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Additional Information on Bella Watts' Autopsy

Bill Finley, who runs the 411 YouTube channel, is one of the better, more informed commentators on the Chris Watts case. Finley apparently sent in a public records request shortly before sentencing in November 2018, and received the autopsy reports via FedEx which included several photos. It also appears the report he received had slightly more information than the one in the discovery file.
The relevant excerpt is provided below:
Fullscreen capture 20190218 134359
At 15:47 in Finley’s YouTube spiel, he brings up an element that isn’t in the autopsy report as we see it in the Discovery Documents. It has to do with Bella’s so-called “defensive wounds”:

[Reading from the report] “There is exterior evidence of injuries [to Bella]. There is a 13×3 cm area of vertical lacerations on her buttocks…and she had several defensive wounds on her hands [back sides] and forearms [outer edges] and the backs of her heels…also discoloration [bruising] of upper left shoulder…as well as a cut on the head. The autopsy report speculates that the cut on the head and missing hair is when Watts tried to shove [Bella] into the tank.”

Finley reckons the opening of the thief hatch was 15 inches. But this seems to be an error on his part.
I did contact Finley directly [see below tweetgrab] in an effort to get more information on the autopsy reports. While I don’t wish to leak photos, I would like to see them so that I can describe them, or get a description directly from Finley. Finley, as far as I can tell, doesn’t describe the images beyond saying “they ain’t pretty”.
Perhaps some of you might have have better luck getting a response than I did.


  1. Sylvester

    I may see how to obtain a hard copy of the autopsy report – if it comes with crime scene pictures. Under the Freedom of Information Act we should be able to pay our money and obtain the report. Or anyone can do this. Especially you as you are a writer. Bill (I thought it was Will earlier) has a good piece on the burial process and noted Watts may have vomited under the stairs to the tanks and surmised that opening the hatches would have released toxic fumes, nauseating fumes, and that combined with what he was doing caused him to vomit – he says there was evidence of it on the ground.

    • nickvdl

      Thanks Sylvester. Got a link to that particular comment or a suggestion on where to find it?
      My first step isn’t to pay for something if I don’t need to pay for it. Which is why I asked Bill directly. If by the final book the information is still unavailable, I may take that step.

      • Liz

        Yesterday 04/05/2018, 411 Now, the channel you are referring to here, made a 30 minute spiel about his Reaction to Dr. Phil Show, and around 26 minutes in, he says he had previously read the extended transcripts of the autopsies. If you are interested, he mentions briefly about the girls broken bones, dislocations. I can’t vouch for the information, so I did not include the link.

        • Liz

          oops 03/05/18

        • nickvdl

          Yeah it’s worth noting, as you say, at 26:00 he claims in the autopsies that each had a broken collarbone, and dislocated shoulders. Of course this is a perfect fit to what one might expect, but that’s the problem. The perfect fit occurs after the fact, and he doesn’t actually show the document, and I don’t believe he mentioned this when he originally spoke about the autopsies [correct me if I’m wrong].

    • Liz

      I had read earlier about the bile or stomach contents Chris may have thrown up at the burial site, but no longer remember where I read it. Probably the Discovery although I can’t remember the wording. It was surmised that the fumes from the tanks caused it. It also makes me think he was not the man in orange at the store buying breakfast that morning. I watched the video attached to this post, and found it very revealing, yes, i had watched in past the press conference but I picked up a few more things. The investigators do not believe the alleged gay relationship that whatever his name was telling about. The autopsies are in much more detail here and it shows that the girls were suffocated by hand and not pillows. Shannon was both suffocated and strangled…. No fibers in the trachea of any. I can’t blame Bill for not sending the photos .. I imagine they are exactly what he said …. not pretty.

      • nickvdl

        It doesn’t show that they were suffocated by hand, in fact, quite the opposite.

        • milleniumrestart

          What do you mean? No fibers were found in girls’ airways, thus not cloth suffocation. And yes, vomit was found at the oil site.

      • nickvdl

        Liz I’d prefer not to have unsubstantiated rumors at this site. If you can’t provide a source for a claim, it’s better that you don’t make or refer to a claim at all.
        From what I can gather the bile comment is completely unsubstantiated, it’s not in the discovery file and what is out there comes via Armchair Detective, a known peddler of conspiracies.

      • Liz

        I couldn’t find any reference to bile in Discovery either, sorry for saying Probably Discovery, but it was from 411 Now, Bill’s youtube, Chris Watts Where we lay you to rest, that he made mention that the CBI did find what they thought was human bile under the staircase, but Bill says we’re not sure. Sylvester made reference earlier to the post.
        Is this OK to say or is this rumor? I mean we do speculate here. Only reason I mentioned it was the first poster to this main post mentioned it.

        • nickvdl

          YouTube commenters aren’t sources. He speculates that an odor could be vomit, but that’s all it is. Speculation. The word vomit comes about a handful of times in the discovery, all to do with Shan’ann. Bile doesn’t come up at all.
          In terms of this post I would prefer confirmation that the source material he’s referring to is legit. Like I say, I tried to contact him but he hasn’t responded. This means we can’t be certain this information is accurate either. It looks that way but may not be.

  2. Sylvester

    From what I read it’s only ten cents a page – your written request and form request has to be notarized. You might have your friend there in Frederick go to the courthouse and request it and fill out the form. Here is a request form, but I went no further than the form –
    you have to state your relationship to the deceased or reasons for requesting it. Maybe Bill Finley can tell you how he obtained the report, and whether or not the pictures were scanned into the report, etc. I hope you get it. I don’t think you can share it with us, but you can refer to them and be descriptive!

    • Sylvester

      Oh, and it’s “Officer of the Chief Medical Examiner Weld County.”

      • nickvdl

        I’ve already emailed Weld County. And the cost factor is overseas courier fees, not the cost of the actual document.

  3. Sylvester

    Oh, okay. You could raise the amount charged for the kindle book that contains the in-detail description of the crime photos. I would pay $15.99 – which is what I pay for other books I’m interested in.

  4. KarenKaren

    I posted your question to Will, but it’s hard to ever get an answer from him unless you’re in a live and even then there are so many people it’s a hit and miss. We’ll see what happens.

  5. CBH

    These injuries were all postmortem?

  6. Karen

    Here is Wills response. I did a copy and paste, but it’s on the page you referenced.
    411 NOW
    6 minutes ago
    Yes and no Karen. A majority of it in in the released discoveries and in the motions filed with the court. Those are two different things. The Motions are basically asking the court to consider certain things or to do something and they must provide an outline of the reasoning and support for what they are asking. A lot of people forget to read the motions and are basing their opinion on the case on the 35% of the information and discoveries the DA released…

  7. CBH

    Edit to add^. The defensive wounds would obviously not be postmortem.

    • nickvdl

      They couldn’t be defensive post mortem, but wounds could be inflicted post mortem.

      • CBH

        Thank you for this info; most appreciated. Do you believe the report is correct in calling these wounds “defensive”?

        • nickvdl

          No. But one ought to cut the pathologist a little slack. Those bodies were in oil for 4 days. Hot oil and gas. A lot of chemical disintegration and discoloration would have taken place during that time. Any injuries he’s seeing he’s seeing through a layer of oily sludge and a lot of tissue has been dissolved away. So he’s making an educated guess.
          What we can say for certain is that there are numerous long vertical scars consistent with moving through a narrow opening, and consistent with areas on the body where those scars would be expected to occur. Thus tissues are being scratched in vertical lines as they move downward against these surfaces.
          We also see injuries to the top surface of her body. Her head, her hair and her shoulders. That’s consistent with being shoved with tremendous pressure downward. Her father is using the few surfaces that are left after her legs and half of the torso are already through the orifice, but the rest of her little body is nevertheless stuck in it.

          • CBH

            I think you’re right. Thanks for stating so succinctly. I think your descriptive hypothesis at the end of Rape of Cassandra is correct.

  8. Diana

    CBH once a person dies the heart is no longer pumping blood through the body. Bruises inflicted prior to death can, and do, appear post-mortem, but you cannot bruise a dead body. There’s only a very narrow time window that a deceased person can bruise and that would be if any injury is inflicted within minutes of death. The only other way parts of a dead body can turn black and blue is through pooling – meaning the blood will pool to the lowest part of the body causing discoloration, but only if the body is left in that position for an extended amount of time. For example – if a person dies laying on their back, pooling would occur in the back and/or buttocks causing large areas to turn black and blue.

    • CBH

      Thanks for the feedback. 👍🏼

    • Sylvester

      So a “yellow-tan” abrasion on the left shoulder and left torso might be indicative of an old wound – or could the skin have discolored right before death or after? I’m pretty dense about these things. (@Diana)

      • CBH

        I am, too. I’m surprised the words “defensive wounds” are in the report, are you? It says on the hands, but those are usually when fighting a knife attack. And yellow-tan bruises sound old to me. Children get so many bruises just playing.
        I’m a bit confused……..

      • Diana

        Sylvester I’m not a medical examiner either, I’m only a retired nurse, but I agree the yellowish bruise could be an old bruise or – I’ve had bruising before that didn’t go black or blue, but went yellowish, maybe that’s what it was? Its hard to decipher. For instance, when I’ve had to document a wound or emesis(vomit), there’s so many variables people use. The yellow could be a scrape she got before death that maybe had pus that dried up and presents as yellow in color. You get what I’m saying I’m sure. In other words, sometimes it’s subjective. Eye of the beholder kind of thing lol!

  9. Lara Martinez

    Still no broken bones mentioned–Dr. Phil was wrong! I’d also like to know why the DA initially held back Shan’ann’s BAC if it really was just an artifact of decomposition. What do you think, Nick? Did she have some drinks before coming home due to all the stress? And I wonder if the more detailed autopsies could possibly show that the girls were murdered first–I’m not very hopeful we’ll find out just due to the small sizes of the girls & the fact that they were in crude oil. Were they able to see the stomach contents of the girls? I thought I read that (I’ll go look later). That could be a clue.

  10. Sylvester

    defensive wounds – so yes, I’m baffled too. I don’t see how Bella could have fought for her life – and Shan’ann didn’t? It would be interesting if they had analyzed the red drinking container on her side of the bed on the nightstand. There is a blue container on his side of the bed and a red one on hers.

    • LaraLeon

      SW couldnt fight because she was immobilized in a choke hold and then strangled and suffocated, and Bella was just suffocated. He probably thought it would be easier to suffocate her than it actually was.

  11. Sylvester

    I can see that he didn’t “just panic.” He’s way too anal for that. When Agent Tammy Lee asks him if he didn’t shove Shan’ann in one of the tanks because he knew she wouldn’t fit he just says mm hmm. I think with a little more time he would have made her fit. There are other examples where he’s very committed to arranging things – the kitchen island, each nightstand, clothes at the foot of the bed including a leis, the girls beds one of them turned down as if awaiting a child to climb in, he’s carried Shan’ann’s suitcase up to the bedroom. He told one of his friends he needed to pick the toys up off the floor. He’s taken precautions to make sure the dog doesn’t pee on the floor, dishes are washed. It’s really incredible. It’s all very anal.

    • LaraLeon

      yes, I think his idea was to make her decompose in the oil tank, maybe coming back later and cutting her into pieces and putting the pieces in the oil tank? I know it is gross, but for everything else he had done it is in the realm of possibility. I don’t think he wanted her to be in that shallow grave for a long time. What makes him so stupid is to think the police wouldn’t start looking at where he worked. But I guess he saw himself as so believable that the police would look somewhere else, since he had a great alibi: he was at work, he didn’t change his routine…

      • Ralph Oscar

        Knowing what we know now, we see that it is *obvious* that the police should look where he’d gone. But from the other side, the initial side of the events, the police had no idea. To their knowledge, Chris had gone to work as normal on a scheduled inspection to a site. That’s all. Nothing at all unusual. There was nothing unusual inside the house to suggest foul play; it was only after the police confirmed that the neighbor’s surveillance cam had shown that no one but Chris had left the house in the time interval in question that they tagged it as a possible homicide.
        Trust me, the police would *never* have figured out to look for the girls’ corpses inside those big crude oil tanks if Chris hadn’t told them. If any of the investigators had thought to look, it would have been too late and the little bodies would have long since been dissolved into the crude, leaving no trace.
        Chris *did* have a great alibi; he’d gone to work as usual, per the schedule agreed upon in advance with his coworker Kodi. Chris was simply being the normal Chris. If Chris had been savvy enough to keep his fat mouth shut (no Sermon on the Porch) and insisted on having a lawyer present during all interactions with the police (that’s not an automatic admission of guilt, you know), things may well have turned out entirely differently.
        Chris had an *excellent* chance of getting away with it, even with NUA interfering with his timeline by snooping around Monday noonish.

      • Sideaffected

        I disagree that there was an excellent chance of him getting away with it and that they were only suspicious after they saw the footage from the neighbor. When they found all of their stuff inside the house-purse, meds, phone-not to mention her car was there with the car seats, nd Chris’s odd behavior-it’s obvious even to patrol cops that this wasn’t right. There’s no way they weren’t suspicious. The footage was icing on the cake.
        I’ve noticed too that when people talk about how “he he could have gotten away” scenarios they seem to just be thinking of Sha’naan. Missing kids are a LOT more urgent and efforts to find them will be extensive and quick. I think because he was ready to forget about them he wasn’t taking that into consideration. However I do agree that the oil tanks he may have gotten away with. But this would be a winnable no-body case.
        Now the Bereth case-he’s like his opposite. He may very well get away with this.
        Question: why would Bella have defensive wounds on her hands, forearms and heels? That suggests he did not smother her facing her and in a smothering situation I can’t even picture that unless he was lying on her back? The mouth defensive wounds are absolutely evidence that she fought back though-classic. I’m still struggling w/ SW’s lack of defense wounds-unlike most people here I cannot picture him killing her standing in a chokehold. That seems out of character for him-he’s never done it before, how would he know he could have control? It’s driving me nuts.

  12. Gina

    Bill commented a month ago in the comment section of the you tube video referenced above about he bile. DJ the DJ asks him “Did you get the photos of the victims?” 411 replies “I don’t personally have the autopsy photos.” “they are online as they have been leaked.” He also says there was a toy found with one of the girls and a tarp was with the sheet in the field.

    • Nick

      I would treat unconfirmed disclosures about the autopsies with caution.

  13. Sylvester

    Sorry to put this here. In regard to Adam Shacknai – I looked up red rope and there are quite a few references. One is a “red rope service” – “after Asian massage ask for the red rope service” which I won’t publish here. What did Adam say he was doing before he went into the kitchen to make coffee and spotted Rebecca hanging. He likely had a birdseye view of her and was aroused. Also during the late 5th century B.C. Athens, a rope dipped in red paint was used by slaves forced to round up citizens. Of course it’s also used in boating. Adam called the Zahau family “posers” but that’s exactly how he strikes me. A poser. Interesting that he would use that term as it aptly describes him. Everything about this man is crude but he’s not the opposite of his brother Jonah. There is some crude in Jonah as well – how he dealt with women, he was rough with his former wife (and one before her), and treated his girlfriend like an ornament/babysitter. In true crime studies all of the perpetrators try and cover their tracks in their own fashion, how they are. They can’t be otherwise.

  14. Sarah

    Nick I’m reading your books at the moment and they are really informative. I was just wondering what you made of the pictures from the back of the house? The drag marks and the tyre tracks? If this autopsy report is indeed legit then could the injuries to the feet have been the cause of the marks?

    • nickvdl

      I don’t think the injuries to the feet have anything to do with cars, tires, driveways, cushions, or hands. I’m also not 100% sure they are legit.

      • Sarah

        I’m also not 100% they are legit because he says in the video he has pictures and then later when someone asks him he says he doesn’t personally have them or something. I wonder though what caused the drag marks in the back garden and why the swing set was moved

  15. sara smile

    @nickvdl. Google #shanannwatts Twitter someone posted (about an hour ago) the last photo from the doorbell camera of Shanann alive and arriving home from airport after Nickole A. drops her off. I don’t know how to attach the photo in this comments section to show you. Search it. What’s also fascinating is how much of the driveway that doorbell camera picks up!!

    • Ralph Oscar

      Here it is – you’re right, it’s quite revealing:

      • Sara Smile

        Thanks @Ralph!

    • Ralph Oscar

      Let’s try the picture this way:
      It shows all of her.

    • Ralph Oscar

      Here’s that pic in a slightly different format – let’s see if it shows up:

      • nickvdl

        Thanks dude.

      • Ralph Oscar

        Sorry about the double post – it didn’t show up at first.

      • Tink

        She has a tee shirt on?

    • nickvdl

      Thanks for letting me know Sara.

      • Sara Smile

        Sure thing@nickvdl. Please let us know any other news worthy facts with the newly released documents today…

  16. Sara Smile

    The person who posted the pic on Twitter says there was another discovery documents release that happened today.

  17. Gail

    This video is interesting folks. “A letter to the police about the Chris Watts Case from an old friend of Shanann’s”

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