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Bennett Hammer Murders + Castle Rock: The Two Colorado Cases Agent Lee Mindfucked Watts with before his Confession

On August 9, 2018, a few days prior to the murders in Frederick, and a week prior to Watts interrogation and confession, Vanessa Bennett, the victim of a family murder in Aurora in 1984, broke her silence.
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Vanessa Bennett sat under a picnic shelter on a muggy Arizona morning and talked for the first time about the physical and emotional toll she bears as the only surviving victim of one of Colorado’s most brutal crimes.
Bennett is 38 now, and the scars of the 1984 hammer attack that left her clinging to life are visible. Vanessa’s life changed on Jan. 16, 1984. Her grandmother, Constance Bennett, went to the family’s home that morning after her son and daughter-in-law didn’t show up for work at the family’s furniture business. She walked into a scene of absolute horror: Bruce Bennett crumpled near the bottom of the stairs, Debra Bennett and Melissa dead in their bedrooms, Vanessa barely breathing.
“I was in a coma,” Vanessa Bennett said Thursday. “My jaw was wired shut. I had tubes in my nose to eat. I went through physical therapy. I had braces on my legs.” The physical injuries were difficult to overcome.
“I had paralysis on my left-hand side,” she said. “So, like, I felt handicapped, you know. I had a lot of anger issues growing up. My family really couldn’t handle me – I just wore everybody out with my problems.”
Some of those problems were fueled by the things other kids said to her. “I was made fun of in school because my parents were killed,” she said. “I was made fun of because the hammer man or whatever you want to call it was going to come to my house and hurt everybody when I had slumber parties and stuff. I was made fun of for a long time.”
She was frank as she discussed her life. She has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. She also struggled for a decade with substance abuse problems and got into multiple scrapes with the law.

During her interrogation of Watts, Agent Lee cited Bennett’s “survivor’s guilt”, saying:

She said I wish I could’ve died with them.

At this point Lee was fielding a scenario where one of the children died by accident [say, Ceecee from an extreme allergic reaction], and Shan’ann freaked out and then killed the other child and perhaps herself.
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The second scenario Lee cited was the Castle Rock case, where a mother was found guilty of smothering her two children to death.
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Denver Post [November 27, 2012]:
Prosecutors said Kelli Murphy smothered and killed her two young children in May 2011 because she was not going to share custody of them with anyone else.
On Tuesday, a jury agreed.
“This is a woman bent on control,” prosecutor Chris Gallo said during closing arguments. “Controlling her kids, her husband and her divorce … It was Kelli’s way or no way.” Douglas County District Judge Vincent White immediately sentenced her to two terms of life without parole after the nine men and three women on the jury found her guilty of two counts of first-degree murder after deliberation and two counts of first-degree murder of a victim under 12 years old.
When her sentence was read, Murphy, 43, remained silent and looked forward until she was led from the courtroom. Throughout the case, prosecutors claimed that Murphy killed her 6-year-old daughter, Madigan, and 9-year-old son, Liam, when she became distraught over her impending divorce from her husband, Robert Eric Murphy.
Gallo said Murphy was a controlling, angry, calculating woman who did not want to share the children with her ex-husband.
“I want 100 percent custody of the kids and 100 percent of your salary,” Gallo told the jury that Kelli Murphy had told Robert Murphy. “I’m going to make your life hell.”



  1. dermotspirit

    One thing that did strike me was Chris possibly loosing it with one of the kids constantly crying after there Mother, so if that’s the case what the hell was he going to do with the other child, he could have called 911 & said he lost it & it was an accident , he hadnt meant to kill the child ..or he had to kill the other child & wait for Shannan to get home & kill her
    ..Then if he hadn’t been stopped from finishing the clean up , it would have looked like she ran away from an unhappy marriage , in view of the texts to & from Shannan’s friends & how distressed she was that may have brought him a little time.I think even her friends would have to sit up & think she was probably capable of anything given the state she was in even run away & make no contact with any of them
    the other thing I cant quite get my head around& I think needs some exploring is the medical / medicines side of the case, Chris is shown on bodycam in the house when they look through Shannan’s bag that the inhaler was empty & they had not replaced it… so you have a child/children with asthma & you run out of meds
    As an asthmatic myself there is no way on gods earth I would allow myself to run out of asthma meds , also Shannan is on record as saying she took no Lupus meds since starting that thrive regime, chris also claimed that Shannan was of the opinion that she didn’t need fertility drugs to help her conceive the third child because she was taking thrive & living a ” cleaner” life .
    Both quite ” bold” statements , I feel the above paragraph is easily explained , her illness subsided because she wouldn’t have been able to get any Dr to treat her because they already had crippling bills for previous medical treatments that had gone uppaid
    I could be totally wrong on my theory of course & I haven’t trawled through the facebook stuff to see when the last medical emergency occurred date wise

  2. CBH

    These 2 cases didn’t seem to get a response from Watts. It was moreso the failing of the polygraph (when he immediately ought to have stopped talking and gotten an attorney) and their suggestion that he had witnessed Shannan killing the children that did him in.

  3. Sylvester

    Throughout Watts seemed reluctant to agree to any scenarios that might have been helpful in first figuring out what happened to his family, or pointing a finger at Shan’ann. She didn’t go for walks, she probably wasn’t down by the pool, she was a good mother, she wouldn’t have cheated on him, there were more meds down in the basement, maybe someone took her that he doesn’t know about, maybe someone took her that she does know and he hopes they have kids, etc. But Agents Lee and Coder were getting new information all along, information they could use to back him into a corner and threw him some lifelines in order to get a confession. I think one tactic that worked too was playing to his sense of decency, that he wouldn’t want a co-worker to find dead bodies in tanks would he? No? Then he must help the agencies involved find them – oh and here’s a picture of the tanks just mark where they are. And then sign your name below.

    • CBH

      Oh, so they knew he’d used the tanks before he told them? Somehow I missed that. 🤔

      • Sideaffected

        No, but he would have been convicted for their murders regardless because of the fact that the only way they could have left is in his truck. It would have been a successful no-body homicide case.

        • CBH

          Yes, true. Unless he was able to raise reasonable doubt about they’re leaving via the back (he kept stating there were no cameras back there). Of course in all the haste he’d neglected to unlock the doors so it doesn’t quite wash. Unless he could say they locked them behind them; but that would never work with an abductor theory.

          • CBH

            I meant ‘their’ not ‘they’re’.

  4. Sylvester

    Something interesting about the red water bottle on her nightstand. It wasn’t there when Officer Coonrod, Nickole and Nicolas came inside. When Officer Coonrod searched the bathroom (Chris Watts Exposed Initial Report) at 4:17/27:03 the red water bottle is on Shan’ann’s side of the bathroom sink. I had to go back and forth between videos to see if it was the same bottle. It’s distinctive – tall like his blue one with a black lid, spout, and red tab on top. But later – after he’s done cleaning and re-made the bed the water bottle is on her nightstand. Why? Is that just all a part of making his house look tidy? Did he want the police to think she had gone to bed? What was the point of putting her water bottle on the nightstand, she was dead.
    Also when Officer Coonrod (youtube Initial Report) is looking thoroughly in the bathroom a child’s stool is pushed up to the master bath toilet. I think this fits with Celeste needing the stool to sit on the toilet and likely used the master bath bathroom since the girl’s bathroom door was locked and there wasn’t any water in the toilet. But if Shan’ann had gone upstairs she would have used the master bath toilet – and have pushed the child’s stool aside. Yet it remained there in the pictures. She had just been on a long flight – then driven with Nickole from the airport. And she was 15 weeks pregnant. Seems to me the first thing you would do after coming inside the door was head for a bathroom – probably the one downstairs and put her purse down in the office on the way.

    • CBH

      Good thinking.🤔

    • Cheryl Filar

      Sylvester, you have an incredibly keen eye.

      • Sylvester

        Ha, well, I like looking for objects for some reason and then when they disappear and reappear I want to know why.

    • Maura

      I’ve thought about the purse too and wondered where she typically kept it. It was found hung over the back of the office door. Nickole mentioned she usually saw it on the kitchen island. But if she habitually put it in the office as soon as she got home, that would be a place Chris would know she’d go to. Same as if she always put it in the center island in the kitchen. He would know her habits and incorporate them into any sneak attack.

  5. Joy of Living

    To the author:
    Her name is CeCe. “Ceecee” is someone else. Don’t bother giving me examples to justify your spelling amongst the many misspellings of others. Honour her, redeem yourself and stop making excuses.
    Her name is CeCe.

    • nickvdl

      It’s an abbreviation of a name, it’s not a name. I checked the conventions and made my choice, along with all the other names in this story. If you believe it’s inaccurate or disrespectful, go somewhere else where you feel the proper respect for the truth is shown.

      • CBH

        Of course it’s not a real name. It’s an idiosyncratic nickname. Your own spelling of it is the phonetically correct one. What a stupid thing for a reader to chide you on. 🙄

    • mitzi2006

      Gee, that’s rough, think you might need to change your username……

  6. Sylvester

    This is a very rigorous site. It’s meant to have us think.

  7. Cheryl Filar

    I doubt that the spelling of Ceecee’s name, or any other name in this story, is the primary issue in this poster’s mind.

    • Cheryl Filar

      Addendum: Sometimes when you get too close to the truth, people try to discredit and distract with technicalities, minutia.

      • CBH


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