedding a lot of light on the Watts’ messy financial situation… which sounded pretty dire. I am curious why Chris didn’t lean on that more, the crushing financial stress he felt because of Shanann’s tight control and spending habits, as a justification for his desperate, despicable actions? But, no matter, the bottom line was… he had a mistress he wanted to keep and a family he wanted to be rid of. I think money motivated him just as much as the lust for “freedom” he seemed so desperate to have. And oddly he succeeded. Now he is free of everyone, forever. No more money, women or children woes ever again.

    • Mike B

      I too only recently came across this case via the Netflix documentary, although I realised part way through watching that I had read about the case in a (UK) newspaper- probably around the time of the sentencing hearing.

      Whilst I was watching the documentary I found myself mentally compiling a list of both unanswered, salient issues and also areas where the amount of detail appeared far too flimsy – for instance Kessinger- whatever you feel about the role she did or didn’t play, she is an integral part of the story, certainly in relation to the article here, as she was the reason why the Watts’ financial issues came to the forefront to such an extent.

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