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

Guest Post: The Second Confession has a gigantic gaping hole in one particular area

In his Second Confession Watts himself seems to have found closure. Now he loves his kids and wife again [apparently in that order], and daydreams of reading them bedtime stories and sitting with his months-old baby boy on his lap.
But isn’t this spiel missing something?
There was a giant volcano of debt hemorrhaging just beneath the surface of their marriage at the time of the murders. If Watts is a liar about the scale and scope of his crime, it stands to reason he’d lie about the scale and scope of debt rumbling in the background. And if the proceeds from the sale of the house [present day] will be swallowed up by all this debt, how are the Rzuceks lawyers going to get paid for their efforts in the civil suit?
Going back to the timeline of that fateful Monday morning in mid-August, we know the first non-work-related calls Watts made after the murders were to the school and the realtor to contain the financial plague gnawing at his future happiness. We also know on the same day Watts seemed reluctant to make calls to find out where Shan’ann was, and only called a few hospitals at around 18:00.
In his confession he dismisses the calls to the school as “a mistake”, but in fact part of what he communicated in that call was that they were selling the house and moving out of town. In almost every conversation Watts had, he repeated the same spiel. He told Nickol Atkinson, Cassie and others that Shan’ann was gone, and by the way, they were selling their house and moving. This also became part and parcel of Watts first version of events to law enforcement. But as early as his call to school at 09:00 Watts first move was to get the house sold. That same morning on his way back to the crime scene he went to look at another property suggested by the realtor.
Quite a huge shift in the circumstances and it happened immediately after the bodies were taken care of, didn’t it?
Fullscreen capture 20190309 101115Fullscreen capture 20190309 101131Fullscreen capture 20190309 101148
The screengrabs above are all from the afternoon of August 13th, 2018.
In a rare moment of insight, Nichol Kessinger admitted to the CBI that her being in Watts’ life “accelerated the process” [referring to the murders], but added that she thought money was the “biggest catalyst for this event happening”.
Fullscreen capture 20190309 092130
TCRS also maintains that money was the biggest catalyst, along with Shan’ann’s stranglehold over the finances, and her fatal infatuation with MLM.
The trio of investigators glossed over the finances in their five-hour interview, but there were a few exceptions. For example Watts claimed they had been sending checks to the homeowners association – just to the wrong address – for over a year.
I’m assuming because Shan’ann did that and she’s gone, those checks are in some financial purgatory, some limbo, an unknown abyss where they can never be found and confirmed. If that’s the case that’s one thing, but one would imagine if the checks  weren’t cashed “for an entire year” amounting to several hundred dollars, someone like Shan’ann ought to have noticed.
Thanks to Maura for your contribution on this subject:
10 Reasons the Watts Finances Were A Factor
This second “confession” doesn’t bring up their poor financial situation at all including:
1. Behind on their mortgage several months and being sued by HOA for non payment of fees
2. Credit credit cards maxed out/debts owed—paying minimum amounts monthly
3. Medical bills from SW and the kids
4. Large house expenses
5. Thrive MLM costs vs. income remaining after coststhrive-level-review
6. Private preschool costs of $25,000 per year
7. Niko’s upcoming birth, medical expenses and SW’s taking time off from work for maternity leave, and having another mouth to feed.
8. Cost of wining, dining and traveling with NK who expected CW to pay for their dates.Visa-Exe.Black-Univ-rel
9. If divorced, CW would need security deposit and income to pay for a separate apartment plus a home for his ex-wife and 3 kids. SW would have been on maternity leave Jan. to ?? and not able to work FT with a newborn.
10. If SW took a leave after Niko’s birth and could not meet lease payments on the Lexus or earn $800 Thrive bonus, she and the kids wouldn’t have a car either especially if CW lived elsewhere. Would they have moved to another area like NC where her family could help?alimony-guage-pic-opti
Chris decided that he was going to be the only one to benefit from the sale of their only asset, the house, which would enable him to have a fresh start with Nichol. Premeditated the murders were his solution to fix things.
Would Nichol have stayed with him if his wife and kids truly disappeared? Or, if he was going through a bitter divorce and had 3 small children including a newborn? If she knew the extent of his finances? If their infatuation cooled and she got to know the real Chris?
If police had given him another lie detector test I don’t think he’d pass it with his new story either.

NOTE: Watts does mention exorbitant wedding costs playing a drag on their finances six years after they got married in Charlotte, North Carolina. The bankruptcy/financial problems of the Rzuceks is not referenced.



  1. Sideaffected

    They do talk about several of those things-he never thought he’d be facing bankruptcy, how medical bankruptcy is different from other types of debt, and even if they wanted to probe further into the minutiae of costs, he says after he sold a 4-wheeler without paying it off SW did the finances, he didn’t even have the banking app on his phone, etc. They can only get so much out of him and I think focusing on his character and relationships is more what they were looking for to try to understand him. He’s not gonna be honest about the financial stuff cause that would speak to premeditation-plus, NK’s vagina made him do it now.

  2. Laura Thompson

    I thought the interview was done very well, but there definitely are a few areas wherein they could have pressed him more, and finances is the biggest and most important.
    Exceptional analysis, Maura. When all these factors are bullet pointed as here, it’s astonishing that the entire shitshow didn’t implode sooner, (not via murder, but in some “normal” way.)
    Also, the thing with the HOA checks: how in the world could anyone be so naive to believe that they disappeared into some ether for an entire year, yet were evidently cashed, if the money didn’t remain in their account? 🤣 There is something missing from Chris Watts. Shan’ann played games with the finances, and treated Watts like a mushroom, by keeping him in the dark and feeding him bullshit. I’m inclined to believe she really did do something financially shady at that previous job in North Carolina. Had she worked for an organization or a municipality, we would probably read about her court case when she got caught embezzling. It’s like she just couldn’t help herself. (Still not a death penalty crime, however. )

    • Clean Queen

      Hi Laura
      You’re right. Not only was she careless and irresponsible enough to send them to the wrong address, but once she realized it, she never tried to figure out where the money went or recover the funds. Bizarre. For someone who is characterized as business savvy and particularly adept at bookkeeping, you’d think she would not be a total financial train wreck.

      • Laura Thompson

        Honestly? I don’t think she ever sent any checks to any address, wrong or not. I suspect she just ostriched the whole thing, blew it off, and used the money on brand name clothing, or the 25k preschool, or more Thrive nonsense.
        All that said, I do believe she had the aptitude for financial savvy. She just used it for ill rather than to get them sorted. Anyone who knows how to hide money, move money around, “rob Peter to pay Paul”, also has the ability to keep books the right way. She chose to live beyond her means instead.

      • Shannon

        She probably told him this.
        Spent the money on other things.
        How would he know, wrong address .

  3. CBH

    Excellent post; the financial mess caused by Shannan was central to the murders.

  4. Right44

    HOA: We have not received your check this month.
    OWNER: My records show that I sent my check on (date.)
    HOA: We never received it.
    OWNER: My bank shows you cashed my check on (date.)
    OWNER: I sent my check, but just checked with my bank and it was never cashed. It could have been lost in the mail. I’ll send another check today.
    HOA: Are you sure you are sending it to the right address, (states address.)
    OWNER: Oh, no, I sent it to (states address.)
    I will immediately send another check to proper address.
    The above conversation would take place when the HOA failed to receive the first monthly check – not 5-6 months later. HOA’s don’t play around.

    • thetinytech2018

      Exactly. My HOA is $900 quarterly, or $3600 a year. If they don’t get their money, you’d know about it almost instantly after the due date came and went with no check to pay the dues/fees.
      I feel that something is missing here, with finances as bad as they were, you’d think that they’d be talked about more. Even when SW was alive, it appears her and Chris never really spoke or even argued about them. This isn’t a maxed out credit card, theyre being sued by the HOA (if the checks really were lost, surely she would’ve tried to find them prior to getting sued and cleared it up, obviously not buying that), about to have their only home foreclosed on, and I very much suspect she was paying for that Lexus as well. In MLMs, you need to make that “super shiny diamond 80k level” (or whatever they call it, each MLM has different names for each tier) every single month and when you don’t, you’re on the hook for the car payment. The lease is never in the MLMs name, its in your name so that you’re on the hook should your sales dip, which happens very often. Shanann wasn’t really an employee of Thrive, that status is reserved for those who work at corporate and actually get a weekly paycheck like any other person. They’re not peddling Thrive to the masses in social media, they don’t have to recruit or sell anything, they just do their job and go home. On the other hand, you’ve got people like Shan’ann who are considered “reps” (coaches, distributors etc as each MLM gives them a different name but what they do is all the same) are really just glorified customers, they don’t even get a paycheck, the company considers them independent contractors. They do this for a few reasons, one of them being liability. If they make some disgusting untrue claim about the product, which happens often (Thrive will cure your cancer etc..) they can say that you’re an independent distributor and the company doesn’t support nor endorse behavior like that. Furthermore, they’re not required to pay you an hourly wage or a yearly salary, offer benefits, etc. Shanann wouldn’t be getting a paid maternity leave, just like she only got money from the company if she sold a mass amount of product. Im betting that like most MLMers, Shan’ann was her own best customer. They usually get very little commission, like 3-5% off their sales, and she certainly didn’t have a big enough downline to make those car payments every month, so I’d bet my hat that most months she was picking up the car note and insurance and not telling Chris. With their previous multiple financial disasters and Shan’ann’s inability to get put on the mortgage originally, I doubt she was getting a good monthly leasing rate (they added her last through quit claim deeds it appears, because the bank would’ve given them a higher APR with her bad credit, bad idea to go about it this way if the lender finds out they’ll call the note due).
      I understand every family is different, but a family with 2 kids and one on the way, about to be foreclosed on and 5-6 figure debt with no end in sight and only CW job driving in steady money (I don’t doubt SW spent more monthly on Thrive then she ever made) you would think there would be more talks about their financials. Was CW that unaware? I know the finances were “her thing” but facing issues like foreclosure and the lawsuit along with utilities and everything else piling up, surely he’d get an inkling that something wasn’t right? This isn’t just ignorance, it’s crossed over to bizarre and I feel like something’s missing. A growing family this deep in debt after bankruptcy and not even one fight about the finances? Im sure it’s possible, just not probable.

  5. Shannon

    Well thought out guest post.

  6. dermotspirit

    It would be interesting to know if Chris was a bad credit risk, we know Shannan was hence why the house was in Chris’s name, she admits that in texts to her hunbot friends I know the yearly real property of notice valuation was only in Chris’s name , I think he was kept in the dark about a lot of stuff… but if he had been really bothered he should have paid more attention .
    I still think her taking charge of almost every aspect of his life suited him as he clearly wasn’t cut out for any kind of responsibility , it only started to erk him when Kessenger came on the scene because he wanted to spend money enjoying trips & days out & he was clearly very restricted that’s why he used the gift tokens , he probably felt more emasculated by kessengers apparent healthy financial situation, she suggested he opens a new bank account & have his salary paid into that , now we all know that wouldn’t happen as shannan would have ripped him a new arsehole .
    I think he already disliked shannan but I think the finances & lack of money to do as he pleased made him despise her , if he hadn’t been so spinless & had acted in a more responsible way none of this would have happened if you ask me.
    Other factors that I think played a part .. the open house they seemed to have… how much time did they actually spend as a family of 4, inlaws move in for 18 months.. other randoms staying there for weeks or months at a time.. a regular steady stream of hunbots in & out .. and texting him & ringing him… now for an introvert that would be very testing .
    I don’t think shannan set healthy boundaries regarding her cronies , Attkinsons son playing silly games by moving around ornaments because shannan would get pissed off with it… no wonder the bloke looked so bloody miserable… he wasn’t king of his own castle that’s a fact

    • Sheis

      Thank you for mentioning Nickole Atkinson’s son and his little pranks! That was astonishing to me. I personally feel that Shanann and Nickole had a messed-up “friendship”. I don’t think it was a true friendship and I think it was a lot of passive-aggressive jabs and subtle sabotage. I would never find it acceptable or funny to allow one of my kids to rearrange a friend’s house. That is messed up. I think Shanann used Nickole as a personal assistant and flying monkey. And Nickole envied Shanann and was up in her business with some inappropriate boundaries.

      • dermotspirit

        I agree the friendship came across as shallow.what struck me was when i read the transcript of the text messages, it was in fact cassie that seemingly alerted the others to Shannan’s none phone & social media activity , she I believe lives a a flight away so couldn’t just jump in the car to go & see if she was ok… Atkinson got a lot of credit for that when in fact she was being told what to do on the ground by a very worried Cassie.
        It also turns out that Atkinson organised the Fox news interview for chris despite shannans mom asking for them to not speak with the news crews .
        She was also very agitated with the FBI when they needed a recorded interview & asked if she was being charged with anything…a very strange outburst for a woman who was simply looking out for a friend

        • Ralph Oscar

          “a very worried Cassie”
          Cassie, of course, monitoring SW like a hawk because she planned to move with her entire family into SW’s house and squat there for who knows how long.
          “It also turns out that Atkinson organised the Fox news interview for chris”
          It’s hard to wrap my mind around that without at least *suspecting* some level of entrapment.
          “She was also very agitated with the FBI when they needed a recorded interview & asked if she was being charged with anything…a very strange outburst for a woman who was simply looking out for a friend”
          I thought that looked very suspicious as well – why so defensive, Nickole?

          • Shannon

            Did Chris know a Whole family was moving into his house?
            Oh my, that would be horrific. Personally I could not handle that.
            Ralph where have you been. I look forward to your comments……..((*-*)).

          • Ralph Oscar

            Hey, thanks! Back atcha! Just been really busy – getting back in the saddle now.

          • Shannon


      • Shannon

        It seems NK, stepped right up. Arranging everything. Maybe she harbours Ill feelings toward Chris. This was not her call.
        There’s a text ( not sure where) , of Shanann saying … Chris just signed his Life away by putting the deposit on their new house. I’m not sure if they were married when this happened.

      • Ralph Oscar

        “I don’t think it was a true friendship and I think it was a lot of passive-aggressive jabs and subtle sabotage.”
        Do you recall that video where Shan’Ann has invited Nickole and another woman over to sample Thrive bars (I think one’s “Candy Cane” flavored) and Nickole gets real testy with Shan’Ann, accusing her of “always pushing us outside our comfort zone”? And Shan’Ann responds with “You love me.” No acknowledgment of her “friends”‘ discomfort or unhappiness; just reiterating that their relationship (defined as “love”) meant that Shan’Ann could do whatever she wanted to them and face no genuine repercussions or consequences.
        It’s pretty sick and twisted.

        • Shannon

          Yes. Can u imagine her comments to Chris. She would tell him to shut up all the time.
          Also, she Yelled at Chris to get off her, he’s hurting the baby, which wouldn’t hurt the baby. Her yelling at him, once again, might have been a “trigger point”.

  7. nancyjames3358

    OMG this guy-he should be writing sci fi! ” Watts claimed they’d been sending checks to the homeowners association – but to the wrong address – for over a year.”
    OK Chris. I think I’ll try this! for a year . . . .
    I bet it never happened or, if so, he never knew about it and this is another attempt to minimize his own ostrich behavior. Nothing is his fault- women are bi polar, he doesn’t have the banks password, he cleans the house, doesn’t make payments on it.
    A sequel to my fantasy CW movie: How he’d behave in a divorce from SW, sandwiched between three bipolar women (incl mom) and the legal system.

  8. ncam619

    If i was going to write a book about CW & SW’s relationship it would be titled “Don’t ask, dont tell”. That just about sums up their entire marriage.

  9. Maura

    Good comments. There’s no way the HOA wouldn’t call, email or write to the Watts if no payment was received month after month. Both of them should have been able to call or email to get correct address or ask a neighbor!
    Nick: great image choices.
    Their finances are like an elephant in the room that no one is talking about, Chris, their families, the police, district attorney, Dr. Phil and popular YouTubers.
    It’s possible that Chris concocted his second confession to take the spotlight off his premeditated actions. The new story hides the fact that their dire finances and his desire to be with Nichol drove him to plan and then kill his family. Now, people are horrified by thoughts of the children being killed at Cervi and their last words according to him.
    If the truth is that he planned and cold bloodily killed everyone that is worse than acting in the heat of the moment and snapping.

    • Sally D.

      You’re right, Maura. In the interview, Chris really downplayed their very serious financial difficulties, and they didn’t really pursue that. I think the money problems, Nichol, and his tantalizing taste of freedom while his family was away all combined to be the driving forces behind the murders. And I certainly don’t believe the girls were still alive on the way to the tanks. Bella was not articulate enough to say ‘Is the same thing going to happen to me…..etc.’ Seeing their mother wrapped in a sheet and being dragged down the stairs, and then taking a 45 minute ride with her on the floor beneath them in the truck, all while neither crying/and or screaming or even saying a word, is ridiculous. I think he concocted this version so he would come across as more of a sympathetically flawed person. Or maybe it’s similar to the first OJ case — he’s spent so much time concocting this new version that he’s convinced himself that’s how it really happened.

  10. Matt

    Off topic but watch Chris Watts in this video, 0:27 – 0:33 seconds, there stands a pissed off, broken man.

    • Matt

      • Ralph Oscar

        Shan’Ann: “Cece, play patty cake on Daddy’s head – Whack a Daddy! Whack a Daddy!”
        CW: “No! Don’t spit on me!”
        Can’t *imagine* CW would want to be rid of this…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *