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

GUEST POST: Did the murders happen in the bedroom or the basement?

The post below is from a reader who asked to remain anonymous. Thank you for your thought provoking contribution!

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…did Shan’ann, not seeing her husband immediately as she entered the home, decide to head downstairs where Chris Watts had admittedly been sleeping and working out the last several weeks or months to find him and speak with him face to face?

Anxious and with blatant and bold determination to wait not a moment longer to confront him right then, an argument could have taken place over something as simple as Chris’s last credit card charge that Shan’ann had been alerted to on her phone.

Could it have been an argument in the basement of their Saratoga Trail home, near the foot of the downstairs steps and across from Chris’s bed where Shan’ann was killed; rather than by a totally unexpected, surprise blitz attack from behind her at the foot of the stairs? There are two main reasons why neither of these possibilities should be discounted.

The first reason is the fact that the dogs that were brought into the Saratoga Trail home on the 14th of August trained to sniff for possible trauma or traumatic events alerted that some sort of event, such as an argument or possibly even an altercation may have occurred in a few places within that house.

Curiously, one area where a trauma dog provided an alert was in the basement, near where the bed in which Chris Watts slept was situated.

Eager to talk to her husband and find some resolution to the tumult that had become their lives in the months leading up to the murders of her and her children, it’s a definite possibility that after entering her home if she did not see Chris Watts at first, Shan’ann proceeded down the stairs leading to the basement to talk to him. Perhaps an argument began downstairs. Shan’ann, oblivious to the fact that her children MAY have been deceased at that point in time, would not have thought twice or worried about talking loudly or even yelling in her interaction with Chris if they were way down in the depths of their home because she knew it was highly unlikely the children could hear anything or be woken up by noise that far down from where they slept.

If she went downstairs to find and or confront her husband after arriving home in those early morning hours and an argument did ensue in the basement, the possibility that she was murdered there cannot be ruled out. Then however, we are still left with the how of the logistics of her strangulation. The autopsy report for Shan’ann Watts states that she died by means of strangulation/asphyxiation. Yet, one of the biggest mysteries in this case that still requires much in depth questioning and examination, must be how absolutely no visible defensive marks or wounds were found on Shan’ann. The only thing found were finger shaped bruises on one side of her neck. That begs the question once again of how could her murder have been carried out in a way that essentially left her completely disabled to fight back in any manner?

Is it possible that given the supremely high state and level of extreme fitness Chris Watts had worked diligently to commit himself to by the time these murders took place, coupled with the fact of an almost guaranteed physiological adrenaline surge while committing the murder, that he was able to lift his wife right off of her feet; off of the ground and continue to hold her up, one hand firmly held to one side of her neck, compressing her caryodid artery in precisely the right location for the necessary length of time to end her life? If this is possible, it’s also possible the murder really could’ve taken place either downstairs or on the main level of the house at the foot of the stairs. If her murder took place in this manner, the location of her murder becomes less important in a sense.

The reason this premise is even a possibility is because not only were there no defensive wounds or marks found on Shan’ann, but even with Shan’ann’s perfectly groomed and religiously upkept long fingernails, there were absolutely no obviously visible scratches, bites, cuts or even minor abrasions found on Chris Watts either. Even further; to the public’s knowledge, no trace of blood, urine or other bodily fluids were found on any carpeted areas in the Watts home.

If Shan’ann was killed down in the basement and some form of bodily fluid or excretions were present during or afterward her being killed, wouldn’t a more comprehensive and effective clean up on a concrete surface be even a little bit quicker, easier and more efficient than attempting to remove all trace of DNA evidence from plush, medium depth, light colored carpeting found on the main and upper levels of home? We do know from the discovery documents in this case that it was noted the home smelled of bleach and cleaning fluids when first entered by the Atkinsons and law enforcement the afternoon of August 13th.

Obviously, swabs for DNA can be collected and tested from almost any surface. Therefore, if when Shan’ann was killed, her face was pressed directly against carpet, possible bleeding from her nose or mouth due to pressure being exerted on her head, cheeks or some area of her face, while up against even a carpeted surface should leave blood/fluid stains that would be quite difficult to get rid of in all traces, especially in a very limited time period in terms of clean up. However, the same thing would have occurred if Shan’ann was in fact strangled at the bottom of the basement stairs. If her head or face was pressed up against any surface really while her heart was still actively pumping blood through the organs of her body, there would have been evidence of bruising in and around her face and yet, apparently, there was absolutely nothing. Are we to believe this strangulation occurred in midair? Extremely difficult, yet perhaps not impossible.

The Second Reason

After reviewing all of the discovery evidence available, I concur with Nick’s view that a premeditated murder would almost guarantee Bella and Celeste were already dead when their mother returned home. This scenario would also indicate that Chris Watts would not want to risk his wife heading upstairs to check the girls first thing after arriving home. If one goes with this train of thought, perhaps the possibility of Shan’ann being murdered in the basement must be abandoned.

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Yet once again, given the limited amount of evidence that we have to indicate anything to the contrary, the thought must at least be explored that Shan’ann could have met her end in the basement.

I think her feelings and internal drive of extreme anxiousness and desperation at that point in time in terms of her need to confront and immediately speak to her husband, cannot be entirely discounted.

Therefore, unless she happened to see Chris Watts almost as soon as she walked in the front door of that house, I believe it’s quite probable that Shan’ann’s first thought was to locate and confront Chris Watts.

She had likely finally realized Chris had to have been lying to her for months and she wanted, needed to hear the whole truth once and for all and to hear it directly from him. If that was her final wish, it’s highly unlikely her husband granted it. 

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  1. EJ

    In my humble opinion the first thing Shan’ann did was to go upstairs to check on the girls. Not finding them there she rushed to the basement looking for them and Chris. Girls were already gone and processed down there while Chris just waited for her. Just a speculation.

    • Lynda Gallien Pringle

      I think she would have been yelling like a banshee woman had she not seen her kids in their beds due to all the stress she was under. Had she gone looking for Chris, he might have lost the advantage of surprise and let’s face it, the coward is not keen on confrontation. The neighbors would have heard lots of commotion if she checked in on the kids prior to her murder.

      • Tim

        Yes, yes. Agreed.

    • Ew

      In his confession he stumbled over a sentence that started with ( his wife ) barely made it to the bed. I think Chris watts either had consensual sex with her first or raped her , the second explains the crying . Her not fighting back and his own words of her “ praying “ could also mean climaxing ( Oh God ) and he strangled her in kinky autobreath style . The thing that bothers me though is I also think NK showed up at some point unannounced through the Minnie Mouse blanket covered basement window . She wasn’t supposed to be there says Chris in interviews.. who is she.
      NK also mentions Chris wasn’t sleeping high energy like he was on speed or something she said .
      What if scenario is even more twisted , that Chris and Wife have consensual sex but then when NK shows up she is tortured in the basement ( Chris and NK Are both on speed .. it’s also why NK is tired dopesick during police interviews

    • Roz Trevelyan

      I agree she would of gone straight up but due to light sleepers just peaked in.It’s awful but they were already dead he admitted the night before was going to be the last time he tucked them in.SW would not of known they were dead it would not of crossed her mind even.

  2. tyu

    The master bed was completely stripped on the first day the police went there… I think that’s pretty good indication that’s where Shanann was murdered.

    • Jon

      Agreed @tyu She also changed into her night clothing(T-shirt) and probably was exhausted from her trip and got right into bed. Chris being the coward that he has proven to be, probably did indeed attack her as she slept IMO. Didn’t the report state that Shanann last text was to Chris for him to “wake her up in the morning before he left for work”? She must have seen he was already (pretending to be) asleep and she got into bed. He waited for her to fall alslerp then pounced on her.

      • Jon


      • Roz Trevelyan

        Spot on! He was gutless she was a strong woman she would of fought and her father was right he would of had marks all over him.The children were already dead she only peeked in then went to bed it’s just the thong for me does not fit for bed not comfy!? Maybe she did always wear them but most women I’ve ever known do not and for bed deft not.

      • Roz Trevelyan

        Definitely asleep she would of made mince meat of him she was a strong woman.

    • thetinytech2018

      I tried to find scholarly articles on the legitimacy and/or effectiveness of “trauma” dogs. I couldn’t find one thing, no scientific articles, no peer reviewed research, not one thing. I’ve never heard of dogs that can tell where an argument or trauma occurred in the home, especially if no blood was left behind.

      I found articles reviewing the science and legitimacy of Bomb and Explosive sniffing dogs, cadaver dogs, even dogs that could sense when an epileptic was about to have a seizure or an autistic person that was about to have a meltdown. The latter was the closest I could find to a trauma dog like the ones mentioned in the article. I know they brought in dogs that could alert to the scent of decomp, but an argument? That seems like a reach, what would even be left behind after a verbal argument?

      Does anyone have any links to peer reviewed articles on a dog that can alert to where an argument or traumatic event took place?

    • Karen #2

      Agree. He killed her in bed. While she slept he wrapped her in the fitted sheet. That is why there are no battle signs, she couldn’t fight, her arms were wrapped tight at her sides. There is no mattress pad on the bed or found at the burial site … must have trashed it along the way. It took him a long time to get home from work after talking to police. He was ditching the girl’s blankets and the mattress pad. Just my opinion.

    • Roz Trevelyan

      Definitely he killed her there she peaked in on her children but did not go up to there beds.She was wearing a completely different top I do that for bed the thong is a bit of a mystery for me as there not comfy but maybe she was hoping for something.He was gutless he killed her asleep she would of fought like an ally cat.He can’t won’t admit it was all planned maybe he thinks his persona will be destroyed “Mate don’t worry it’s destroyed anyway might as well own up”

    • Roz Trevelyan

      Yes for sure! Waited until asleep when I watched the Netflix documentary I noticed that he said “She was face down on the bed” this jumped out at me strangulation is face to face she was asleep on her side he pounced on her pinned her arms down and strangled her that’s why there are no marks plus he was scared of her.

  3. Lynda Gallien Pringle

    Nick’s theory is the one that makes the most sense given all the security in the house. He would have had to mess with too many of them if he had murdered her on the bed. Also, think of the difficulty of carrying her down the stairs. Chris is also non-confrontational. He would have chosen the stealth method of murder. The way Nick has it go down is how I believe it happened. He laid in wait for her behind a pillar in the living room, ambushing her when she was on the first or second step, holding her in a gridlock where there was no escape, no way to fight back. Also, remember how clean that area right by the stairs looked? I think the reason why she was buried with no pants was because she had a bowel movement after she died, soiling her pants and carpet. He took off the pants and put them in the laundry. The sheet is full of dirt and mascara because of her make up and dirt from the grave. He stripped the bed so that the sheet would serve as a burying shroud.

    • thetinytech2018

      All he would’ve had to do to the security system was set it to “stay” so that the motion detectors and magnetic window and door sensors disengaged, and then unplug the router so that the cameras don’t record when an event is detected. Vivint uses a cheap all in one control panel and keypad system used by many other companies with the exception of ADT. ADT has a sister company that they transfer you too if you’re renting called “Protection One” and they’ll send you a cheaper DIY system, pretty much the base system that Vivint uses and the one found in the watts home.

      Wi-Fi is necessary for those cameras to do anything, disconnect the Wi-Fi, cameras are useless but the main system will still work off of a GSM signal usually referred to as “cell guard” that’s built into the all in one keypad and control panel. This way if an intruder cuts Wi-Fi and power, the system can still contact the police. Motion detectors and the cheap door and window sensors they had will still work. There was no glassbreak detectors in the home from what I saw as I worked in security tech for years, the watts had a cheap system that was probably DIY. Vivint will come out if you have an unresolved issue but they charge for installation and I’m pretty sure they still offer DIY. I’d be surprised if Chris wasn’t the one that set it up and I’m sure Shan’ann told him where to put it because the motion detectors were all placed way too high to be very efficient. They have pet immunity up to 40 or 80lbs depending on which ones you get, so no reason for them to be that high except that Shan’ann wanted them out of the way. No installation tech would put them up like that.

      People are confused about the way those security cameras work. Those are standard issue, rebranded cameras that don’t have a DVR they record to 24/7. They’d need to be hardwired in, not wireless, the DVR is expensive and you can’t view them from the app like you can with the cheaper wireless ones.

      The cameras need Wi-Fi, the motion detectors and window/door sensors will work without it but only when set to “Away”. When you’re home, you set the system to “Stay” so you can move throughout the house and open/close doors without setting the alarm off. When the cameras are online, you can view them 24/7 from the app, however THEY DO NOT RECORD 24/7. They only record when they get triggered by motion, they’ll record a (usually) 45 second to 90 second clip, send it to the cloud and be available for thirty days. Vivint CANNOT see what happens on the cameras in your home, and they can’t access the footage unless you give them your info to the cloud service that they outsource but charge you for. Usually it like $5 a month. After it records that short clip, it needs a 3.5 minute to 4 minute “rest” before it will record another clip, this is to avoid using up your allowed cloud space if there is continuous movement. You can always see a live stream view of the cameras from the app, but it won’t record unless motion (“an event”) is detected.

      Chris most likely had the Wi-Fi down so the cameras were useless and offline. The system was set to “Stay” mode which is completely normal and what you’re supposed to do when home. The only thing that would be recorded in the systems event log is what doors were opened and closed. For instance, “Door 3 opened at 3:42 am” . You can assign names to certain doors and zones, but I am unsure if he did this. People say Chris was good with tech and like a tech wiz, but I think those people knew the bare minimum about tech, as Chris really didn’t seem to know that much. He had a basic working knowledge, but that’s about it, maybe he could setup a router but I wouldn’t have much faith beyond that considering those motion detectors are way too high off the ground to do what they’re supposed to.

      I’ve seen so much incorrect info regarding the security system between YouTube, websites and the like I figured I’d clear a few misconceptions up. Hope this helps.

      • Ralph Oscar

        Thank you so much for that detailed analysis, triple-t. That’s exactly the sort of thing I wanted to know more about.

      • thetinytech2018

        @Ralph Oscar you’re very welcome. Glad I could help because I’ve seen a few questions regarding this. And it’s not just Vivint, I know ADT and most others (Slomins, Safe Touch) usually work in a similar way.

        Security systems back in the 90s needed a LAN line, not a problem almost every home had one in the 90s. This is for how the systems got the alert out to the police, but when everything changed with cable and broadband modems, along with cellphones being cheap and convenient, people ditched their lan line. Those services need an actual lan, VOIP won’t work, so that’s when they started doing cell guard, or a GSM chip in the control panel as it was more convenient and you wouldn’t have to worry about installing a LAN line only to have it cut prior to a robbery.

        I saw lots of discussion about the cameras being seen by Vivint, but could you imagine if your security cameras could be seen by the monitoring company? Nobody would want them, I know I wouldn’t want complete strangers having unfettered 24/7 access to my homes interior. Unlike ADT that owns and runs all their monitoring centers (7 or 8 owned and operated by them throughout the US) Vivint outsources their monitoring, so you can’t be sure the people who are watching it are trained. ADT, although more expensive, trains their staff in the monitoring center for a minmum if 3.5 months and makes them sign a bevy if paperwork so that they can’t just use your info how they please, they’re quite professional.

        Vivint is also notorious for having their cameras disconnect or not work at all, and IME sometimes their techs have to remove them because they can’t get them up and running again. Vivint has grown quickly but they cut corners to get there, and their techs aren’t certiified electricians or TIA certified. ADT won’t touch your electric without a trained certified electrician with them, and at minimum all techs are TIA certified.

        I work in security technology, am trained in telemetry among other things and have often been subcontracted by these companies to assist in “new” tech and work out the kinks. I’m not subcontracted by ADT or Vivint, so no bias there, but there’s a reason two similar companies have very different price points, and ADT is the only one that will pay your Homeowners Insurance deductible should you incur a break in with an active system. The less expensive version while convenient isn’t always the better choice.

        I took another look at those motion detectors and I would be surprised if this wasn’t a DIY setup by Chris. If you have ongoing issues a Vivint tech will come out, but initially most choose to setup the systems themselves. Dieter is what? Maybe ten pounds? Those IR motion detectors have pet immunity up to 80lbs, there’s no reason for them to be that high because they won’t catch motion properly.

        As far as the garage not working, I don’t understand this. I know it was mentioned, but if the sensors weren’t engaging or lining up, then they wouldn’t be able to set the system because it would think a door was open. I wonder if they were referring to the zwave electronic door opener, if they had one they’d be able to press a button on their cell from anywhere and open the cargo door to the garage. If it wasn’t working, that wouldn’t impair the system from arming, so I’m thinking that’s what Shan’ann thought was the garage door sensor?

        • nickvdl

          I wonder if I shouldn’t put this up as a guest blog. Watts seemed to think he was onto a winner because of that faulty garage sensor. That he could use that to explain Shan’ann leaving the house at any time. But he seemed to forget about the surveillance video next door, or figured it didn’t really see onto his driveway,

      • Mustang Sally

        TTT and Nick, 👍

      • Karen

        Yes! Thank you!

  4. Sylvester

    I tend to agree tyu. Everything leads up to the master bedroom, which was stripped of it’s bedding, she was wearing a nightgown, and the contour sheet was used to lug her down to the car. If she herself changed into her nightshirt then she would have looked in on the girls, then turned to find Chris. If she started downstairs and into the basement where she was strangled (guest post suggestion) he has to then transport her back upstairs – up three flights of stairs – to have her end up on the stripped bed on top of the contour sheet when if he was lying in wait in the basement what would be the need of using the contour sheet – why not use what was available down in the basement.

    “No visible marks of a struggle.” This is consistent with an attack from behind, a choke hold with one’s bare arm, to render unconscious, then fingers to press on either side of the neck. Any kind of an altercation precipitating the murder would have increased risk of injury to Watts, kicking feet, flailing arms. She had no time or expanded area to defend herself, as he said he came from the back, a bit of truth amidst his lies.

    Also Officer Lines did not say she smelled bleach. She said cleaning products. Might be a fine point but bleach is one of the most distinct of cleaning products, along with ammonia, there is. However what I suspect she smelled was carpet cleaning fluid – and all the more so if mixed with fabreeze – which is a heady additive and odor eliminator. It’s also used in car fresheners, bare floor cleaning products and laundry dryer sheets. This she smelled upon entry into the house, immediately.

    Last, I don’t think he would give her the benefit of time. You cannot allow your victim to roam freely from room to room waiting for them to find you. That somewhat removes the element of surprise, or a blindside. So although I’m of a mind she never made it UPstairs, the bedsheet, the nightshirt, the circling overhead fan, plus the tucked away cell phone all tend to suggest her area of demise was toward the upper half of the house as opposed to the basement. Add to that his 111 minute call to Nickole Kessinger that took him past 11 p.m. where she heard a television in the background, and setting the Vivint doorbell camera shortly before 1:45 a.m. puts him in the vicinity of upstairs, lying in wait, versus the darkened basement where he could neither see nor hear.

    • Jon

      @sylvester Well put. I concur.

  5. Diana

    YESSSS! This has been my theory for awhile now with a few minor changes. First off, Shan’ann had acrylic nails – you can NOT inflict scratches with those. Agree “something” occurring in the basement too. Page #85 in Discovery Docs talks about the dogs showing interest at the unmade bed in the basement as well as an area just below the stairs there due to that being an area of a possible argument or a struggle.

    Where I do disagree with the author of the comments is how Shan’ann ended up in the basement. Remember – Chris was playing nice with Shan’ann while she was in Arizona. He agreed to couple’s counseling, he agreed to a weekend away with just the two of them and he had told her he would make things right. In the weeks leading up to the murders, she was desperate for a kiss, for him to hold her hand, she told others he refused sex, yet before she left for North Carolina they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. I think Chris lured her to the basement for sex. This would explain her partial state of undress, but still wearing a bra because women don’t sleep wearing an underwire bra! I think he got her in bed in a vulnerable position and killed her. He could’ve even had her legs trapped beneath the sheets so she couldn’t kick him off her.

    Finally, statistics show a whopping 50% of strangulation victims have NO marks and/or bruising on their neck! They have internal bruising as Shan’ann did according to her autopsy. For Chris to pick her up while pressing on her caratoid artery sounds a bit much to me.

    As for the master bed being stripped? Could that have been a red herring? Chris likely knew that bedroom would be looked at forensically with a fine tooth comb. He could’ve been thinking – “Nothing to see here folks!” Of course he would’ve been wearing that inappropriate smirk like the one he exhibited while giving the “Sermon on the Porch”! Or he could’ve went upstairs to remove or kill the girls and grabbed that sheet found at the Cervi site to wrap Shan’ann in due to it being larger than the smaller sheets on his little bed.

    • LaraLeon

      I also believe that. She told her friend she did not want to fight with him, just to be next to him and hug him. Remember the book “Hold me tight”? So I think she checked on the girls, then went to see him in the basement and got killed there. The basement is where the dogs showed distress and there was a purple sleeping mask there on the bed. So She probably thought of sleeping there with him. Then he killed her, and went upstairs to kill the kids I dont think the kids were killed prior to her, because she would have checked on the kids and it would be impossible to subdue her so easily. Also, the autopsy does not show any food in their stomachs, which means they were not killed early in the night. There were a lot of movements after 4 am. It was him moving the bodies downstairs. He might have stripped the bed upstairs to use the bedsheets o carry them. If that bedsheet with mascara and eye shadow was in the basement shows that he might have pinned her face to the bedsheet when killing her.

    • Lana

      I agree. I’m sure something went down in the basement, and the upstairs bedroom’s missing sheets was just a decoy to throw the police into thinking that was the crime scene. Had they forensically tested it, they would have unlikely found anything. Shannan was openly OCD, and kept the house immaculate. The Laundry was on the second floor to the right as you come up the stairs. Shannan would not have left her unpacked bag at the bottom of the stairs. She would have carried that upstairs, and dealt with the laundry in the morning. If anyone else helped Chris, the basement windows provided an easy, unseen getaway out the back, where unoccupied houses were getting built. He could have lured her into the basement telling her that they could talk and have sex without waking the kids. Who knows, he may have even offered her a massage. This would have relaxed her, after which he pounced.

  6. Sylvester

    Stripping the master bed of it’s sheets was not a red herring as the bottom sheet was actually used, and there were stains on the pillow cases and top sheet. That bed had a purpose – whether it was to lay an unconscious body or bodies on it, or as it was used, to make a body sling to transport, there was nothing red herring about the bedding.

  7. Sylvester

    LaraLeon – why would she even consider for a moment sleeping in the basement where she couldn’t see the baby monitors?

    • LaraLeon

      Well, she was able to travel and be away from them, right? So why wouldn’t she go to the basement to try and save her marriage?

    • Jon

      @sylvester Yes! Correct.

  8. Kaye

    I still believe that the dog was just reacting to Dieter’s distress. That poor dog was probably crated in the basement from maybe midnight or earlier until after 2 pm the following day. I doubt Chris wasted time taking Dieter for a walk early in the morning. I’m sure the dog was extremely uncomfortable and upset and not used to being down there for that long.

  9. Diana

    So many great thought provoking theories from everyone, some raising even more questions! Problem is – no one single theory ties up all the lose ends. My thoughts and questions to the comments here:

    1. Some here say Shan’ann was wearing a nightgown or a nightshirt. If she had changed into night clothes, wouldn’t she have taken off that underwire bra? Wasn’t she just wearing a regular shirt?

    2. The house smelled of cleaning products according to discovery docs. We’ve learned that BOTH Shan’ann and Chris had OCD, with Chris being the one who cleaned the house. They both were hardcore neat/clean freaks, could those cleaning product smells be how the house always smelled?

    3. Could Shan’ann not have been wearing pants because she soiled them during her murder? She had on thong underwear, did he leave on her underwear or put clean ones on her even though his intention was that she’d never be found? Wouldn’t leaving the pants on help contain the “mess”?

    4. She was killed on the main floor at the base of the stairs, soiled her pants and the cleaning smell was due to Chris cleaning the carpet. The videos show one of the cops very meticulously examining that particular area. Nowhere in the discovery docs did I see where it mentions wet or damp carpet. Wouldnt they have noticed if he had scrubbed the carpet just a few short hours ago?

    5. The bed being stripped in the master bedroom is PROOF the murder occurred there according to some people. If you think the murder happened on the main floor or in the basement, then why was that bed in the master bedroom stripped?

    6. The cadaver dogs “showed interest” that there was an argument or a struggle at the bed in the basement as well as an area near basement steps according to the discovery documents. Does anyone believe the dogs interest there truly means anything? Because the dogs didn’t do a full-on alert, should just showing interest be discounted?

    7. My last question has nothing to do with what’s already been posted here, but I do respect the great minds here, so I would appreciate an answer to this question – Does anyone here think Shan’ann knew she was being murdered while it was happening and if so, did she know it was Chris strangling her?

    • Rebecca

      Nicks thoughts on where the murder happened just make sense to me. I think she entered the house and he was quietly waiting for her. Hiding and watching her take off her shoes and set her suitcase by the bottom of the stairs. I don’t believe she ever went upstairs. I think once he killed the girls and bagged them that he laid them on his bed in the basement. I wonder if the plastic bags would deter the dogs from finding a cadaver scent as easily? In answer to your last question Diana I think SW knew she was dying; her fear would be great!
      and I believe she knew by whom. You aren’t intimate with a man for 8 years and not know his scent. Just my thought.

    • Clean Queen

      If she was awake when he strangled her, she would have definitely been aware and in distress even if only for a few seconds. (I had this exact same question.) I also wanted to know if a man could overpower a woman by strangling her/cutting off her air without her having the opportunity to make any defensive wounds on him. My husband was in the military and knows a lot of martial arts. He and I tested this theory. He had no intention of hurting me, but I wanted him to make it as realistic as possible. I can tell you that Chris could definitely have strangled her, especially with adrenaline, without Shan’ann ever getting a chance to cause any defensive injuries or marks on him. I don’t want to go into more detail on my experiment than that, because there’s no way to do it without making my husband sound bad LOL! Again, I was demanding that he make it as realistic as possible, while hurting me as little as possible. My husband did a pretty good job of demonstrating this and making it clear in my mind.
      If she was asleep, I suppose it’s possible that he could have caused her to go unconscious before she was aware of what was happening. I kind of doubt it though. As a mom, I’m a very light sleeper and wake up at the slightest touch or sound. It’s hard to say…

  10. laralovesandrew

    If she came home bent on confronting Chris about the affair, she’s not going to check on the girls and risk waking them up & then having to deal with them. She knew everything was falling apart. She was anal about never waking the children. They mentioned that they didn’t even use the garage when the kids were in bed sleeping so they didn’t wake them. She would have looked at the monitors & Chris could have arranged their bodies to look like nothing was wrong. She then started to get ready for bed (t-shirt & just panties) and initiated a convo with Chris–and she either stared crying about their marriage ending OR she shed tears in the strangulation process (mascara smeared down her face). Also, since Chris is completely adverse to confrontations, maybe Shan’ann got ready for bed & he made sexual advances and killed her during that. If a man straddles your body and chokes you out while pinning your arms down with his legs & body, I doubt there is much ‘fighting back’ you could manage.

    • laralovesandrew

      Sorry–forgot to make the point that I think the murder took place upstairs in the Master bedroom. The sheets were used to transport, and also found in the garbage in the kitchen–it just seems more likely to me. He may have gone down into the basement and rested on his bed after he did the murder.

  11. Ilovedogsandcats

    I think the idea that the murders were premeditated is “supposition” and it’s quite possible there was no premeditation.

    Shannon has taken off her work clothes to get comfortable. She may have put on a thong because she planned to seduce her husband who was asleep in the basement. She either perked into the girls’ rooms or checked the monitor, then relaxed and tried to order hair products. When her Cc was denied she became irate and went down to the basement to confront CW once and for all.

    This is where he killed her and Bella, then he turned off the router, killed CeCe and went into “clean up mode”

    • mitzi2006

      The dog team found a dead wasp on the bed in the basement. I’d be surprised if he slept down there at all the night before

  12. Ilovedogsandcats

    The fact that CW called Troy the night before, to tell him he would go to the site first thing in the AM (tho not his usual MO since everyone said he always went to the office first thing) might have really happened, with no ulterior motive, at the time.

    After the murders, he now had 3 bodies to hide and maybe this is when he decided to bury them at his first stop.

    A lot of his actions can add up to “premeditation”, but what if this was not the case? What if everything he was doing was flying by the seat of his pants in order to keep one step ahead of the police after he ended up killing his entire family?

    I have not seen any posts which discuss what happened, if none of this was premeditated. To look at a murder and try to determine the big question of “why”, I think it’s good to look at many different scenarios.

  13. nickvdl

    There is, theoretically, a simple and obvious explanation for where the crime happened, or could have happened.

    If the crime scene needed to be cleaned up [vacuumed, bleached, washed etc] then in all areas where stuff is left lying around, it’s unlikely there was extensive cleaning. Because you’d need to pick up and clean those items and the areas underneath them too.

    So in how many rooms and which rooms was there stuff on the floor, lying around?

    Probably these rooms can all be excluded from the ground zero scene of the crime. This is in a scenario where the murders are committed and a lot of effort is made to clean up afterwards. It’s obviously crucial to know what “a lot of effort” means. It’s not a lot of effort for you, but what it would have been for him.

    Obviously for those who believe Watts’ version of sleeping, arguing, and spontaneously having an argument at 4-5am that leaves virtually no time to clean up [besides a hasty stripping of the upstairs bed and dumping of sheets in the trash].

  14. Sylvester

    The clutter appeared to be in the master bedroom (bedding on the floor, bed stripped), clothes and throw pillows piled up on the bench in the master bedroom, the girls room – beds unmade, turned down (when Officer Coonrod, and the Atkinson’s went in), a small amount of clutter of toys in the family room on the floor, the office appeared to be a mess, everywhere else spic and span. I think the laundryroom drier door was open too. It’s natural to wonder if the three people released all bodily fluids upon death, and if so where, and if he would have needed to clean their clothes and at the least cleaned up where they laid, but if he quickly put the girls in black garbage bags there may not have been been any fluids to clean up (and CeCe was wearing a diaper), and if he immediately put Shan’ann in the contour sheet there may not have been any kind of a mess underneath her. It’s sad to think of these things, but death is not pretty. I’m still suspicious of the pair of jeans he had in a blue tote next to her suitcase that he called “Anadarko things.” If those jeans were processed, and I don’t think they were, I wonder what would have been on them. Also by the time he arrives home he’s changed his own clothes, his jeans are no longer tucked into his boots, and I have to wonder if he’s even wearing the same shoes he left the house in.

  15. Sally hurst

    But, she had tried to use her credit card to purchase hair products after she arrived home. Remember, and that the card had been declined. Wasn’t that sometime after 2:00am. So how would she be murdered in the basement?

    • laralovesandrew

      That purchase could have been automatic by the company–like a monthly charge.

      • Jon

        @laralovesandrew Doubtful.

        • laralovesandrew

          She had lots of pyramid-scheme merch on automatic…why is it “doubtful?”

    • Maura

      3 possibilities for the credit card hair care charge being declined after 2:00 am:
      1. It was an automatic purchase she had set up. An email came in at 2:30 declining her scheduled purchase as the card was over the limit.
      2. Her flight was delayed, and while at the airport waiting, she ordered more hair products. Chris used the card out with Nichol the night before and it was now over the limit. Email was sent to her after 2:30 am when the order was processed and declined.
      3. After Chris killed his wife he went through her phone. Seeing the email from the beauty store that there was a problem with her order he had them run the credit card again to test if there was money left. It was declined.

  16. Ralph Oscar

    Somewhere in Shan’Ann’s Facebook feed, there was some image copied from elsewhere that said something about “Someone give me a backrub” or something. She wouldn’t have made the point of posting that unless she was thinking a backrub was a great thing, would she?

    What if Chris was waiting up for her in the basement and, upon hearing her come home, called her downstairs and then shut off the router as she approached the stairs? Once she got down there, he would have been charming, kissed her, held her, told her how much he missed her, how he never wanted to be away from her again. She would have burst into tears of relief, as he was providing to her everything she’d been missing and longing for.

    Then, he would suggest that he’d love to give her a backrub – he can imagine how exhausted she must be, what with the travel and her flight being delayed and all. It would be just the thing to help her sleep, he might add. Since she was intoxicated with this New! Improved! Chris, of course she’d say yes – anything to keep this going. And upstairs they’d go. She probably wouldn’t have undressed entirely – off with the jeans so he’d have access to her lower back, but underwear stays on and bra is simply unhooked (to be re-hooked later). Chris might have pulled the top sheet/blankets over her lower legs to just above the knees “to keep her warm” and then straddled her, part of his weight resting on that top sheet/blankets. She’s now immobilized.

    Shan’Ann had neck problems – she’d had neck surgery – so for her in a prone position, she’d be even more helpless than the average pregnant woman would be. It would have been much easier for Chris to strangle her – he would have been in a position to use his own weight for leverage. And his was a cold fury.

    Then, of course, he wrapped her in the fitted sheet, dragged her down the stairs, and so on and so forth.

    This is the only scenario I can imagine that puts her scent in the basement (we don’t know that that’s what the dogs were alerting to in the basement; could have just been their own dog’s signature) AND the murder scene in the master bedroom. If she’d gone upstairs by herself, she likely would’ve peeked in on the girls. But Chris already described Bella as “blue” (or was that CeCe?). I suspect that bit of info was correct. Shan’Ann might have noticed – can’t have that. So he’d need to head her off at the pass and coax her directly into the master bedroom and get her into the proper position for her murder. This puts her makeup on the pillowcases and sheet.

    At first I was thinking that he killed her in the basement and then took the fitted sheet downstairs to wrap her in, but that doesn’t account for her mascara on the pillowcases. There’s no way Chris would have allowed OCD Shan’Ann to come home to dirty pillowcases left over from before her trip! The murder had to have happened in the master bedroom.

    After he dragged her body in the sheet downstairs, he might have dumped it at the bottom of the stairs to prepare for loading the truck. At that point, fluids might have leaked through the fitted sheet onto the carpeting there, necessitating some hurried cleanup. Boy, wouldn’t *that* have been annoying to someone already in such a hurry to clear the scene of evidence!

    If Chris drugged the girls with Shan’Ann’s leftover Oxycodone and then suffocated them (perhaps with plastic bags), as he was fitting them with the bags, he could have put a diaper on Bella to make sure no mess later. That would have been the smart thing to do, if she didn’t already sleep in PullUps disposable “big kid” diapers. If she was drugged, she’d be in no condition to object. She was small enough that maybe she could have worn one of CeCe’s disposable diapers – it wouldn’t have had to be very secure, as she wouldn’t have been moving around at that point.

    I see the girls being already dead in their beds when Shan’Ann gets home because Chris was barbecuing alone outside the previous evening and was having a late-night phone conversation with NK, who was able to hear the TV in the background. If the girls had been alive, they’d have likely joined Daddy outside at the grill, and Chris wouldn’t have taken the call or had the TV on late at night if the girls had still been alive, since they were very light sleepers. He knew nothing was going to wake them up at this point.

  17. Maura

    The Guest post asks did the murders happen in the bedroom or the basement? Neither place. Several reasons come to mind:

    In the studies done on men who annihilate their families, many of them chose a Sunday in August to carry out their murders because they had access ALONE to the children and their wives would regain control on Monday and school schedules would begin. Chris acted colder to the children over the last weeks they were alive. He had made a financial calculation that they and Shan’ann had to be eliminated in order for him to regain financial control of his future. He traded their lives for the money the house sale would bring him. With no child support or alimony to pay he could afford to date Nichol. He had CONTROL of their murders BEFORE Shan’ann came home. Not after. If he’d waited until his wife came home, too many things could go wrong and there’d be no time to clean up. The house was virtually cleaned of their scents because he had worked so hard cleaning up.

    When his work mate texted him that he could go alone to Cervi early on Monday, he had a place to dump the bodies. He was a mechanic and worked with chemicals. While lifting weights in the basement, he’d found his wife’s storage bin of drugs for her lupus and previous surgery. A few days before the murders he had Googled how to delete Instagram and 80 mcg Oxycontin. The police recovered these Google searches after he’d deleted them. They weren’t random but part of his premeditation.

    After the kids facetimed with her parents he fed them a snack around 6 pm and their asthma medication which was part of their 7pm bedtime routine. He added in morphine or oxycontin from his wife’s meds and the kids overdosed. He did see them blue in the face after he’d barbecued. This was an “easy” death for them and the kitchen was easy to clean up. No rug.

    Afterwards he bagged their bodies and stored them in the basement where the dogs alerted. They had a refrigerator and freezer in the basement and storage bins he could use to store the small bodies. He’d picked the oil tanks to dispose of their bodies because the oil saturation would destroy any trace of the opioid drugs after 4 days of immersion. He controlled their manner of death, time of death and disposal site. Eliminated them and part of his financial burden.

    When Shan’ann came home she hadn’t seen her girls all weekend. Chris had not sent her pictures of them in bed but earlier photos of them at the party. He couldn’t send her photos of them in bed as they were dead already and hadn’t gone to bed. She would have been eager to go upstairs to peek in their rooms and exhausted too. Since Cece was waking at 5:30 am per Nickole that’s when she expected to be woken up by her. I don’t believe she’d start an argument at 2:00 am or 4:00 am that would wake the girls who were light sleepers. At 2:00 am she’d be able to get 3 ½ hours of sleep. She’s tired, pregnant, feeling sick….

    At that hour she wouldn’t expect Chris to be awake. She had asked Chris to be available early Monday to take Bella to her 1st day of Kindergarten. Why wouldn’t she plan to talk to him after dropping the kids at school together? Before her 10 am doctor’s appt.

    She would have headed for the staircase with her purse and that’s when he carried out his sneak attack. Chris was too much of a coward to face her and was done talking to her. He let drugs kill the kids so he didn’t have to face them and fed his wife lies that weekend to avoid any confrontation. The bottom of the staircase left her trapped as he planned with only one way to go up and she couldn’t with him on top of her from behind.

    After he strangled her he got the upstairs sheet and used it to transport her body and stripped the bed. He planned to remake it with fresh sheets later and threw the partial set in the trash. The hoodie and shorts she wore may have something on them from him like fibers or DNA so he washed them. He changed her top to her sleep tee shirt because it was easy to put on and left her in bra and thong. Pants would make her heavier to carry. Maybe he had planned to put her body in the tank in the future if he’d not been caught.

    An unfinished 4,000 square foot basement is dark, cool and creepy at night. No lighting. Machines turn on and off echoing in the empty space. Like a warehouse, not a hotel room, no bathroom. Not romantic. The basement is a perfect place to store dead bodies, not a place for seduction. I don’t envision Shan’ann going down to the basement at night.

    What she wanted was a few hours of sleep in her own bed and she and Chris would talk after they took the girls to school. She didn’t know Chris had planned that there would be no more conversations for her, or the girls. With them gone, he was back in control of his life or so he thought.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “At that hour she wouldn’t expect Chris to be awake. She had asked Chris to be available early Monday to take Bella to her 1st day of Kindergarten. Why wouldn’t she plan to talk to him after dropping the kids at school together? Before her 10 am doctor’s appt.”

      I like this scenario – a lot. I also like your suggestion that the girls’ corpses were taken down to the basement awaiting transfer to the truck later – that would explain the dog(s) alerting down there. If the girls had been in plastic bags before they were moved to the basement, perhaps that would account for the weak signaling. The fact that their beds were unmade suggests that they were put to bed and that’s where they died. But would Chris have gone to the trouble of moving those little bodies twice? Why not leave them dead in their beds and then take them straight down to the truck later? If Shan’Ann had had the opportunity to peek into their rooms, she might have been fooled by their dead bodies in bed, particularly if they were facing away from her and she could only see the backs of their heads; but if their beds were empty, all hell would’ve broken loose.

      I maintain Shan’Ann was murdered in the master bedroom, because there was mascara on the pillowcases. That’s the only way I can see of explaining the dirty pillowcases. A potentially violent and noisy struggle was the last thing Chris wanted.

    • Jen

      I agree with most of this however, the OxyContin probably would have shown up in toxicology report I would imagine. Also, they indicated Bella fought for her life and but her tongue several times so it doesn’t sound like she was drugged. Yes, Chris was an absolute coward.

  18. Cate

    I think the basement or the bedroom (possibly even one of the girl’s bedrooms) might be as likely as the bottom of the stairs as the murder scene. For a couple of reasons. Nickole dropped Shan’ann off and made sure she got inside. Her car lights would have been on – possibly even illuminating the area around the door and within. So Chris jumps out of the darkness the moment Nickole pills away? What if she has forgotten something, turned back…anything really, she would have been witness to the murder. Risky move – he must have known what Nickole was like – and you’d want her well and truly out of the neighbourhood before murdering her dear friend! And isn’t that area – lounge and bottom if the stairs area- the one place you can actually get a sightline of from outside the house? Sorry if I am mistaken here. Wouldn’t it be less risky for Chris to lie in wait in the basement or upstairs and have Shan’ann come to him? We know he’d set her expectations up to consider that he might be open to talking, or even sex? She’d be looking for HIM.

  19. Ralph Oscar

    Quick question: The spot at the bottom of the stairs that the police and dogs were interested in – is it in line of sight of the front door, or around the corner? Does anyone know?

    I suggest that Shan’Ann was killed upstairs in the master bedroom, and Chris wrapped her in the fitted sheet and dragged her down the stairs, leaving her at the bottom of the stairs until he was ready to move her to the car. Given that they had those glass panels on either side of the front door, and he would have needed to have lights on to do his cleaning, he wouldn’t want her body visible on the off chance anyone would be able to see into the entryway of the house.

    My thought is that, while the body was lying there, fluids leaked out, through the sheet, and into the carpet, leaving something that interested the dogs/investigators.

    I agree with Cate that Chris wouldn’t have wanted to immediately pounce upon Shan’Ann and risk a knock-down-drag-out as soon as she got home, in or near the entryway, because Shan’Ann likely turned on the light and NUA might have been able to see in through those glass panels as she was driving away. Far better for Chris to greet Shan’Ann all friendly-like and lure her into a proper place and position for her murder.

    • Cate

      Agree. And we don’t even know who placed the suitcase at the bottom of the stairs. For all we know Shan’ann took it upstairs and then Chris took it down later ready to get rid of it. ‘See she took her case…’ but ran out of time.

  20. Ralph Oscar

    Ooh, another thought – the autopsy turned up high levels of alcohol in Shan’Ann’s system. Could Chris have offered her a spiked glass of wine as part of a faux seduction to make sure she was relaxed and not on her guard? Would Shan’Ann have even accepted a glass of wine while pregnant? Some pregnant women will drink one glass; others teetotal while pregnant.

    • Sara Smile

      It was already clarified at the DA’s media news conf (on the day CW was sentenced) the alcohol found in her body was strictly normal bodily fluid composition breakdown after death and not in any way related to alcohol consumption. They were clear about this.

      • Ralph Oscar

        Thanks for the clarification, Sara.

  21. Cate

    Agree. And we don’t even know who placed the suitcase at the bottom of the stairs. For all we know Shan’ann took it upstairs and then Chris took it down later ready to get rid of it. ‘See she took her case…’ but ran out of time.

  22. Cate

    Sorry for the duplicate post. Ralph, my thought was always that she got into bed and strangled her – possibly using sex as the lure into the trap.

  23. Cate

    Just to continue my thought processes here, Chris’s comment to the cops to ‘lure them into a trap’ when they asked how you might murder someone seems very significant. Being lured means you are tempted to do something or go somewhere with the offer of a REWARD. It is a very specific word. Was the lure sex and the trap murder?. To me this suits Chris’s temperament and abilities. He wasn’t a practiced killer or abuser but we know via his partners that he was ‘good’ at sex and liked to play rough. I think this was the one area of his life/marriage where he dominated or felt in control. So why wouldn’t he use sex as his methodology for murder? He hated confrontation, so this was a ‘soft’ kill perhaps involving steady strangulation during intercourse.

    • nickvdl

      Imaginative but if you’ve research the Discovery Documents it’s clear the lure was that he pretended he was still interested in fixing their marriage.

      The last thing Watts did before Shan’ann left for Arizona was reject her when she made sexual advances. He repeated the same thing throughout the week he spent with her in North Carolina. This is why she described him as unusually standoffish.

      • Ralph Oscar

        Considering that they were “humping like rabbits” before Shan’Ann went to NC with the girls (according to NUA), Chris’ transformation into cool and distant clearly bothered Shan’Ann. When she came home and he was arms-length with her, by the time she got back from AZ, she must’ve been desperate to connect with him. If he was waiting up for her when she got home and appeared thrilled to see her, that would have been exactly what she was hoping for, after his promise to go away with her and to go to counseling. She would have been hoping he would have had a change of heart and realized how much he loved her – if he’d put on that act, it would totally have disarmed her.

  24. Cate

    That fits then, right?! Pretending to work on Yes Nick – perhaps I am over reaching here. Would you agree that the lack of injuries on both of them, aside from her neck, means she was either surprised by him (stealth attack), relaxed (in his arms not expecting violence) or asleep. Each one is surely possible, but one must be the truth and maybe it isn’t necessarily the one that seems most likely.

    • Ralph Oscar

      The somewhat-consensus here is that Shan’Ann never went to sleep, because she had a routine where she always always always took off her makeup before bed. Since she was OCD, she would have taken the minute and a half and done that self-care. So I think we’re narrowing down the possibilities.

      For me, back rub seems to be the ideal opportunity for Chris. He even stated that he “rubbed her back and shoulders” to wake her up – except that it wasn’t to wake her up, I don’t think.

      • mitzi2006

        Nickole said shanann had been sitting a lot that day and she was in a lot of pain. Speaking from experience pain from hardware and a fusion in the spine causes bone pain, which is excruciating plus she had a headache. All my nighttime routines go out the window when I’m having those days and can’t wait to just crawl into bed for any relief. It’s very possible shananns normal routine when she got home was skipped especially sex, or a heated argument. It may very well have hindered her greatly fighting back

  25. LW

    I agree with the folks that said she probably did NOT check on the children as soon as she got home. Having a toddler myself, if he’s asleep, I will do anything I can not to wake him up! As tired as she was, having a delayed flight and everything, no way would she have risked waking up those girls at that hour.
    I DO find it plausible that she went to talk to Chris, though. She was so obsessed with him at that point, that I don’t think she would have come in without seeing or talking to him before she went to bed. Now whether that was to confront him or just speak to him, that’s another question.

  26. Duttdip

    Disclaimer: This may be a tad unrelated to this post.

    This has been perturbing me for a long time on who was the primary murder target. I have this strange yet plausible theory that Nico was the primary target with Shanann and daughters the derived targets. Let me put it this way-had Nico been not on the way, a divorce could have been possible. With Nico on the way, a divorce would be prohibitively expensive with the additional risk of losing NK. So he had to be taken out (no choice left). If Nico had to be taken out without an abortion (which needed Shanann’s consent), Shanann had to be taken out. And if Shanann had to be taken out, the girls had to be taken out to support the story of her leaving. CW had gotten desensitized by then to really internalize the impact of this chain of murders and I am sure he would have continued had the chain been longer. Else, I can’t find any explanation to the “Why kill” question.

    Just a thought…

  27. Maura

    (It was late when I posted last night): Part 2, More reasons why most likely the murders didn’t happen in the basement or bedrooms:

    Not the basement:
    •Besides Shan’nann missing the kids, they were 3 and 4 year old with medical issues. She would have wanted to remain close to them at night on the same floor.
    •Her routine was to recharge her phone and watch by her bedside.
    •She was feeling sick all weekend in AZ and would need access to her bathroom.
    •Because she was feeling sick a 2:00 am seduction isn’t realistic especially after being stuck at the airport for hours. Since he’d rejected her for sex before her trip, why would a 2:00 am seduction work when she’s exhausted? And she expected him to be asleep at that time.
    •She would have planned to go upstairs when he ambushed her. He could wait until Nickole backed out of the driveway. At 1:50 am her friend would be eager to get home herself not to come in. It’s easiest for him to kill her downstairs where her body doesn’t have to be carried far or down a staircase. A crime scene bare of things is easier to clean as Nick said. Home smelled of cleaning chemicals the next day downstairs.
    •My view is Shan’nann planned to talk to him in the morning after they dropped the kids off at school. She had asked him to rearrange his schedule and to write her a letter about their relationship. She would talk and assess things before a seduction.

    Not the bedrooms:
    •Nick wrote about how the bedrooms would be the WORST place to murder someone. If Shan’ann had been murdered in the master bedroom Chris becomes the main suspect. If the kids were killed in their beds or his and he is the only one alive, he is the suspect.
    •Next, besides the bed linens mattresses can hold a lot of evidence. Chris can’t easily dispose of their beds, clean the carpets and the contents of the 3 bedrooms. Not in a few hours.
    •The pillowcases were thrown in the trash with coffee grinds. If makeup did get on the sheets it was when he wrapped her body for transport. If her mascara ran that morning it was after death. Otherwise, he recalled a detail from previous arguments. He’s seen her cry before with mascara running.
    •The kids’ beds had been slept in Thursday-Saturday. Chris didn’t make their beds on Sunday.
    •I’ve discussed the case with a local realtor who has sold homes where a tragedy has occurred. If the police found evidence that he had killed them in the bedrooms, which they didn’t, the home sale price would plummet and it would have a big stigma. Chris planned to sell the home ASAP to get the best price before more oil wells were built. Why would he risk being the main suspect and jeopardizing the home sale? It was their primary asset.
    •From studying Chris and the Discovery Docs he was a coward. He couldn’t face his wife or admit to the affair even when she was in NC. With a surprise attack he keeps the control, has the advantage and doesn’t have to talk to her or explain anything.
    •The FBI profiler concluded that Chris premeditated the murders and felt that the kids were killed first. They have access to ALL of the documents that are still sealed. If Chris had killed the kids between 6-7 pm as he’d planned, it’s too late to change his mind. He can’t let Shan’nann go upstairs because the kids aren’t there. So he manipulated the security and other systems and murdered her downstairs.

  28. Diana

    Just a reminder……The official first day of school for the kids at Primrose was actually August 20, NOT August 13. The day Shan’ann wanted Chris to go with her to take the girls to the school was August 20.

    Rebecca Thank you for the response on whether Shan’ann knew it was Chris strangling her. You’re right about her recognizing his scent! I didn’t think of that. As much as I follow true crime, you’d think I would’ve thought of that, but I’m a lousy detective.

    Nick – I agree that Chris was standoffish towards Shan’ann while they were in North Carolina, and he did reject her before she went to Arizona, but he faked like he wanted to work on the marriage while she was in Arizona. He agreed to go to couple’s counseling as well as just the two of them going away for the following weekend. Of course he was lying, but I think he did that to get her guard down and he knew he didn’t have to follow through on those promises because he was planning her murder. This is why I believe there’s a possibility he used sex to get her in a vulnerable position.

    I think Chris calling his boss on Sunday to arrange going to the Cervi worksite alone leans toward premeditation. Why? Because normally Chris went to the office each morning – I find it hard to believe he would’ve passed up the chance to see NK since the office is where he knew she would be.

    • Maura

      Discovery Documents Page 462:
      JEREMY said that SHANANN is a person of habit and follows the same schedule every day, so it was strange to him when the girls didn’t show up for the first day of school on Monday (08/13/18).

      Discovery Documents Page 663. SYNOPSIS: Follow up at Primrose School of Erie at Vista Ridge.
      ACTION TAKEN: On 08/15/18 I, Colorado Bureau of Investigation CBI Agent MATTHEW SAILOR, responded to Primrose School of Erie at Vista Ridge located at 28 Ridge View Drive in Erie, Colorado to conduct follow up. Primrose is the school of BELLA WATTS and CELESTE WATTS, who did not show up for the first day of school on 08/13/18. It was reported that their father, CHRIS WATTS, called the school to advise they would not be attending.
      ….The next paragraph talks about the school year beginning on 08/13/18. I’m guessing because Primrose is a private school they started their Kindergarten earlier than the public school.

      • Diana

        Maura I found somewhere in my travels where the actual school year for Primrose was August 20. I will look for it.

      • Diana

        Maura I have an update. I googled the schedule for 2018/2019 at the Primrose School Bella and CeCe attended. Their first day of school was August 20, 2018 for all the Primrose schools in Colorado. I think you are believing that I’m saying that the girls weren’t supposed to go that day – yes, they were. What I’m saying is it wasn’t the “official” start of their school year and the first official day of the school year was the one Shan’ann wanted Chris to go with her. Primrose had daycare and Pre-K year round. CeCe was going to daycare and unless Bella could start kindergarden at 4 yrs. old in Colorado, she would’ve had full time Pre-K starting in 2018, Bella didn’t turn 5 until Dec. 17. Bella only went 2 days a week in 2017/2018. But I will find where I saw the discussion about their official start of the school year. Like most of us here I’ve read soooo many documents and forums since the murders that I don’t know what I read where lol. I’m sure I’ll come across it again and let you know. Someone elsewhere had commented that they thought the murders were premeditated because Chris had told Shan’ann he would “make that happen” in response to her asking to be at Primrose for the girls first day of school. Then a link was posted that just because Chris worked Aug. 13 didn’t mean he hadn’t made arrangements to take the girls to their first day of school with Shan’ann because the school year didn’t start until Aug. 20. I was as surprised as you to learn that. But when I come across it I’ll let you know. The only thing it does change is Chris not arranging to be at the school that day isn’t proof of premeditation because it would’ve been the following Monday Shan’ann wanted him there.

  29. Duttdip

    1. I think there is a missing something here. Did Chris always sleep in the basement post-June or did he sleep upstairs when Shanann wasn’t around? The same logic that folks are applying to Shanann applies to Chris as well- that he was not supposed to leave the girls alone and sleep in the basement, with his wife checking on them every now and then.

    If the above is true, then Chris must have slept upstairs in the master bedroom while she was away. That would possibly extend to Sunday too because Shanann would come back late and question why he slept tens of yards away in a basement where the kids calling for help would be inaudible.

    This could also explain why he was in the porch area watching TV at 11 pm on Sunday. If Shanann came home on time, he would simply retreat to the basement. If she didn’t…..that’s what they possibly discussed over the phone during their last call- that she was going to be late, and two possibilities were discussed:

    Possibility 1: he would continue to sleep upstairs and Shanann would find a spot elsewhere without waking him up.
    Possibility 2: she would wake him up and he would relocate back to the basement.

    This does not give a straight answer to where she was murdered, except that it rules out the basement.

    2. Also, Shanann’s phone holds the clue for me. Who shut it off and why? Was it carefully placed under the sofa or was it flung, and it landed there accidentally? If it was carefully placed, why did Chris not carry it out and dump it in the morning?

    3. IMHO, Shanann at least did two things after she reached home. She left the suitcase near the staircase and then she proceeded to her office to hang her bag from the inner door knob (that action has a personal touch, it is not by someone who does not own the bag).

    4. Finally, I wonder what would have happened had Shanann been offered to sleep over at Nickole Atkinsson’s place because it was too late to be dropped off and she was not feeling well. Chris might have had killed the girls already and he would be facing the possibility of NA and Shanann entering the house at broad daylight only to find it empty.

    • Cate

      To point 4 – I totally agree. A terribly risky manouvre (from Chris’s point of view) to kill the girls before Shan’ann and while she was out of the house. Anything could have happened from a cancelled flight through to a car accident, or not coming back that night at all for whatever reason. Then Shan’ann lives and Chris is a child murderer for ‘nothing’. I scratch my head over why he’d take such a chance.

    • Cate

      I also scratch my head over the risk Chris was taking if he killed the girls first, given that Shan’ann was out of town. If for any reason she hasn’t made it home that night, or if Nickole had walked in with her to help her with her bags, Chris would have murdered his children for nothing (which as it turned out was the case in any event). Surely this is why families are annihilated all at once? Half a job doesn’t benefit the annihilator.

  30. Lynn Dee

    The girls were light sleepers. Perhaps CW had not planned on killing his girls but one or both heard mommy come home or maybe heard her cries for help and they ran to see her. Maybe they both saw what happened and then became collateral damage.
    I guess I just sleep better believing a father can’t premeditate the killing of his daughters and look as normal as CW did.

    • Duttdip

      Somehow, I cannot reconcile any commotion that would wake up girls with lack of any defensive wounds. If it was violent enough to wake up the girls, it would have caused bruises.

      • Ralph Oscar

        Agreed, Duttdip.

  31. Ralph Oscar

    I suspect someone has already mentioned this, but I just want to get this thought out and up on the board. It was premeditated in two phases.

    Chris planned to kill everyone Sunday, August 12, and dispose of their bodies early Monday morning. Shan’Ann’s trip provided the golden opportunity – his victims were split apart into two more manageable sections. Trying to take care of all three at once would be much more complicated and likely to derail due to the unknown unknowns that are always hanging around just out of view. Plus, it was the night before preschool started – the last possible moment to get out of the crippling costs of that unnecessary luxury expense. Families with a stay-at-home parent and adequate financial/educational ability to provide stimulation and enrichment for the children do not “need” preschool or kindergarten – those mostly exist for the convenience of working parents.

    Phase I: He dispatched the girls Sunday afternoon/evening after the birthday party that afternoon – when Chris was observed barbecuing on the porch, the girls were either dying or dead. I say “dying” because it seems most likely that Chris drugged them with Shan’Ann’s leftover Oxycodone and then placed plastic bags over their heads so they would quietly suffocate. Killin’ sure can work up an appetite, so once he’d finished getting the girls ‘arranged’, he turned his attention to dinner. (Question about Bella: Could the mouth damage documented in the autopsy have been the result of forcing her head through the thief hatch?)

    Phase 2 was to murder Shan’Ann after she got home from her AZ trip – she was expected to arrive around 10:30 or 11 the night of August 12. That would give him several hours – just enough time if he worked fast – to clear the crime scenes in the house and prepare the bodies for disposal.

    At this point, everything started going wrong. Shan’Ann’s flight was delayed by 3 crucial hours – time Chris was counting upon and now would not have. He could only get so much done in the interim, but since the girls were already dead, he had no choice but to proceed to Phase 2. By the time he had to leave for work, the crime scene was nowhere near as straightened as it needed to be, but he could finish after work. If Chris had been notified of the flight delay before he’d completed Phase 1, while there was still a chance of rescheduling, we might be looking at a very different scenario. But once Phase 1 was completed, Chris had no choice but to plow forward – there was no going back.

    Enter NUA and her calling in the police because she was afraid Shan’Ann had collapsed or something due to feeling so sick that whole weekend and now not answering her phone. Chris no longer had those crucial extra hours to finish getting rid of the evidence – and it showed.

    Finally, that phone. IF Chris had known the password, he could have run interference and bought himself the extra time he needed – texting NUK in reply to her initial text. Given how much those two texted, I’m guessing that NUK’s first attempt at contacting Shan’Ann was by text, as texts are less intrusive than phone calls and NUK would have wanted to be considerate, given her friend’s fragile condition. When there was no response, NUK escalated to more texts and then phone calls, culminating in her call to the police. And at that point, it was game over.

    • Clean Queen

      Excellent analysis. That was a very interesting and thought-provoking read! I suppose it is possible that the injuries to Bella’s mouth could have occurred when she was so tragically stuffed into the tank. I had never thought of that possibility.
      It’s interesting that the autopsies show the girls were most likely smothered as opposed to strangled. Doesn’t Chris say in his confession that Shan’ann was strangling one of them and had killed the other the same way? If so, one would think there would be evidence of (not Shan’ann in reality), Chris strangling them. Maybe their bodies were too decomposed. If he didn’t break any bones or cause any internal trauma, it is possible that could’ve gone unnoticed.
      This is why I like your theory about Chris drugging them. Chris is so non-confrontational anyway, it’s hard to believe he would be able to physically kill the girls. And while I don’t discount his cruelty in killing them, he did at one point seem to have a love for his children. With that said, I think it is much more probable that he would’ve killed them as impersonally as possible. Poison would be a pretty good way to go about this.

      • Ralph Oscar

        It appears that Chris inserted actual details here and there to make his narrative sound more convincing. For example, the detail that Bella was “blue”. Chris’s story (that the investigator fed to him) was that he caught a glimpse on the screen of the baby monitor of Shan’Ann strangling CeCe, with Bella in the background, already “blue”. The baby monitor screen was black and white and grainy. So he didn’t get the “blue” detail from there.

        More likely, after drugging and then suffocating in a plastic bag, Bella was blue. And dead.

        When Chris says he woke Shan’Ann up by “rubbing her back and shoulders”, this is a detail that supports my thesis that Chris got Shan’Ann helpless by offering her a backrub and, once on top of her, was able to strangle her in that carotid-artery-pressure type strangulation, not the break-the-hyoid-bone/larynx type of strangulation. Chris inserted that into a different scenario.

    • Karen #2

      Just a guess, but wouldn’t they be able to tell if the injuries to her tongue/mouth were before or after death? Wonder how accurate an autopsy can be when the bodies were soaking in that oil mixture.

      • Ralph Oscar

        “wouldn’t they be able to tell if the injuries to her tongue/mouth were before or after death?”

        I would say “Yes” but I haven’t heard. I believe bruising is something that only happens before death. Also, Bella had oil in her lungs or in her stomach (can’t remember) – I have not heard a decent explanation for that, either.

        “Wonder how accurate an autopsy can be when the bodies were soaking in that oil mixture.”

        That’s a very good question.

  32. Clean Queen

    Ralph Oscar – Those are great points! Especially when you consider that there are likely small bits of truth strung through Chris’s story. You’re right, Bella probably was really blue from whatever he did. Your back rub theory is very interesting and has me thinking…

  33. Duttdip

    Any idea what the purpose of this enactment was?

  34. Melinda Shepherd

    Maybe he put plastic down for the killings? Then removed the plastic during the cleanup?

  35. Peko

    I don’t know where the killings happened but I’m sure he had the bodies in the basement. In the morning of August 13, he went back and forth the garage and the basement for 26-27 minutes. That’s why he got the “door left open” notifications for the garage door and the basement door.

    1. In the Discovery, Officer Coonrod wrote that he observed CW’s truck pulling into the garage at 5:27am. It’s a typo. The correct time is 5:17am or 5:18am. If you watch Nate’s viewing party video, 1) Nate says “that’s him at 5:17”; 2) On page 555 of Discovery, his truck GPS indicates his truck was at his house from 5:18am (ignition started) to 5:46am.

    2. On page 591 of Discovery, it says their security system will alert if a door is left open for a certain period of time. In case of the Watts, that certain period of time was probably set at 10 minutes.

    At one point (I think it was to Graham) CW lied that he left the house at 5:25am. He proceeded to use the alerts he got at 5:26am and 5:27am respetively for the basement door and garage door to imply the security system was malfunctioning or/and Shannann might’ve left shortly after he did.

    However, at 5:26am-5:27am, he was still busy loading up his truck. He opened the garage door at 5:16am and left it open; he opened the internal & external garage doors at 5:17am and left it open.

    He got the notifications 10 minutes later, at 5:26am and 5:27am.

    Why did Officer Coonrod have a typo? It’s because of Chris Watts. The officer noted that CW repeatedly told him about the 5:27am vivint alert. This must’ve made an impression on Officer Coonrod and caused him to make a mistake.

  36. MARGO

    I think she was killed upstairs. Down in the basement was NK. I think something dark happened down there before SW came home. NK admitted putting a crystal under Cece bed. I dont know much about crystals, but NK used one on their camping trip to talk to her dead grandma. Did NK believe that Cece energy upon death would transfer into that stone for CW to talk to her late? Was there some ritual to give CW strength to carry these murders out? CW said something dark happen there and he will take it to his grave.

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