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

The murder of the Watts children at CERVI 319 as Dramatized in FAMILY MAN, FAMILY MURDERER

Chris Watts was pretty clear that he didn’t want to talk about “this part” – the murders of his daughters, but in the end, he did talk about it. What he said wasn’t much, and it wasn’t convincing, although it seems many are convinced by it and accept it as genuine and true.


In the same way that Shan’ann allowed herself to be killed without a fight, without screaming, without so much as a sound or a scuffle apparently, Ceecee and Bella seemed mute as first the one and then the other was strangled.

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It’s possible. Anything is possible. But when one studies these children in the dozens of videos, they seem quite skittish and anxious. Christmas Eve of 2017, for example, illustrates this where Bella is terrified of Santa Claus. A week before her death, Bella was afraid of the water at Myrtle Beach. On the night before her death she was afraid if she went to sleep, Ceecee would die in her sleep.

See, it’s hard to imagine she would sit by while her sister was strangled beside her, and do nothing, and say nothing. So why doesn’t FAMILY MAN, FAMILY MURDERER acknowledge that?

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More: There’s a reason Chris Watts can’t remember Bella’s Last Words

Overall it was a poor effort by Investigation Discovery. There was absolutely no attempt to study the dimensions of the thief hatches, or the autopsy reports, and no commentary on the openings of the hatches vis-a-vis the the children’s bodies. There was very little footage of the fracking tanks themselves, and no mention of the company Watts worked for.

In effect, the dramatization of the murder of the children was simply showing Watts saying what he said, and then showing him in his truck. That’s not true crime. While an actual dramatization using real models would have been disturbing, and even distasteful, instead of depicting this aspect it could have been examined, analysed and discussed, rather than simply running through Watts’ version of it superlightly, as if it was all 100% accurate.

TCRS has maintained from the first book and blog post that:

  1. All four murders were premeditated.
  2. The children were murdered first, several hours before Shan’ann arrived home.

The position of the district attorney, the FBI and law enforcement following the First Confession appeared to be that the crimes were indeed premeditated [committed intentionally “after deliberation”] in spite of Watts’ latest “just snapped” version. In fact the plea deal itself confirms []and affirms] this.

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So if the plea deal contradicts Watts version, why the hop-skip to Watts’ version?

In theory, if Watts’ second version [below] is truly as palatable to prosecutors as it seems to be, he has a viable angle in defense, at least to do away with the “premeditated” aspect of the crime. This in turn has implications for mitigation, potentially minimizing the maximum sentence.

TCRS’ position isn’t that Watts’ sentenced should be reduced, but that the prosecutors and media be more forthright about where the facts and analysis of this case take us. And that the garbage below, from the Second Confession, is just that.

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    Nick: Greetings from NJ, USA.  I’ve studied this case in great detail since Day 1, purchased your books and watched everything this is to watch on this case. Which amounts to lot!  Here are my perceptions of the case, and hopefully, I’ve zeroed in on the WHY in the midst of many “whys”.

    1) The murders were premeditated. However, Chris, may well have held out until early morning out of fear of actually killing her in the evening. The bodily releases from Shannon’s body show that the murder was “fresh”.
    2) The girls were killed at Cervi. The in-depth shadow videos had me convinced since that theory was first posed. And the more you watch them, the clear that becomes. Plus the lack of cadaver dog findings. Only one death inside the house.
    3) NK was definitely aware that Watts was going to “do something”. Their conversation that night was no mere, “I miss you. What are you doing right now?” As to extent of her knowledge, urging him on, participation etc., we may never know. The recent TV doc sees to show her testimony as imperative to cracking the case. Although, the drone footage and GPS would have cracked the case regardless. The shallow grave would have been discovered and the detectives would look at one another in revelation, as they wondered about the girls and looked up at the oil tanks. NK connected the dots, but the stage was set with the drone footage. NK was there to clear HER name prior to being listed as an accomplice. We all know that.
    4) The REAL motive? Watts’ conflicting realities! That Monday would have found the girls in school, on Facebook, Shannan posting her gender reveal and life “back to normal” for Chris. No more long weekends with NK. No more sleep overs. And no more sex 4 times a day. And, from NK’s perspective, she thought the divorce was but days away. So how could Watts maintain conflicting realities?! He HAD to do it that morning, as he said, because all of his lies would have been revealed by Monday afternoon! THAT was his motive! Not just starting a new life with NK, but choosing the reality he posed to NK over his true reality. Had he been honest with NK from the beginning, he could have continued with her as an “affair”.
    Contrary to O’Rourke’s comment that a “divorce” would have sufficed, some honesty & an affair would have served Watts better. But the lust lizard struck and he is just about as stupid as they come. If you were native to the US’s geography, you’d know that the “Deep South”, as we call it, does not breed the brightest of bulbs! Just look at his mom & dad. There you have it, Nick. Watts’ stress of the colliding realities. 

    Don FaruoloNjUSA

    • nickvdl

      Some interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

    • aziannguyen

      I totally agree with your thoughts. The dynamics of that family, perhaps no outsider would know, seems very stressful with constant financial crisis due to over expenditures. She painted a perfect family picture due to the nature of her job. MLM is a scam, u got scammed then u scammed others to make profits. He probably painted a different family picture with NK, made wrong impressions/promises.

    • thetinytech2018

      Nick wrote a great piece in regards to the shadows that were seen by the neighbors camera’s. It’s very in depth and worth a read if you’re interested in that particular aspect. That being said, watching the video in a video editor, zoomed in, and analyzing stills from the camera via graphic software, I cannot for the life of me see any shadows that would resemble (or come close to) a child. There’s really no way it can be seen, rather I believe it’s a case confirmation bias, we see what we want or have been led to see. Armchair detective is pretty much a quack who throws a bunch of darts at a board in hopes one will stick, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. He seems to be more interested in advertising money, views and click bait titles than actual research.

  2. Bett2be

    donafar, your analysis makes a lot of sense. I had the misfortune of marrying into family of APD individuals, and compartmentalization is how they are able to project their “nice guy” image. They
    are in fact boiling away in crazyville beneath the surface, and if they’re not careful the house of cards
    comes tumbling down. They are weirdly both methodical and impulsive, so I could see that Chris had
    both planned this for a number of days, or even weeks, but also was afraid to follow through with it.
    When he finally realized his compartmentalized realities were about to collide, he was pushed into
    following through with his somewhat thought out plan for murder, yet still had moments where he was sloppy and hurried about it.

    I’ve heard it described that psychopaths have less than a complete personality. Others describe them
    as having multiple personalities. In my experience, they do appear to have very different sides to their
    personalities, so different in fact that one alter ego may have dazzling intelligence and another side
    appear to be quite daft. These changes of personality appear to be triggered by emotional states, it’s
    as if they have developed separate personalities to deal with basic emotions such as fear, shame,
    insecurity, etc. What sets them drastically apart from others is their extreme grandiosity and lack of empathy. As well the shallow and fleeting nature of their attachments. The other major difference is their
    pathological envy, paranoia as well as resentment of others, which can easily congeal into a scary kind of hatred. Thus, Chris Watts could have been both desperately jealous of Shan’ann’s genuine vivacious personality, her popularity, yet at the same time his ego was likely pumped up by their seemingly fairy tale life.

    When real life reared it’s less than perfect head, as it’s often wont to do, Chris probably started to detach from his beautiful wife and kids as easily as losing interest in a checkers game. Shan’ann’s normal aging
    and impact of three pregnancies on her body, the daily grind of their children’s constant needs, the realities of her involvement with a MLM, the looming financial and social disaster of divorce would be enough to start a slow rage at Shan’ann, culminating in hatred towards her. Others have mentioned that
    she was also a stand in for his rage at his insanely controlling mother, which is probably a factor as
    well. Basically, Shan’ann now represented an obstacle to his grandiose visions of a life of pleasure, with NK, where before she had been the path towards another grandiose vision: respected family man, beautiful wife, the seductive beginnings of MLM, etc. Now with the shine off of this vision, it was time to dispose of the nuisance of wife and kids and move on.

    Flitting in and out of calculated rage, total fear, and bliss of new sexual relationship, his planning could
    have been both well thought out, yet haphazard in execution, again depending on what emotional
    state he was in moment to moment. These people are difficult to understand because most of us
    do not harbor delusions of grandeur, seething jealousy, little to no attachment to others, and a chaotic
    inner landscape that changes sometimes moment to moment depending on emotional state. Yet
    despite this crazy internal reality, a second, mostly static external reality of a solid nice guy image is almost always being maintained. Forensic psychologists have posited the theory that serial killers have a double personality structure which enables them to maintain their facade, despite their sometimes heinous crimes. Thus, few if any ever see the warning signs of the monster that lurks beneath. That is until it’s too late.

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