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

Chris Watts: What’s YOUR theory?

Is there a place for amateur sleuths in true crime? Absolutely there is. In fact, the Watts case is a prime example of ordinary citizens – like Nickole and Nicolas Atkinson – going the extra mile, using their gut and making breakthroughs. Nickole’s quick assessment that something was wrong and calling 911 in this case was a game-changing moment.

Her son Nicolas entering the crime scene and finding Shan’ann’s phone and iWatch buried in the couch was too, even though technically it was contaminating the scene.  But they were both watching Watts like a hawk, and because of that, he got caught. Simple observation is crucial, as long as we’re seeing things as they are and not as we want them to be.

After the hurl-worthy documentary this Sunday, I think it’s time that we be clear on our theories on what happened. Since Family Man, Family Murderer provided a version – do you agree with it? Why not? I’ll do a separate post on the version [Shan’ann’s murder] in Family Man, Family Murderer, which is essential an uncritical repetition of Watts’ version, but in the meantime, have a look at this one.

A few interesting observations from this YouTuber – Jayde – are the observations about the cushions, and the messiness of the office and shoe closet behind it.

It does make sense that the bedding was removed in a quick, single movement – in a rush. This was done after Watts arrived home and wanted to show that Shan’ann had made it to bed when she hadn’t. Even so, Family Man, Family Murderer’s version is that Shan’ann was murdered in her bed. Do you think that’s true?

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  1. dermotspirit

    Yes I think she was killed in bed 🛏 and I think her mother saying she would have faught him off is rubbish my theory is she complied and didn’t struggle because she thought he would stop.

    We hear victims of serious assults say they complied with their attackers actions in the hope they would survive it.

    I think his description of the way he heard her feet hit each step as he dragged her down the stairs indicates to me he had her under the arms almost in an L shape and it was her feet going from the flat bit of each step.. Down the riser and hitting the next flat of the step below.

    • IknowwhatIknow

      Bullshit!!! He did drag her down those stairs and I don’t for one second that he killed her in that bed. THEY murdered Shanann in the basement. He had already smothered the girls. The girls were dead when Shanann came home. Watch and see when more of this evidence reveals. Watch!

  2. Sylvester

    Why do you think she was killed in bed dermotspirit?

  3. sunnie23

    I do believe something happened in the basement, as the dogs hit down there quite clearly & in multiple spots.
    I also think she has the order right—Shannan, CeCe, Bella last at the site.
    I also believe Shannan most likely didn’t make it to bed as she had on full make-up, bra and thing underwear.
    I’m not sure why he would strip the bed to look like she slept there. We know he used the fitted sheet to move her body & that was found at the site. I suppose he may have stripped the bed so cops wouldn’t notice it missing?
    However, there are clear foundation and mascara smudges against her pillowcase, which lead me to believe her face was thrashing against it.
    I’m open to ideas of what might’ve happened in the basement, and liked her ideas on clean up, the rug and patio furniture cushions.

  4. Laura Thompson

    Miss Jayde’s version comes pretty close, in many ways, to the way I think it went down, if I paid close enough attention to all the details she laid out in her piece.

    I do not believe, however, that Bella left the house alive. That said, I might be able to be sold on that fact more so than on a lot of the other details, but as of now, I don’t think anyone but Watts himself left Saratoga Trail still breathing.

  5. Sylvester

    I honestly don’t understand how this “they” rumor got going – Armchair Detective? But I have to admit this shadow thing under his truck coming toward Watts and his bending down to pick “it” up disturbs me. Unless the video was doctored in some way I do see it, and I don’t know what it is.

    • sunnie23

      It’s Bella. If you listen to Chris’s 2nd interview with investigators, he assumes they’ve figured this out. “You watched the video, right?” is his response to whether the girls got into the truck alive. I think that’s the only reason he was honest about it; he assumed they knew.

      • Laura Thompson

        Or, he just presumed they were buying what AD was selling, and what lots of people presumed they saw.

        The fact of anyone at all leaving the house alive, in Watts’ mind at least, eliminates much of the speculation that the murders were premeditated. Thus, I think he wants people to think the “shadow” was one of the children coming outside to the truck. I personally do not see a shadow moving independently of his own. It’s Watts in motion that creates that illusion, when you realize where the light source is.

        If, in fact, either or both of the little girls were alive in the truck on the way out to Cervi, it actually makes Watts look exponentially more sinister, but for whatever reason, he doesn’t see it that way. Like I said, I believe he has a need for the public and for LE to believe that he “snapped”, but driving a living child or children for an hour, with time to contemplate one’s actions, is a whole lot more horrifying. Unless and until it’s proven otherwise, I will continue to believe the girls were dead before their mom even got home.

        • nickvdl

          Aaah thanks for this comment Laura, echoes my thoughts and feelings exactly. Nicely done.

        • JC

          Let’s face it. The shadow equals live child scenario comes from 2 sources, AD and Chris, neither of which we should have much confidence. Would/should this be accepted as fact by LE from unreliable sources? Conditions are such right now that an exact re-creation of the lighting, time of year, time of day and movements can be reconstructed to mirror what happened in the garage and driveway that morning. The house remains empty and the neighbor would undoubtedly cooperate with authorities in re-enacting the movements and precise lighting conditions with the same camera. It’s absolutely possible, in this case, to test the possibility that this was an illusion created without the presence of a child. Only then would I personally be willing to entertain the possibility that Bella was still alive at that point.

          Also, it’s extremely hard to believe that those children would have dozed off in the truck with their deceased mother at their feet. Anyone familiar with children their age knows this. It’s precisely what he would say in case camera footage from along his route to Cervi indicated no movement or children sitting upright in the back seat.

          • nickvdl

            It’s interesting that the enormous resources brought to bear on this case – FBI, CBI, cops, the DA handling the prosecution of the case personally, and with the Deputy DA at his side – that none of them apparently noticed shadows. Their belief, stated in court, was that the children were killed in the home, and possibly before Shan’ann. But it seems they’re content to let the case simmer down, rather than find out what really happened, when, how and why. It’s as a result of that vacuum, and that dereliction of duty specifically with regard to this case, that this blog exists.

          • JC

            In the name of all that is holy, thank goodness your blog does exist. This case would be too painfully frustrating to follow otherwise – and you’re a beacon among the absurdity.

            I think the extensive man hours they put in reviewing that video was a major piece in determining that everyone was deceased when he loaded them into the truck. In seeing the “shadow” they were right to apply the principle of Occam’s Razor – too many more likely, simple explanations for the fleeting shadow. This case is no doubt a horse of a different color for CBI/FBI, but their initial (highly educated and informed) conclusions still hold value in my opinion – much more value than the word of a charlatan or a murderer with questionable agendas. Notably, other than the DA, the higher authorities haven’t announced the “confession” as solidified truth AFAIK. (You’re assessments may hold more value and truth than all of the above, too…but the FBI does set a pretty high bar;)

      • Karen

        Sunnie, I felt like he asks them that question so he would know how to answer. He wanted to know if that’s what they thought so he’d know which direction to take. I firmly believe his family is keeping him updated on what social media is saying

        • Dermtspirit

          He certainly was aware of social media regarding the case hence the term nutgate.. He is aledged to have been talking to a friend of his sisters prior to the Feb interview.. He was even asked by coder if he had Internet access inside.. It was bizarre hearing him say the kids were alive when he was loading the truck.. Exactly as armchair detective had claimed.. Then to go on to use the term nutgate..

    • nickvdl

      If Watts doesn’t bend down at the same time the shadow approaches him, do you think the shadow would approach him?

  6. Sylvester

    OK, now I see it, or don’t see it. From Nate’s camera (long and possibly the real footage) I never saw two shadows to begin with. What I do see is a guy taking a long long time inside the house before he brings anything out at all. The third time I watched was another person’s video and I think what was done there was she backed up and showed it again, making it look like the second child wandered out to the truck. We have two large bright porch lights in play here – the neighbor on the left and the neighbor on the right – so I think it’s a trick of the eye and light to think that a small shadow is approaching just before Chris’s own shadow meets it and bends to get it. If you watch the original footage though from further away which mostly shows Nate’s truck and his wife’s car parked next to it you won’t see much under Chris’s truck at all – only Chris moving around his truck. So I’m going to stick with everyone no longer living. I fell for the trick! It’s like when we all played the Beatles record backward on the turntable no one could figure out what they were saying. Then people said it was John and he said “turn me on dead man.” All of a sudden we could hear it and that’s what he said. It was obvious. But we’ve forgotten that we couldn’t make any of it out before. Power of suggestion.

  7. Sylvester

    Thank you Laura and Nick.

  8. Sylvester

    Just found this on youtube. It’s episode 1 of Death At The Mansion: Rebecca Zahau I hope this works for anyone interested:

    • nickvdl

      Thanks for posting. I can’t watch it t this link but I’ll post an analysis on the show in due course. [I did manage to watch it somewhere else.]

  9. Sylvester

    Great! I just finished it – episode 1 – I think it’s awesome! I like how so far, they are keeping their minds open (the investigators). That’s huge to me. I took notes of course, as I did from the blogs associated with the Oxygen show and I’m beyond excited. And this is only episode 1. I’m glad they paid a visit to a bondage house to investigate whether the knots resembled Shibari. Anyway I’ll shut up and look forward to a real writer’s synopsis (yours).

    • Sally D.

      I’ve watched both episodes so far, and agree with you that it’s a thorough investigation. I had heard about the case, and after seeing the knots, etc., thought the suicide conclusion was completely ridiculous, how could anyone tie those knots behind their back, among other things? Then they showed that it actually could be done, and also brought up the idea of Asian culture possibly influencing her thinking, and now I don’t know what to think! I’m still leaning towards murder for all my original reasons, but we’ll see where it goes.

  10. Sally D.

    I just can’t buy the idea of two active toddlers staying quiet during all this turmoil, ending with the trip to the oil tanks. Bella, in particular, was extremely bonded with Shan’ann, and I think she would have been hysterical at seeing her mother wrapped in a blanket, being dragged down the stairs and stashed on the floor of the truck. CeCe would probably have fed off that hysteria, and begun crying and/or screaming as well. Taking them outside into the quiet night would have been much too risky; voices carry at night, especially the shrillish voices of two young children, including ‘what’s wrong with Mommy and why is she on the floor?’ I also don’t think there’s any way the two girls would have stayed so calm at the tanks; as super protective as Bella was of CeCe, she never would have stayed calm at seeing Chris smother CeCe, and calmly asking if the same thing was going to happen to her does not fit the mind of a four year old. I think Chris has either been concocting this scenario during all his free time, or he just went with the flow during the second confession and was feeding off of the reactions of the detectives, who sounded as though they believed him but probably didn’t. As Laura Thompson said above, only one person left the house that night.

    • thetinytech2018

      I completely agree Sally. It just goes against everything we know, especially when it comes to the children. These kids were constantly doing something, and like most kids their age – they didn’t really follow direction and were energetic and rambunctious. Now all of a sudden Chris wants us to believe that they were calm and collected while seeing their mother in that state, it just doesn’t make any sense. I wonder what his end game is?

  11. Donkeykong

    Let’s not forget the yellow evidence marker at the bottom of the stairs either… when CW defense team was in the house. I believe this is where he killed her

  12. talkntexas

    I’m a bit late joining the conversation but I have been following this case since the beginning and I have sooo many thoughts but i’ll keep this post to a minimum in regards to where he killed Shan’ann and at least one of the girls. I say one because he only had a present pic to send of one of the girls to Shan’ann and one from the party….I hope I am remembering right, and Shan’ann’s father only saw one child. I definitely think Shan’ann barely made it in the door. She would want to see her children and probably wonder why the cams/monitors were not on, then all heck is breaking loose unless he acts quickly. His comments about seeing mascara run down her face, is off because she would have taken off her make-up before bed. Grab the sheet, wrap her up and try to get ready for the day…He just didn’t count on Nicole A showing up and calling the police before he could get back home and set the stage. I remember the canine hitting in one of the girls bedrooms. I think CeCe? Among other places like under the stairs etc. I cannot imagine, walking through my own front door and having any inclination that, although there are some problems, the man I married is waiting to end my life, let alone all their lives. I do not think CW is a narcissist or a sociopath, and I intend no disrespect to Shan’anns family saying this, but sometimes when you have been deprived of “whatever,” ….and you don’t realize it until you get what you have been missing and lose your mind. I realize I probably over simplified my example but that’s another, way more in depth post.

  13. John Anderson

    have to tell my yet unspoken theory, the police asked n.w. to open a locked bathroom door, n.w. said it was locked as the kids had been covered in vasaline!! as if to explain away any that may be seen on carpet e.t.c, then we wonder how he got them into 8 inch holes!!!! sticky, OILY vasaline. think so? I do.

  14. John Anderson

    the n,ws in the above theory should read as c,ws as in chris watts sorry

  15. John Anderson

    let me know

  16. Jazmiin

    I think Shannon’s doctor appointment was also a catalyst for Watts to commit the murders. Had Shan’ann gone to the doctor, a battery of tests would have been performed to determine the health of the baby and Shan’ann. Oxycontin would have been found in her blood and urine. Watts had been poisoning her to induce a miscarriage. Her prenatal appointment would have opened the door to many questions and he would be exposed . He wanted to avoid this possibilty.

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