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Shan’ann Watts was deliberately hiding the fact that her marriage was in trouble

According to Watts’ confessions, he told Shan’ann on the morning of the murders that he wanted a divorce separation. This was supposed to trigger the annihilation that followed. But this wasn’t the trigger, it couldn’t be, because Shan’ann already knew about the divorce, and had known for a long time.

Before drilling further into this question, we need to be clear about the difference between divorce and separation. The word divorce comes up 35 times in the Discovery Documents and just once in the CBI Report. Separation comes up 38 times in the discovery, and 8 times [“separate or separating”] in the CBI Report.

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It’s clear from a thorough analysis of all the discovery and both “confessions” that Watts was trying to separate from his wife in the weeks and months before the murders, going back as far as a year [close to when Kessinger allegedly made that first Google search for “Shanann Watts”. And this seems to be the word he prefers to use.

However, at the same time he was telling Kessinger a slightly different story. To her he was in the midst of a divorce, and by the time of the murders the divorce was being finalized, and so was the sale of the house. In fact neither was true, divorce proceedings hadn’t even started as far as we know.

So we have two narratives:

  1. A milder separation narrative [to Shan’ann]
  2. A more assertive divorce narrative [to Kessinger].

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And we know when Shan’ann returned from Phoenix that night she was still hoping to woo Watts back into the marriage, hence the planned trip to Aspen the following weekend, the love letter, the self-help book and the imminent gender reveal. Shan’ann thought – or hoped – the marriage was stuttering slightly. Meanwhile Kessinger thought the marriage was over.

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Hold Me Tight_colon_Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, Sue Johnson


It’s no mystery, the Watts marriage was in trouble long before Shan’ann received that critical credit card alert on Saturday night, proving Watts wasn’t at the Rockies Games, and suggesting he wasn’t eating alone.

As early as August 8th, Shan’ann confided in Cassie Rosenberg and Nickole Atkinson that her husband wanted a divorce [she didn’t], but not right away.

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Kessinger says something to same effect, that Watts wanted to sell his home, but not right away. There is this notion of delay, postpone, string things out…

But besides the reference above, from page 2106 of the Discovery Discovery documents, we also know that Shan’ann herself was openly discussing the prospect of divorce as early as March or April 2018, at least a month before she fell pregnant.

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Watts told Ann Meadows, the realtor, on the morning the disappearance that him and Shan’ann hadn’t gotten on “for over a year”.

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This is not necessarily true, but it could be true.

The fact that Shan’ann was talking to a divorce lawyer about custody in April, three-and-a-half months before the murders, suggests there was a protracted period of unhappiness, and acknowledgement from both sides that things were falling apart. 

The fact that the self-help book was put in the trash and the wedding ring left on the bedside table aren’t incidental. They were Watts’ way of communicating to Kessinger what he just couldn’t do with Shan’ann.

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So why didn’t Watts just get a divorce, like the district attorney said? Well, it may be because Shan’ann didn’t want to, and thought she could sort of control Watts into not going through with it. This narrative isn’t very nice, and not very popular. It paints Watts less a coward than as someone who was bullied into towing a line, until things got desperate.

There is content out there that confirms not only did Shan’ann know a split was on the cards, but her own family did too. When Watts visited the Hair Jazz salon in Aberdeen  where Sandi Rzucek worked, it was clear to the hairdressers [Sandi’s co-workers] that Watts wasn’t happy, and Sandi actually told them then [in early August 2018] that the marriage wasn’t working, and that the couple were separating.

The final minute of the video posted at this link [an extended version of the clip above] is very insightful in this regard.


We also know there was a lot of anger and bitterness, especially from Shan’ann’s side, over Nut Gate.

And yet we know while this was happening Shan’ann still wanted to do a gender reveal. We also know that in the weeks prior Shan’ann was setting her husband up in her Thrive spiels as a great father and perfect husband and “the best thing that has ever happened to her“. She was making it very difficult for him to go through with a divorce.



She was making it very difficult to admit to an affair. And by recording him, for example, reacting to news of the third pregnancy and posting it on Facebook, it was becoming almost impossible to get out of it. But what made it so difficult to interrupt the happy family fairy tale? Was it weakness on his part or hers? Shan’ann’s job and income depended on selling the idea of Thriving. They were facing financial ruin and so, to admit they weren’t thriving meant a further lose of income. That’s what was so difficult to get out of.



  1. Sylvester

    So I do wonder did Shan’ann ever really acknowledge why Chris may have been unhappy? Going way back, back to the conversation she had with Mr. Hamza, back before Chris was shopping around for hookups, back to when he might have first flirted with Nichole Kessinger. In Shan’ann’s mind she may have convinced herself it all had to do with the nut argument with his parents, then at the end of her life she may have gotten the message that he was cheating, but way way before that. I think it had more to do with her controlling ways and if she knew in her heart that was why he was becoming distant or non-communicative, she really didn’t know how to change that about herself, and instead amped it up until co-existing with her became unbearable to him. So why take the children out too? This may sound strange but he could have done it to have them “be with her” in death. Like a mercy killing. Only he took them out first, because he knew he was going to end her life as soon as she got home.

    • nickvdl

      A lot of people seem to side with Shan’ann because she’s the victim. So there’s a match between a victim siding with a victim. And if you don’t, you’re victim blaming.
      I can also see just a natural tendency for women to support another woman in a scenario where the man is cheating.
      At TCRS we don’t try to take anyone’s side, we’re just trying to figure out what happened. Often that doesn’t come across very popular, and some people don’t like what they hear.

      It probably doesn’t matter to those people that Shan’ann was controlling, and you raise a good point, did she internalize everything and wonder what she was doing wrong? To her credit she was, and she did. She realized she was belittling him, and too controlling, and expressed concern to Nickole about how shje was behaving and treating people. But after years of this I don’t think it’s easy to change who you are or how you treat people. The irony is in exactly the same way he didn’t feel acknowledged, towards the very end she complained that he hadn’t acknowledged her or their unborn child. It’s not a nice feeling. You feel like you’re expendable. In many of Shan’ann’s videos she describes him a lot like that – he’ll do whatever I tell him to do etc. That’s bad enough in private, in a marriage, imagine what it feels like to see that on social media from your partner.

  2. Janie

    Interesting points made here. Separating was sort of a trial one when she visited family for 5 weeks, and divorce was push coming to shove in Chris’s mind to permanently change his life. He already secured the oil field site so that no one else would be there when he disposed of the bodies. I don’t buy him snapping, as you mentioned on a previous post, after Shanann threatened him with never seeing his kids again. If that were true I don’t think he would have killed them as well. It seemed like Shannon dictated everything with the kids and he just followed orders. I know we can’t judge a parent by a few videos, but I didn’t see the passionatly loving parent or strong engagement between he and his kids. It seemed choreographed.

    I never thought of Shanann possibly using these happy family videos with Chris before her death as a ploy to hang on to him or keep him from leaving. The way she told him about Nico was bizarre. Why do you need film footage of that? Didn’t she say somewhere that Chris is the one who thought a third child, hoping for a boy, would help their marriage and then she mentions to people that he now thinks Bella and Celeste are enough?

    He seems unable to make and follow through with what he leads both Shanann and Nicole K to believe. He’s wishy washy with both and leads them to believe one thing when he actually means another. I’m sure not uncommon for cheaters. I think he was confused and didn’t want to make a strong decision either way, yet wanted out of his marriage and family life. He’s conflicted by the pros and cons of making such a drastic change in his life. He’s passive, a yes man, doesn’t want confrontation. He wants out but

    I think the combination of having freedom, no matter who he was with, the upcoming gender reveal, the added pressure to their financial and health woes, Shanann badgering him for not responding to or caring about her when she’s in North Carolina, and then the final straw of the nut gate incident and Shanann basically demanding he cut off his family with the exact wording he should use to confront them, and adding that they won’t be allowed to to see his children again nudged him towards the decision to get rid of his family who were becoming too large of a burden for him.

    Shanann hiding her possible impending divorce, goes along with her living in denial as she does when she tells her Thrive clients that she’s a better mother and all around human being because she wears a patch, eats the bars and drinks the shakes.

  3. Sylvester

    He takes her side in the nutgate incident and it’s possible he’d already made up his mind what he was going to do so he could act like he was on her side knowing it really didn’t make much difference, he was going to get rid of everyone anyway. But I could be wrong. But she didn’t let up about it. That’s what probably sealed her fate. She even brings it up again in the love letter she left for him. Hammering away relentlessly. I think that was the form her OCD took. She labeled things, yes, but it was her unwillingness to let things go that was truly obsessive.

  4. Holly Murr

    Ok so I have an opinion on this and it probably won’t be a popular one but here goes. Shanann was absolutely obsessed with money and the finer things in life. If you look at photos of their dining room before the bankruptcy you can see a beautiful black dining set with side board and I’m not talking cheap stuff here as I would say the set was a minimum of $5-7000. Then you file bankruptcy and the moving truck comes and takes all the beautiful stuff you recently purchased along with your new SUV. You don’t just go out and buy thousands of dollars worth of shit just before filing bankruptcy and expect to keep it. She was a fraud plain and simple. The thousands in shoes, clothes, purses etc. that’s all she cared about period. IMO they were talking divorce/separation for quite some time, possibly a year.

    Meanwhile Chris was looking for someone else, he was just sick of her and all her BS. He started working out and losing weight and passing glances with Kessinger in the hallway, lunch area, etc. they were flirting long before they ever hooked up and each knew the other was interested in them. Shanann was too busy with her work, if you can call it that, juggling a mountain of debt, and living the high life that Chris Watts checked out of the marriage. She started seeing signs long before he killed them even confiding in a friend I don’t think he’s cheating on me as he has no game! For some reason she couldn’t fathom him cheating and posting stupid shit constantly about her wonderful life that was only in her head. The baby was a way of Chris Watts wanting sex so instead of just asking for sex he says why don’t we try for another child. He figured I’ll get what I want and she has a hard time getting pregnant so it will never happen.

    Shanann was on board with getting pregnant as this would calm the household down, giving them something to look forward to, and keep him in a marriage that was sucking the life out of him. I’m sure he brought up divorce many times, her I’m not so sure. I mean think about she knew that NO MAN would put up with her except Chris. She ruled EVERY aspect of their lives and he complied with it all. But one day she starts seeing subtle changes, then more physical changes, and a more assured and arrogant Chris started to emerge, she knew the marriage was definitely in trouble before she got pregnant. Chris had been pulling away from her for a long time but once she got pregnant he was trapped and she knew it. I believe he didn’t divorce her earlier because he needed to find someone else to take her place. Why SW stayed in NC all that time is beyond me.

    Chris killed his family for several reasons, financially he was ruined. He knew his new woman wasn’t going to stand for him shelling out half his income in child support, no way. He also knew that if he left Shanann she would make his life a living hell in every aspect of a divorce. She would contact CW and NK’s employer outing them and she would stir up ANY kind of shit she could even if it would be detrimental to her own children. He considered his family an albatross around his neck and divorce was never an option for him after the pregnancy was announced.

    In his eyes they had to go all of them and I believe he thought about murdering them as soon as he got a taste of freedom. Shanann knew for months their marriage was in deep deep trouble but she also thought the 3rd pregnancy was a binder to keep Chris in her control. I feel bad for as I know she knew right after the NC trip that he was cheating on her and her marriage was coming to an end. Totally depressed, unable to eat or sleep and wondering how she was going to make it on her own. Obviously Thrive was all BS and she was facing a pregnancy all by herself, flat broke and facing humiliation from her team/peers and raising kids by herself. Her lifestyle was coming to a screeching halt. Millions of people face this everyday, I know I did. I don’t know if Shanann could have acclamated herself to a different lifestyle, honestly I guess we’ll never know.

    • nickvdl

      Thanks Holly, for spending some time thinking and sharing your thoughts on these questions.

      IMO they were talking divorce/separation for quite some time, possibly a year.>>>Agreed.

      I believe he thought about murdering them as soon as he got a taste of freedom.>>>Yes.

    • Kim

      I agree with your points. And I say this as a woman you can be controlling and it’s something I’m always working on. I think she emasculated Chris.

      I hate to sound victim blaming and this is in no way an excuse for her husband to murder her and the children for gods sake!! But it is frustrating watching people who live 1000 times above their means and then expect everybody else to forgive their debts through bankruptcy. I get really frustrated with people who peddle multi level marketing crap and expect their friends and family to subsidize their lifestyle through buying crap they don’t want.

      I like nice things and having nice experiences. But I work my ass off in a cold office every day to pay for it.

      I think chris felt tremendous pressure from the debt and third baby and family issues and feeling controlled and emasculated. However. Tons of couples go through this type of stuff! People divorce and move on with their lives. My relationship with my ex-husband ended up terrible but we divorced and now we are with great other people!

      I guess what I can’t get my mind around is how he moved from wanting out to strangling those little girls and his wife. To strangle your adorable toddler??

      I dated a narcissistic sociopath and I get how incredibly cold and unfeeling they can be. Very charming outside but empty inside. But even most narcissistic sociopaths don’t strangle people.

      I think he was motivated by the insurance money. He had policies on his kids and wife. So maybe he was just as obsessed with money as she was.

    • Christy L Hurst

      You’re right. Not a popular opinion. I’ve watched hundreds of hours of videos and read all the discovery on this case and I think some of what you write may be true but not all.

  5. Sylvester

    I like your thoughts too, Holly. When you think about it it makes no sense Shan’ann would want to rekindle a romantic flame with Watts at Myrtle Beach – then invite her parents along (and children). I think the parents were used as a shield, the children too, so that she would not be alone with Watts in a small hotel room trying to work out their issues and his absolutely apparent, angry and distant demeanor toward her. Anger, as in a simmering boil. The pot hadn’t boiled over yet. There she is chatting merrily with her mother about how they may go to the Mediterranean next year and how the water is nicer other places they’ve been. Parents don’t like to get involved in their grown adult children’s relationships or marital problems, I understand this. But the tense silence of pretending everything is fine is not healthy, or helpful. And so I agree with you Holly – that five week taste of freedom sealed the deal, and he couldn’t go back to business as usual.

  6. Sylvester

    That last picture here Watts looks like the wolf in sheep’s clothing, baring one of his canine teeth.

  7. Erica Robinson

    Why is it assumed that Shannan is controlling and that Chris hated it? Chris is an introvert. He wants to fade into the background. That’s his choice, how he prefers it.

    Chris’ boss spoke very highly of him in the first phone interview with the CBI. The only negative thing he had to say was that Chris was extremely quiet and that sometimes he would basically have to pry a response out of him.
    Chris’ mother is controlling. He probably grew up doing whatever she told him to do. Then he met and married Shannan and did whatever she told him to do. Then he meets Nichol, and he does what she tells him to do. Chris likes other people calling the shots. Making the decisions. Choosing his clothes, his meals, his everything. If Chris CHOOSES not to make a choice in anything ie lets watch what you want to watch eat where you want to eat go where you want to go etc that doesn’t automatically make Shannan controlling, it makes Chris a boring, spineless, ‘personalityless’ wimp. He wasn’t emasculated by her, that’s who he was before she came along.
    Hopefully he’ll spend the rest of his life being ‘emasculated’ by being another prisoners jail bitch.

    • nickvdl

      Why is it assumed that Shannan is controlling and that Chris hated it? >>>Firstly because he was having an affair, and secondly because he murdered her. He also said so, and others said so too. You’re right about him being spineless, but he’s not completely spineless. If he was completely spineless he wouldn’t have had the affair or committed the murder. And if her controlling nature was no big deal then it would have been no big deal. This case does offer a caution to other couples to communicate openly from both sides, whether from the side being overly controlling or the side that is crushed-in, and being controlled. Easier said than done, of course.

  8. Ralph Oscar

    In that picture of CW in that dumb shirt SW had made (just her, the girls had *nothing* to do with it) and made him wear, he’s showing his teeth but he does not seem happy. At all.

  9. Marianne T

    My former brother in law once told me that he let his wife make most of their decisions. His belief was; if I don’t make the decision, I won’t ever be wrong. Yes, I said former brother in law, they divorced. I just thank God he took the right
    way out by divorcing instead of killing her. R.I.P Shanann, Bella, Celeste and Nico 💔

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