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“It’s just as much his fault as hers that their finances are in a shambles…”

A lot of mystery and intrigue surrounds the Watts family finances, particularly on Shan’ann’s side. Although we don’t know the numbers, Shan’ann’s Facebook provides an almost infinite portrait of Shan’ann’s work ethic, lifestyle choices and product choices.

Without knowing the numbers exactly, we can be pretty clear what was going on behind the scenes in the Watts family.

I expect this to be a controversial post, with many dismissing whatever is written here with the “Victim Blaming” label, simply because as far as the finances were concerned, Watts was clearly the true breadwinner of the couple.

There’s a caveat to this, but before dealing with that aspect, let’s examine a few undisputed facts, all of which are anchored in the legal realities of the Discovery Documents:

  1. In August 2018, whatever the circumstances were prior, the loan on 2825 Saratoga Trail was in the name of Chris Watts. We know this because Shan’ann herself said so in a text on August 8th. This suggests Shan’ann’s credit was curtailed in some significant way. Fullscreen capture 20190206 131230
  2. The credit cards of the entire household were also curtailed. When a transaction went off on the morning of the murder, irrespective of who authorized it, it bounced.Fullscreen capture 20190206 132009
  3. Watts seemed to function largely without credit cards, certainly in terms of his affair with Kessinger. Although one reason was likely to keep the relationship secret, another may have been that they simply didn’t have any credit, or if they did, they had very little. He mostly used prepaid gift cards to pay for Kessinger but on Saturday night, August 11, Watts broke his own rule regarding this and used Shan’ann’s Baby Blue Credit card, which alerted Shan’ann to the expense. This may have been because by then Watts had burned through his last gift card.Fullscreen capture 20190206 134811
  4. Neither Chris Watts nor Shan’ann actually owned a vehicle. The truck was a work vehicle [which Watts wasn’t allowed to drive on personal errands] and the Lexus was a lease.Fullscreen capture 20190206 132126
  5. There is no doubt that Shan’ann wore the pants in the household, and this included maintaining absolute control over the finances.Fullscreen capture 20190206 132854

These are the facts, but the bottom line is the Watts couple were in serious financial difficulty by August 2018, and for the second time in three years. This time, the difficulties were compounded by a third pregnancy, an affair, and the imminent threat of the family losing their home because of a debt spiral they would not acknowledge, and this time, could not escape.


So how did this financial disaster double act actually happen?

Because of a kind of “tunnel vision” regarding the Watts case, many are disinclined to acknowledge any flaw or failure on Shan’ann’s part. It’s disrespectful to criticize her in any shape or form [so the argument goes] because she’d dead, didn’t deserve to die no matter what, and can’t defend herself from beyond the grave.

But the question here is what was the true state of the finances? There is none better than Shan’ann to tell us about this, and she does. She can; even from beyond the grave.

We have her own texts and behaviors to work from in the final days.

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When Watts spent $62 at a restaurant on Saturday night, August 11, Shan’ann’s phone alerted to the purchase and Shan’ann freaked out. She went into emergency mode, battening down the hatches, Googling menus, checking prices, and giving her husband instructions to keep the receipt for the meal. Fullscreen capture 20181213 175839Although this was a symptom of Shan’ann checking on her husband’s fidelity [and her suspicions were valid] we shouldn’t miss the mechanism that this takes – the finances. Shan’ann’s surveillance of her husband is done via financial vigilance. And if this meticulous financial oversight of a restaurant bill [while she was on a trip in Arizona, also eating at restaurants and Thrivin’] wasn’t a sign to her friends and companions that the Watts family were stressed financially, what would be?

Nickole Atkinson was aware that Shan’ann was careful about expenditures, choosing cheaper restaurants,  while at the same time, sending her children to a school Nickole herself considered unaffordable for Shan’ann.

We know that at the same time the girls were going to be back at $500-a-week Primrose school, Watts [not his wife, not him and Shan’ann, just him] was facing a mortgage payment of $1700 that he simply could not meet, and he was already three months behind.Fullscreen capture 20190206 133128

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Someone else’s debts are easily dismissed.  It’s easy to treat someone else’s mortgage and credit card impairment as passé. When it’s yours, it’s less easy to be that laissez faire about it, isn’t it?

Now imagine you do care about your debt, and you do care about losing your house, and losing everything, but someone else is in control of your money [your salary, the bank account, even the actual state of your financial situation]. And no matter how much you try to address it, nothing changes. Someone else remains in control and the situation simply continues to unravel. Well, that was the situation in the Watts family.

In any scenario where a couple have no money and there is a pregnancy, there is an automatic crisis. We see it with teenagers and unplanned pregnancies all the time. The difference was that the financial side of Watts fairy tale appeared to be there when in reality, in 2018, it was little more than a facade. Now why might this be?

Shan’ann’s approach to the finances seemed to be not 100% grounded in reality, just as Thrive and MLMs in general are not 100% grounded in reality [to put it mildly].

Perhaps Shan’ann’s attachment to MLM had a lot to do with a delusion about the true state of her marriage and their finances. People who sell for a living, and marketers, are incentivized to make believers out of their buyers. To sell they must be confident and convincing, and the best way to do that is to believe their own bullshit. When it comes to MLM, this stereotype of brain addled huns drunk on the same Kool-Aid is so common it’s cliche.

But making the sale is one thing, believing you’re sitting on a pot of gold when it’s actually a pile of shit is another situation altogether. In the Watts household, it didn’t just happen. It took two-and-a-half years for the debt bubble to balloon into a debt mountain of steaming dung. Sometimes debt can be like a nightmare. Sometimes one’s own debts can just feel like someone else’s, or simply hypothetical, especially when one’s escaped or wriggled out of a tight financial impasse before.

Typically, phantom money exists around fake people.

In this fakery, both Watts and his wife appeared to be complicit. Neither really told their friends about their financial problems, and yet their friends and colleagues seemed to know there were financial problems regardless.

What their friends said:

Fullscreen capture 20190206 132919Fullscreen capture 20190206 133657Fullscreen capture 20190206 133541Fullscreen capture 20190206 133444Fullscreen capture 20190206 133517

In all the text messages during the weeks prior to the murders, the issue of financial strain seems to be the one thing Watts and his wife never brought up, and never argued about. Unless this aspect has been selectively excised from both their phones.

More likely though, neither were particularly focused on the finances until it was too late. Watts may or may not have been misled or kept in the dark about their money, something that may have been an error, a weakness, a misrepresentation or a manipulation [or a combination of all of these] from his wife.

There appears to be some evidence not only of financial mismanagement in Shan’ann’s past, but possible dishonesty and criminality.

Fullscreen capture 20190206 133612

The same can also be said about Watts, who, if Trent Bolte’s accusations are true, Watts was spending money on male hookers and buying him botox treatments. Even if Bolte’s allegations aren’t true, we know Watts was conducting an affair when – financially if not otherwise – he could least afford it.

Probably the best insight we get into the Watts finances is from a source almost everyone dismisses as either unreliable or just plain evil. Nichol Kessinger. By judging her in this manner, an entire line of evidence is simply lost. In terms of finances, and narcissism, Kessinger is one of very few characters in this true crime story that had no debt and wasn’t pitching herself across the suburbs and rooftops of social media.

From Kessinger we find:

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In sum we can see that both Chris and Shan’ann Watts hid the true nature of their finances from the rest of the world. They both seemed to be actively hiding other things too, for various reasons [for him the affair, for her the Thriving fakery and the true nature of her marriage].

Isn’t it ironic that both were arguing about when to “reveal” the gender of the third baby at the time of the murders? Forget about the fact that it was about the baby, or the baby’s gender, it was a conflict about when to make known something…

If Shan’ann’s side of the income equation was shaky, and I believe it was, that doesn’t make her completely and utterly responsible for the financial mess they were in, but it sure did aggravate it. Unfortunately, because the Watts case never made it to trial, we’ll never know just how much “aggravation” Shan’ann’s MLM addiction caused the marriage, and sadly, millions of Americans caught up in MLM will have to learn their lessons firsthand – the hard way.

Ultimately, whether he was pushed, misinformed, stupid, or simply not paying attention, Watts was responsible for allowing things to get as out of hand – financially – as they got. Lest we forget, Watts was a participant in the Thrive thing as well, albeit a rather lackluster extra in his own Thrive spiel.shanann-watts-51

He ought to have taken control of the MLM train wreck sooner. He would have had he been more hands-on and informed about the practical financial realities they faced. Had he been more hands on he would have learned from the first financial disaster and not pursued a third pregnancy.

The purchase of the big house was the main millstone around their necks. Simultaneously, thanks to the health of the housing market, disposing of the house was their potential salvation. Watts may have felt justified in only saving himself financially, since Shan’ann couldn’t be saved [in his mind], but he conflated financial ruin and resurrection with murder and death.

While all of this is true, it should be noted that things spun out of control [financially] in the final few months before the murders. While Shan’ann was in North Carolina, Watts was falling in love. It’s possible the debt monster when it hit seemed to come out of left field.

An aspect almost everyone seems to have missed is that Kessinger likely made Watts not only aware of the true state of his deleterious financial situation, but pushed him to be responsive to it.

Neither saw it coming when the financial tsunami hit, but when it did, Watts panicked. He didn’t panic in a vacuum – probably he blamed Shan’ann [and possible the children too] for “ruining” his life. Financially, that is.



  1. Brent

    nickvdl, I couldn’t agree more. This case and the Kelsey Berreth case are just so tragic yet I can’t stop reading about them. I know you said you were not going to do much with the Berreth case until closer to the trial but non-the-less I find all the information that I have read that has come out about it sadly fascinating and I can’t stop consuming news about it. I feel the Watts case highlights the ugly truth about the American middle class and how wrecked it has become over the past 40 years. I couldn’t agree more that there were so many things that could have or should have done to get out of the financial ruin they were surely headed toward which I feel played a major role in what happened. It is so tragic and I feel so badly for those little girls.

    • Mustang Sally

      Ditto, Brent!

      What I find so perplexing is if they sold their house when Chris claimed to have had inside information about oil wells coming to the area… they could have sold their home at a premium, purchased a more modest house somewhere else that could have been absolutely beautiful, taken the kids out of Primrose and enrolled them somewhere much less expensive…and actually have enjoyed a lifestyle similar to what they were going into debt pretending to have.

      So seemingly simple yet so not seriously considered. It truly baffles me why.

      • LW

        Right, Mustang Sally?! They could have gotten OIL MONEY. This is the type of financial solution people dream of!

      • Ralph Oscar

        No, their homeowner deed likely had a clause that they had no claim on any mineral or other reserves found under their property – the deeds on our two homes in So. CA both included that kind of clause, and we aren’t even in a mineral-rich area. It’s pretty standard, I think, throughout the housing industry to establish that all the homes in the development own their own property footprint but nothing down below. This makes a certain amount of sense, resource-wise, especially with oil – the oil company wants to claim the entire underground pool of oil, regardless of what’s sitting on top of it, and have influenced the laws to be written accordingly. Single homeowners have no power at all compared to the might of large oil companies!

        So their property would be sold at a LOSS because no one wants to be living right next to an industrial development. Their only hope to get full value for their property was to sell it BEFORE that pumping station went in. I’ve never lived near a pumping station, so I don’t know whether there is noise or stink associated with it, but no one wants to live next to industrial equipment.

      • Mustang Sally

        “Their only hope to get full value for their property was to sell it BEFORE that pumping station went in.”

        That was my point, Ralph. 🙂 I didn’t say anything about them cashing in on minerals rights, I was reiterating the claims made that CW knew about the possibility of their home value tanking because of those oils wells going in. The housing market in their area was at a premium; the same model home as their home in the neighborhood had just sold for about $150k more than their original investment. If they sold their house then, bought a beautiful yet more modest house, and put the girls in a much more affordable daycare/school…they could have actually been living their dream. So, yes. Lol

      • Ralph Oscar

        Oh, I gotcha – I misunderstood your comment. Yes, they should have rushed the house to market before anything else happened!

        Here in CA, the housing market basically froze earlier this summer – as interest rates ratchet up, home buyers are not willing to pay top dollar, as the rising interest rates increase their mortgage payments. It’s all a matter of the mortgage payment in the end, and that’s dependent upon interest rates. We bought in early 2015; our interest rate is 2.99%. I don’t believe Chris Watts (Shan’Ann was not on the original house purchase transaction because her credit is lousy) could have gotten a lower rate than that. Also, we put 1/2 down. Our mortgage amount was a little less than 10% less than theirs, and their payment, “almost $3,000” according to an online source, was nearly $500/month more than ours, which suggests to me that they didn’t get a yummy interest rate like we did.

        Let’s see…just curious…the original mortgage amount was $392,709 in May, 2013. Plus, since they weren’t putting at least 20% down (they only put $7,291 down for a $400,000 house, which is a flashing red light that they couldn’t afford it), they were subject to mortgage insurance (PMI) that is typically between 0.5 and 1% of the loan amount on an annual basis, split among the mortgage payments. I’m assuming they paid the closing costs rather than roll them into the mortgage total. Assume $4,500 property taxes, plug that into an online payment calculator, and their rate could have been as high as 5.75% and still keep them just below $3,000/month. When you aren’t putting anything down, that means you’re higher risk, so you don’t get the best rates – those are reserved for the “higher rollers”.

        During the housing bubble collapse of 2007-2008, there were high rates of “jingle mail” – people putting their house keys in an envelope and sending it to their lender and just walking away. You could do that on a first mortgage here in CA (though not if you’d refinanced, hence the push to get everyone to refinance). So since that’s a possibility with a first mortgage, the interest rates are higher to compensate the bank for the increased risk of a buyer who basically is putting nothing down.

      • KerryA

        I agree with your points – something else that seems obvious talking about their house: Why do families with kids normally want to buy a nice house in a good neighborhood? Mainly because there are good local public schools for them to attend. What is the point of living in a huge house you can’t afford in a nice neighborhood if you are not going to take advantage of the local free public schools (and still send your kids to a pricey private school)? Bella was about to start kindergarten, it would be a great time to enroll her in the local.public school and save a lot of money, plus she would have friends in the neighborhood. These communities often have a local church or community center that runs a reasonable 2-3 mornings per week nursery school at minimal cost for children Celestes age. (Shanann was apparently a stay at home mom and wouldn’t need full time daycare). It just makes no sense to me that they planned to continue with this expensive private school when there would have been several good educational \ financial options available. My husband and I are both highly educated but would never dream of spending this kind of money on education for a 3 and 4 year old (my husband would say “they are going to kindergarten, not getting a Ph.D “). Most local public schools are more than adequate for an elementary education and many offer a junior kindergarten program also, all free of charge if you live in the neighborhood. I can only conclude it must have been some kind of ‘status’ thing to the Watts because no sane person would choose to continue with the private school considering their finances.

      • HB

        Bella wasn’t actually starting kindergarten, she was only 4. It was a daycare, starting age is 6 months, I think. Take a look at their house on Zillow, the assigned public schools weren’t very good.

      • Marcie

        It wasn’t Chris who claimed there might be a drill rig – it was Shanann. And I think that was just a lie to save face in the event that they sell the house. So she did see some writing on the wall. And yet failed to curb her god-awful spending.

        I live here and my opinion is that no drill rig was going to be within sight of their house. First, there were houses and condos being built by Wyndham Hill as far as their view allowed.

        Second, it’s no secret where the drilling footprint occurs – they just don’t bring in a drill rig and set up shop. The state and county allow public perusal.

        Third, after drilling is done and the rig is gone, it’s all wrapped up in a small collection station, which looks like all of the other little collection of pipes and battery tanks all over Weld County.

        Fourth, a wrench turner like Chris has no inside double super-secret information.

        It was just another lie from Shanann.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “I feel the Watts case highlights the ugly truth about the American middle class and how wrecked it has become over the past 40 years.”

      Yes-yes-yes, Brent. Nailed it. The middle class dreams and aspirations – nice home, opportunities for the kids, regular vacations to nice places – remain intact, but now there’s no way to get there. Certainly couldn’t do it on Chris’s salary alone, so SW thought she could make a successful enough “business” via MLM that they could have it all.

      And she bought into the whole “fake it ’til you make it” superficiality of it, pouring what little money they had into that carefully curated façade that would lure others into joining her in that MLM morass. When you think about that, it’s like a spider in her spiderweb. Does the spider realize she’s a predator? Nah, she’s just being a spider, which is natural for her, and there is no responsibility toward the flies who get trapped in her web – they’re there to fatten her up, to enable her to live her spider lifestyle, which is natural for her and the only life she knows. In “Finding Nemo”, there’s that funny scenario of the shark support group – “Fish are friends, not food” – but there as well, the true nature of the shark is lurking just beneath the surface, ready to lash out at the first provocation. How much was Shan’Ann feeling like she was keeping under control by putting so much energy into the made-up and posed appearances? That’s a lot of work right there!

      I harbor a lot of disgust toward manipulative systems like “The Secret”, that preach that wishing makes all your dreams come true, provided you wish hard enough and in the right way. If you don’t get what you want, well, you obviously didn’t wish just right – see how this works? Magical thinking shows a disconnect with reality, and for some people, reality is so difficult and painful that these predatory systems appear to offer a legitimate way out – it’s a way out they feel is accessible to them, that they can actually do, and that is different from the reality-based approaches they’ve tried in the past that haven’t worked for them. Instead of addressing those and working out a more realistic system of developing better skills and maybe getting training or a degree or whatever they need to move up, they think that just wishing will get them what they want and need, and for so much less effort! By the time they realize, they’re often in such a deeper hole than where they started, even.

    • Teresa

      I don’t believe that the American middle class is the issue. This case, to me, is a matter of irresponsible handling of money matters. Yes, taxes and costs are MUCH higher than they were 40 years ago, but with even a little financial planning, and barring serious medical problems, a family can make a good life for themselves, provided they aren’t obsessed with image over substance. I don’t know which of the two decided to buy such a large house, but it was truly ridiculous to purchase a 5 bedroom home on their salaries.

      • Ralph Oscar

        Oh, that 5-bdrm house was definitely a foolish purchase! But the fact remains: there is no state in the US where a person working 40 hrs/wk at minimum wage can afford a 1-bdrm apartment at market rate, and it’s the minimum-wage jobs that are the fastest-growing job sector. When I graduated high school in the late 1970s, kids went one of two ways – they either went to the university in town, or they went to work in one of the factories. There was a Hallmark factory, a General Mills factory (mostly making Alpo dog food), a corrugated cardboard box making factory (I worked night shift there one summer) – you get the picture. Someone working at one of those factories would make enough to have a nice life – buy a little house, have a reliable car, play in the town softball league, go out to the movies with the family, take occasional vacations, send the kids to college, and put a little something away for retirement. My first 2 bdrm apartment cost $240/month; a semester of in state tuition at the university was around $430. Now, in state tuition is $4,909 per semester; a 2 bdrm apt averages $882/month – and the minimum wage is $7.25/hr. Some like to think of minimum wage jobs as what high school and college students do for a little extra spending money on the side, but most of those jobs are held by adults supporting families. There’s a table here:

        Look at the 2016 column (the other is a projection – that isn’t useful to us here) and you’ll see that the job sector with the most people employed in it – by far – is “Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food”. These are the workers who end up having to work at least 60 hrs/wk just to afford a 1-bdrm apartment at market rate.

  2. Mustang Sally

    That wasn’t victim blaming, that was a great way of assigning responsibility in clear focus. It also provides a very probable timeline for Chris’ reaction to their financial disaster without pardoning him for his lack of awareness before then. There are still variables out there that have yet to be revealed, and may never come to light, that could alter this perspective but with what is known, this makes perfect sense.

  3. LW

    We are fortunate that most of the people who comment on here are informed and rational enough to not have the typical knee-jerk reaction of “victim blaming”. We look at the facts here and accept that the truth can be harsh.

    These folks were drowning in financial problems and delusion.

    • nancyjames3358

      Examination of Behavior is not Victim Blaming.
      Which is why I am so drawn to this blog.

  4. Sylvester

    I’d like to think had Chris taken over the financials, and had at the least worn the pants when it came to taking care of the essentials (and not Essential Oils) he would have had a much more conservative approach. I would be willing to bet she used her profits from selling Thrive to buy clothes, shoes, copay on Thrive trips, but not on the mortgage, the dues, and certainly not to get ahead by being prudent and saving. SHE was not being a team player in the marriage. Then she taps into his 401K. There is a penalty for taking that out early. She should not have had her finger on the financials. He could have handled them himself if he wasn’t so cowed. Where did this focus on materialism come from (from her)? I don’t think she was afraid of hard work, she just thought that if you work hard you deserve to have things – $3,000 couches versus $300 couches. And likely the whole LeVel spiel fed right into her compulsions to have more, and have the best and ignore the rest.

    • Cheryl Filar

      Good comment, Sylvester. And I believe Chris’s likely more rational approach to finances was a large part of his attraction to Kessinger, who, per the interviews, seemed practical in her approach to finances: having a 401-K in place, savings, i.e., not living beyond your means. Unlike Shan’ann, Kessinger seemed to be focused on building a financial future versus living in the moment of immediate gratification.

      • Sylvester

        Over the past months he had been emerging from his cocoon – going from a size 2X to Medium is really incredible. But he had a long way to go in becoming a butterfly. A lifetime of believing one thing about yourself and becoming something else in a new relationship. NK would have had quite a job on her hands having him be the man SHE would have wanted him to be. He would have brought to that relationship an inability to tell the truth and his fears of communication. He had dug himself into a hole with turning over the reigns to an unstable spender and allowing himself to be told what to do and when to do it so his only way out was to put them in a hole.

      • Ralph Oscar

        “his attraction to Kessinger, who, per the interviews, seemed practical in her approach to finances”

        Just look at what he and NK did for fun – they went hiking and camping! Those are both inexpensive kinds of outings compared to the Le-Vel “lifestyle” vacations. SW wanted the luxe high-roller glitz package – exotic locales, the crystal-clear Olympic-size pool, the deluxe suite, the umbrella drinks poolside, dressing formally for dinner, etc. Appearance, appearance, appearance. Meanwhile, NK is comfortable being herself, without even any mascara on – I find her much more appealing on that basis than the fakey cake-faced posed “Look at me aren’t I sexy and Thrivin'” images SW plastered all over her FB page and the constant fishbowl of SW’s social media obsession. CW could truly “get away” with NK and relax, without having to be “on” all the time, knowing he’s always being filmed and photographed. NK must have been such a breath of fresh air for him.

      • Ralph Oscar

        “Unlike Shan’ann, Kessinger seemed to be focused on building a financial future versus living in the moment of immediate gratification.”

        There is a fine point here, but I think it bears examination. Shan’Ann, too, felt she was focused on building a financial future – she’d bought wholeheartedly into the “Fake it ’til you make it” magical thinking that the Thrive MLM scam promotes (just like all the others). That if you simply curate the appropriate surroundings, your life will magically transform to fit them! So Shan’Ann believed she was setting her own family up for prosperity; she simply didn’t realize that there was no prosperous future at the bottom of that hole, and she hadn’t gotten to the point where she realized she had to stop digging.

      • Sideaffected

        She may have been more healthy than Shanaan financially, but as for relationships-does that just mean she likes men who are married? If not and she wants them to divorce, then that’s almost when you would want to be described as living for “immediate gratification.” If she’s this calm, rational person: she looks a little cold.

      • Ralph Oscar

        The fact that NK likes men who are married probably reflects her age and the ages of the men she’s around – you’ve heard the saying “All the good ones are already taken”, right? Healthy people tend to pair up by their late 20s or so – the people who are unattached after that typically come with baggage. Either they’re divorced or they’ve already got kids or they’ve got issues that have resulted in them remaining unselected in the marriage market. The good ones do tend to go fast – somebody snatches them up. And you want someone who’s able to be in an intimate relationship with someone else – by the time we get to the 30-yr-olds and older, it’s typically those people’s track record of marriage that demonstrates they want that kind of relationship and are competent in getting there. In a sense, it’s hiring someone who’s good at their job away from their previous employer.

        • TutNCommon

          NOT here in this area of Colorado. many successful 30 & 40 somethings still not married, but not discounting it.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “had Chris taken over the financials, and had at the least worn the pants when it came to taking care of the essentials (and not Essential Oils)”


      • Cheryl Filar

        Ralph Oscar, I agree that Shan’ann likely thought she was building a financial future. However, at some point it must have been obvious she wasn’t making the money she had anticipated. Instead of reassessing her situation and obtaining a regular job, it appears she doubled down and became further immersed in Thrive and other MLMs. As far as my point about instant gratification versus incrementally building a financial foundation, the abandoned North Carolina house, the Saratoga house and all of the furniture bought on credit that populated both of those mansions stand as testaments to living beyond her means, to perhaps feeling entitled to have it all now. She was driven, but she had no rudder.

      • Ralph Oscar

        I suspect that the Le-Vel compensation scheme is particularly addictive. Intermittent reinforcement is far more effective than constant reinforcement, and so Le-Vel seems a bit like gambling at a casino to me – they hit the new reps up with a bonus early on, make that easy to get, and from then on, it’s harder and harder to get those, so the hamsters run faster and faster on their wheels until the collapse from exhaustion. Although those “lifestyle vacations” were costing them money, it was still cheaper than if they’d had to arrange them entirely for themselves, so that likely felt like a “bonus” – getting something of defined value for much less than it was worth. Even though they had to pay something for it.

        A few months ago, I called in to a radio show for a contest – I didn’t know what the prize was (was kinda hoping for Disneyland tickets), but the question was fun: What’s the name of a country that doesn’t have the letter “A” in the name? Rome! Peru! Belgium! Sweden! Fiji! Liechtenstein!! I’m sure you can think of others. So I called in, and immediately, this guy is telling me about how the prize is TWO trips, all expenses paid – one to Las Vegas and the other to, oh, Mexico or something. I just needed to pay $299 up front that I will get back in the form of Visa gift cards at the destinations – $100 at the first one and $200 at the second. That’s to make sure people go on the vacations after winning them, don’tchano. Like that makes ANY sense! I told him no thanks and hung up, but I’m sure that come-on works with some people. I think it was one of those time-share scams where they expect you to sit through a hard-sell presentation at some point. The idea that you could get TWO nice vacations for $299 that you’d get back anyhow probably sounded appealing to some people.

        Intermittent reinforcement is like crack, actually. And getting those checks in the mail probably felt incredibly validating to Shan’Ann, regardless of the amounts. The car bonus was probably the biggest check she got, but the way it was arranged, it had to all go to paying for that expensive car she couldn’t afford.

      • nancyjames3358

        @Cheryl Filar
        “the abandoned North Carolina house” . . . and the million dollar furniture.
        Who does that?
        She was so proud of that house “she built by herself”.
        Why did she ditched it?
        Was in part due to the alleged “free money” from the tire place?
        So curious about the NC back story.

    • Sara

      @sylvester Covert Narcissist are incapable of love or healthy internal happiness (within), therefore they derive any and all pleasures from outside sources = ego syntonic (If it feels good to them). NOTE: that on 8/9/18: 2107 hours: Chris Watts searched Google for prices on an Audi Q7.At the time Chris searches prices on an Audi Q7 (2019 models start at $68,000-$76,000).

    • Seymour Glass

      My in-laws are 73 & 75. They have always had separate bank accounts. My father-in-law pays utilities and my mother-in-law pays for the groceries, grandchildren’s gifts, anything she wants for herself.

      They will be married 54 years this summer. I always thought it was such an odd financial arrangement.

      Maybe Chris could have suggested they have separate bank accounts, and divide responsibilities. Chris could have taken over the bank account in charge of mortgage, utilities, food budgeting, savings, retirement. And have Shan’ann have her own bank account for her Thrive business and the girls’ daycare as she was needing daycare for her work.

      I can’t get over how much their daycare cost. Like Shan’ann, I have two children close in age, and in NYC there are a lot of day camps (dance camp, robot camp, art camp – 9am – 3pm, with late p/u for more money). The average camp is $500 per week per child. So that’s $1,000/week.

      Why couldn’t they hire a college student babysitter to watch the girls while Shan’ann worked? That would be WAY cheaper.

      I think Shan’ann equated big houses, luxury cars and owning lots of stuff as a replacement for her low self-esteem. It’s natural to want the very best for your children, but I wonder how much of her own projection she was putting on Bella & CeCe?

      It looks like Shan’ann’s parents came from a, financially-speaking, humble background (no shame in that at all), and maybe she resented, even on a subconscious level, her humble roots when she was growing up so her focus was on buying the perception of success while running her family more and more into debt so her children could go to the prestigious Primrose; so her children live in a huge house; so her children have the nicest clothes and things. In reality, kids don’t care. They just want to be loved, happy, in safe and caring environment with their parents.

      I also don’t understand why a divorced (physically ill) woman with no children needs to build a huge custom mansion for herself to only sell it two years later, and move across the country without taking any of her furniture? Wouldn’t it make more sense to live in a condo and have all that money in the bank and investments?

      Cheryl mentioned the Watts family mentioning Shan’ann was bi-polar. There seems to be some signs that something was off. I do think it’s strange her parents moved in with them for 15 months after Bella was born. That’s a long time for parents to stay with their adult married child after they give birth. It’s usually between 1-3 weeks, I imagine.

      • Ralph Oscar

        “Cheryl mentioned the Watts family mentioning Shan’ann was bi-polar. ”

        Hmmm…none of them looked like medical doctors of psychiatry to me…

      • Ralph Oscar

        “Cheryl mentioned the Watts family mentioning Shan’ann was bi-polar. ”

        Also, the Watts family didn’t LIKE Shan’Ann – the parents disliked her so intensely they refused to attend their son’s wedding to her! That’s some friction right there!

        “I do think it’s strange her parents moved in with them for 15 months after Bella was born.”

        Her parents apparently had a bankruptcy themselves – I think I saw somewhere something about how they’d cosigned on her first house or something, and then she ditched and they got stuck with the loss. Not really sure – I’ll try to run it down tomorrow, so grain of salt for now.

        If her parents had been in dire financial straits because of her, the least she could do was let them sleep in her guest room.

        “I wonder how much of her own projection she was putting on Bella & CeCe”

        Let me ballpark this one…100%?

        “Wouldn’t it make more sense to live in a condo and have all that money in the bank and investments?”

        Well, *yes*, and while we’re at it, not getting suckered into not one, not two, but SEVEN different MLM scams with no end in sight!

        I remember some report from somewhere that Shan’Ann was bullied in school. Perhaps this was her way of insulating herself from the cruelty of the world, make herself into an “elite” who couldn’t be touched by those petty haters. Prove by her stuff and all her carefully posed selfies that “living well really IS the best revenge”. They bullied her then, but now they’d envy her and deeply regret how wrong they’d been about her.

        It doesn’t sound like she went to any of her high school reunions – she would certainly have posted about that if she had.

      • Cheryl Filar

        Seymour Glass and Ralph Oscar, I believe there was something substantially off with Shan’ann that fueled an obsession with orderliness, living beyond her means/status-seeking. I agree that Ronnie and Cindy are not qualified to make a medical evaluation; however, they did know the woman over time and did have to contend with her histrionics–the nut incident being, I would imagine, just one in a series of several such encounters. I know I’m imposing my personal experiences on this case, but my mother, who was later diagnosed as narcissistic/bipolar, exhibited many of Shan’ann’s extreme behaviors: overspending (her closets were jammed with expensive shoes, purses, and clothes just like Shan’ann’s); compulsive orderliness (she would fly into a rage if something was missing or out of place); status-seeking (she purchased a much larger/nicer home we couldn’t afford without consulting my father); objectified her offspring (me) by viewing me as a reflection of herself–at least the one she imagined she saw in her bathroom mirror in front of which she spent hours, just as Shan’ann spent hours in front of her Facebook mirror with her children displayed as enhancing accessories. In addition to all of this, like Shan’ann, my mother was also very dominant and insisted on controlling the finances, which enabled her to hide the damage, for awhile. Although my father, like Chris, shared some of the blame, my mother, like Shan’ann, was largely responsible for the overspending that led to their filing bankruptcy twice. The second time they lost the home I grew up in. Overall, I believe that Shan’ann’s untreated emotional issues contributed substantially to her murder, as well as to the children’s. As a result, I would be very interested in the Watts’s and others’ perspective on Shan’ann’s issues. For the time being, it seems to be a mostly verboten topic, as it likely was when Shan’ann was alive, despite overwhelming evidence of extreme behavioral patterns.

      • Ralph Oscar

        Cheryl Filar, I agree – it’s frustrating that we’ll never get to the bottom of what was going on with Shan’Ann. Having an experience like yours certainly gives a fascinating perspective. I hope your folks are okay now.

      • KerryA

        You have hit on a couple of interesting points here. I commented about the school above and was corrected by HB that it was actually a full time daycare (I thought that Bella was beginning kindergarten). I still don’t understand the school/daycare situation. I had 3 yr old twins and a newborn and looked after the kids myself full time while teaching premed at a local college. My husband worked FT as a psychiatrist in private practice. He looked after the kids when I taught night classes and lab on Saturday. If he was on-call, I would have a neighbourhood teenager watch the children for a few hours. When they reached 3-4 years, I put them in a local church nursery school 2 mornings/week for minimal cost so I could get some errands done When they were 5, they went to the local public school. Maybe I am a bit hung-up on this but I can’t get my mind around the amount of money they paid for the Primrose school when Shan’Ann was at home??? It must have weighed heavily on Chris too and contributed ultimately to this tragedy. It can’t be a coincidence that the girls were murdered hours before they were to begin again at the school (after a 6 wk absence) and that Chris’s first order of business that morning was to call and cancel the school.

      • ganana

        I sort of wonder I’d SW suffered from borderline personality disorder rather than being bipolar. Her unstable moods, devaluing of people she was closest to, impulsivity, etc seem to fit. More likely she had a cluster of symptons that spanned multiple diagnoses, and never got the help she needed.

  5. Sylvester

    Another thought – if when Nichole K. took Chris around to look at apartments in his budget he actually went in to make inquiries that’s when the rubber meets the road. It’s extremely uncomfortable, having to confront a leasing agent in an apartment complex showing an ability (or inability) to make rent – which they usually want you to have 3 times the rent in income. He wouldn’t have qualified – not with still being married and the debt of his house, etc. So he likely nixed the great idea of getting an apartment and moving out and wouldn’t have wanted to discuss it with NK any more. He knew his financial situation was shameful – he was only trying to appease her by showing a good faith effort to move out, knowing he couldn’t afford to.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “He knew his financial situation was shameful – he was only trying to appease her by showing a good faith effort to move out, knowing he couldn’t afford to.”

      I disagree, but only on this last point – notice that the first things CW did upon disposing of the bodies was to 1) call a realtor about putting their Saratoga Trail house up for sale, and 2) canceling the girls’ (now no longer needed) too-expensive day care. CW was very aware that he could not make a move at this point, but once the house sold (and he anticipated a fat profit), he’d be in a position to begin a new life on HIS terms, one along the lines of NK’s life, with the benefit of hard-won wisdom based on the disaster he’d experienced with SW. I suspect CW was planning a very different kind of life for himself, one he could be genuinely proud of, that included living in an apartment possibly costing less than the max he could afford – living within his means rather than “faking it ’til you make it”. A life that included authenticity. NK’s lifestyle had shown him the way. But we’ll never know…

      • Sara

        @Ralph Oscar I 100% doubt it! Please note that on 8/9/18: 2107 hours: Chris Watts searched Google for prices on an Audi Q7.At the time Chris searches prices on an Audi Q7 (2019 models start at $68,000-$76,000).

      • Ralph Oscar

        @Sara – I had not yet seen his searches for luxury sedans… I guess the image WAS important to him, at least on some level.

      • ganana

        Chris did the math and the solution was simple…cut expenses by killing everybody.

  6. CBH

    Chris indeed bears some responsibility for the financial mess, but it was Shannan who was the delusion one. She bears the greater responsibility.

    • Clean Queen

      Agreed. She claimed (took responsibility) to be fully in control of the finances. If that’s the case, she failed her family. She failed her husband, and her children, and herself. That seems to be how SW did business though.
      She seem to be completely dead set on projecting an image of wealth and perfection to the world at all costs. She certainly did just that, and it cost her everything.
      I remember reading somewhere that she (or she and Chris) had taken out a credit card in Bella’s name. To me, that is beyond despicable. It’s definitely criminal. Now that could be a reason why she feared losing the kids. She was involved in some pretty shady dealings at her job in North Carolina. God only knows what she was hiding.

      • CBH

        Excellent points. 👍🏼

      • Marcie

        I think Shanann liked the confidence game. I think she got off on it. Like a thrill.

    • ganana

      Watts couldn’s face up to the money situation any more than he could ” just leave” as many suggest. Anyone who has lived with a controlling person knows the first thing they do to you is destroy your ability to cross them.

      • Marcie

        Yep, ganana. However, had this played out where Chris could’ve come up with divorce funds (easily 20k), and Shanann tried to pull off parental alienation crap, she would’ve lost custody! Colorado doesn’t mess around with protracted divorce and parenting time/child support back and forth crap.

        What a shame. But Chris was so isolated and financially broke, he had no way of even realizing this.

  7. Connifer

    Having spent many years working for oil companies, I can verify that the pay and benefits are exceptional. There is no doubt that Chris was the breadwinner. It is also interesting that not one of his colleagues had a bad word to say about him prior to this sad incident (quite rare in these days of office politics) One of Shan’ann’s friends claimed that Shan’ann earned over $200k per year from Thrive – that is IMPOSSIBLE in multi level marketing. Even Chris Watt’s line manager at the oil company would not have been earning that figure. Furthermore, Chris would have received an outstanding benefits package – in oil companies this can include bonus, share plan awards, life assurance, private medical, dental etc.

    I am in no way justifying Chris’s behaviour. However, because there was no trial, a lot of the questions as to ‘how?’ and ‘why?’ remain unanswered. Thank you Nick for writing this site.

    • nickvdl

      Thanks Connifer. It would be great if you could let us know more about how the gift cards work, if you have any experience in that regard?

      • Sosovain

        I’m so glad you wrote this because this has been my opinion from early on that it was financially motivated … even though what he did is inexcusable. He should’ve just bailed on the marriage. But I did notice that Shan’aan was always in some way involved in MLMs. Not only Thrive but LulaRoe, Young Living And even something called 31Bags (forgive me if I got the name wrong) I believe she was also selling Younique early in her Thrive days. These are all MLMs , all not good to invest in to make any money. Especially LulaRoe. I believe you posted a picture recently in a batch of photos of her entire dining room filled with LulaRoe inventory. It had to have been well over $5,000 according to my quick math

        I think NK had a lot to do with making Chris aware of his wife’s financial downfall.. in his ear a lot more than she let on. Just listen to her interview… I do not think she is a decent human by any means but I did get the impression she’s not shy of voicing her opinions and/or facts about MLMS that Chris obviously did not know about… hence his comments about NK being financially stable

        I think that awful night was an argument after the credit card was declined.. that led to an admission of the affair. Things just escalated from there. I think Shan’aan said… rightfully so in the heat of the moment.. that she would make sure Chris had even less money after he left her and that’s what did it. I believe the fight led to him doing the unthinkable
        I know way am I victim blaming. He had so many options to choose from, none of them being murder. He is exactly where he needs to be. But I can’t help and think AND agree with you that if he grew a backbone early on in their marriage, the financial burden would not have gotten to the point where it was at
        Again this is my opinion
        May Shan’aan and her beautiful babies Rest In Peace

      • DCFan1911

        My spouse has a similar prepaid card bonus arrangement; if the Anadarko prepaid cards are the similar, they are actual debit cards that are loaded with $$$ whenever a bonus is awarded, and they can be reloaded by the company. Thus, it’s not a series of fixed-amount gift cards, but a single debit card, in the individual’s name, that can be reloaded. If I’m not mistaken, this is the prepaid gift card Watts was using on his dates with NK –

      • Connifer

        Thank you DCFan1911 for explaining how Anadarko gift cards work.
        I received giftcards at my oil company twice – one time was a £250 voucher as a long service award for 5 years service. The other time it was £25 for being a ‘fire warden’. The employee gift card award ceremony is at Christmas – the cards can be used in a variety of shops and restaurants. The Anadarko scheme must be the method you have mentioned (this is what an Anadarko employee has mentioned on Glassdoor as one of their benefits).

    • ganana

      Multilevel marketing is a shell game and probably even the promoters aren’t sure of what they make. SW was quite a good sales person. What she was selling wasn’t so much the Thrive products, but slots below her for other sales people to place still more people under them. My understanding of MLM is that the promoters themselves had to buy a lot if expensive products. The figure of $80k a month was the total bought by her and everyone she had set up below her in the pyramid.

      • Ralph Oscar

        “The figure of $80k a month was the total bought by her and everyone she had set up below her in the pyramid.”

        One site I read yesterday was stating that the $80K counted everything she’d sold to that point plus what all her downline had sold. That’s what put her at the “$80K” level.

      • thetinytech2018

        She wasn’t really a good sales person though. If you have to constantly shove three whole “look how amazing this product is” narrative down everyone’s throat, everytime you’re talking about the product – then it’s probably not a good product and your sales technique needs work. I’ve worked in sales before, not an MLM mind you, but she probably wouldn’t have been very good at it since she oversells and seems very disingenuous. That aside – she didn’t really have a down line. She was part of someone else’s down line, and at most, maybe had two or three people below her, including Chris. You need quite a bit of people below you in an MLM to make anything, no doubt she was in the negative when it came to earning off recruitment. I doubt it even covered the 300$ USD or so a month to stay active, 600 if you count her husband’s account that she was running. The last person I saw on FB who was announcing their team made 100k that month said it was in sales, and for the whole team. I asked was that profit? Or did your team sell 100k in product? She didn’t know the difference, as alot of the woman in MLM schemes don’t understand basic accounting and don’t know gross from net. It turns out it was 100k in product sold by the team and when I asked how many people in her team, she said 1600! Can you imagine? Not only that, it wasn’t her team it was the team she was on, and like shan’ann she was at the bottom. So 1600 people sold 100k of product in a month, nobody can tell you what was spent to achieve that or what the profit margins are or even how much each rep. made, and they think that’s a number to be proud of? Less than $80 of product sold per member? Terrible. And they have the nerve to call themselves small business owners which is just insulting because it’s nowhere near their own business.

        If it was just one MLM okay, fine, people make mistakes but this was her umpteenth attempt to “get rich quick”.

  8. Clean Queen

    Nick, you’re right, the fact that NK was so financially stable and was pushing Chris to take control of his life and be better in all aspects probably did contribute to his financial awakening. Just the fact that CW stated that he didn’t know women like her (financially responsible) existed is very telling. That must’ve really hit home for Chris, realizing that life doesn’t have to be this way. I think he started to see SW in a whole new light, and I think he despised her.

    • Cheryl Filar

      Clean Queen, I agree. I also think about Chris’s complicity in their financial disaster. Much of this has been attributed to his passivity, but I also think it could have a lot to do with his working full-time (I seem to recall a reference to 8-day shifts, and then I assume he had several days off before resuming the next grueling prolonged schedule). Not only were the shifts and days long, but it was also a very physical job. I imagine that Chris was pretty beat after he had completed a shift that was three days more than the typical five-day week, which can also be exhausting. In this respect, it makes sense that he would cede the finances to Shan’ann, because she had more time to manage it and he was too exhausted to be involved. When you’re in a marriage, you usually make a leap of faith to trust your partner to responsibly carry their share of the domestic load, until, of course, you find out otherwise. Certainly, the 2015 bankruptcy was a huge warning, and perhaps Shan’ann promised him it wouldn’t happen again or blamed it on various prevailing circumstances–such as her health issues. Also, wasn’t it around this time that Shan’ann’s parents came to live with them for over one year? If there had been any disagreements between Shan’ann and Chris regarding her management of the finances, I imagine her parents would have sided with Shan’ann per any rationale she presented for their financial decline.

      • nancyjames3358

        The person with the spending addiction, was in charge of the finances.
        With zero oversight.

      • Ralph Oscar

        @nancyjames – that’s like the Titanic with nobody at the helm, steaming full speed into a continent.

      • Marcie

        Cheryl Filar what a great post. Indeed Sandi and Frank Rzucek moved in for fifteen months (!) in 2015/2016 while Shanann was pregnant, and gave birth to, CeCe.

        Meanwhile, both couples are filing for BK! And Sandi and Frank said they had quit their jobs, sold “everything except the house,” and moved in due to Shanann’s “health” problems. And Sandi, in her letter to the DA, said Shanann and Chris’ BK was due to health problems, when in fact the bulk was retail.

        No doubt any discussions about financial counseling, selling that huge Saratoga Dr house, and “what the heck is going on” were lost to the wind.

    • ganana

      Agree with what Clean Queen said. He despised Shan’ann. And woudn’t we feel the same in that situation?

      What isn’t clear yet is how we might rant about a similar situation but he was mad enough to kill. It is like he was a bomb set to trigger when certain things happened to him. I suspect that the bomb mechanism was built in his childhood.

      Just as an aside…it is strange for a 33 year old man to be so sheltered from reality (controlled) that he had never known a financially responsible woman.

      • Ralph Oscar

        I don’t think CW dated much.

      • Cheryl Filar

        Ganana’s comment: “…it is strange for a 33-year-old man to be so sheltered from reality (controlled) that he had never known a financially responsible woman.” I think this is a good observation, particularly because I think it may dispel the popular notion that it was Chris who initially exploited Shan’ann’s vulnerability due to her illness when they first met. I’ve often thought that it may have been just the opposite: Shan’ann targeted and exploited Chris because he was naive and inherently submissive.

  9. Lisa Simmons

    It is just as much his fault. Chris should have known where their money was being spent. That excuse would not hold up in the court. He is an adult.

  10. Diana

    I don’t consider this victim blaming – at all! But I do believe Chris is just as much to blame as Shan’ann, after all, his pay was in HIS name, not hers! Same with his 401k. For Shan’ann to have access to his earnings and 401k, Chris had to give the okay. As far as Chris loving Shan’ann’s Tuesday paycheck from Le-Vel – I’m sure he did love it, but he probably didn’t realize how much money of theirs Shan’ann spent to get her paycheck. I do believe Chris absolutely knew the state of their finances to a certain degree, but he figured it wasn’t worth the likely huge fight he would’ve had with Shan’ann to do anything about it – until Nichol came into his life.

    On a personal note, I’m the one in charge of the finances in our home. Every now and then my husband may want to make an expensive purchase and I’ve had to tell him to hold off a week or two. Then he’ll say – “What happened to the money, didn’t I just get paid”?! My response? “Oh, no! You caught me paying the tv satellite bill, those pesky health insurance premiums – and the trip to the store for those ridiculous groceries”! Then I’ll hand him the check book and tell him to look at it since every penny is accounted for in my check register. Never once has he opted to look through it. I don’t really mind being the family CPA, but I wish he would do it sometimes too. And whenever there is any extra money he or I want to spend, we always discuss it first. My husband’s personality is like Chris’ as far as being the quiet, passive one too, but that’s where the similarities stop! Then again, if I suddenly stop posting here……..

    • Sideaffected

      Haha we’ll kee an eye on you! 🙂

    • Clean Queen

      Diana, great comment! So true – they were very likely spending quite a lot in order for Shan’ann to get a paycheck.

    • Sara

      @diana Clever girl you. 😊

  11. Kathleen Caraway

    I am interested in what would have happened to the Watts family if there had been no murder? What would have happened that Monday morning? Would the girls have gone to their pricey day-care? Would Chris have tried to put the house on the market? Could he have EVER told his wife he wanted a divorce? In a way, it is hard to imagine another outcome than the horror of wife murder and infanticide.

    • nickvdl

      That’ a fantastic point Kathleen. As is the case in so much true crime, there was an inevitability about this crime. Which is why the question: “why didn’t they just get a divorce?” while valid completely misses the point. Watts felt locked in because they were locked into several serious driving factors. Divorce wouldn’t necessarily have changed them.

  12. Person100

    Suggesting that SW “controlled the finances” is different from the couple agreeing to delegate the responsibility to her because she was better at managing the finances – or at least CW thought she was. It’s CW’s responsibility to understand their income and expenditures, and to ask for access to accounts, if he wants them. Most likely, he was fine being unburdened by that responsibility. I get frustrated in some of the forums I’ve seen where it’s been suggested that SW managing the finances was in some way financial abuse or controlling. I do the finances for my home because my husband doesn’t track our accounts or spend responsibly. I gave him the passwords and usernames for all accounts, but he has never signed in, and probably wouldn’t know how to if asked. He has no idea what we spend or have coming in – EVER. If he wanted to know more I’d happily tell him, but imagine if something happened to me tomorrow and people were looking from the outside they’d be all alarmed that I was “controlling” the finances. No, I’m managing them. He has access to all the same accounts, he just chooses to be oblivious to them, and because he’s a bad spender, I have to monitor him at times to make sure we can, y you know, buy food. This is just simple household management, and it didn’t seem like CW was without access to money, he was just a bit of an idiot about it. I think the problem here is that he was fine outsourcing management of the money to someone who wasn’t very good with managing money. But, at the end of the day, in most relationships one person ends up doing more of the financial management than the other based on interest, competency, and time. Same with any other chore you do in a household.

    • Mustang Sally

      Great comments, Person100! Thank you for that perspective.

    • Maura

      Good points. Chris told the police that his wife handled the money because he wasn’t good at it, or something to that effect. If that was true it’s possible that neither of them was good managing money. I agree at the least Chris should have gone over the finances with SW on a regular basis.

      They should have had credit counseling after the bankruptcy, sold the house and not chosen to have another child while they had unpaid bills.

      Was it Chris’s plan to blow the house money on the Audi sports car and live in a cheap apartment if he’d gotten away with murder?

      • Marcie

        Maura, my guess is that while Chris was getting “woke up” about their finances, he looked up the Audi cost because Shanann, in one video, stated she wanted to “trade in” the Lexus lease for an Audi, because “she could.”

        I don’t think he had any intention of actually getting the Audi. I think he was just trying to figure out what the heck was going on with their finances.

  13. Ralph Oscar

    “SHANANN wanted everyone to think they lived a certain way and they could not afford it. … NICHOL feels money is the biggest catalyst for this event happening.”

    This is *exactly* the conclusion(s) I have arrived at as well. Exactly.

    As I commented before, if CW and SW had won a lottery before the murders, there wouldn’t have been any murders. It was *all* financial.

    • Mustang Sally

      All roads certainly led back to their finances being at the heart of it all, didn’t they?

  14. Sylvester

    I’m going to disagree that there was an argument over the credit card being denied. She didn’t pay any attention to the credit card debt in the past, why start at 2 a.m. 8/13/18? If she was anxious about anything that night it would have been wanting to fix her marriage and her husband probably involved with someone else – not money.

    • CBH

      And in Nick’s theory she was dead at this point, and the credit card denial was coming through automatically.

    • Sara

      @sylvester Indeed!

  15. Ralph Oscar

    “a conflict about when to make known something…”

    The façade of the high-rolling lifestyle involves a lot of lying – lying to others, obviously, but also self-deception as well. And obviously a lot being kept hidden behind a carefully made-up and posed image and successful persona, behind which the reality peeped awkwardly from time to time, but was kept locked down as best SW could. Because CW’s losing weight and getting ripped served SW’s sales narrative to sell more of her Thrive crap, SW never even considered that he might be improving his packaging because he was stepping out. Such is the danger of having a façade focus – the façade becomes an end unto itself and no thought dares venture beyond. Would SW have accepted a fatter CW who was faithful to her, if that was the only alternative to buff cheating Chris? I don’t think she would. Her narrative (the façade) was her only priority, because she saw that as her ticket to who she wanted to be.

    I saw an image yesterday, I think, an early pic of Chris, quite fat, lying on his side on the floor next to a small baby (Bella?) holding open a book he’s apparently reading to her. On the right page were 5 or so either horses or raptors. It’s adorable, and poignant. Along the way, Chris lost his identity (provided he ever had a fully-developed one) and along with that, his humanity. From the questions he’s asking others, what he should do about going to work, etc., it appears he’d become entirely untethered to the concept of who he was.

    • Sideaffected

      That’s how she had him the majority of the marriage-fat non-cheating Chris

  16. Duttdip

    The thing that would have salvaged the situation for Shanann was a new job and not a new baby. I heard a lot of folks say that “you have to look rich to be rich”. She did the “look rich” part, it was time to follow up and upgrade outside the MLM line. She was articulate, extremely presentable and in terms of outbound demeanor, not much different from the corporate marketing and sales professionals that I come across every day. Those are relatively more secure and better comp’ed. Maybe she had it in her plans, but we will never know.

    • CBH

      I thought the same. She comes across in her videos as articulate and well groomed and I can picture her in a supervisor position in some administrative office. Her obese Thrive friends really were trapped, but she wasn’t.

      • Cheryl Filar

        I have to disagree on Shan’ann’s being articulate. Like Chris (no pun intended), she struggled with her syntax, which was demonstrated by her linking incoherent/incomplete thoughts with the word “like.” Perhaps this is the linguistic signature of her generation, but it wouldn’t track well in a more professional setting.

        • CBH

          Well, true. Sadly this is common enough among college graduates today. I guess she had such a soft, feminine presentation compared to Kessinger, who actually presented as a poor speaker with bad grammar and a low class demeanor.

      • Duttdip

        Agreed. Her extrovert, outbound personality had big potential for upgrade – admin, sales, marketing. A few communication gaffes here and there could be rectified in due time. She might have gotten trapped in the pride of being a leader among unequals.

        • CBH

          Quite possible.

      • Mustang Sally

        Cheryl, I have to admit I giggled a bit at your reply as I silently concurred. My immediate thoughts were that everyone is a “guy” and everything is “amazing.” 😂

    • Maura

      Agree 100%. She should have been selling Lexus cars instead of driving one she didn’t own and couldn’t afford. Even a part time job with a real salary would have helped her especially if she had selected a cheaper daycare 2-3 days per week.

      • ganana

        Related to Maura’s comment, it is unusual for a stay at home mom to need day care, although I could be missing something here.

        Why was day are needed? From the videos, it appears that the girls had to be in bed about 12 hours (sleep trained) and required to have naps 12 noon to 3 PM. That only leaves around 9 hours of waking time. Were they were locked in their rooms during this time in bed to keep them from getting up and wandering around? In SW’s video where she is making Boost package for her mother in law, she says she is going to the post office while the girls were asleep. This would almost have to require then to be locked in their rooms, alone in the house.

        So you have a mother that is sending her kids out to expensive day care, keeping them in bed most of the time, leaving them at home alone while she mails packages and promotes Thrive to to post office employees, and spends some if their waking hours videoing their lives for the world to see.

        Yes, this is a rant that deviates from the core questions about the family finances, but all this is just more sacrifice of innocent children to the multilevel marketing god… aka money. It pisses me off to no end, since we now know where this sick journey took then all.

        There is something here to be learned about the American way of life, our values, our striving for status and stuff.

  17. Mamy

    I don’t think this is a case of victim blaming, but simply the truth. What should have been done a long time ago was for Chris to have shown Shan’ann some tough love. She crossed boundaries that should have not been crossed and Chris just let her do it.

    Chris had poor communication skills which likely stemmed from his upbringing in the Watts family.

    My husband is a spender by nature. When our finances got out of our control, I made an appointment for nearly free financial counseling. Having an expert compassionately tell us the facts of our financial state was my husband’s wake up call.

    Had Shan’ann and Chris gone to marriage counseling the finances could have come up. The many ways that Chris felt disrespected by Shan’ann could have had opportunity to surface as well. A counselor would have been able to lay the truth before them and then direction on where to go from there.

    Not only could have Shan’ann and the girls lives be spared, but Shan’ann and Chris could have had a better and improving marriage relationship. We will never know if Shan’ann would have changed her ways because she was not ever properly confronted about them (as far as I can tell). Some of what I read about her on this site leads me to believe that she may have been open to correction.

    But the thing with tough love is that it’s hard to give it because you will almost always receive pushback and blame initially. Chris was not equipped to handle that. Had he sought a counselor he could have learned these things. Why are people always so opposed to receiving counseling. Why is it such a last resort or not even considered at all?

    • LaraLeon

      A marriage counselor told me once that when people go see a therapist is usually too late.

      • Ralph Oscar

        I knew a young couple, married only 3 years, who headed off to a marriage counselor on the wife’s suggestion, as she felt her husband was abusive and manipulative. On their first visit, the counselor suggested that they try a new policy to address the husband’s complaint that their home was “too messy” (even though the wife worked full time, with an hour commute each way, and he only worked part time and took a couple classes at the nearby university). The policy was that whoever noticed something out of place would take responsibility for taking care of it and returning it to where it belonged.

        The next week, the husband regaled the counselor about how “there has been an empty glass on the dresser in the bedroom for the whole week!” The wife looked at him in shock and said, “So why didn’t you take it to the kitchen and wash it? We both agreed to the new policy!” He said, “I just wanted to see how long it would take you to notice.” The counselor confronted him: “Why are you competing with her? Doesn’t it bother you how sad she looks?” while the wife said, as if to herself, “There’s no hope. There’s no hope. It’s over.” When they left the counselor’s office that day, the husband announced that, since he was a psychology major, he knew more than that counselor ever did and he wouldn’t be going back.

        The wife initiated divorce proceedings not too long after that.

      • Mamy

        I agree that often at that point one spouse has already checked out of the marriage in every way and at that point there is no going back.

      • Mamy

        Ralph, I have often thought that psychologists/psychiatrists are some of the craziest people out there. I knew a couple married for several years when the husband decided to go back to college and major in psychology. I frequently heard from his sister in law that he was really going off the deep end with the psychology stuff, and now he is divorced.

      • LaraLeon

        Mamy, i believe so too. They are pretty crazy. I guess to really understand how things work you need to feel it? I know a guy who lost his license because he slept with a patient. He is totally nuts. Now he is a “life coach”. How can you trust the advice of somebody that took that kind of risk?

    • CBH

      Well stated.

  18. Sylvester

    Leonard King mentioned that he had sought marriage counseling for the two of them and she wouldn’t hear the advice. I think he said she walked out. Yet she wants Chris to go to marriage counseling. Would she have listened to the advice? If the counselor had touched on her controlling nature would she have listened, or walked out. I think she wanted to get Chris into counseling to help HIM, not them. Also they could have benefited from a money counselor. That would have been money well spent – instead of on matching outfits for the girls and Level hats and tshirts, counseling could have greatly improved their situation.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “I think she wanted to get Chris into counseling to help HIM, not them. ”

      I agree with this observation – Shan’Ann sent a book to Chris, wanting him to read it. That would amount to HIM working on self-change, and that’s what Shan’Ann wanted from him. But we don’t see any evidence that SHE had changed, despite reading that same book. I suspect that what she saw in that book was what she wanted Chris to change, not seeing anything she herself needed to change. Chris put it straight into the trash.

      It may well have been too late for counseling to help, to save their marriage, but it definitely would have helped them come to terms with what they needed to do next and how to do that in the most successful and healthy manner possible.

    • LaraLeon

      Yes, exactly, therapy to help him. She googled something like emotion focused therapy and she told him that her time in NC made her see that what was missing in the marriage was emotion, was feelings. Since he is indeed a robot, even googling what love feels like, I am sure he had issues in that area but although she confided in friends she was controlling and even belittled him (in the nut incident at least), I still think she would think the main issue was his lack of emotions but the personalities of both together combined with external forces pressuring them (MLM, in-laws, mistress) was a deadly combination.

      • nancyjames3358

        I do not think any therapy would manage to get Chris to talk, much less honestly share any deep dark feelings/thoughts.
        He may not even know what he feels.
        He would want the therapist to like him.
        They truly appear to be examples of opposites attract, personality wise.
        They are similar, as they are both equally disconnected from reality and living in their own heads.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “instead of on matching outfits for the girls and Level hats and tshirts”

      I have never seen anyone who made custom shirts and sweatshirts the way Shan’Ann did. It’s mind-boggling to me that she thought this was a legitimate and necessary expenditure. Pure wastefulness.

      • LaraLeon

        I always think it is so cheesy when people wear shirts with phrases. And to even personalize them is even worse. I guess you need to prove to people something. That one she had ordered for him to wear “I am a proud parent of two,,,” is like you have to prove people how happy you are and what a great father your husband is

        • CBH

          Yes, it’s clear that for Shannan image took the place of reality.

      • Cheryl Filar

        Everyone was labeled, as were all of the containers in her pantry and the boxes in the basement. Everything, including her husband and children, had its assigned place.

      • Ralph Oscar

        @LaraLeon: “is like you have to prove people how happy you are and what a great father your husband is”

        I remember one xmas letter from my eldest cousin, where he went off in raptures about his marriage and children, closing with “I hope you’re half as happy as WE are!”

        That really rubbed me the wrong way – what, I’m only worthy of HALF *your* happiness? And how condescending! A few years later, they were divorced…

        • CBH

          “A few years later, they were divorced…”

          No surprise there. People who are truly happy don’t need to rub it in people’s faces.

    • Mamy

      I think in her second marriage the situation was different. She had more at stake this time around. She did state at one point that she did not want her girls to come from a broken home.

      Shan’ann may have very well intended for Chris to get the help, but a good counselor would be able to get past that and see the whole of the situation.

      The biggest problem with seeking marriage counsling is that there are some bad or mediocre counselors, which often leads couples to believe that they cannot be helped.

      • Sara

        @mamy Their core problem wasn’t a marriage problem but yet a personality disordered problem, therefore marriage counseling would not have been of any benefit to them.

  19. LaraLeon

    Sometimes I feel that she manipulated him into letting her head the finances. In one of the videos she says that he bought something thinking it was a good deal but it wasnt and from them on she decided to take care of it. She said that in front of him making him sound stupid. Of course he pretended it was fine but he was probably raging inside. Since they went bankrupt once he should have figure out she was bad with the finances. I think those 5 weeks gave him a lot of time to go through the bills, the hoa lawsuit and figure out she had been hiding from him the amount of trouble they really were in. Like prosecutor Juan Fernandez once said murder is about sex or money or both. In this case it seemed to be.I would say in this case it was about the humilliation that led to the affair that led to the sex addiction with another partner that also opened his eyes to his financial imminent ruin and probably ruin of the new relationship. She told the detectives she always cared about the financial aspect of a partner, if they had debt, etc, so I am sure this “love” wouldnt have last long once she knew the real situation with an ex wife and 3 kids, that “needed” a lot of medical care.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “In one of the videos she says that he bought something thinking it was a good deal but it wasnt and from them on she decided to take care of it. She said that in front of him making him sound stupid. ”

      One detail I remember is that she castigated him for selling a car for less than he paid for it. That’s the norm, though – given car depreciation, extra mileage, wear and tear, etc. I don’t think Shan’Ann had a reasonable perspective on anything financial – she was untethered from reality.

      • Alyson Marie Rogers

        On the car comment Ralph, I believe he sold it for less than the outstanding finance on it, not for less than he paid.

      • Ralph Oscar

        @Alyson “On the car comment Ralph, I believe he sold it for less than the outstanding finance on it, not for less than he paid.”

        Really? That means that he would have had to PAY for the purchaser to take it off his hands or else he couldn’t transfer the title over! What a bizarre scenario! Can you link me to a source for that?

        I’ve heard of people swapping cars and the next owner takes over the payments, that sort of thing. And in that one Rocky movie, Rocky gives the car to someone he knows just to get out of the payments.

        • nickvdl

          Alyson’s quite right, Shan’ann said he sold the car for less than the outstanding finance on it in one of her Live videos.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “Of course he pretended it was fine but he was probably raging inside. ”

      I don’t think that was CW’s style, not until the very end at least. I envision him more withdrawing, becoming even more “gray rock” and remote, thus contributing to the “lack of emotions/feelings” situation Shan’Ann thought a book would fix – for him.

  20. Sideaffected

    Very interesting/good point about the “gender reveal”! I’ve never thought about that and it’s so on the nose it almost sounds like crime fiction.

    You’re also right about the “victim blaming”, about which people have lost COMPLETE perspective, and this is now the narrative: “Screw anyone who says anything bad about Sha’naan and the kids! Clearly, it’s all NICHOL’s fault!” It kinda reminds me of third-wave feminists, who considered something, rejected it and BECAME the original thing that was called offensive?! Like “how dare you blame the woman! Blame the OTHER woman!”It’s really annoying and, as usual, the kids get lost in the noise (as does everyone.)

    About Nichol, there is so much less to go on. A lot of what she says about Sha’naan is what she says Chris said-so if she’s being 100% honest, which is unlikely, she’s filtering through what Chris said to make himself look as good as possible and to assure her they were gonna get a divorce (or, if you’re on YouTube, to plan the murders.) Interesting (and maybe unlikely) that Chris seems to “see himself” more clearly through Nichol’s eyes-the truth about his relationship, their finances. Personally I think she’s speaking for “him” in these excerpts but saying what SHE thinks about Sha’naan, and saying Chris thought/said it, because A. He probably did and B. That’s a safer place to “put” those feelings (considering people are giving out her old address and number on the internet, as of yesterday.)

    It’s very sad because Sha’naan shows, despite some people’s overuse of jargon, the thing that no “narcissist” can do which is the ability to look at oneself and ask “how am I ruining my life?” She knew she was controlling and pushed Chris too hard and was at the very least questioning her own behavior-something no one else does in this whole case, not openly. That’s always stood out to me as being very sad because it’s redemptive, to me anyway.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “She (Shan’Ann) knew she was controlling and pushed Chris too hard and was at the very least questioning her own behavior-something no one else does in this whole case, not openly.”

      You see that? I don’t. I see Shan’Ann full of self-pity and anxiety, fear of her uncertain future as a single mom, and lashing out at Chris for not providing her with what she needs/wants (holding, talking, sex, etc.). It looks to me more like she was seeing everything that was wrong with Chris and, in typical toxic/dysfunctional community fashion, all her fellow Thrivers (who are her only friends) are encouraging her to focus on HIM as the problem. Can you think of a single comment from one of Shan’Ann’s Thrive friends suggesting some way SHE could change or something SHE could do differently? I can’t. It was all about how much HE needed to change in order for her to be happy and feel safe/secure once more. It’s all very self-centered on Shan’Ann’s part.

      If you want to see an example of how this kind of toxic community reinforces toxic behavior, take a look here, at Issendai’s “Down the Rabbit Hole: The World Of Estranged Grandparents Forums” – this is a case study, but if you want background (and boy, howdy, will you see a lot of Cindy Watts in it!) go to the “psychology/estrangement/” page. As you read, think about how Cindy Watts never got along with Shan’Ann, blames Shan’Ann for the relationship difficulties, won’t acknowledge her when Shan’Ann is trying to get a picture, etc.

      • Ralph Oscar

        Darn, I linked to the wrong case study! THIS is the one I was thinking of that shows how the community reinforces toxic thinking and behavior:

      • HB

        I agree. She’s still demanding and controlling even when desperately trying to save her marriage. Take me to Aspen, go to counseling, read this book, write me a letter, read the letter I left you that is littered with justifications for my actions, save the receipt, send pictures, etc.

  21. Sideaffected

    I do wonder what the extent of their discussion of money was. It’s easy to see Chris was thinking about it based on his phone calls the 13th, but there’s not a lot that comes out of their actual mouths re: money. She seemed capable of looking at herself/behavior regarding Chris (acknowledging she was too controlling), what was she like about money? Would he yell at her ever? People say he wasn’t abusive and I believe that but I doubt they just never had “little” arguments. Did they argue about money and how was it handled, I wonder?

    • Ralph Oscar

      The neighbor with the surveillance camera first said they had “screaming fights”, but then backpedaled and stated that he’d embellished – the “screaming fights” account did not make it into any of his interviews with police or the discovery documents. He said they argued like most couples do, which kind of depends on his perspective for us to evaluate whether their fights were excessive or not.

  22. Sylvester

    Things may not have been as bad for Chris as he might have thought had he sought a divorce. I don’t have actual numbers in front of me, and we don’t know that Shan’ann was really making $80K a year but using a rough calculation and the Colorado Child Support and Alimony calculator, based on Chris making $67K a year and Shan’ann making $80K a year he would not have to pay any child support had she sought total custody – because she makes more than him. In fact the number came up as -$221 in child support. If he was also paying for health insurance that also factors into the equation. For three children though, providing she was really making more, he wouldn’t have had to pay anything. I suspect all of a sudden her annual take would have dropped had she sought child support. Combining their two salaries – $67K and $80K regarding alimony the calculated amount was stated as “each spouse has an individual gross income of at least 40% of spouses combined gross income, therefore no maintenance for either spouse under the Colorado maintenance guideline”.

    Now if he had sued for custody of all three children, she would have to pay him around $1677 a month, based on my rough figures. One thing that factors in to this greatly is the daycare figure. She would most certainly have to drop the expensive Primrose fees and gone with other means of daycare. Of course if I enter an amount closer to what I think she might have really been making then most certainly he would have to pay, but based on her stated income amount of roughly $80K a year, then she makes more than him and it might not be “fair” but it’s the law. It’s based on the income of the parties involved. The house was in his name too. She could sue for half the value of the house but I think essentially she would have to throw herself at his mercy to help her take care of her kids and give her something to live on. Otherwise he gets full custody, and she has to pay him. I think he was in the catbird seat and didn’t know it.

    • Maura

      Her LinkedIn page, which I couldn’t locate anymore, had said she was an $80K brand promoter. So that amount was what she sold not her income. Chris mentioned her income twice, at least once to police. He said she made 65-70K and another time he said that she almost made as much as me.
      Of course we don’t know know how much she spent or her costs to make $60K. It is ironic that she had sales skills and could have been successful in a regular non MLM job especially after the kids were in regular school.

      • Sylvester

        Okay – then using monthly income figures based on the same yearly income by both ends up giving her $950 a month child support for 3 kids – total, as the custodial parent. That wouldn’t even begin to pay for Primrose school. Since she works from her phone though the best thing to do would be put Bella in public school kindergarten, and she stays home with CeCe. She can’t leave the state, especially if he filed for joint custody. And if he did that then neither one pays the other child support as their financial obligations would be split 50-50. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was thinking along those lines initially. Sell the house, have some money to start over with, and live near enough to each other where he has the children 50 percent of the time and she the other 50 percent. Also I wonder if he would have been responsible for her past medical bills. But, as we know, he took a different route.

      • thetinytech2018

        I know that’s what she said but I highly doubt she even made $1200 A YEAR. Also they don’t take into account what their overhead is and net vs gross, so she probably spent more than she made. She could’ve made more working part time at minmum wage. If she was making what she says, say 60k a year, she’d be in the top 1% of the company. Look at their income disclosure statement, 98% of reps make under $500 a year. She was at the bottom of the pyramid. If she made $1000 A month I’d be amazed, but I doubt she was clearing anything.

        She lied, and they all do that when talking about income. Nobody ever can show tax info claiming they make what they say, no pay stubs or bank statements either. They want you to believe the lie just like all MLMs. You don’t have to sell slot to get the car bonus, the goal for that in Thrive is pretty low and the lease is under your name so Thrive isn’t on the hook when you default – you are. You have to sell a certain amount every month, it’s not cumulative, so if August you do good but September you don’t meet that goal – you’re on the hook for that payment and with full coverage insurance and her garbage credit, I bet she was paying almost a grand a month for a 48,000$ car, that’s horrendous. Chris probably thought the company was paying for it but they only pay for the month if you exceed your sales goal they set for you, plus he had no clue where his money was actually going. Guaranteed she had to pick up the tab on that Lexus wayyyy more than Thrive did. The whole thing is a sham and 99% of new recruits quit within the first year because they make nothing.

        It’s a pyramid scheme, the two percent that are making a liveable wage are the people at the top, the actual people who started the scheme in the first place. Shan’ann wasn’t one of them, had hardly anybody on her downline, and started pretty late in the Thrive game. She needed Chris, without him she’d have 3 kids and be living in her parents basement working part time and then her facade crumbles, and she knew it.

    • CBH

      “I think he was in the catbird seat and didn’t know it.”

      Horrifyingly ironic.

    • Teresa

      If both of them had made 60K+ a year, they wouldn’t have been in financial trouble to begin with. There is no way Shanann made as much as that and I think Chris got a good look at the finances while she was away for 6 weeks. He probably then realized how little she did make.

    • Alyson Marie Rogers

      Interesting information Sylvester. With another baby, and time off to care for him I think Chris would have ended up needing to contribute as her earnings would undoubtedly drop off. On the house, you are correct is was purchased in his name only, but Shan’ann was subsequently entered onto the title deed so it was in both names.

      • thetinytech2018

        Shan’ann made almost nothing a year, please look at Thrives income disclosure statement and how their car lease works. I doubt most months she even sold enough to get thrive to pay for the Lexus – it’s a sham. It’s leased in your name, not thrives and each month you need to exceed the sales goal set for you, so the first month you don’t hit that number (seeing as how she would’ve bragged about it every time she did, safe to assume she only hit it a few times) thrive stops paying and you’re left having to pay a payment just short of $1000 a month. The only people who make any liveable wage are the top 1-2%, the people that started the MLM and she wasn’t one of them. She was lucky to break even most months which probably didn’t happen.

        MLMs are predatory and often drive people into financial ruin. This family was no different, that’s another reason as to why they had so much debt, one income plus her sinking money into a pretend business.

    • Ralph Oscar

      ttt, I liked your analysis, and I completely agree. I was thinking about the “car bonus” thing – it sounds great (“The company pays for my car!”) but in reality, I think it’s more stress and anxiety to pile onto the rep so that 1) they’ll feel more desperate to sell/recruit, and 2) they’ll be less likely to quit. There’s Shan’Ann with a too-expensive car that she only got because she believed Le-Vel would pay her $800/mo toward the cost (and Shan’Ann REALLY wanted that car!). Shan’Ann’s the one on the hook for that lease (who *leases* cars, anyhow??) and she knew that, without her Thrive “business”, she was going to have to make the lease payments herself. So she wasn’t about to quit Thrivin’! That was one of Le-Vel’s goals – get people trapped into their “business model”. And, yeah, when Shan’Ann missed a month’s sales projection, she’d have to make the payment out of pocket, out of the family’s dwindling financial reserves.

      It’s an evil system. It just is.

      • nancyjames3358

        Can anyone explain who those facebook / live posts were aimed at?

        Who would continually watch those “Snippets of Sha’nann”, or continual snippets of anyone?

        I understand why the business model would want the Thrivers to do it, and I understand why the Thrivers would do it, but I don’t get who would watch them after the first couple.

        They all have to be the same, right? If you’re so busy making them, when do you have time to watch everybody else’s?

        Could it be like the robocalls I get – make a million calls and maybe get one lost soul to take a bite.

        Her going “Live” with the shout outs to viewers (Hi dancer, Hi prancer HI donner, Hi blitzen) were just weird.

      • Marcie

        I’d love to know how the car “bonus” is treated by the IRS. Is it taxable income on a 1099? Even with business deductions, the entire lease can’t be written off, as the Lexus was clearly used for personal things.

        I really wish a tax CPA familiar with MLMs would weigh in on this forum!

    • Marcie

      Excellent analysis, Sylvester.

      I’m glad crimerocket is allowing discussion. Since I don’t know where to post this, I’ll just do it as a reply to you. I want to add a bit about custody and support issues, based on my experience in Colorado.

      My experience tells me, sadly, that had Chris somehow gotten funds to proceed with a divorce, he and the kids would’ve been okay. Long gone are the days where divorce leaves a Dad on the financial hook and excluded from his kids’ lives. And yet that’s the prevailing opinion of many, after looking at posts on other sites. Maybe that is what Chris thought as well. and thus contributed to his motivation to annihilate his family. It’s so frustrating that he didn’t seek legal advice!

      Colorado fiercely believes children have the right to the love, support, and time of both parents. Colorado courts don’t want to waste time with drawn-out she said, he said crap. It’s all about the kids. A mediator and custody evaluator are ordered to figure things out before any nastiness enters the courtroom. Using the courtroom for parenting time issues is a last resort and an unreasonable parent will be shut down quickly.

      My opinion is this:

      Shanann would not have been able to move with the kids. She would’ve been able to stay in the house temporarily with a newborn, but the court would’ve ordered the sale of the house, as the profit was easily 70k after realtor fees. That’s enough to set up two nearby apartments. Even with bad credit, there are plenty of apartments in Weld County who will take you.

      The court also could’ve also ordered the withdrawal of Chris’s 401k, which was a marital asset, and that would’ve freed up more funds for resettlement of both parents.

      Custody evaluators also wish to continue parenting time as it was. So if Shanann provided much of the care while Chris was at work, it would continue. However, the kids would get picked up and go with Chris on many nights, since he customarily provided care for them at night. Even the baby would go after a few months, as breastfeeding is no longer a way to prohibit overnights.

      Child support is based on overnights. 93 or more, and child support is cut significantly. Child support is also reduced if one parent does most of the driving for pick ups and drop offs.

      And now the finances. I don’t think Shanann grossed more than 2k per month, based on reading about MLMs and seeing how they were in credit card debt again, only 2 years after BK. The debt is marital debt and would be split accordingly. A short period of some alimony might have occurred, but not much. With Medicaid and the ACA, Shanann could’ve gotten her own health coverage.

      What might have entered the courtroom would be any assertion that Shanann couldn’t work due to illnesses or having children. However, her history of working proves she can work in a real job, with benefits. And her “illnesses” would be up for perusal. Maybe even the children’s! And that would open up a can of worms and may even have allowed the questioning of her fitness as a parent!

      What would not have come up would be Chris’ affair with NK. No wants to hear about it unless it introduced some unfitness as a parent, which it did not.

      I pray that something good can come from this awful tragedy. One good thing can be that people realize family courts believe children have the right to the love, care, and support of both parents.

      Another good thing would be for married couples reach out at the first sign something isn’t right.

      And lastly, another good thing is to always, always have individual financial funds to draw upon in case a marriage is toxic.

  23. Ralph Oscar

    Okay, I found the image of before/after Shan’Ann I was thinking of:
    Clearly, by the time of the “after” image, Dec. 27, 2016, Shan’Ann had lost a significant amount of weight compared to 10 months previously (50 lbs or so?). And her commentary includes this:

    “I’m eating healthier and Chris and I are looking to join the gym to even take our health to the next level!”

    So my thought about that was that of course Shan’Ann would want to join the most upscale gym, because that’s where the people with all the money go, and that would represent a new untapped market for her Thrive crap (at least to her). I wonder why they never joined a gym? Did Chris put the kibosh on that idea? Shan’Ann elsewhere said she’d bought the gym equipment at their home for him. Especially with Chris all buff, the potential to market Thrive to others at the gym should have been obvious to them both.

    The commentary above, with that image, leads me to believe that Shan’Ann got involved with Thrive at the beginning of March, 2016. Their bankruptcy was filed in June 2015 and Shan’Ann was pregnant with CeCe at that point, per the last line of the bankruptcy filing. However, CeCe was born July 17, 2015, so the “before” image of Shan’Ann can’t be immediately post-partum – by the beginning of March, that’s 7.5 months later. By then, she was still carrying quite a bit of extra weight. The bankruptcy was discharged on Sept. 14, 2015.

    We were talking earlier about how super-size Shan’Ann’s Thrive friends are, and someone said it was unusual for someone of normal weight like Shan’Ann to be friends only with obese women, but it looks from the various pictures that Shan’Ann had yo-yo-ed quite a bit, weight-wise. And since her fellow Thrive distributors were her only friends, it doesn’t look like she could be too choosy about those friends.

    • CBH

      Yes, she clearly lost a lot of weight, I see that. I wonder if the obese friends will lose weight with Thrive?

      • nancyjames3358

        She stated, “they were eating healthier”, which is, imo, how they both lost weight.
        Not the Thrivin stickers.
        Majority of the time, eating crappy = weight gain.
        Since they weren’t communicating, maybe they were emotional eaters.

    • mitzi2006

      Do people choose their friends based on their weight? If she did, it says something about her character or she was good at picking friends because it was one of those friends people flag as being overweight that was the first one to worry about shan’ann and did not let up till she got results.

      • Ralph Oscar

        “Do people choose their friends based on their weight?”

        Of course not. People choose their friends based on what they have in common, what they enjoy doing together. Someone who is fit and slender is far more likely to want to do physical things – hiking, working out, biking, etc. – than someone who is obese. So someone who is enjoying physical things is going to be in a position to run into other people who likewise enjoy physical things, and that could be the start of a friendship.

        It appears that the only thing Shan’Ann had in common with those other Thrive women was the fact that they were all in the same cult. And if Shan’Ann had quit the Thrive cult, you can bet those “friendships” would have rather quickly fallen away, as they would no longer have in common the ONLY THING they’d ever had in common. Just like with any other cult.

  24. Maura

    @Sylvester In reply to you—-I don’t think public kindergarten was an option for Bella in 2018. I have kids in elementary school and there’s a cutoff date each fall. In CO kids must be 5 on or before 10/1. The state is not obligated to offer full day but must offer half-day kindergarten. Bella wasn’t going to be 5 until December so she wouldn’t be able to attend public Kindergarten until fall 2019. The Colorado Dept. of Education website talks about a limited number of spots open for those who qualify for half day Pre-K.

    It is a challenge to parents that states are not consistent with offering the same Pre-K and Kindergarten. In NY my brother’s kids are able to attend Pre-k at age 4 that’s paid by the state. Most of us don’t have that option.

    If Chris and Shan’ann had decided to divorce in fall 2018 by the time they had obtained a court date she may have been on maternity leave. Her sales income was all commission and not guaranteed so the court would have to recognize that fact. Add in 3 young kids and it would be clear to the judge that she and the kids were dependent on Chris financially. I know many families where one parent has the medical benefits for all since healthcare costs are now so high.

    If Chris hadn’t murdered his family I see SW having to keep the girls at home until they could attend school since they couldn’t afford daycare. She may have had to work only part time with a newborn. Baby Niko was going to make their financial situation worse.

    • Nick

      Hey Maura – great information here. Can I put this up as a guest post?

    • Ralph Oscar

      “I know many families where one parent has the medical benefits for all since healthcare costs are now so high.”

      That’s an excellent angle – that scammy Le-Vel MLM did not provide any benefits at all, certainly not health insurance coverage. And for all Shan’Ann’s claims about “Thrivin'”, the medical bills show that she and the girls were sickly.

      • Nick

        The Healthcare Narrative of this particular case and how it plays into America’s larger healthcare setup is an interesting dynamic on its own.

        It would be good to hear some personal examples of how folks have experienced these changes firsthand, especially over the last 5 years or so.

  25. Sylvester

    Also with MLM companies you aren’t paying into social security, unless you elect to. MLM companies do not offer health benefits. The only thing you can do for your future is write everything off at tax time. The trips – even the trip to NC would have been a write off if she opened her mouth at all about LeVel. Write off. Home office – write off based on square feet used. Cell phone costs, write off. And gas or mileage, not both. She would have had to give up LeVel, and she knew that. It’s not sustainable unless you are in the top 1% of the pyramid and that’s why it’s at 1% – virtually no one gets there. If she couldn’t make enough to take care of three children then he could swoop in and have custodial custody. This is where things would have gotten dicey for Nichol Kessinger. Often divorced fathers with girlfriends somehow rope their girlfriends into being the caregiver. Not only does the girlfriend resent this but the children resent the hell out of it. They want their real mommy. When Nichol says in her interview if she had known he was going to have another child she wouldn’t have wasted her time. It’s a crude way to put it, especially since she was in love with him as she says and he was head over heels about her, but the reality of it is something she was not ignorant to.

    • Maura

      All true about the MLMs. The MLMs brainwash people into believing they’ll be the 1%. It would have been nice to have a trial to put the MLM under the spotlight and take a hard look at it. Many of her friends were selling it part time and working other jobs. Most people that I know who sell something like it do so part time not as their only income.
      I wonder if Nichol would have stayed with Chris after a bitter divorce. He would have had reduced finances to wine and dine her and shared custody of a newborn. I can’t see Nichol offering Chris her apartment as there was no space for kids to stay over especially a newborn who may not sleep through the night for awhile.

      • Sylvester

        I concur Maura. I think the writing was on the wall for Nichol before 8/13. She says she was already starting to pull back a little. First he’s at work with no wedding ring on. Then he admits he’s married, but working on a divorce. Then he admits he has two girls. Then she helps him find an apartment which he decides he can’t afford, and doesn’t want to talk about it any more. Then she realizes there is no divorce in the works. This is all before she finds out on the news he had a third child on the way. Some women just shrug their shoulders and say oh well, I love him and I know he’ll work it out – but she was smarter than that. I think he was about to get dumped, and he held his family to blame for it.

      • CBH

        Sadly, Chris was well aware of all this. He knew divorce wouldn’t solve anything. It would never give him a fresh start. And certainly not one with Nichol. The murders were his attempt to delete the past.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “It’s a crude way to put it”

      Yeah, but there’s something kind of refreshing about someone who knows where her boundaries are, where her lines are drawn, and who ultimately has a practical approach.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “The only thing you can do for your future is write everything off at tax time. The trips – even the trip to NC would have been a write off if she opened her mouth at all about LeVel. Write off.”

      I don’t know much about businesses, but we have a small farm and we sell fruit through a wholesaler. If we had a business, we’d be able to deduct water and fertilizer and maybe even depreciate the tractor, right? He said that, to qualify (and not be subjected to death-by-audit), we’d have to be able to show a profit 3 out of 5 years. Perhaps he’s more conservative than average, but he also said we’d need to have a separate water meter for the irrigation water (the house water is included – one meter for the property right now).

      So naturally, I went looking online 🙂 From here – Taxes and the Network Marketer:

      “”Remember to be able to take advantage of tax deductions for your network marketing business, it has to be a real business. The IRS says that you can’t deduct business expenses unless you engage in the business on a “for profit” basis — not just as a “hobby business.”

      How do you tell the difference? The IRS will look at one of two tests. The first objective test is whether you have made a profit in three out of five years. The second subjective test is whether or not you are prepared to demonstrate that you engage in your business in order to make a profit. Here, the IRS is looking at whether or not you carry on the business in a businesslike manner; the time and effort you put into the activity; whether you depend on income from it; your expertise in the business; how much profit the activity makes in the years it does profit; and other pertinent considerations.”

      “Your deductions are now limited to 50 percent of your meal and entertainment costs.”
      “The business travel deduction is a real advantage for networkers. Of course, you are going to have to make a clear allocation between the business-related purpose of the travel and the vacation portion. Obviously, there is a gray line, and it will be in your interest to substantiate as much of the travel as relating to your network marketing business. Inside the U.S., all travel expenses are deductible when the trip is “primarily” for business. When traveling abroad, you must divide the travel expenses between business and vacation time.”

      The IRS tends to take a dim view of claiming family vacations as “business expense”. Simply shouting “THRIVE!” in the airport restroom would not meet the criteria described above. One must do far more than simply mentioning Le-Vel to someone at the destination – it must be a legitimate business effort that can be documented. People *love* to say you can write off everything, but that’s simply not true.

      “If you talk to our friends at the IRS, they will tell you time and time again that the most important aspect of claiming your expenses and deductions is keeping adequate records. The IRS will suggest that you keep a separate bank account, make a record of all business transactions, and retain all your records. Record keeping and substantiation are particularly important for deductions for travel expenses, entertainment expenses, and gift expenses. And the IRS will always tell you that a receipt is ordinarily the best evidence to prove the amount of expense.”

      I don’t foresee being able to obtain a proper receipt for “opening her mouth about Le-Vel” as an excuse to write off a family vacation. I just don’t.

      “Should you take advantage of the expenses and deductions in the Internal Revenue Code? The IRS will tell you that those expenses and deductions are there for you as long as you don’t abuse them.”

      Trust me, you don’t want to dance with those guys.

      • Marcie

        Excellent post, Ralph. I’m not a tax person, but did know a person with a hobby business and the IRS does start looking at deductions after a while. If Shanann started Le-Vel in early 2016, she was running out of time where she could deduct business expenses and not make a profit. She might have even deducted “expenses” earlier, as she was selling bags or something while working at the hospital, as she claimed 100/mo direct sales income on the 2015 BK form.

        An IRS inquiry, a higher tax bill, on top of their existing financial house of cards, could’ve been a possibility. Oh if we could only see their tax returns, we would get some answers about Chris’ motivation and state of mind.

  26. Sylvester

    It might have occurred to him after he killed his children, that it might all be for nothing. But then he had to go through with the rest of it. I’d like to believe there was a big blowup as it’s all the more horrible to consider that there wasn’t. And that it was a cold, quiet, menacing end to three amazing lives and one that was to be – for nothing. Freedom always comes with a cost.

  27. Duttdip

    I don’t understand why MLM is in the equation at all. If Chris’s name ONLY was in the mortgage, the mortgage company lended money based on his income ONLY. This was not 2005-2006, and strict lending guidelines had already been in place. I bought my house around the same time and despite earning way more than the Watts couple, Wells Fargo literally went through every single expense record. AFAIK, Chris’s lender was Chase and they are known for thorough due-diligence. What did they base the decision on?
    If we trust the lending decision, then the house and the then-expenses were deemed sustainable with Chris’s income only. Anything beyond that was a bonus.

    To me, they failed as a couple. Finance was not the cause, but the effect of that failure. When there’s a will there’s always a way – you simply work as a team and come out of it. Here there were a million ways even at the very end – the lowest hanging expense was the preschool one. That would have saved the couple 2500 dollars a month straightaway. Then they could have each looked for better opportunities. Chris could have sought a promotion. A new child, a new girlfriend and finally a murder were never the solution(s).

    As domineering as Shanann was, she was naive at multiple levels and needed guidance. In the patriarcal community that I hail from, there is the notion of “arranged marriage” (thankfully, I did not have to), where the rule of the thumb is that the guy is few years older than the gal. The tacit underlying assumption there is that he has to be as mature (if not more) and take charge..Given both the age and personality differences, that was not the case here.

    • LaraLeon

      But money is also an issue when the marriage has failed, when the couple failed to act thinking whats best for all, then everything becomes an issue, because they are not speaking the same language anymore and issues with money can feel a lot like a betrayal. He probably felt betrayed that the money on his 401K was taken even though she might have said she was making good money with Thrive. That made him feel entitled to find another partner, a more honest one in his view and that dealt with money in a different way. I think money is a big part of the equation but if the couple had a great relationship they wouldn’t been heading to a second bankruptcy, but there was a main issue with communication. Chris didn’t know how to express his feelings well and SW didn’t know how express (always condescending, controlling) and how to listen either. Notice that we hear a lot more about what Chris was thinking about the money issues through NK, which was probably a better listener (at least at that point) and less threatening that SW was with her dismissal attitudes and constant emasculation of her husband.

      • Duttdip

        I doubt there is any husband on earth who at some point did not meet someone from the opposite sex who is a better listener than his wife. Or, more “respectful”. In any close relationship, you reach that level of “informality” where you do not have to watch every step and choose every word. Again, because of the respective personalities, the relationship did not gel underneath. Shanann would be just fine with someone else..And, what we perceive as “dismissal” in hindsight, would be perceived as “friendly bantering”.

      • Ralph Oscar

        “Notice that we hear a lot more about what Chris was thinking about the money issues through NK”

        Where else would we hear about them? Shan’Ann was fully vested in a façade of living the dream, rolling in money, with luxury everything and indulgence galore. Chris is now serving a life sentence in prison. I don’t think there’s anyone else TO talk – Shan’Ann wouldn’t have confided financial woes, as that would show that her carefully curated image was a lie. And Chris was quiet – who would he have confided in? He’d also have faced the wrath of Shan’Ann if she found out.

        It’s kind of a good thing that we have NK’s observations – that’s an important source of information and perspective we might not have otherwise had any access at all to.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “What did they base the decision on?”

      I’ve been wondering about that as well. CW and SW took off for CO, where CW had arranged a job for himself as a mechanic with a car dealership. The dealership then hired SW in their phone sales dept and she did well there, too. Apparently, CW left there for Andarko in Jan. 2015, at a starting salary of $61,500; he and SW would file for bankruptcy in June of that same year. CeCe was born in July, 2015.

      If CW was making $61.5K when he started at Andarko, then it seems likely that his salary at the Ford dealership was less than that, right? Or else would he have felt motivated to job-hop?

      So the bank granted CW a $392,700 loan on a house worth $400,000, when his salary was, say, $55K tops? Shan’Ann was working in a call center at that time for $18/hr, making their combined salaries $90K for 2014, according to one source I found. And I found this:

      “A traditional starting point is to shop for homes with a purchase price equal to two-and-a-half times your salary (or your household income if you’re buying a home with a partner). Let’s say you earn an annual salary of $60,000 per year, and your spouse earns $40,000. You would look at homes selling for around $250,000, (or $60,000 + $40,000 = $100,000 x 2.5 = $250,000).”

      “Although $250,000 is a very realistic starting point, it may seem low to some people, especially those living in cities with higher home prices. Some experts suggest that you can afford a mortgage payment as high as 28% of your gross income. If true, a couple who earn a combined annual salary of $100,000 can afford a monthly payment of about $2,300/month. That could translate to a $450,000 loan, assuming a 4.5% 30-year fixed rate.” – from an online site.

      CW was getting the loan on his OWN earnings – Shan’Ann was not on the loan, so he couldn’t count her income (could he have counted her as a paying roommate?). He basically didn’t put anything down – maybe $8K or $10K, including their closing costs. So he wouldn’t have gotten the best mortgage interest rate, which would have increased their mortgage payment, which was nearly $3,000/month. Also, because CW didn’t put at least 20% down, he was subject to mortgage insurance, which is between 0.5 and 1% of the mortgage balance, split monthly. So that would have amounted to somewhere between $166 and $333/month on top of their mortgage payment, making the monthly payment larger than if CW had been able to make a decent down payment. When you’re borrowing basically the full price of the house, that’s much more risky – if the bank has to foreclose, there’s no value to them; they inherit a liability they may or may not be able to sell for the amount they loaned out against that property. Banks never want to foreclose; they simply want people to pay their mortgages!

      It sounds like it was a bad loan, frankly.

      • Duttdip

        Thanks Ralph…
        Either there was some hidden source of money we are not privy to, or it was a bad loan.

        The reason I bring it up is that as per the lender (rightly or wrongly), SW could be spending every penny she earned behind her shoes and bags (which folks are bashing) and they would still be solvent. We can treat those expenses as her “career advancement investment” and as long as her “looking rich” paid off in the coming years, it was money well spent.

        Barring of course, the preschool costs, etc. Take away the preschool costs, get a combined post-tax raise of 1000 dollars and it would be back on track.

  28. LaraLeon

    I think it was a bit more than friendly bantering. The problem is that he let her do. If he had told her to stop that the first few times she wouldn’t have like she could run over him like she did. Both were in the wrong. Dysfunctional and toxic relationship.

  29. Blexy

    Covert (closet) narcissists are the hardest to spot.

    That’s because they exhibit no obvious signs of grandiosity, self-exaltation, or self-deification.

    Rest assured, they are just as grandiose, self-exalted, and self-deified as any other type of narcissist, however, when it comes to covert narcissists, it behaves like their dirty little secret, instead of an open display, like with other types of narcissism.

    But one thing that all narcissists have in common allows you to specifically spot covert narcissists quite easily.

    All narcissists come from a place of hatred.

    That makes it a lot easier.

    Because hatred has discernible signs if you know what to look for.

    You cannot have hatred without the compulsion to degrade.

    And that’s why all narcissists are about tearing others down, degrading them, humiliating them, backstabbing them, betraying them, maliciously gossiping about them, injuring them, gleefully inflicting some sort of mental, emotional, physical violence on them, etc. Their hatred drives them to do so.

    So covert narcissists have no less hatred than other forms of narcissism. In fact, some types of narcissism are effectively co-morbid. Hence it is not unreasonable to have a covert malignant narcissist, someone who is sneaky and very undercover, but highly malicious and destructive. The definitions of various types of narcissism are blurry. A covert can transform into an exhibitionist narcissist when they get a captive audience. I’ve seen seemingly shy, reserved narcissists explode into epic showmanship under the right circumstances.

    Back to the topic. What to look for to spot covert narcissists?

    Look for

    Emotional tendency for hatred
    Compulsion to degrade
    We just need one more point to complete the picture.

    How to degrade?

    The other types degrade openly, which makes them much easier to spot. Covert narcissists degrade most secretly, which is what makes them so difficult to spot.

    Hence the key is to educate ourselves on the degradation tactics of the covert narcissist to spot them.

    Covert narcissists tend to degrade by

    weaponized switching off
    weaponized disappointing you
    And that’s all. Both switching off and disappointing you are basically the same point. You expect them to deliver humaneness, decency, civility, kindness, they fail, by deliberately, wilfully, and intentionally

    not being there
    not doing it
    not noticing
    being too busy
    suddenly being too stupid to do the right thing
    being puzzlingly useless at crucial times
    being deaf, blind, mute, incapacitated, sick, distracted, anything that serves the purpose
    So the specific type of degradation the covert narcissist exhibits involves failing to be good. It’s highly covert because they don’t really do anything. In fact, not doing anything is how they inflict damage. Not doing anything under the right circumstances can inflict immense damage. For example

    not paying for goods they take as they leave the store
    or not taking your side when a nasty person picks on you
    ignoring everyone and not returning greetings when you have guests over (no previous fight to trigger it)
    not calling to cancel a trip you planned together, leaving you waiting for them at the airport as you are about to leave with them (costing you the plane ticket, the hotel deposit, etc.)
    not apologizing after injuring you
    not washing their hands before they handle your food
    So let’s summarize. This is how covert narcissists work

    They are full of secret, senseless hatred
    They have a chronic need to degrade someone
    They primarily cause degradation by quiet betrayal of trust, which produces persistent disappointment
    So the sign you need to look for is disappointment. Because that’s the most obvious part of points 1, 2, and 3. It’s hard to discern hidden hatred, easier but still hard to discern a need to degrade, but it is impossible not to feel disappointment from being let down, betrayed, or swindled of having the right thing done to you.

    Do not dismiss your disappointment. Your disappointment is the first sign that tells you that you might be dealing with a closet narcissist.

    All narcissistic behaviors are wilful, intentional, and deliberate. Their weaponized disappointment is deliberate.

    Chronic disappointment means 100% certainty you are dealing with a closet narcissist

    • Nick

      What does narcissism have to with money?It’s a serious, practical question.

      You’ve provided the academic, theoretical mumbo jumbo that applies to a vast swath of people. Apply it directly and specifically to these people, this case and the facts presented in this post.
      Can you?

      • Blexy

        Narcissism = spending addiction= zero responsibility with finances. I’ll never comment here again. I like how Sylvester communicates with people but not you. Too bad he isn’t running this site.

        • nickvdl

          Narcissism = spending addiction= zero responsibility with finances is not a specific explanation for the dynamic in the Watts family. Who had a spending addiction?

          Facebook is the new narcissism. If you’re on Facebook you’re a narcissist. What does that say about you? What does that say about you pronouncing about the narcissistic character of this case?

          Folks familiar with this site know I don’t like labels and I don’t like the narcissism label in particular. It seems to say something about this case but it actually says absolutely nothing. If you’re a narcissism junkie, it’s probably best that you recycle this stuff somewhere else.

    • matt

      I don’t see much evidence that Chris Watts was a narcissist, Morally questionable, introverted, disimpassioned, philanderer, certainly. We throw these terms around too casually as a catch-all because it makes explaining what really happened easier.

      • Ralph Oscar

        It’s far more likely Shan’Ann was the narcissist, what with her making their lives into her own personal reality show. Plus, I don’t see Chris ordering/buying all that expensive furniture and all those shoes…

    • Ralph Oscar

      I believe that the “gray rock” model (how to survive living in the presence of a narcissist) more accurately describes Chris Watts’ behavior than the covert narcissist model.

      Gray rock:

      From that article:

      “Describe a boring life. Talk about the most mundane household chores you accomplished that day — in detail.”

      Remember that list of chores he’d completed that Chris ticked off that one time? Classic!

    • ganana

      Stunning post…PhD level thinking! : )
      Thank you for putting this up here. Covert narcs damage their victims’ abilities to *discern*. After that is done, they keep the upper hand quite easily.

      • ganana

        Blexy, – I saved what you wrote into a Word doc for future reference, as I spent many years with a covert narcissist. Even today, I question my own perceptions of events; I much prefer to sugar coat those years because to recall them clearly is too painful.

  30. Sylvester

    This particular thread has 152 comments. Amazing. I think it’s very possible Chris was emotionally abused. If you watch those videos, and I know everyone has, reverse the dynamic. If it were Chris dominating every scene what would you think? One of the most telling scenes is when Shan’ann is having everyone sample the pro bars. Clearly Bella wants one, but it’s being withheld until just the right moment. She offers one to Chris, then he hesitates. Does she want it back, should he put it on the tray, does he give it to Bella. That’s just one video that was disturbing. Pulling a baby Bella in the snow was another. Up down, round and round, come closer, do it again over and over. Imagine 6 years of it. She took an introverted man, who was quiet by nature, and controlled everything about him. He was an abused spouse in my opinion.

    • Cheryl Filar

      Sylvester, I agree, and underlying all of that abuse, which was both emotional and financial, was Shan’ann’s insistence on control. Ironically, it was this control that enabled her to operate outside the boundaries of normal, acceptable behavior. In doing so she redefined and determined “normal” in the context of her family, which is why Kessinger’s approach to life and finances may have been a significant awakening for Chris.

  31. Sylvester

    Cheryl – can you say a little bit more about “it was this control that enabled her to operate outside the boundaries of normal, acceptable behavior”? I do see that however she was, her parents didn’t intervene. They seem quite baffled (Sandi) by Chris’s behavior in NC. Did they treat their daughter with kid gloves, not wanting her to get mad at them? Yet I’m sure they got an earful about her over-the-top reaction to the peanuts with his parents – and likely knew she was texting and calling Chris repeatedly over it. If she were my child I would say “let it go. It’s not his fault. Ease up.” Anyway, I look forward to your comments on the matter.

  32. Cheryl

    Sylvester, I’ll leave a reply below this one. I’m having trouble composing and then posting, so this is a test!

    • Cheryl Filar

      Sylvester, by control I mean that Shan’ann did not tolerate other opinions or perspectives, which, in her mind, equated to being challenged, disrespected. I think it was Kessinger who said Chris indicated he could not approach Shan’ann about finances, as she would become angry and shut him down. Chris’s parents also mentioned that Shan’ann had turned Chris into her Go-For–for example, when she demanded something he literally ran to retrieve it. When someone can, over time, successfully impose this level of control and, along with it, fear, they redefine your reality about yourself and about what you consider normal in terms of a relationship. It is an assault on someone’s dignity and humanity that is tantamount to a living death. In doing so a controller like Shan’ann is able to define and extend their own boundaries, because they have degraded and diminished anyone who can insist on limits. Other than the practical reasons Chris murdered his family, such as finances and establishing a clear pathway to begin a life with his mistress, I think there was also a profound psychological and human need to destroy the limits that had been placed on him in the marriage by imposing the ultimate limit–death–on Shan’ann and the children, whom I think Chris had conflated with Shan’ann’s abuse, i.e., his referencing–several times–the children’s hurling chicken nuggets at him. In this context, Chris’s decision to annihilate his family seems more understandable (although horrible and certainly not moral), because in order to reclaim his humanity he was compelled to eliminate what he perceived as their cruelty and inhumanity.

  33. Sylvester

    And I agree with you. I was thinking yesterday while driving to and from work, that this is a plausible explanation for why he did what he did. And yet it wouldn’t be believed had he had a trial. He would have been seen as weak, a wimp, or a monster, poor response to why he did what he did. I don’t think he’s any of the psychological labels that have been put on him but I do seem him as an abused spouse. I have to wonder too, when he decided for himself he no longer wanted to be fat did she resent that as well? We can say all we want that he could have chosen another path, he should have stood up to her and taken charge of his life and his finances (before 8/13) but would we offer the same critique for a woman who has been verbally and emotionally abused by her husband – she should have been stronger, stood up to him? It’s really painful to watch how he was treated, over and over. I’m enjoying “Drilling” because there are so many revealing moments in it where Coder gets the whole picture of just what we were dealing with. The tale of two Chris’s. He took great care to pack their backpacks, even with a change of clothing should they have an accident. That was particularly poignant to me. And I know what you are saying, we’re not saying this is “justifiable homicide”, it’s just that we are shocked at the level of control exerted. It was really quite crushing I believe. He couldn’t even hang a picture the way he wanted to. Makes me sad. “It’s an assault on someone’s dignity and humanity that is tantamount to a living death.” So very well said.

    • Marcie

      Sylvester and Cheryl – Your comments are very insightful and thank you for posting them. I agree with your observations and it’s a relief that crimerocket is supporting intelligent discussions.

      • Cheryl Filar

        Thank you, Marcie. I appreciate your support, as I’m concerned about blowback when I try to imagine Chris’s world in order to answer the elusive “why, why, why,” as Nicole Kessinger framed it.

  34. K

    i just want to mention that CW’s sister was a verified insider on websleuth, Trinkit78, and I believe she says that the ice cream incident was ice cream without any peanuts but was from a facility that used tree nuts. I clicked on Trinket78 profile to read some of her answers. A link to the page with verification from the owner of websleuth is on this page, :
    I mention this because it would seem to me that CW would probably feel so caught between his mother and wife and if it were me, I would feel caged. Maybe his mother could have been more careful and maybe SW could have handled that incident with a lot more compassion for his mother as it would seem that she actually did not try to serve ice cream with nut chips in it?
    I enjoy very much reading the comments here, thanks!

    • Duttdip

      I agree if it was a standalone incident. The problem was that it joined a vortex of volcano that had already formed.

    • Mustang Sally

      Didn’t Shan’ann’s online diatribe include that it was specifically pistachio ice cream that was served? A known and obvious allergen for CeCe?

      • K

        Mustang Sally, I know SW did post about the ice cream incident on FB, and I would guess that is why the Watts family had blocked SW. I don’t remember if it was actually pistachio or not, just nut “chips”.

      • Ralph Oscar

        @Mustang Sally – a detail that sticks in my mind is that the *other* grandchild showed up at the house with an ice cream cone in hand, one that had nuts on it (I’m thinking Drumstick), and Grandma permitted this child to have the ice cream cone she came with without feeling any obligation to provide an alternative to CeCe, who was also there. You can evaluate that scenario from many different perspectives. In this scenario, it was not Grandma deliberately serving up forbidden ice cream to one grandchild in the presence of the other grandchild who could not have it.

  35. Duttdip

    I respectfully disagree and think that labeling SW as an Adolf Hitler – an intimidating ruler and a destroyer of humanity is waaaaaay over the top! I can cite possibly a hundred households where the interpersonal dynamics are similar to the Watts’ and none of them resulted in any violence, let alone murder of four.. Yes, she had a domineering personality- sometimes suffocating, and was addicted to social media, shopping and MLM. But the “glass half full” side of the picture also reveals a caring mom, a struggler with optimism and vibrancy and whose reference to “her Chris” carried as much flattery as humiliation. For heaven’s sake, she carried Chris’s babies for 50% of their marriage. Maybe she tried to be too possessive and the sand spilled out between her gripping fingers..NK gave Chris the space, and he lapped it up.

    • Cheryl Filar

      Duttdip, I’m not labeling Shan’ann as Adolf Hitler. However, in the context of her relationship she did dominate Chris and in so doing control and humiliate him. As far as the fact that she carried babies for half of their marriage and could be a caring mom, everyone is complex and has or can present another side, but that does not eliminate the harm they have done to others. For example, Adolf Hitler, who was responsible for the systematic murder of six million Jews and other “undesirables,” lavished affection on his dog, Blondie, kissed babies, and was a vegetarian. Does this mean he did not perpetrate crimes against humanity? Of course not.

      • Duttdip

        OF course, every human being has bright and dark sides. But SW’s dark sides are not unique in this superficial, materialistic, hyper-communicating era. As I said, if that’s what becomes the new standard, we should be seeing a hundred family murders everyday, and possibly more during 2008-2009 when millions were facing foreclosure from debt.

        Since, we are using the extreme example of Hitler, our historical evaluation of the man did not matter to one person in the whole wide world. She was his companion and only saw the better side of him. That’s what spousal relationships are about. If one can’t own up to joint problems, absorb the tension, and drink the poison at times, one should not be in vowed relationships. And the Watts’ real problems hadn’t even started: what if he got fired from the job, Cece got D’s in class, Bella got pregnant in high school, and Nico got into drugs? Would he have burnt down the house?? Oh, forgot that he just did!

      • Duttdip

        In fact, on the contrary I would say that any crime has some psychological and sociological genesis to it. Whether Chris Watts, bin Laden or Hitler. We can trace back Hitler’s mental derangement to his abusive dad, his experience as a soldier, the social unrest during the Wemar Republic. That does not and should not justify the crime.

        Yes, Shanann was a mess, But, Chris needed to man up, own up to it and find a way out of the mess. Leading her out of the mess was what he needed to do, and he had the upper hand to dictate the terms when Shanann came begging towards the end.

  36. Sylvester

    Chris arrives in NC

    • Ralph Oscar

      That’s heartbreaking. He’s so connected to his girls, and they to him. You can see the intimacy there. That’s genuine love. No one would look at those interactions and say, “Aha – we can see that he was planning to kill them.” And knowing the outcome just a week and a half or so later… It’s unbearable.

  37. Sylvester

    Absolutely, Ralph. It’s very warm and touching, not faked. At the end of the clip after he’s been smiling, he looks up at Shan’ann and there is just a slight something – a look of regret? dismay? sorrow?

  38. PSM

    Hmm. How is MLM responsible when it brought in 80k a year?!?

  39. Lisa Simmons

    Ralph and Sylvester, some people are great actors and can fool many people. Just like Chris did.

  40. Cynthia Ann

    I know everyone makes a big deal about her MLM business but my husband who is in “legitimate sales” says when men do it they call it commissioned sales. Every insurance agency owner has younger agents working for them, and when the new agent makes a sale the owner of the agency gets the money and gives the salesman a commission. At times there is base pay, but that is not true for every business. This business model is used by, financial planning companies, real estate agencies, automobile dealerships, etc. Beginning sales jobs, in any industry, have a 90% failure rate because most people can’t make enough money to pay their expenses let alone live off of their income. Successful salespeople have a spouse or family that supports them for a least a couple of years until they build up their business. Ponzi schemes exist when money and no product is involved with the sale. Bernie Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme; he took clients’ money and put it in a savings account instead of purchasing stocks. When people wanted to sell their pretend stocks, he took the money out of the savings account. Whatever people think of MLMs, like Mary Kay, Avon, Tupperware, Pampered Chef, and Longaberger Baskets, as long as the beginning salesman only has to invest in a starter kit and doesn’t have a monthly purchase goal the MLM is a legal business. Lululemon, a new MLM is under investigation because salespeople had a monthly quota; new business owners ended up buying the product themselves to meet that quota. In other words, they were moving money around instead of selling a product to a legitimate customer, and that is a Ponzi scheme. Women are involved in MLMs and like most things that concern women they aren’t taken seriously. The attitude is Mom isn’t a real businesswoman because she isn’t working at an office 12 hours a day like Dad is, so the business she runs is fake.

  41. Nate Stanfeild

    Beautiful write-up and I enjoyed reading it!

  42. Heather Smith

    I notice that CW has great teeth, healthy look, well dressed with as large a collection of clothes and stuff. He also appears to be contributing his share in the financial obligations towards his children. He must have been extremely confident in his access to financial means to take on winning and dinning a mistress with an apparent appetite for substance’s to enhance the experience and novelty of the illicit liaison, echemmm. I would assume that Shan’nann was the oblivious , fnancialy contributing partner in this particular ménage a trois by the known bedswapper, still an illegal act in some states, for good reason, apparently. From some place’s, it’s been bandied about that CW could give a fair account of himself in jockeying for a chunk of the “magical” disposable income to be SELF indulgent with. I’m almost positive I never read or heard CW finding or seeking extra employment for money as one of his problem solving solutions, especially given the amount of free time at his disposal. I’m sure CW had the capacity to regain control, I do IMHO believe not doing so felt comfortable. Unfortunately, for a lot of innocent people CW’s personal reality check and interest due on borrowed and extended life was a quagmire of horrendous proportions and CW couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again. I would very much like to find the forensic accounting on this financial and familial unit, starting from the very beguining of their separate financial identities and what each brought with them to their matrimonial union. Thank’ H…

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