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

Chris Watts: Toys, Trash and Treating Human Beings like Garbage

There is so often a connection in True Crime between dead bodies and garbage bags, dead bodies and excrement, dead bodies and toys left lying around, and between the supersmooth suspect and a sudden desire to do laundry and take a shower.

In the Watts case we’ve already dealt with the doll thrown into trash can in the garage. We’ve dealt with the brown substance which Watts said was excrement. We also know Watts threw his clothing into a dumpster on Black Mesa on his way home from CERVI 319 at midday on Monday.

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The doll in the trash stood out to me even more than the book on marriage improvement in the garage dumpster. This is because toys are often a give-away clue when children are murdered. The favorite toy itself either has cadaver traces on it, or the location of the toy provides some insight into where the child died and what happened.

There’s a lot of Intertextual data on this in the Casey Anthony case, also Madeleine McCann and JonBenet Ramsey. In fact, toys are a key feature of the JonBenet Ramsey case, and the secret key to unraveling that case. [It’s not for nothing the little girl was murdered over Christmas, with a wrapped Christmas toy beside her body in the basement].

In the Discovery Documents the word toys features 13 times. Although Watts claimed he took toys out to CERVI 319, this seemed to be more a case of Coder or Lee leading him in that direction. In other words, Watts never volunteered this information. If the children were murdered first, it also makes no sense why there would be any toys at the site [and none were found].

It does seem clear that the only “toy” or “toyish” object associated with the children were their blankies. It seems all three bodies were wrapped in “blankies” and in Shan’ann’s case, a fitted sheet.

Interestingly, Watts also claimed not to want to go upstairs because he “couldn’t handle seeing the toys and stuff”.

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While watching Toy Story 4, the new Pixar film, I couldn’t help revisiting aspects of the Toy Narrative as it relates to the Watts case. What stood out was the lackadaisical cruelty of the children [seen from the toy’s point of view], and how easily toys are replaced, disposed of – and yes – thrown in the trash. In fact, each of the Toy Story movies deals with these aspects in different ways.

In the second movie when Andy accidentally damages Woody’s arm, Woody instantly goes from being a favorite toy to trash.

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The film then explores the transactionality of toys – toys can be worth something to collectors, but only if they’re in mint condition, and if evidence of their owners has been removed.

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Buzz meanwhile experiences an identity crisis, where his delusions are and his lack of individuality are exposed. It’s unsettling to watch because we as consumers often feel the same way – like zombies, drones, nameless automatons herded into shops like sheep.

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Toy Story exposes the capricious nature not only of children, but society as we know it today. One moment you’re someone’s world, the next you’re trash.

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When Woody is replaced by a much fancier, new toy, there’s metaphor in the Cowboy being replaced by the flashier, but somehow more vacuous Space Ranger. When that happens the interior of the boy’s room changes, even what he cover himself in [his clothing and his blankets, and the pictures on the wall] changes. We can see how a disposable society is also expressed visually. We see acquisitions. Just as social media overtly shows the degree of influence, the pulling power of a profile and bio, or lack of.

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In one scene in one the films a plague of red monkeys swarms over the prairie. This is an interesting metaphor for children. How mindless monkeys can overwhelm individuals, and by implication, so can a house full of children.

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Like Shrek, Toy Story inverts the modern fairy tale by showing the adventures toys have in spite of their mercenary and often sociopathic owners.

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  1. Sylvester

    Nick, you really stirred something in me when you talked about Toy Story a few threads ago and also today. When I was a little kid my mother would read me poetry and my favorite poem was called “Little Boy Blue” by Eugene Field. She must have explained it to me at first, and I just remember every time she read it to me I cried. But it became my favorite poem. It’s about a little boy who gives life to his toys. When the little boy dies in his sleep his toys remain in the same place he left them, “faithful to the Little Boy Blue they stand, Each in the same old place, Awaiting the touch of a little hand, The smile of a little face. And they wonder, as waiting these long years through, In the dust of that little chair, What has become of our Little Boy Blue Since he kissed them and put them there.” I cannot read that poem out loud to this day without choking up. The importance of toys to a child has to be understood. Children give life to their toys, they speak through them, they hug them, they love them and cover them in blankets or arrange them on a ledge, watching over them and having the toy watch over the child. And for some reason Watts pitched CeCe’s baby doll in a trash bag and threw it in his dumpster in the garage maybe as a way of saying you are dead, and what you loved and held and cared for is dead to me, just as you are dead to me. It’s very very cold.

    Casey Anthony left Caylee’s babydoll in the car seat didn’t she? And it smelled of cadaverine, which Cindy tried to get rid of with Fabreeze spray. To cover up the smell and the significance of the doll in the car seat but no Caylee in the car seat. Covering up as she covered up what Casey had done.

    • nickvdl

      Yes, very good point about Caylee’s doll.

      I think her backpack was also taken. It’s ironic that Caylee’s grave site is memorialized with fluffy toys, and for a while, the garden in front of the Watts home was too.

      Thanks for sharing your touching story re: Little Boy Blue.

    • JC

      Aw, thank you, Sylvester, for sharing such a sweet childhood memory. In reading the ‘Toy Story’ threads, I’m reminded of one of my favorite childhood stories, and it made me consider the possibility that Chris was scared or confused by anything Real, which the doll in the trash represents. Here’s the quote that brought tears to my eyes when my mother read to me…

      “Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

      ‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

      ‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

      ‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

      ‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
      ―Margery Williams Bianco,The Velveteen Rabbit

  2. Sylvester

    You’re welcome.

    Wasn’t there something else too, in the discovery documents, about Watts picking up the toys either the first night he was cleaning or the next night – that it seemed to be a priority according to either Jeremy Lindstrom or David Colon – and Watts gave some excuse that when Shan’ann and the kids came back she would want everything cleaned up. Whoever observed that thought it was odd, as there should have been more pressing issues on Watt’s mind other than picking up after the kids after they were gone.

  3. Shea McMillan

    Also makes me reminisce about Velveteen Rabbit and Raggedy Ann/Andy books growing up. They were alive through the eyes of the children that loved them

  4. Ralph Oscar

    I guess the toys didn’t matter any more.

  5. Laura Thompson

    The trash aspect has me thinking about a recent case, which I have been watching on YouTube this past week. (It finished up the other day. ) The case is that of Sherin Mathews, from near Dallas. Her adoptive “father” was charged with causing injury to a child, resulting in her death. The reason he wasn’t charged with plain old murder? He put her little body, (she had just turned 3), into a trash bag, and hid it inside a drainage culvert a couple blocks from his house. The body was too decomposed to determine a cause of death. He pled guilty to the causing injury charge, so the trial was a penalty type, and he took the stand. Under cross examination, he refused to call the trash bag what it was, instead insisting upon referring to it as merely a “blue bag.” 🙄

    He had given several variations on his story to law enforcement, and in one interview, he states that he took Sherin’s bagged body away “with the rest of the trash.”

    No toys at play here, but definitely the detail of trash bags, and of the casual disposal of the body, which was so decomposed when located that a cause of death could not be determined by the medical examiner. Shades of Casey Anthony here?

    The possible penalties ranged from probation to life in prison, and anything in between. The jury gave him life. Dude came across as very entitled, arrogant, and controlling on the stand. I can only imagine what life for his adoptive daughter was like with that man.

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