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

“Chris Watts is the dumbest criminal ever…”

Chris Watts was so dumb it took the cops three to four days to find the bodies of his victims, even though they had the GPS data and knew exactly where he went that day.


He was so dumb cadaver dogs couldn’t find any clear cadaver traces in the home, or any other clear and unambiguous evidence.

He was so dumb even today we can’t say when, where, how or why the murders happened. Compared to other high-profile true crime, Watts outscores almost everyone else in almost every department.


Think about all the other ultra dumb moves in true crime…

1. JonBenet Ramsey Ranson Note

Patsy Ramsey’s three-page, ahem, I mean someone’s Ransom Note. It was called the War and Peace of Ransom Notes, it didn’t make much sense and whoever wrote it forgot to kidnap or collect the ransom. If there was a kidnapper, even if JonBenet died in their custody, the ransom could still have been collected. So why is there a Ransom Note, no kidnapper, no kidnapping and no ransom?

Patsy herself, a former Miss West Virginia, forgot to change the clothes she was in that night.

Easily missed in terms of the Ransom Note, Patsy also forgot to leave her fingerprints on it. Even she didn’t write it, if she picked it up to read it [and she said she did], why aren’t her fingerprints on it?

2. Jodi Arias’ Camera

After driving thousands of miles from Yreka California to Mesa Arizona and back to murder Travis Alexander in secret, Jodi left a camera at the crime scene. The camera contained timestamped photos of herself cavorting with Travis Alexander and also over 11 minutes chronicling his murder in the shower stall and hallway.


3. Oscar Pistorius “screams like a woman”

He shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to death four times through a locked toilet door, then said he’d fired by accident and mistook her for a burglar. Pistorius claims the sounds of a woman screaming [heard by five different witnesses] was actually him screaming like a woman. Dumb as this was, the judge actually believed his testimony and found him not guilty of murder.

4. Henri van Breda’s 20+ minute EMS call

Although three of his family members were already dead, Van Breda’s younger sister was still alive when he called to report the emergency. Van Breda was on the line for more than twenty minutes despite the fact that his sister Marli, having sustained serious head and neck wounds from the same axe, lay upstairs hanging onto her life by a thread.  It also appeared Van breda smoked three cigarettes while on the call, and some thought it sounded like he was chickling when he said his family were dead. Marli ultimately survived her brother’s axe attack.

5. OJ Simpson’s Bruno Magli shoes…

Had the “shoe evidence” been used at his original trial, would OJ still have been acquitted? Who knows. One glove was found at the crime scene and a matching glove at his residence in Rockingham, covered in blood and containing the genetic markers of Simpson and both victims, but that wasn’t enough. The shoeprint and circumstances around the shoe size was certainly overwhelming.

The list goes on and on, but the point is, all of these criminals either made silly mistakes in leaving behind evidence, or came up with cockamamie explanations about the evidence, or both.

Crime itself is stupid. It’s a stupid solution. But when we see crime that way we miss the most important thing – the human element. It’s the human element that leads to these terrible crimes being perpetrated, and it’s through the human element that we can understand them.

Like Watts, Amanda Knox also confessed to what seemed like a semi-bogus scenario [suggested to her by the cops] after a few hours of interrogation. Like Watts, Knox also courted a media storm because of her seemingly weird behavior after the crime.

In the list above, as dumb as all of these criminals’ ideas, executions and explanations are, more than half of the suspects implicated in these cases got away with it. 

Think about that.

Of course, if there were elements of the crime that were executed well in the Watts case [such as the cover up inside the home] there were other elements that were just plain lazy.

fullscreen capture 20190130 110252

The bed sheet left in the open field at CERVI 319 is an example, but then Watts couldn’t have imagined the cops catching up to him as soon as they did, or that they would use a drone to gain access to the remote area. Still, one has to wonder, how did the bed sheet get away from him?

Perhaps the dumbest thing about Watts Family Murders wasn’t so much the logistics but the crime itself. It may be that because his motive is so simple and simpleminded we regard this crime as so stupid, and this case with such contempt.

Besides that, Watts’ ability to stand up to scrutiny [in front of his neighbors, the media cameras, and in front of law enforcement] is probably the area where he lacked the most game.

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Having performed for years with his wife to a captive multi-level marketing audience [not the most discerning audience in the world], perhaps he’d allowed himself to believe he was a convincing actor. The real world is quite different from the fictitious stew of Thrive on Facebook, however, where the only people buying what they’re selling are the promoters. Social media is an echo chamber at the best of times, but an MLM-themed echo chamber seems designed to addle the mind, and perhaps it did.

In the list mentioned above Jodi Arias, Oscar Pistorius and OJ were involved in similar stuff as the Watts family; Jodi in MLM, Oscar and OJ performing endless stunts as brand ambassadors for wellness brands/sponsors – but all eventually becoming actors in their own respective fairy tales.

Although Shan’ann was the leading actor in the Watts family, Watts eventually took that role over from Shan’ann. His Sermon on the Porch had to feel weird where he was the starring figure, as it were, after years of playing the extra to Shan’ann’s spiels. That morning she was the extra and this time he was talking for himself, and on her behalf, leaving out the stuff [like her pregnancy] that didn’t suit him so that he could sell his spiel.

When the fairy tale becomes real enough, a nightmare can’t be allowed to exist. What happens when a nightmare starts to infect a fairy tale? Can it simply be acted or pretended away, spoken out of existence by choosing the right words? It’s not just criminals who like to think so. The reality is we’re all trying to make our lies and fairy tales amount to something in the face of our own inevitable extinction.fullscreen capture 20190117 174927


  1. mitzi2006

    True…guess we tend to recall the gaffes and forget how many things he got so right, the cadaver dogs were the biggest surprise to me

  2. Love/hate true crime in equal measure

    I assume that most criminals will weigh up risk V reward. What makes Chris dumb is that he thought his 5-6 week relationship with NK was something more than a dopamine/testosterone fueled affair. What makes him dumb and despicable is that he took 3 of his children’s lives for something that statistically is so fleeting.

    • Ralph Oscar

      There is no reason to think that Chris’ affair with NK was the only motivating factor in this case. If anything, it was what opened his eyes and enabled him to realize just how unhappy he was living the life he was living with Shan’Ann. While she and the kids were away, it’s possible that he gained a much better perspective on how dire their financial situation was – since she took care of the financial side, it’s very possible that he didn’t see the bills and the late notices and all that, but once she was gone, he saw them coming in, along with more and more boxes of Thrive crap. His life was draining away under a crushing burden of too-big house, too-expensive car, phony too-successful lifestyle, and his wife’s illusion that she was “running a business”. To the very end, she was spending the family’s meager, dwindling resources on that MLM black hole – she’d just gotten back from an MLM “work trip” that SHE had had to pay for.

      This is the same principle behind a great many companies insisting that employees take vacations – while the employees are there, they can cover up malfeasance on an ongoing basis. Once they are out of the office, they can no longer keep all the pieces in place. I saw this in one of my jobs – this was back ca. 1989, and someone who was in charge of buying PCs for the company (large corporation) was keeping all the rebate checks for himself. When he went on vacation, these checks kept coming in and he was busted. He had to seek other employment elsewhere.

      • Sylvester

        Ralph – there is a guy like that at every organization, quite a few of them. They think they can play outside the lines. I’ve sat down with many a co worker and asked “why did you really leave your last job” and it’s usually because they got caught doing something they shouldn’t have. I don’t judge, in fact I feel pretty great that they entrusted me with the truth – however I wasn’t the HR manager. If Chris had put his “energies” into forging ahead at Anadarko, let them know he was interested in learning the industry there may have been the money there to send him to engineering school. But his personality type I think was “go along to get along.” That’s unfortunate as we see that he could have used many of his gifts for good. I’m sure Nichole came along and thought she too could “help him”, just as Shan’ann may have thought she could help him in the beginning – get him out NC and into something where he can get ahead (and he did for a short while, becoming head mechanic at the car dealer) then Anadarko but he just didn’t have it in him to ever “think of it” himself or apply it. Number one was the Nascar technical school and a job that didn’t materialize from that. You kind of see this with Scott Peterson – his failed dreams of being a pro-golfer. But where Scott thought he was entitled to it, Chris didn’t but it’s no less a failure. Then what they did was blame their domestic life for it.

  3. Nick

    That falls into the “crime is dumb” category. As soon as we say that we’re admitting we know nothing about the emotional dynamics of the ground, and in his mind. Laugh at them, ignore them, dismiss them – they were very real for Watts.

  4. Sylvester

    Chris had just spent a week going to NC when he didn’t want to be there, what a purposeless trip for him. I don’t think he particularly wanted to see his parents, and he didn’t want to spend time with S and the girls or her parents – yet had he stayed home was he going to do anything at all to prepare for legal separation? He essentially had five weeks to rifle through her desk, take a look at all of the bills, call the banks, call a realtor, text his wife and tell her we have to sell the house if he can’t say it face to face, and at least move forward with some kind of action to see what it would take to get it listed. He’s a numbers guy – yet did he sit down with a legal pad and write down all of their debt to income ratios and notice they were in the minus column? He didn’t take charge of his financial situation at all – in those five weeks he went to work, he worked out, he ran, he dated and had copious amounts of sex. Five weeks is a long time to get your shit together but he seemed content to continue his lie of a life and bring another innocent person into it. He used NK and put her in the middle of his disgruntled life he thought he might not want anymore, I would say he used her so that he could continue to take the coward’s way out and not have to deal with the responsibilities he had already agreed to for the last six years, that he no longer wanted. If he had not solidified his relationship with Nichole K. I don’t think he would have moved out at all – that was all a lie. He could have, he could have sold that house and moved out, do whatever it takes to be with the person he says he loves, let some lawyer haggle over what’s his and what’s hers but in all that time while she was away he wasn’t doing anything but playing, and feeding lies to NK. Don’t we all want a new life?

    • ganana

      Chris was not dumb, but he was *limited*, possibly by subconscious choice.

      But he didnt understand his limitations.

      He was limited by his family background. He did better than his parents had done and in *some* families in the American South, we tread onto dangerous ground if we get too “smart” or too educated.

    • Eve

      I think the separation thing was never a real thing-he’d be too humiliated, because leaving your pregnant wife and daughters makes you look bad. Much better to look like a widower and get his finances in order that way (and get away with it, of course.)

      • Geoff

        @Eve Exactly!! He cared far too much about what people though.

      • Geoff


  5. Ralph Oscar

    “The reality is we’re all trying to make our lies and fairy tales amount to something in the face of our own inevitable extinction.”

    This is a beautiful, poignant insight.

  6. Sylvester

    I think Rourke used the words “fresh start” so that’s different from new life so I’ll amend what I said to fresh start. But in order to have a fresh start you have to have resolved all of the things you weren’t doing that you want to be different over. And I don’t think Watts was doing anything along those lines to begin with. The search for meaning only makes sense when you understand there is no meaning.

    • mitzi2006

      I wonder how long kessinger would have stuck with him too. I wonder if it ever crossed his mind that the hormones and new love he was immersed in would change once they were together all the time. I find the video of shan’ann saying she wanted to leave her mark on this world sad. She did leave her mark, but not in any way she would have ever thought at that time

    • Ralph Oscar

      If anyone remembers the case of Diane Downs, she shot her own 3 small children because she was having an affair with a married man who did not want children. She saw her own children as being an obstacle in her getting what she wanted. It happens…

      • ganana

        And Susan Smith.

      • Eve

        Those are the same people I thought of when I first learned of CW-all women actually and all in different ways, but Diane Downs, Susan Smith (less so) and Casey Anthony. Diane was the scariest and most ice-cold and she said something like “I love babies who are there to love YOU.” Casey just disposed of Caylee to be free, seemed relieved of pressure and had similar family dynamics.

        Weirdly, John List, another family annihilator, and Casey both did the “I’m gonna pretend to go to work every day for a very long time when actually working would take as much effort” thing.

  7. Sylvester

    byw, I’m enjoying this latest installment Drilling through Discovery and am taking my time to read it. There is alot more to what people say, it’s often what they don’t say, or the way in which words are used symbolically to refer to something else. I’m also enjoying his interrogation by Coder, and how simple movements like hand flutters and arm to neck plays, can be interpreted as signs of being uncomfortable with the conversation. But in many ways, in those interrogation rooms, he looks like a bug (with his glasses on) that has been pressed between glass under a microscope. And I also like it that for a while he was allowed to bring his phone into the interview room, then presto, he gave it up – his own precious lifeline – gone, and life was never the same after that.

    • mitzi2006

      I was thinking that one day, the hardest thing for him looked like giving up that precious phone, it served many purposes for him

    • ganana

      I commend you for taking your time reading the Drilling Through Discovery book! : )

      All work stopped here while I tore through the pages. Then re-read parts of it.

  8. Duttdip

    I read Nick’s article on Chris and NK’s emotional dynamics, and loved it. It makes absolute sense and gets us into the mind of Chris, however messed up it was.

    Having said that, I have rarely seen any husband who after years of marriage did not meet someone who for a moment seemed “more compatible, more engaging and more accommodating”. But very few fall for those moments, Familiarity at the end of the day does bring some contempt, and a fair apples-to-apples comparison to any rational person would be between the two months with NK and the first 2 months with Shanann. I am sure the first two months with Shanann was filled with lovey-dovey letters, frequent sex and offsite camping.. Given Chris’s personality, I would not be surprised if we witnessed similar consequences had we swapped the characters-NK and Shanann.

    • mitzi2006

      Her brother said I believe it was in his interview that Chris was exactly the same with shan’ann after they first started dating as he was with Nickole. I did find it revealing when sandy said that Chris hadn’t been that cold to shan’ann ever except right after the wedding when his family didn’t come to the wedding. That to me would say he’s going to take his parents side in their marriage. Brings clarity to that saying that you marry your partner but also marry their family. I would have blamed my parents for not showing up, not my spouse but I think it does say something about how the dynamics in his family might have played a bigger part than I originally thought

      • ganana

        Agree that Chris’s wounded psyche is a product of dysfunction in that family. I think maybe he was abused in a number of ways as a young child and had nowhere to turn, stuffing it all deep inside until he couldn’t.

        The comments posted by NVDL where one if Chris’s childhood acquaintances talked sbout Chris’s obsessions with neatness and sex and cruelty are illuminating.

        Someone who knew the family well over a long period of time could provide some of the missing pieces to this tragic story.

  9. Ralph Oscar

    If Chris could have gotten just a week without the police being involved, no one would have ever found those girls – they would have dissolved into the crude and truly disappeared. And he might have figured out how to do a better job of disposing of Shan’Ann as well. Just a week…

    • Sideaffected

      But that’s part of his particular dumbness-maybe he could have gotten away with it for a week in the 80s but her not posting anything online is essentially “not showing up for work that day”. And calling the school that morning is crazy. I mean, I understand in his mind it was because the bill was due which he mentions in his interview. The fact that he didn’t think “I shouldn’t do that, not the day they go missing” is his brand of dumbness.

  10. Sylvester

    I think he was way more hurried in his burial activities that we could imagine. Had he been seen carrying a sheet and two black plastic garbage bags back to his truck of course he would have had an excuse for it, but in hindsight the other technicians there would have mentioned it to the police. Also he had no plan for how she would have gotten out of the house – press the garage door opener on the wall and run under the door with two little girls? He says early on there are cameras around the back field there behind the house, but if he would have just left the back patio door unlocked the police could have scratched their heads over that one for a while. Then the “they went with someone they did or didn’t know” some transient perhaps trekking across the oil fields, might have carried some weight. But in every case the crime does fit the perpetrator, and the coverup does as well.

    • Duttdip

      I was also wondering why he did not keep the patio door unlocked (but then he did not anticipate that Nicole Atkinson would show up, else he would have done lot of things differently).

      Another thing that perplexed me was despite knowing about the neighbor’s camera why he did not take the Lexus out and put the truck in the garage 2 days in advance (since Shanann was out). He had dropped her at the airport in the Lexus and could have left it parked in some nearby alley.

      One thing is clear: he was not very aware of his wife’s daily routine since he went for work at 5 am every morning. How many people she met every morning, which appointments she had, etc.. Without that awareness, he presumed that it would just be normal for everyone to assume a quiet morning for a pregnant woman. Maybe NA never turned up while he was around.

      • Sylvester

        For someone who premeditated a crime it has a slipshod look to it, doesn’t it? Yes, he cleaned. Where he cleaned, the Ramsey’s staged. So on the “get away with it scale” the Ramsey’s score higher since they went to the trouble to move the crime away from the house and stage a break in. They essentially took what they had and added to it – a broken window, a suitcase, a note. Chris didn’t have anything lying around that indicated any kind of a struggle or a kidnapping or anything at all that made any sense because he couldn’t be clear on what scenario he was going to go with. That we still don’t know when and in the case of the children, how, doesn’t make him some kind of genius – we still don’t know when and who in the Ramsey case. Serial killers seem to have more luck – they move around alot, no one knows who they are, they are the forgotten people in the first place and if they aren’t in a criminal database they are going to remain mysterious for a very long time.

        • nickvdl

          The Ramseys were pretty smart, rich people. I’m not sure the Watts crime scene is simpler than the Ramsey crime scene, especially if you bring in the testimony about the house surrounded by snow and there being no footprints. The one broken window in the basement is almost equivalent to the dodgy garage sensor.

          we still don’t know when and who in the Ramsey case.>>>Some of us think we do. Know when and who I mean.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “press the garage door opener on the wall and run under the door with two little girls?”

      Modern garage door openers won’t let you do that any more. They have an electric eye, and anything crossing that while the door is in motion causes the door to return up. The only way you can close it is from the inside or with a clicker from the outside. I’m sure they had remotes to control the garage door, but typically those are kept in the vehicles. If she’d left with another driver, she might have taken her clicker with her, if it was missing from her Lexus.

    • ganana

      Shan’Ann’s delayed flight and later on Monday, her friend being worried seem to be the things that messed up Chris’s plans. Everything speeded up and his overly methodical mind couldn’t keep up.

      • mitzi2006

        Can you tell me where the comments are from Nick about Chris friend who talked about Chris’s obsessions, I read all the books prior to this 5th one I just started on but apparently I missed that link or was it on this site?

      • nancyjames3358

        The info you re requesting is under the New Crime tab dated January 22nd, 2019

        There are two videos:
        Chris Watts Realizes He is Outmatched

        Directly under the two videos:
        #ChrisWatts this comment was left for me on YouTube from a
        childhood friend of Chris Watts! It offers insight about Chris, and
        his family.

        Wouldn’t let me copy/paste. Really good.

  11. Duttdip

    If the “Forensic Files” episodes are to be believed, he must have left mountains of evidences in the scenes. Yet, in the discovery documents, we only read about circumstantial yet inconclusive evidences like the neighbor’s camera or phone texts or the cadaver dogs. I wonder if there were others that were not disclosed.

    I would request Nick to write an article covering the possible reasons for the guilty plea.
    1. Was he trying to avoid death penalty (which is ineffective in Colorado anyway)?
    2. Was he trying to protect someone else?
    3. Did he have a terrible remorse that forced a change of heart?
    4. Was he told about an incriminating evidence that we, the public, do not know about?

    • Nick

      Have you read RAPE OF CASSANDRA?

      • Duttdip

        No-badly backlogged on reading..

      • Duttdip

        Grabbing the kindle edition now.

    • ganana

      Did he tell his lawyers the truth about how he killed the girls? Were they so repulsed by him that they argued with him to take that plea so it could all be finished? Would defending him, if he poisoned or drugged Cece and Bella, have been futile? Did they tell him that if the real truth came out, he was a dead man in prison, way sooner than if he were just sitting on death row?

    • Sideaffected

      The neighbor’s camera isn’t inconclusive. Unless they really did “vanish”, it is conclusive that they left in the truck.

  12. Ralph Oscar

    “I would request Nick to write an article covering the possible reasons for the guilty plea.”

    This has been covered here, though I can’t remember which article(s). Look up the one about his homosexual affair – that might be where. Given that Chris worked in the testosterone-infused environment of the oil fields, and his paramour NK was the daughter of one of the Andarko bigger cheeses, he wouldn’t want the details of his gay liaisons (I believe there were 2) to come out – he was deeply ashamed of his possible bisexuality and Colorado is a very conservative Evangelical Christian-dominated area, and he didn’t want to lose this final shred of his dignity, not in view of NK and her father.

    There is also the possibility that LeVel, the company that put out the Thrive products they shilled, would have wanted this to go straight to plea bargain instead of dragging through court, where the fact that selling for them had destroyed this family’s finances, with deadly results, would have come out. So they might have paid off the police to press for a plea bargain – Chris was rather easily led, it appears, in an interrogation atmosphere (his mother was very much against the plea bargain). Also, LeVel might have been involved in getting Chris moved to a different prison out of state – less ongoing publicity (all those love letters and marriage proposals he’s getting) since, in Wisconsin, he isn’t a hometown boy. It was the worst possible publicity for LeVel and Thrive, so they had reason to want to shut it down and hush it all up.

    I’m kinda butchering it, but do go through the rest of the articles here — you’ll find a lot of what you’re wondering about already analyzed.

  13. Ralph Oscar

    While one *can* be convicted of murder without anyone finding the body(ies), it’s a lot more difficult. One case where the murder victim was never found was in Washington State, where Steven Sherer was convicted of murdering his wife Jami Hagel Sherer ten years after the fact. True crime writer Ann Rule wrote up this case as part of her book “Empty Promises”, which had several different cases in it. If you look up “Jami Hagel Sherer”, you’ll get a portion of her writeup on the case – I read the book about 15 or so years ago and it was obviously quite memorable. Her body has still never been found.

    • Ralph Oscar

      I forgot to add – that Steven Sherer was WAY dumber than Chris Watts, and it still took 10 years to catch him. Because his victim’s body was never found. IF Chris had simply had time to properly dispose of the bodies so they would never be found – and there is every reason to believe he could have – this case may well have ended very differently, and people who suspected him would be saying he was the most clever criminal they’d ever seen. NUA’s unexpected arrival on the scene derailed all his plans, so we’ll never know how it might have all played out if Chris had had time to do whatever his original plan was.

  14. Sylvester

    I still don’t think so Ralph – he used the company vehicle, which had a GPS tracking system on it – to travel to work with the bodies inside, he set up the area he was going to go to in advance signaling where he was off to at 5:27 a.m., even if the bodies disintegrated in the oil there was still one in the earth, decomposing – with a rake sticking up next to it and a sheet fluttering in the breeze nearby (and two garbage bags). He wanted to erase his digital fingerprint on everything but left his digital fingerprint by calling the school and the realtor morning of. He underestimated his wife’s facebook presence and absence from that morning and day. He knew about his neighbor’s surveillance camera but not that it would also show she never left. That puts her in the house, with her children, with the only other person who was also in the house – him.

    • Duttdip

      There were 3 possibilities, and NOT 2:
      1. He was not tracked at all
      2. He was tracked and not conclusively linked to the murder of all three
      3. He was tracked and conclusively linked to the murder of all three

      Unless he confessed in private or there were incriminating evidences that were not made public- the surveillance videos, the bed sheets, the texts, the phone calls, etc only at best take us till #2. That does not necessarily mean he would have survived a jury trial.

    • Ralph Oscar

      You don’t have to agree with me; given the abundant information and lack of definitive answers, you’re likely to connect those dots in a different way. And that’s fine – that’s the power of a forum like this: We can debate different points of view, throw them all up at the wall, see what sticks, from our perspective. We will likely never “know”, but all this information leads me to scenarios that are far more satisfying in their explicative power than the simple “he just snapped”.

      The way Shan’Ann’s burial place was left was not how Chris planned it to be – he ran out of time. If he’d planned to go back and perhaps dismember her body and stuff her parts in through the thief hatches, then the messy shallow grave would have been a non-issue. Since he ran out of time, we’ll never know.

      I wonder how complicit NK was. Because yeah, the calling the school himself bit is messy. IF, though, he’d planned to use Shan’Ann’s phone (for the phone number ID with the recipient) and had had a woman (NK) call, posing as Shan’Ann to say the children were being withdrawn from the preschool (or made the call himself from that phone faking a woman’s voice), that would have fit into his “she left and took the kids” narrative. By then, of course, he would have had time to get rid of all the medications, purse, and other things she would have obviously taken with her in that scenario.

      But she’d changed the password on her phone…

  15. Ilovedogsandcats

    Chris’s dumbest act was allowing himself to being interrogated without counsel, taking a lie detector test and ultimately, confessing.

    During the interrogation he said he wasn’t interested in getting a lawyer. This tells me he had extreme remorse (for killing his children) and felt he no longer deserved representation. I’m not sure how he felt about killing Shan’ann. Maybe his rage spent during the killing had dissipated.

    I think he’s glad to go to prison as he feels he deserves it. Once the killings started, there was no going back to his dreams of being with NK and starting a new life.

    • nickvdl

      Well initially he didn’t take the lawyer option because he thought that would make him look guilty. Later he took the version of Shan’ann killing the kids because he felt that would make him look less guilty. If he had remorse he would have told the truth. He still hasn’t.

  16. Sylvester

    He can be excused for not requesting an attorney up front – they told him they needed his help finding his missing family. If he had refused to offer help, then he thought that would look bad on him. It would be difficult knowing just when to stop talking and stop helping. But any fool knows not to take an FBI Poly. Then they brought in poor old Ronnie to help ease a confession out of him – who specifically said earlier should they get an attorney, not court appointed. But Ronnie asked the wrong person that question. I agree – no remorse. That tear sliding down his cheek to me said what was all of this for. I made a mistake. Not I’m sorry I took four lives.

  17. dermotspirit

    I think by the time he got back with his wife & kids from NC he has dug himself into a big hole, how was he going to explain to Kessenger he was going to be none contactable the following weekend when he & Shannan went on there make or break away from home trip.

    After all he told Kessenger they where all but divorced, she was encouraging him to find a rental place of his own, how was that possible in reality,here in the uk you have to put down a fairly hefty deposit on a rental place, he probably had no t got the money to enable him to do that.

    Plus if Kessenger had seriously wanted him as a long term prospect she would have offered up her place to him when Shannan got back from Arizona even if it was simply a short term arrangement, just pack a bag & come to mine kind of thing.

    we all know Kessenger had no worries about Chris having the kiddies at weekends as there’s no way on gods earth Shannan would have allowed the kids to go stay with Daddy & Auntie Kessenger,

    It should have been a summer fling & once Shannan & kids where back home he would have probably just continued to plod along & Kessenger would have tired of his inability to ” make his mind up”

    • Ralph Oscar

      I don’t believe Chris had any intention of going anywhere with Shan’Ann. I see his interactions with her at this point as telling her whatever she wants to hear in order to keep her guard down, lure her into a trap, make it easier to murder her. Chris didn’t want her to be suspicious.

      Chris wasn’t going to be reading that stupid book, either, like he told Shan’Ann; he’d already thrown it into the trash! AND he knew Shan’Ann was never going to see it there.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “if Kessenger had seriously wanted him as a long term prospect she would have offered up her place to him when Shannan got back from Arizona even if it was simply a short term arrangement, just pack a bag & come to mine kind of thing.”

      That’s a good point. If Chris’s plan had gone as planned, perhaps NK would have invited him to crash at her place once he’d put his house on the market – he’d have the money for his own apartment as soon as it sold, of course.

  18. Sylvester

    It was sort of a plan-less plan, wasn’t it.

    • nickvdl

      The logistical-digital side was actually quite clever. He disguised the murders in plain sight, within the fabric of going to sleep and going to work. The neighbor’s surveillance video doesn’t – strictly speaking – show anything. It was unusual for him to back his truck the way he did, but had this been a less high profile case, and had Atkinson not raised the alarm, a detail like that could well have been lost in the noise.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “It was sort of a plan-less plan, wasn’t it.”

      The more I learn about it, the more clever it looks. There were simply two events that massively derailed it – the flight being delayed (who could anticipate that??) and NUA sniffing around. If things had gone the way it appears to me that Chris was thinking they would, it would have been so clever that you could have tied a tail to it and called it a fox.

      • Maura

        The third event could have been her changed password on her phone. If he tried to access it and couldn’t get in to pretend to be her and buy himself more time.

  19. nancyjames3358

    Where do we think he was going to use the contents of the gas can? Certainly, transport to a second location and not shallow grave, right?
    Not that dumb?

  20. Eve

    One thing Inread about family annihiliators (I can’t quote it, it was from an academic journal) was that they plan their crimes meticulously but don’t think through the after part nearly as intensely. I don’t think he’s the idiot people think he is but I don’t think he’s particularly bright either. Mostly his idiocy is in relating to others and lack of self-awareness. He doesn’t know how he comes across, why or how someone would immediately find his behavior odd. I think in his mind he’s thinking “I’m saying all the right things” but he has no idea how cold and unusual his behavior is.

    Also, I think OJ/Oscar we’re entitled because of their fame and that had a lot to do with why they’d expect to get away with it. Similar with Ramsey’s wealth and status. Chris didn’t have that, he got caught mid-crime essentially and the technology today is obviously insane compared to those other crimes.

    However, his were also different in that they involved children. I honestly think because they didn’t mean much to him that he assumed the rest of the world thought more like him than they do.

    Still, some stuff that he didn’t think about is just dumb no matter how you slice it. Like lying about having a mistress (when he knows they have his phone..) All the stuff on his phone, period.

    • Ralph Oscar

      Yeah the dumb stuff:
      – Chris should have NEVER spoken to the media. He should have simply said he was too distraught to talk to anyone.
      – Chris should NEVER have agreed to be “interviewed” (interrogated) by the police without a lawyer present. Who cares how “lawyering up” looks.
      – Chris should have known better than to take a lie detector test! Especially without a lawyer’s counsel.
      – And no way should he have ever handed over his phone without a warrant.

      Now, keep in mind that Chris thought he’d wiped his phone of the NK evidence – there was something about Chris researching a way to communicate that is behind the digital scenes somehow (can’t remember the details) but it’s *beneath* the phone’s obvious calls/texts records. The investigators found that; Chris thought they wouldn’t. So he was thinking there wasn’t anything incriminating on his phone for them to find.

  21. Ilovedogsandcats


    I don’t think he can admit to killing his kids. It’s such a heinous act to commit and he knows the police and public know he did it but he cannot say those words. He just compartmentalizes those actions somewhere in his head under lock and key. I am willing to bet he will never admit it.

    He is a coward. He wants his punishment without the fanfare of a trial exposing his actions, hearing the prosecution go thru’ his step-by-step deranged killings as he sits there in the courtroom. So he took a plea and avoided all of it.

    • nickvdl

      Some of the biggest cases in true crime, if not the biggest, arguably, involve the inability of parents to admit to killing their children [or somehow being negligent and “allowing” it to happen].

  22. Seymour Glass

    There were several Thrive videos I’ve watch of Shan’ann with Chris in the background. Here’s one for example. Watch his face in the very beginning:

    I can not stand Chris’ facial expressions prior to the crime. It bothered me but I couldn’t put my finger on why until today. His face reminds me of this guy (tried to copy and paste actual picture but wasn’t able to):


    There are several pics of Christian Bale’s character in American Psycho that remind me of Chris.

    I also find it interesting that Chris had a high sex drive – 3-4x a day. That’s a lot of sex, even for newly weds. Is this a symptom of pathological psychopathy, don’t know?

    Chris wore a mask for everyone in his life, including Shan’ann. He was on constant auto-pilot mode until Shan’ann and the girls went to NC. When he met NK, he met his co-equal in every way.

    There are crimes that would have never happened unless two people, who share a dark chemistry, meet. One example, although extreme, is the crime from – Diane Zamora & David Graham & Adrianne Jones.

    Make no mistake – this, too, was a bizarre love triangle (New Order reference) between Shan’ann Watts & Chris Watts & NK.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “Watch his face in the very beginning:”

      What did you see in it? I didn’t see anything strange – he appeared to be good-naturedly mugging for the camera (as one does). And then, when Shan’Ann goes off to get a bowl, Chris takes over the promo video, and that part is hard to watch – he appears to know what he’s supposed to do, and he’s doing it, but there isn’t a whiff of naturalness to his performance. Chris likely would not have chosen to be there doing that, but he did it because Shan’Ann wanted him to. Needed him to.

      Your image didn’t come through 🙁

      Nah, during that “honeymoon” stage, having sex multiple times a day is quite normal.

  23. Duttdip

    >> also find it interesting that Chris had a high sex drive – 3-4x a day. That’s a lot of sex, even for newly weds. Is this a symptom of pathological psychopathy, don’t know?

    This actually offers an alternate theory to the one that Chris was fed up with Shannan’s domineering personality or the finances. I kept wondering: but why suddenly? And why was finance never mentioned in any interaction. As Shannan put it, “he fell out of love in 5 weeks”. Could it be that his sex drive had peaked enormously (testosterone boosting workout or diet or Thrive-whatever) and it coincided with Shannan’s pregnancy and hence her inability to reciprocate 4 times a day? As such she was a mother of two..And then came NK..The rest was slippery slope..

    • Ralph Oscar

      Remember that NUA said they were “screwin’ like rabbits” in the weeks before Shan’Ann and the kids left for NC.

  24. Sylvester

    I guess I don’t think 3-4x a day is extraordinary in the beginning of a relationship. You literally can’t keep your hands off each other. Even so, wasn’t it 3-4x a week? They both had work so 3-4x a day would have been tough unless you are willing to stay up all night. I don’t think it’s a symptom of pathological psychopathy, it’s a symptom of a new relationship in which there is a mutual sexual attraction.

    • Seymour Glass

      You’re absolutely right Sylvester. My bad.

  25. Sylvester

    Shan’ann didn’t want her following to think that she and Chris weren’t getting along, at least initially. So I think the “screwing like rabbits” might have been an exaggeration on her part. He was already unhappy, or he wouldn’t have sought out Amanda McMahon “around Feb. or March” she says. And don’t forget there may have been some undercurrents of impending doom (to the marriage) in March or April according to the conversation she had with attorney Hamza at the restaurant. Since Amanda didn’t know if it was Feb. or March and Hamza wasn’t sure if it was March or April at the very least between February and April things were not going well. By May she’s pregnant – one of the ways Watts lists as a common measure used to fix a marriage in his relationship talk. Having another baby. In another two months he will be checking off another item from his relationship talk – having an affair.

  26. DCFan1911

    Not the dumbest criminal ever, but one whose opinion of his abilities far exceeded what he was capable of. And also someone who made a number of stupid mistakes from the very beginning…i.e., dumping the bodies of his family in the first place police would look for them. Even if he’d been able to fit all of them in those oil tanks and their bodies had dissolved before police were able to get to them, they’d still have had a strong enough circumstantial case, and would certainly have prosecuted him at some point. Fortunately, he was foolish enough to agree to an “interview” and not smart enough to realize he needed to lawyer up once it turned into an interrogation.

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