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

Crime Scene Images of the Fitted Sheet at CERVI 319

There were dirt stains on the sheet, including a large area of dirt stain with patterns that appeared to be from the sheet being dragged along the ground. [Discovery Documents, page 483]

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  1. Carolyn

    Shanann’s dad summed it up when he called the killer Watts a heartless monster. THE SIMPLE SELFLESS ACTION OF WALKING AWAY WOULD HAVE CLEARED THE WAY FOR SHANANN AND ALL THOSE WHO LOVED HER TO RISE ABOVE IT ALL AND CELEBRATE HER THIRD CHILD. The perspective in this case is stunning and heartbreaking.

    • Cheryl Filar

      Certainly, Chris’s murdering his family was monstrous, but I don’t believe Chris himself was a monster. He is a human being who committed a horrendous crime. If this distinction is not made, we’ll never understand why this or any other crime occurred.

      • Ralph Oscar

        If we persist in dehumanizing people who’ve committed terrible crimes, we not only delude ourselves (surely we would be able to recognize a “monster” before “it” got close enough to harm us) but we also discard the only means we have of ever understanding what drove that person to do what s/he did – by recognizing that they are human beings just like us, with either the same or similar fears, dreams, goals, objectives, and that they could well have be acting in a way that seemed completely rational to them when they were doing their crimes.

  2. Sylvester

    “The soil of a man’s heart is stonier Louis. A man grows what he can, and he tends it. ‘Cause what you buy, is what you own. And what you own always comes home to you.” Stephen King, Pet Sematary

  3. Fred Gonzalez

    When it comes to this case I struggle to reconcile how a seemingly normal, happy, passive and by all accounts loving father/husband could do what Watts did. I can only compare it to a cornered animal. When a rodent feels trapped, its survival instincts will kick in and it will do anything to free itself. Gnaw a body part off, eat its young, etc. Somehow, Watts’s mind reached those levels. Those proverbial walls started caving in on him and he needed out the only way he saw fit. I know I reduced his act to that of an animal but that’s essentially what it compares too. It’s very mind boggling to try to understand his reasoning for how he thought he would best remedy his situation.

    • nickvdl

      Debt can do that. Living a lie can do that. [Make the walls move in, make one feel like one is cornered].

    • Sylvester

      I like Fred’s analogy here to an animal. Watts has the eyes of a wolf. The adult male wolf stands 2.2 feet tall and when standing on it’s hind legs over 6 feet tall. They can weigh up to 180 pounds. That was Watt’s weight. They are massively large animals, much bigger than a German Shepherd, with shrewd watchful eyes. I think his “coming from behind” was where the wolf was hiding, behind a wall, and he rushed her and took her down and went for her throat as if she was a Giselle who had wandered off from the herd or stopped to get a drink.

      • Fred Gonzalez

        You’re totally on point about Watt’s eyes. They are beady, dark and posses a primal, animalistic essence to them. I saw videos where he played with his kids just fine. He carried them, tussled with them and fed them. But I never heard him utter “I love you” or call them adorable nicknames, etc. I’ve seen plenty of videos/pics/witness accounts of happy, friendly pet dogs that later tore through their owners throats. What a fine line there can be between those two behaviors.

  4. Liz

    I don’t recall who said it, or where I read it, but possibly on this site, that someone said When they showed the sheet, the weight of the reality had set in.

    • Sylvester

      @Fred – or Travis the Chimp.

  5. Sylvester

    All of those tiny little pin pricks in the sheet look to be from having her weight inside the sheet press down on the stickery land there. I believe he drove around to within feet of where he decided to dig his hole and her body lay on the thicket there while he dug. That is very harsh and unforgiving land, it’s dry scrub and thistle- like plants. I’m sure in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom it can look quite wild and pretty but on 8/13 and now forever after, it will look like a harsh juxtaposition of large chemical tanks filled with toxic fumes of hazardous black gold and a thorny graveyard.

  6. Mustang Sally

    Chris Watts certainly proved himself to be a monster by definition as “one who deviates from normal or acceptable behavior or character” and by being “a person of unnatural or extreme ugliness, deformity, wickedness, or cruelty.” Shan’ann’s father had every right to refer to him in those terms as does anyone else.

    It is not dehumanizing a person to recognize the extreme behavior associated with them and attempting to separate the person from the act does a greater disservice and is a greater injustice to the lives he has affected and to CW as well. It does not cloud finding the answers to why, if anything, this insistence upon humanizing the man in spite of his deviant actions and behaviors has been clouding that perspective the most.

    Before it gets taken out of context, I am very aware he is human and subject to every characteristic, behavior, and psychology we all may invoke at any given time under whatever circumstances. He chose his. None of us are immune to consequences in literal terms that help to define our perceptions. He is a monster; it’s a fair call. It doesn’t necessarily disqualify him from other descriptors. It’s the clinical diagnoses that cannot be made in fairness to CW from our perspectives.

    Descriptive nouns and adjectives that may seem harsh or grossly unflattering are fair game when you chose to murder your family, bury them each knowing their bodies will be desecrated, and go on to act like it’s just another normal day at the office. Monstrous human beings do stuff like that…

    In a word…he’s a monster.

    • elf

      Is that why he murdered his family? Because he’s a monster?

      • Mustang Sally

        Hi elf,
        I hope my comment didn’t suggest that was the underlying reason for his crimes; I meant only to say the monstrosity of his crimes cannot be dismissed from his character when answering that question.

        There have been others who have found themselves in crisis situations, looking for a way out, who did not contemplate the devious devastation Chris Watts wrought when making his choices. That monster within cannot be discounted when putting all of the pieces together.

        By definition, he is a monster. I was arguing the literary merits of the claim, not suggesting a reason for his behavior. He was clearly well-liked, mild-mannered, and seemingly kind before he chose to murder his family…so, where did the heinous thoughts-turned-into-actions become a reality?

        There is a constant attempt here to disallow his depravity, whether long suppressed or newly realized, to enter into why he did what he did. I’m suggesting it matters as part of answering the question why.

        His monstrosity is not dehumanizing him, it’s taking out a vital part of who/what he could/can be as part of how/why he did what he did. That was an overlong answer to your simple question, yet I am hoping to be clear and understood.

        Do you think deviant, wicked, and cruel behavior (defined by Webster as a “monster”) is relevant to answering why he murdered his family?

        • nickvdl

          There is a constant attempt here to disallow his depravity…>>>What do you mean by “here”?

          His monstrosity is not dehumanizing him…>>>Isn’t it?

          How does labeling Watts a monster answer the question why?

      • Mustang Sally


        I replyed to your other response before seeing this one. I don’t think I have the ability to do justice to your questions as my responses above were completely misunderstood. What I was trying to convey did not communicate effectively as is evidenced to me by your questions.

        Your explanation within your response to my other comment/compliment captured far more where I was headed than than I was able to accomplish on my own.

        As I stated there, my message was in no way intended to support any type of labeling. Words by definition have meaning and that was the extent I hoped to clarify. By not allowing its use seemed to suggest there are not saints and sinners (or monsters) in all of us and by understanding Chris Watts in all of his humanity, the good, the bad, and, the ugly, was to deny a complete picture, a complete understanding.

        Again, I know I’m not doing my thoughts justice and I will be readily dismissed as not seeing what you are trying to convey. That does me a great injustice as I understand, seek, and am willing to learn far more than I’m acknowledged for with each disdainful reply.

        Understanding is the primary, if not vital, reason I am here.

        I privately shared with you that finding the murdered bodies of my parents and their fleet of bomb and drug detector dogs in their home has had a tremendously grave impact upon my mental health and trying to understand the behavior and actions of someone I dearly loved, still love even in memory, could have done what he did to someone as devoted, beautiful, lovely, and kind. I’m the last person who would be dismissive with any sort of labeling only to be on my way as the easy answer to something nearly incomprehensible is not even a thought.

        I love, and I love deeply. It is extremely important for me to understand why. It’s extremely important for me to have a better understanding of people, their motives, what it ultimately means to each of us, and how that understanding can help me to become a better person in all ways…to those I love, to those I share our planet with, to the planet itself.

        I’m the last person to slap on a label and be done with it and it was unfair of you to suggest that.

        • nickvdl

          I’m the last person to slap on a label and be done with it and it was unfair of you to suggest that.>>>And yet you did. It’s not unfair, it’s reality. You wrote an entire comment as long as this one on why Watts is a monster. You labelled him a monster. Now you’ve written a long post saying you never label anyone, and I’m unfair. So my label is “unfair”. You also keep bringing up the word “dismissive”. If someone doesn’t agree with you, they’re not dismissive, they’re disagreeing with you. They may be disagreeing because you’ve made an error about something. If that’s the case you can go: Oh, I see, I made a mistake. Instead, you seem to be dismissive about yourself.

          I’m closing comments on this post too.

  7. Cheryl Filar

    Labeling someone like Chris as a monster is a semantic denial of our own or others’ capacity to commit or even tolerate inhumane acts, which can range from being unkind or indifferent to commiting mass murder—annihilating one’s family or remotely launching bombs on civilian populations in the Middle East or Afghanistan. Since it’s been practiced throughout history, it seems murder is so integral to our species that some forms of it are not only sanctified by the state but exalted as acts of heroism.

    • nickvdl

      What happens when someone labels something, you point it out to them, then they deny that they labelled someone? I mean how does one have an intelligent conversation like that?

      In regards to your point Cheryl, I wrote a book [not a very successful one] on the sniper Chris Kyle, one of the deadliest in US military history. Many consider him an American hero. Then someone shot him in the back with one of his own weapons. A tragic story but I covered it because I wanted to examine this strange approach to heroism. Are you a bigger hero because you killed 150 people than if you killed 3 or 4? And how does the hero think about his victims, or doesn’t he? And how do we, in our hero-worshiping, think about his victims, or don’t we? What does his wife think? Our heroes say a heck of a lot about us, and in our current comic book culture blossoming in the cinema, who is the undisputed champion? Aquaman has recently dethroned The Dark Knight as the most successful DC movie ever. It may be so successful because it acknowledges our tribal roots, and our tribal impulses. And it restores in a sense our sense that heroism is necessary in our world. But what is heroism? Is it the ability to beat someone else up or kill them?