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Guest Post: Self Destruction Runs Deep in the Watts Family

The information below was prepared by a genealogist in the Southeastern US, and is the  first of a series of posts regarding the documented history of the Watts family. The information in this post is found on publicly available documents, accessed via

The family of Chris’s paternal grandfather (Ronnie’s father) seems to have had more than its share of tragedies. Chris’s grandfather seems to have led a normal life, at least from the documents available. But his grandfather’s brothers were stalked by tragedy.

One great uncle’s wife died one hour after being admitted to a hospital with a ruptured uterus, caused, the death certificate says, from too many pregnancies (9 in about that many years).

Two more brothers committed suicide in 1957 and 1964 with gunshots to the head. Both appear to have been discovered around 8 a.m. One of them had a three year old daughter who died of diphtheria two years prior.

The parents of these suicide victims were living at the time of the sons’ deaths and lived well into the lifetime of Ronnie Watts, Chris’s father, who was born in 1958, I believe, so he could have been greatly affected by the stories of his uncles’ suicides.

Suicide has a huge stigma attached in some families, possibly more so here in the South due to our preoccupation with appearances. It could be a cause of shame that can become the festering sore around which other sores may cluster. This is what may have happened in the Watts family.

Neither suicide was a grandfather of Chris. The grandfather had a long life and was honored and loved by his family. Incidentally, many men in this family served in the military.   



  1. Liz

    Interesting. I had wondered if there were any past relatives who had done anything like Chris has done.
    It’s often said, or at least I have heard it, that a child will take after a great uncle or great aunt.

  2. ncam619

    That’s not surprising. Chris’ fathers reaction to his murder confession was bizarre imo . Add the fact that he also had that temporary, out of the blue cocaine addiction which is also abnormal. Im sure there are some serious mental defects on both sides.

    • Ralph Oscar

      “he also had that temporary, out of the blue cocaine addiction which is also abnormal”

      Where did you see that?

      • ncam619

        Shan’ann mentioned it to her friend (I think it was Addy, during their last week in NC). Ole Ronnie picked up a cocaine habit when Chris left home to go off to school (I guess Cindy could drive anyone to do just about anything). Chris also touched on it during his pre-polygraph interview with Tammy, but he just said it was “substance abuse” problem. He also said the reason for his dad’s new habit was because he was so upset by Chris leaving home because they were so close. Even if that was true, you don’t say that to your child to guilt him/her into coming back home and by making them feel responsible for your happiness. That’s a form of emotional abuse. It also makes sense why they immediately hated Shan’ann for “taking him away”. There was way too much manipulation going on in that family.

  3. CBH

    It’s said that not only can trauma travel down through the generations via behavioral factors but it can alter DNA and be passed down for generations on the genetic level.

    • Ralph Oscar

      True – if I recall, studies of Nazi death camps were not only far more likely than average to commit suicide, but their *children* were more likely to commit suicide. Of course, in that example, we can’t exclude the possibility that it was the family environment surrounding the death camp survivor that was unhealthy enough to pre-dispose a child immersed within it to be more at risk for suicide.

      So with all these family incidents in CW’s genealogy, perhaps he was more at risk for possible violent actions, either directed toward himself or others, than usual, but this is only the sort of thing we’d ever expect to suspect after the fact.

      • CBH

        Exactly. I do recall though, years ago, reading a true crime book about a man who suffocated his infant son while his wife slept, so as to collect on life insurance. It later came out that his grandfather, unbeknownst to him, had killed a family member for $$. Jung believed as early as the 1920s that we inherit memories from our ancestors.

    • ncam619

      That’s scary 😕

  4. Cheryl

    Read William Faulkner if you want to learn sbout the legacy of festering sores in Southern families. They cultivate and are bound to it. It inspires great literature and gut-wrenching tragedy: from the Civil War to Christopher Watts.

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