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

Nicolas Atkinson Interview with Law Enforcement [August 20th, 2018]

More: Nicolas Atkinson – the Unacknowledged Hero of the Watts Case [36th Tranche]

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  1. CBH

    If Nicholas and his mother had not been so persistent and thorough, Watts would have been able to dispose of the phone, keys, purse, meds and car; allowing others to think she was away with the kids. The missing and endangered persons bulletin might have waited for 72 hours. Perhaps, if he planned on impersonating her on Facebook, even longer.

  2. CBH

    Addendum: One wonders if anyone else would have thought to move the couch pillows.

  3. Sylvester

    That”s an interesting question! Watts doesn’t seem all that surprised when the phone is found, does he? Not distressed that she left without her phone, not concerned at all. Not even concerned that Nicolas found it. It probably fit in with his “mysterious disappearance” theory – “the vanishing.” He could have said “that’s odd, I know I felt her get in bed with me and I assumed that was shortly after she arrived home – but maybe she was looking at her messages on the loft couch, dropped her phone there, couldn’t find it the next morning and just wanted to leave without it.” Or some such nonsense. But actually maybe it was better to make it look “mysterious”, strange, “that’s odd”, etc.

  4. CBH

    I think at that point he was so stunned to have had the bad luck to have Nicole and her son completely curtail his best laid plans ( to get rid of the items to make it look as though S had left of her own volition with the kids) and to involve the police days early, that he scarcely knew how to react to anything.

  5. Diana

    Here’s what’s kind of confusing to me. I believe CW grabbed Shan’ann’s wedding ring from the passenger door of the Lexus upon entry into the garage when he arrived home that Monday afternoon. Some people believe CW grabbed Shan’ann’s phone from the Lexus, went into the house while Nickole and company waited outside and that CW then hid the phone beneath the couch cushions before letting everyone in the house. Why would CW do that? Why would he want Shan’ann’s phone to be found at that point in time? Wouldn’t he want it to appear that wherever the phone is, that’s where Shan’ann is? At least if it was left in her car there was always the possibility it wouldn’t have been found yet which may have led people to think she really was off somewhere since she always had her phone with her. If it was in the car, wouldn’t leaving there be the better option for CW? I will be the first to admit I’m a lousy detective, but when people say he grabbed that phone from the car door, what am I missing? Why would he do that? Doesn’t it make more sense to think that CW may have tossed the phone under the cushions immediately after he murdered Shan’ann, then he figured he would deal with it that evening? And if course we all now know that Nickole and Nicolas threw a huge monkey wrench in his plans. Again, what am I missing here?

    • Liz

      Diana, I also think that Chris Watts may have retrieved the wedding ring from the Lexus right after he walked into the garage. When I have inspected that video again, it looks like what he picked up, he may have dropped, and it was extremely small, and he stoops to pick it up off the floor between the door and seat. I then think he hightailed it upstairs and put the ring on the nightstand so he could stage Shanann and the kids leaving him.

    • CBH

      IF he actually put the phone underneath the cushions quickly before letting them all in, he never expected it to be found. I can’t believe Nicolas found it as he did. Would you look under couch cushions if a woman and kids were missing? I sure wouldn’t think to.

      • Duttdip

        The sofa cushion is under which I lose my phone the most. I believe it is very common if in vibrating mode.

        I definitely think he retrieved the ring from the Lexus.
        a. The phone was way too big to be retrieved in front of 4 pairs of onlooking eyes.
        b. He had no compelling reason to take the phone out of his pocket in any case, since he was not being searched.
        c. Shanann was in her T-shirt and underwear, without any pocket. She possibly therefore, did not have her phone while carrying her body out. On the other hand, it is likely that he noticed the ring in her hand while carrying her out and decided to take it out. And made a story out of it.

        • nickvdl

          I definitely think he retrieved the ring from the Lexus.>>>There are areas in true crime where we can and should speculate. I’m not sure how much room there is for speculation when there is bodycam footage. Either one goes to the trouble to study and examine the footage, or one doesn’t. The other extreme is over-examining it and seeing things that aren’t there.

          Based on the color and shape, it does look like Watts retrieved Shan’ann’s phone from the Lexus. If that’s the case it’s not the same color as the phone we see minutes later in the loft. I’m still unsure where Nickole refers to the clutch if she’s referring to the cover, but it would make sense if she is.

          It would also make sense for Watts to leave the phone in her car. This achieves the goal of having it not being in the house, and also being “linked” to her, in a sense. Laci Peterson’s phone was also found in her car and more likely not left there but put there after the fact.

          It would also make no sense to put the ring in the Lexus. The ring is where it is as a flag to say, “I’m/she’s no longer in this marriage.” The flag needs to be seen. It can’t be seen hidden in the vehicle, and it would make no sense for Shan’ann to remove a diamond ring and keep it in her car [or for Watts to do that].

          The ring could have been in Watts’ wallet, his pocket, a drawer or some private part of the house [including the basement] shortly after the murder. He may have placed it in the glove compartment of his truck, or under the mat behind the driver’s seat. Just as in the Peterson case, jewelry was seized shortly after the crime to hock. And he said as much.

          It would be useful to know what ultimately happened to the ring.

        • CBH

          Yes, sounds plausible.

      • Mustang Sally

        “It would be useful to know what ultimately happened to the ring.”

        That would be interesting to know. There is a case that set a precedence that a spouse (if the beneficiary) cannot benefit from acquiring the assets of the deceased spouse’s estate if the beneficiary intentionally, willfully, and with malice caused the death of that spouse. Several of our states have adopted this case into law. I don’t know if Colorado is one of them.

        As it was her possession, it would be allocated in her will. She, apparently, did not have a will but her father was named as either her beneficiary or executor by unopposed default; I’m uncertain which. I do recall an article reporting that her parents had removed Shan’ann’s things from the home soon after Chris was convicted. Pure speculation would suggest to me that her father/parents now have that ring.

  6. Geoff

    @Liz Interesting theory and definitely plausible. Perhaps he was planning on pawning it that week and put it in the car as a reminder.

  7. Sylvester

    Yes but why put the ring back on the nightstand? Wouldn’t he want the others to think she left the house with the children – either to visit a friend – or she just walked out, and wouldn’t she have had the ring on her finger? It looks worse for him to find her ring on the nightstand. That’s the “vanishing” theory and it doesn’t hold up.

    • CBH

      Well, the way he triumphantly walks over to Nicole with the ring reveals that in his mind, he thought this was solid proof that she left in a huff. (makes no sense though to leave her purse, phone, keys, shoes, meds).

    • Ralph Oscar

      “wouldn’t she have had the ring on her finger? It looks worse for him to find her ring on the nightstand. That’s the “vanishing” theory and it doesn’t hold up.”

      The hypothesis is that, if Shan’Ann had decided to leave the marriage (as CW was suggesting), she would have left her wedding ring behind to show she was truly *done* with the marriage. Rings being symbolic of the marriage itself and all that.

      It of course assumes that Shan’Ann was more interested in sending a “message” about the marriage being over than about controlling an asset with intrinsic value (the expensive diamond ring) that she could use to her own financial advantage later. Would it be realistic to think that Shan’Ann would prioritize extrinsic value over intrinsic value?

  8. Sylvester

    I don’t think he took that ring to the Lexus, bottom line, or retrieved it from there either. I’d like to know what he had to run around the front of the truck to reach in behind the passenger side door to retrieve, however. Might have been the garage door opener, but what was it doing in the back of the truck – why not stash it in the glove box, the center console, or under the driver’s side seat.

    Secondly, what took him over 60 seconds to do in the house while everyone rushed to the garage. It would have taken time to remove a fitted sheet and 3 pillow cases, and stuff them under trash in the wastebasket. Perhaps the phone was somewhere else in the house, in plain site, and that was what he had to quickly stuff into the loft couch cushions. Could be that he remembered that on his long drive home from the work site.

    • CBH

      Why did he strip the bed? Nothing happened there. I somehow missed that part in the series.

    • Ralph Oscar

      Most garage door openers have a clip on the back so that one can attach them to the sun visor. That’s the typical place for the garage door opener to be found.

    • mitzi2006

      The police officer was standing by the front door and asked Chris if he could come in. It has a clear side panel of glass, took some guts for Chris to run upstairs with the phone when an officer is waiting to be let in and could see him

  9. Sylvester

    That is a mystery. It could be that the rest of the bedding wasn’t needed – if a sheet goes missing then investigators might wonder where the rest of the set is – or he just didn’t need the set anymore since he had already broken it up by using part of it to transport a body. Maybe being the neatnik he was he didn’t want to be associated with death, cadavers, any more, so into the trash it goes. It occurred to me that the pillow cases may have already been “dirty” – not to the extent displayed on the diningroom table – but if Shan’ann had slept in the bed – or if he had – prior to the trip to Arizona, or on his own, the pillow case with what looks like an 8″x8″ mascara stain may have gotten on there if she cried herself to sleep prior to leaving for Arizona and while he was sleeping in the basement. That might at least account for the one pillow case. OR, when he set the body down on the bed she may very well have had mascara on her face, which transferred to the pillow case. Mystery?

    • Mustang Sally


      I have long wondered why he threw the sheet and pillow cases in the trash in the first place. That seemed so suspicious, causing immediate curiosity while simple dumping them in the laundry and washing them would have aroused far less immediate suspicion. He either realized that sheet from the bed had escaped him on a wind gust that morning in the field and he needed to get rid of any associative evidence or he thought someone would be immediately suspicious that his stripped bedding was missing a layer?

      I cannot imagine that being an immediate red flag…the laundry room would have made so much more sense than the trash can. “Chris, why did you throw your sheets away that morning?” Uhhhhhhhhhhhh “Chris, why are you laundering your sheets?” Because they were dirty…and simply reeked of airport stench! (Insert eye roll)

      Beyond my bit of sarcasm there at the end, which makes more sense, is more logical?

  10. Sylvester

    Sorry, I’m anal retentive obsessive-compulsive (self-diagnosed)

    • Mustang Sally

      You’re also incredibly wise, helpful, and delightfully introspective. I always read your posts with heightened interest. I loved your associative analogies (ie the color orange and cover/ed/s/ing), too. Thought provoking questions, answers, and information are the best kind! You’re a wealth of all three! You compliment Nick’s work and style so very well. There are a couple of significant standouts, I hope they know who they are…I hope you know you are.

      While CBH may be lounging in his velvet lounging robe, sipping upon his favorite cognac, and puffing away on Cuba’s best…I see you ready for action in your tan fedora, houndstooth overcoat, spy glass or monocle, with a faithful furry companion by your side! 😉

      • Sylvester

        How funny and nice of you to say! This is the smart blog in many ways

  11. Duttdip

    “Holy crap! That’s late” was his text to Shanann when she texted him that the flight was delayed. Should we read into this reaction? Of course, everything seems to slot in in hindsight.

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