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

“I don’t think I’m a cold-hearted person. I just don’t show emotion as much as other people do. I process it differently.” – Chris Watts, February 18th interview

It makes sense, the argument that Chris Watts is a heartless monster, that he’s psychopathic or sociopathic.  That he doesn’t feel the way many of us do. To our minds, it doesn’t make any sense if he murdered his family and he acted like he didn’t care, that he did care, and that he does have feelings.

But the temptation is to put Watts in a neat little box and call him a heartless monster. It’s comforting to say that because it separates him from us.

It’s the position of TCRS that this aspect is true, but at the same time, he’s not an empty vessel devoid of emotion.

It’s this aspect of true crime that makes it both fascinating and terrifying – the notion that Watts cared for his wife and children but killed them anyway. The notion that he felt bad about what he did, but tried to act innocent and nonchalant, and wasn’t particularly convincing.

In the final half hour of the Second Confession, Chris Watts speaks frankly about his emotions. Although we have to be careful taking anything he says as gospel, it’s worth reviewing how he sees his emotions, and the words he uses to describe his own inner world.

WATTS: It’s just weird how emotions process for me than for everybody else.

LEE: Hmmhmm.

WATTS: Like you said, like um—you lost your kids at a grocery store for five seconds, you’d be a mess, and then like…you know…for me…I-I-d be panicked, but I wouldn’t cry.  I’d be looking around trying to find them. But it’s just like, I just process it differently. I never knew why. Never know why. [Long pause]. I don’t think I’m a cold-hearted person, it’s just a matter of…I just don’t show it…show the emotions as much as other people do. 

Fullscreen capture 20190609 153632

LEE: Your family doesn’t show emotion like that?

WATTS: Yeah, like you know…my dad couldn’t really speak at the sentencing hearing, because he said was kinda like…he said he was gonna lose it. Like that really hit me. Like, I’d never seen him like that.

LEE: Like, vulnerable?

WATTS: Mmhmm. I don’t think anybody’s seen me that way either.

The emotional aspect is a crucial aspect in true crime, and critical to understand this case. We can’t have it both ways. In the one scenario, Watts impulsively and spontaneously kills his wife and children, Shan’ann in a rage and his children seemingly for no reason at all. In this version Watts loses control over his emotions when he kills wife, and simply isn’t thinking afterwards. It’s not entirely unconvincing, because Watts seems capable of acting rashly and stupidly. His confessions to the cops also reinforce this impression.

In the other scenario, all the murders are premeditated. The premeditation scenario as a whole is an effort to hide not only the crime but the emotions, including the affair and the pregnancy.

One way to resolve the question of premeditation is to look at Watts’ behavior and psychology prior to the crimes and just after. After the crimes he has a checklist of things he needs to do and wastes no time doing it, even though he’s at work. He cancels his kids’ classes at Primrose, he calls the realtor, he even calls his bank.

The way he disposed of all three bodies also doesn’t speak of someone not in control, or not thinking. But the hiding of the bodies and the effort to make them disappear while sickening is also his effort to conceal feelings – like shame. He knows what he’s done is shameful and so he’s driven to dig holes and – taking a substantial risk – force the bodies of his children into the tanks to make them dissolve and disappear. He uses the word vanish immediately after the crime – that’s exactly what he wanted to happen. Fullscreen capture 20190609 155125

There’s emotion there, in that effort to hide away his disgraceful deeds. There are many crimes out there that are executed with blood and brutality, and the bodies are left in the open.

Counter-intuitively these speak of emotion but are probably more psychopathic than a crime committed in secret and hidden away.

Coming Soon! – Book 8 in the TWO FACE series…




  1. Sylvester

    The way Watts was made to vanish too – so quickly. Like in some science fiction movie where the culprit is stuffed into a machine and big red button is pushed and whoosh, sucked down into a long tube and banished into oblivion (Wisconsin). And didn’t he cause his emotions to vanish before the crimes, he had to in order to execute them. Amanda and Nick Thayer saw it – when they immediately ran over to his house after he texted Nick that his family was missing. They said he didn’t seem normal, he kept putting his head down, they couldn’t quite put their finger on it, his behavior. The murders transformed him, the old Chris had vanished and to me he’s still gone. Vanished and Banished.

    • nickvdl

      That’s an excellent point, his causing his own emotions to vanish before the crime. A huge giveaway clue into the premeditation concept is the exact same thing we see with Scott Peterson, and it’s the same scenario. Mr. Nice Guy, serious debt, pregnant wife, rogue mistress. And then the husband starts behaving coldly. This standoffishness is where he’s starting to reconcile his emotions with a diabolical scheme to fix things – for himself. If there were no emotions there would be no need to be standoffish, or for a plan, or for psychological preparation.

  2. Sylvester

    Agreed 100 percent. What makes him an enigma though is you wonder who he really was before. Also his new confession kind of goes along with him not allowing anyone to figure him out.

    • nickvdl

      Introverts are often like that. Dr. Seuss for example never wanted to meet the kids who read his books for fear that they’d be disappointed by the real thing.

  3. CBH

    I really like NVDL’s analysis; it resonates with spirit and intuition vastly moreso than any others. Looking forward to the new book in the series.

    • nickvdl

      Good to hear CBH. And good to hear from you too.

  4. Bett2be

    I think CW had a lot of emotions, probably more than a lot of people do, but they were
    diligently kept hidden beneath his calm collected exterior. And also, unfortunately, his
    emotions were only for himself, his fantasies, and his public image.

    • nickvdl

      Hiding emotions is the first step to learning how to keep secrets about yourself from the world [AKA lying].

  5. Sylvester

    What a great title for the book – “Oblivion” – the state of being unaware or unconscious of what is happening (Webster’s). Was he? Or was he very much aware.

    • nickvdl

      I’m tempted to answer your question, but that would be a spoiler.

Leave a Reply

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