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

This is what happens when unsubstantiated speculation [also known as defamation] is posted on YouTube

Today, Valentine’s Day 2019, is six months and a day – give or take – since the Watts Family Murders back in mid-August. Having kept up with all the coverage of the case [in the media and on social media] it’s been illuminating, and quite alarming, to see how the media narrative has fallen away precipitously and been taken over – hijacked in a sense – by armchair detectives.

There’s nothing wrong with cogent analysis in true crime. There’s also nothing wrong with a sincere effort to get to the truth even if one fails dismally. The fact that one cares about crime and fixing the fabric of society to begin with is a redeeming quality, I feel.

There is something seriously wrong with purposefully peddling conspiracies to make a buck. If there’s something cynical about that,  what’s really frightening is just how popular these sites and posts can become.

We criticize at times the manner in which Shan’ann and Chris Watts didn’t seem to know the difference between reality and fantasy. Shan’ann in terms of their financial situation, and the reality of the affair Watts was having behind her back, and Watts in terms of committing the crime in the first place and imagining he could get away with it.

We question what was he thinking, and perhaps in terms of Shan’ann’s MLM – what was she thinking. But we ought to turn these questions back to ourselves, and we do when we look at how we are talking and thinking and addressing this case. The conspiracies don’t reflect well on us at all. If the Watts couple had elements of delusional thinking, so do we. If the Watts’ couple thought they could beat the system [him in terms of duping the law, her in terms of beating the MLM odds] then the conspiracy peddlers are no better. I can sell fake news better than I can trying to package reality – that’s the concession, and it’s a cowardly one.

One way to spot the opportunistic peddlers is by observing how each week they come up with a new conspiracy. It started with Watts having an accomplice [his father, wearing white shoes]. Then shadows became a child running around the crime scene [but still invisible]. Then Nichol Kessinger was on the scene. Then there were two children. Then Watts intended to blow up the CERVI 319 site. Then Kessinger was pregnant. Have I left anything out?


Another way to spot the conspiracy peddlers, the worst offenders, is when their content gets taken down. Does it get taken down once or habitually?

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A few have also criticized me for occasionally posting “silly” content on CrimeRocket, as a cynical attempt to keep the ball rolling. Silly is a matter of opinion. The ongoing coverage on CrimeRocket is actually a sideline to the narratives that are still being written. Once that process is complete the coverage of this case is likely to become intermittent and then likely cease altogether [sorry].

A lot of the content posted here isn’t just banging a drum, wanting to be heard for the sake of it, it’s functional – the content here is  linked to the narrative so that the books aren’t burdened with excessive description, explanations and background. Sometimes key concepts [like interiority, intertextuality and agency] are introduced here so that readers will be somewhat familiar with them when they come across them in the narratives.

Sometimes theories are expanded upon slightly here, so that the narrative can move forward to where it needs to go.

The idea is that CrimeRocket provides a sort of stepping stone between prospective readers and the narratives. It’s a chance for you to get to know me, and for me to get to know you. For those who don’t read any of the books, you might find yourselves feeling a little lost on occasion, not knowing why certain ideas are adopted and others rejected. You might feel a little behind the curve. [If so, get reading, but make sure you read the books in the correct order!] And while readers who’ve gobbled up the series anxiously wait for the next installment, they can – by hook or by crook – keep up with the basic flow of research right here and even, theoretically, inform where it goes.

CrimeRocket, in keeping with the narratives, has a very strict policy on conspiracies. We avoid them, mostly, we don’t entertain them when they are brought up and we only repeat them to defeat or debunk them.



  1. dermotspirit

    I guarantee if you have a youtube account & stick the words ” Watts Kessenger” in the title it will kick start your chanel . you will be awash with likes & money will be thrown at you . all you need to do is post the most ridiculous scenario imaginable & tell all your lonely middle aged singleton fan base that you ” study” metadata so it must be true

  2. CBH

    I found armchair detective very entertaining– at first. As the theories multiplied and the donation requests escalated, I found him less so.

    When images began to be manipulated I lost interest.
    When it was suggested that Watts must surely have murdered before, and an attempt was made to link him to a cold case of a vanished girl in North Carolina, I was disenchanted.

    I’ve often wondered if NK had any foreknowledge, or if she may have subtly suggested anything, even in jest. I’d say I’m about 85% convinced that she did NOT. In any case it’s for law enforcement to determine.

    • nickvdl

      Well, it’s for us to determine. The law is done with this case. I hope once we’re done you’ll be up from 85% sure to 95% or higher.

      • CBH

        Time will tell. I harbor no animosity toward her, nor do I buy into any ludicrous theories of her being there, or killing children, as set forth by YouTube polemics. Just a certain haunting question, and for now it will remain so.

      • Ralph Oscar

        “I’ve often wondered if NK had any foreknowledge, or if she may have subtly suggested anything, even in jest. I’d say I’m about 85% convinced that she did NOT.”

        “I hope once we’re done you’ll be up from 85% sure to 95% or higher.”

        I’m perplexed here, Nick. Are we talking about the possibility that NK might have said something to CW along the lines of “I always thought that when I got married, we’d embark on the adventure of starting a family together from the same starting line” or something? Suggesting that she’d prefer a partner who didn’t already have the complications of children with someone else?

        Or are we going darker, with NK possibly commenting in the direction of CW pressing “Reset” on his life?

  3. usmcvet152

    The next conspiracy theories will probably be, Chris Watts mom involved? His sister? NK smothered Bella(Shadow Child)? 2825 Saratoga Trail is haunted and spirits murdered them? Chris admits that “voices in his home” made him do it? So on and So on……

    • CBH

      It does seem to be moving in this direction.

    • Ralph Oscar

      I vote for the ghosts scenario. I’m torn between dead mountain men and Civil War Confederates, though.

  4. Cheryl Filar

    I think a book could be devoted to the social media phenomena generated by true crime cases, especially the fantastical and paranoid conspiracy aspect of it. What makes it so appealing at this juncture in our cultural development or devolution? What social and emotional needs does it satisfy? I think Dermotspirit touched on this when he/she identified the demographic to whom this material seems to appeal: lonely, single, middle-aged women. Absent this group’s age and gender, I think loneliness is a key driver in the bonding that occurs amongst commenters on these cases–a bonding that does not readily manifest in our communities. Whether fact or fiction, or fiction alloyed to fact, the discussion of these cases provides commenters with an opportunity to exercise their moral outrage. In doing so, it makes them feel better about themselves and, most importantly, about each other. The more heinous and lurid the crime the more opportunity people have to elevate their horror and disgust with it, ergo the additive value of conspiracy theories that extend interest in the original infraction. Moreover, the appeal of the Watts case reveals a particular and poignant aspect of our society–we are largely disconnected from our communities. As a result, we really don’t know each other, just as no one really knew Chris Watts–not in his neighborhood, not at work, and not within his immediate or parental family. This disconnection and attendant unease or fear produces a pervasive sense of insecurity, as evidenced by the elaborate security systems that fortified the Watts’ and their neighbors’ homes. These systems basically created an electronic moat around the castle Mcmansions on Saratoga Trail. And within those castles a lot of people, including the Watts, engaged with others who reside somewhere outside of the moat via social media instead of with their immediate neighbors. In the end, the utility of the security system was not in keeping the elusive “other” out, but in capturing the unknowable neighbor packing up his family for their untimely disposal. Prior to his killing Shan’ann, Bella, Celeste, and the unborn Nico, no one in Chris’s immediate sphere imagined he was the infamous character, the much feared other who would become the subject of social media conspiracy theories, because he was just like them–walled off in his fortress and in himself.

    • Ralph Oscar

      Persuasive analysis, Cheryl. The other angle is that the Internet allows us to connect with others who share our interests irrespective of distance, and this is a valuable social connection. I read a survey not long ago that said that teens now have fewer friends than in decades past but they feel less lonely. How many people do you know in meatspace that you could discuss the Watts murder case with – meaningfully, dispassionately, from an informed perspective? I don’t have anyone. But I can come here and toss ideas around with all you nice people. Thanks, Nick!

  5. CBH

    “…he was just like them–walled off in his fortress and in himself.”
    Very apt description of suburban culture.

    • Cheryl Filar

      Thank you, CBH. And that walled-off suburban culture has substantially undermined democracy and its supporting institutions. Its disconnect has also been complicit in consuming and destroying the environment. What was envisioned as every man having a stake—a plot of land and a home—has become every man for and unto himself—to disastrous results in the Watts case and in the larger cultural and political context.

      • CBH

        I fully concur. Well stated.

  6. mitzi2006

    Armchair detective said just Thursday he had a revelation on Cindy watts, he knows they’ve claimed bankruptcy and other new info. Don’t know if he’s posted it yet or if it was one he realized he couldn’t “sell”. He took down his two jeans video (it was “supposedly” Nichol. He said he found out it was looped and said “I make mistakes, not a big deal”. Really? What happened to the “it had a rounder butt, had long hair, can clearly see it’s different jeans, white runners, feminine walk”. You think it’s no big deal? I disagree. You put out a pic stating after “fact” that it was her and got people on a mission to get justice, now it’s no big deal. Stop telling people it’s up to them to get justice for Shan’ann, it’s dangerous. Would he feel guilty if something did happen to her?

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