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

Month: November 2019

Blood & Gold: Chris Watts ordered to pay Rzuceks $6 million in Wrongful Death Civil Suit

If the Rzuceks see 10% of the $6 million they’ve been awarded [uncontested from Watts] they’ll be fortunate. It will be interesting to see how much money will ultimately flow out of the man serving a life sentence [without parole] for triple murder.

The Denver Post provides some insight into the state of mind of the Rzuceks in their latest coverage. Frank has quit his job, it appears, and has PTSD. Sandi feels like someone adrift at sea, and that her lifeboat is sinking.

“The Rzucek family has not been the same since August 13, 2018,” a court document states. “They have suffered with anger, loneliness, sadness, and depression. For a substantial period of time following the discovery of their daughter and grandchildren’s murders, they were unable to work, leave the house, or even eat.”

“As Sandy Rzucek puts it, she feels like she dies every day and is always missing and crying for her precious family,” an Aug. 1 court filing states. “Even to this day, it is hard for the Rzucek family to get out of bed, they cry all the time, every day and every night.”

The family suffered through court hearings in the same room as the man who killed their loved ones and faced a “constant barrage of media.” They also had to contend with the allegation Watts made in his first confession that Shanann killed their two little girls, though he later admitted in a February interview with law enforcement to killing his daughters.

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The horrendously detailed February confession cleared Shanann’s name, but it also showed the pure brutality of Watts’s actions.

“Sandy Rzucek has described the experience of losing her daughter and granddaughters as being adrift in a lifeboat, surrounded by water and without a port in sight,” the document states. “The detailed discovering of how Defendant ended his wife and children’s lives was, in Sandy’s words, like having the lifeboat removed and sinking into the ocean.”

“Between Defendant and the people attacking the Rzucek family, they have lost nearly all trust in people and humanity,” the court filing states.

SOURCE: The Denver Post

Given the ongoing conspiracies and cacophonies peddled on YouTube, I can’t say I disagree. The Watts case has exposed the crazies, the clowns and fanatics, and each of these have attracted sizable audiences. The scary part for me is that I’m not sure the media or ordinary people unaware of the Watts case regard TCRS as any different from the crazy crowd out there. TCRS is different, but it’s difficult not to be drowned out by the crowd.

A Danish investigative journalist researching the Watts case contacted me recently, not for my views or insights, not to ask anything regarding analysis in terms of the case narrative, no questions about the 10 books already written – just to request the use of some images compiled by TCRS and published on CrimeRocket. Scary and pretty disappointing.

You can read her three part article here [right click on the article and click Translate to English to read it].

The Murders in Denver, Colorado – Part 1

The Murders in Denver, Colorado – Part 2

The Murders in Denver, Colorado – Part 3


Jury Decides Simpson Must Pay $25 Million in Punitive Award – New York Times

Lie Spotting: Test your true crime lie detector nous with Prince Andrew

The Chris Watts case has provided armchair detectives with a brilliant – and relatively basic – case study on lie-spotting and body language. If we’ve become experts on Watts how good are we at someone else? Someone better educated. Someone older. Someone smarter.

In the 49 minute interview with the BBC, few people were fooled, but can you say why there’s deception, and where exactly? Are you able to figure out the tells of a royal?

This time TCRS is going to leave it to you to go through the video first and see which tells you can find. See how many you can pick up in the first five minutes, or longer if you have the stamina, and see whether you’ve developed the skill to discern between why something is – or isn’t – a tell.

If you notice any additional insights, be sure to note them in the comments below. This page will be updated later with an assessment by TCRS.

Prince Andrew sparks near-universal condemnation with TV interview – CNN



Dr Oz Interview with Cherlyn Cadle: 5 Key Insights

The Plunder YouTube Channel [see video below] has provided some useful coverage of the Dr. Oz interview with Letters from Christopher author Cherlyn Cadle.

Thus far TCRS has refrained from commenting on Cadle’s book, or on Cadle herself. Cadle has certainly been able to court a fair amount of publicity, and as a result her book has already been reviewed about 200 times.

Via Dr. Oz we learn that it’s not only the Watts family that have felt duped in some way, but the Rzuceks too. There was an impression that the Watts book was going to be quite a spiritual book; a book about Watts having some sort of Damascus Moment. Although there are elements of this in the book, the main thrust of the spiritual side of things comes from the claim that Watts was demon possessed. That’s why he committed this crime.

What does Dr. Oz make of this contention?

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1. Demon Possession = Plausible Motive?

Cadle’s book highlights some paranormal activity in the Watts home. Mysterious lights that burn late into the night, and a disembodied child’s voice giggling, scaring the bejesus out of a cadaver dog. The dog handler had “a very odd feeling” as a result of this.

Taking PLUNDER’s word for it, Dr. Oz seemed to view Cadle’s frankly ridiculous contention that Watts killed his family because he was possessed by a demon as “plausible. ” Plausible? Based on what? Based on Watts simply saying so!

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The word demon doesn’t appear once in the discovery, not in the First Confession, nor in the Second. The word appears 11 times in Cadle’s book, however, though half of those references have nothing to do with Watts, but are instead general references to the concept. Like this:

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There you have it. Certain cases can be explained in no other way than demon possession.

It makes sense that Watts would be amenable to the idea of an author susceptible to the idea of demon possession taking on his story of demon possession like a hand inside a glove. His story is essentially letting himself off the hook entirely for the crime. It has nothing to do with him, or the circumstances, or the actual people involved. What happened is an evil force swooped in through the window while he was yawning and jumped into his mouth. The next thing he realized he woke up and he’d killed his family. Blaming what he did on some dark magical entity is another way of not being accountable for his crimes. It’s part of the ongoing circus that is the aftermath of a criminal case not going to trial. This is the result.

And this entity arrived on the scene – surprise, surprise – just when Watts met Kessinger. And of course Kessinger herself is vaguely associated with evil as well.

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This time Watts became “darker” doesn’t quite jibe with what he said to Coder on August 15th, does it?

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Watts has quite a simple explanation – in Cadle’s book – not only for why he committed the crime [“I realized I had a demon inside of me…” – page 222] but also for why he should be absolved [“I knew the demon had come out of me and I had been forgiven”].

In her conclusion, at the end of her book, Cadle – who had written this book to address Watts’ deliverance – suddenly pulls a U-turn. Now, at the very end, she professes to not know much about demon possession. Instead she signs off saying Watts was convinced he was possessed weeks before the murders, but Cadle washes her hands from assessing his statement one way or another. She doesn’t know much about it. But she doesn’t doubt it either. She recommends he seeks professional help [which of course he doesn’t do, because a professional would come to quite a different conclusion]. And so everything is left nicely in the air for everyone to pick and choose whichever level of this story suits them. Maybe a little demon possessed, maybe a lot. Maybe demon possessed, maybe not.

Cadle also provides a handy explanation at the end of her book for WHY [in all caps, and bold] Watts did what he did. She says she’s afraid the answer is easy. And then she provides the answer. Well, it doesn’t seem to have much to do with demon possession.

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2. Dr. Oz Verdict on Demon Possession = Inconclusive

Despite Cadle’s 11 references to demonic possession in her 267 word tome, and in spite of Dr. Oz’s apparent endorsement of the theory, Dr. Oz’s panel are unsure. Hmmmm. What can the expert panel really say about Watts being possessed by a demon [what kind of demon was it?], and then killing three members of his family. Why did the demon want to kill his family? What did they ever do to him [the demon?]

So they – like Cadle – can’t quite commit to the idea either, but they can’t seem to commit to calling it ludicrous either. Their assessment is essentially a shrug. An expert shrug, mind you.

So much for experts weighing in on mental illness, psychology and motive.

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3. Fresh Content = Groundbreaking Analysis?

A fair amount of Cadle’s book is a regurgitation of the discovery. Some of that spilled over into this interview with Dr. Oz.

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Now, during the Second Confession in February, Watts referred on three occasions to not being able to let go once he had his hands around Shan’ann’s neck. Here they are:

a) At the sentencing he heard the prosecutor said it takes 2-4 minutes to strangle someone to death, so “Why couldn’t I just let go?”…He believes SHANANN may have been praying. 

b) “I feel like in the back of my head…that was gonna happen…and just like, at the end of the conversation, it was just like, that’s what happened…I just wished I could’ve let go.”

c) Time seemed to stand still and he saw his life disappearing before his eyes but he couldn’t let go.

So it seems Watts was demon possessed 5 times. Twice when he attempted to strangle his children. Once when he strangled Shan’ann. And twice more when the children revived and he was possessed again, and strangled them again. It’s not clear whether the demon drove him to work, and whether the demon walked him up to the oil tanks, or whether the demon dug Shan’ann’s grave. We’re also not 100% sure if the demon took the plea deal, or whether Chris Watts did.

Now, if you don’t mind, let’s open the curtain a tad on this freak show, and let some TCRS into the room. Just for a moment.Fullscreen capture 20191113 013535

There’s actually a pretty simple reason Watts couldn’t take his hands off his wife’s neck. Had he done so,  had he hesitated halfway through murdering his wife, she would have fought back, and that would have been the end of him, his affair and his glittering happily ever after.

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If Nut Gate was bad, had Watts let go right then, he would have experienced House Gate. She would take the house, get full custody and make sure the world knew what a rotten, abusive, philandering swine he was. But long before any of that happened, had Watts let go, the first thing Shan’ann would have done before punching him in the face – she would have screamed. And that scream would have spoken volumes. It would have woken the kids and the neighbors, and Deeter, and it wouldn’t have stopped until Watts had packed his bags and left with his tail between his legs.Fullscreen capture 20191113 013358


4. “Deeter didn’t like Watts…”

This might be the #1 insight from the Dr. Oz show. I’m not sure it’s true, but it’s certainly better than #1, #2 and #3. I seem to recall Sandi Rzucek or some family friend or neighbor saying how Watts “loved that dog”. Hold on, let’s check and make sure. Ah, here it is:

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Chris Watts’ pet was howling like he was ‘being punished’ day the family disappeared. – Radar Online

If Deeter didn’t like Watts, why did Watts like the dog?

If the dog didn’t like Watts why did he spare Deeter’s life?

If the dog didn’t like Watts, why was Watts concerned about the dog when he was at the well site?

Interestingly, Cadle spells the dog’s name Deeter and Dieter in her book. Who knows. If Deeter really didn’t like Watts, perhaps that’s why Deeter Gate happened. Deeter wanted Kessinger to see Watts’ family, and wanted to get him into trouble, and so he did on July 14th when Deeter led her upstairs.

Was Deeter demon possessed…?


Maybe Deeter was demon possessed too, and that’s why Deeter Gate happened. Maybe that’s why everything happened.

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5. Is there a doctor in the house?

The biggest insight into the show isn’t an insight, it’s the absence of an insight. The biggest insight is you have a doctor who doesn’t say anything about the THRIVE patches that are an idiosyncrasy in this case. He says nothing about lupus or the significant narrative surrounding the health – or sickliness – of Shan’ann and the children. Not a peep about Oxycodone either.

It’s called Dr. Oz isn’t it? Well, where is he?


Dr Oz Interview with Chris Watts’ Neighbor Nate Trinastich: 5 Key Insights – CrimeRocket

Chris Watts: the slip-of-the-tongue – in the Sermon on the Driveway – that we all missed

When we add the 7-minute Sermon on the Porch to the 8-minute Sermon on the Driveway, we have a 15-minute statement by Chris Watts. That’s a whole lotta talkin’. When compared to Patrick Frazee, who a year later hasn’t made a peep to the press, these Sermons were – and remain – true crime gold. This is essentially his first public version, which he gave against the advice of his mother-in-law, and it preceded his First Confession by roughly 24 hours and change.

Very likely the Feds and cops also studied the same footage like hawks before bringing in the Silver Fox and subjecting him to a slightly tougher line of questioning.

It’s possible Watts thought he did a pretty good job during these Sermons. That he’d convinced those asking questions. They asked something, he answered it, and then that was it. Easy. Done. Back to business as usual? Not quite, as it turned out. The moment Watts opened his mouth he was on a slippery slope.

There is a lot to mine out of these 15 minutes. The Sermon on the Porch alone is a goldmine for those interested in true crime statement analysis and figuring out body language. When is a tell a tell, and when isn’t it? When is a blink, a stutter, a sway, a folding of the arms relevant and when isn’t it? It takes intuition, sensitivity, gut feel and what we might call the X-factor to know the difference. You either have that intuition or you don’t, although some of it certainly develops with experience.

No two criminals are alike, but criminal psychology is similar enough that there is some intertexuality between tells. The most significant slip-of-the-tongue in the Sermon of the Driveway is one 99% probably missed. It was easy to miss because it occurs in the very last frame of the very last moments of the Sermon. By then most people had found what they want and moved on.

When we go to the final seconds of the Sermon on the Driveway, since Watts has sort of let his guard down, sniggering about how much he likes his t-shirt, a reporter crosses the psychological sand, and asks a question that reveals the press are pretty suspicious after all, and haven’t been playing all their cards. The question, when it finally comes, comes in the final 20 seconds of the 15-minutes interview:

REPORTER: You guys have a baby on the way…

WATTS [Blinks]: Mm-hm. [Watts starts to sways a lot here, and sighs].

REPORTER: You’re about to have your third child…

WATTS: Mm-hm. [A second intake of breath.]

A YouTuber referring to this moment described Watts as angry. But was he? He may have been annoyed at being asked the question, but if he was, there’s no sign of anger. It’s not in anything he says, if anything it’s what he doesn’t say, or do. And that’s an introvert for you.

More likely Watts is shitting his pants right here. He’s gotten through the quarter of an hour just fine dodging the issue of Shan’ann’s pregnancy. In fact that word is the one word he doesn’t bring up. He never brings up the word pregnant through either the Sermon on the Porch or the Sermon on the Driveway. Ultimately it’s brought up right at the end, by the reporters, and this effectively shuts down the interview. By invoking this aspect, Watts likely panics, and when he panics he shuts down. He has nothing to say because when the chips are down, he has no game.

The Feds watching this probably took real notice of this. Tread carefully around this guy. Don’t push him. Be nice, get him talking, keep him talking. The DNA for Watts interrogation, the strategy of it, was laid here.

To get inside the apparatus of Watts’ mind, what he’s doing – or trying to do – through these Sermons is convince an audience of just one [Kessinger] that he’s fine, everything is fine, even though his family is missing. But while doing that, he needs to make sure he doesn’t say anything about the pregnancy. When the media does, he makes sure it’s unusable. The fact that Watts is so secretive about the pregnancy, so shut up about it, does lend some credence to the idea – the possibility – that as late as Monday, and in the few hours leading up to these interviews, Kessinger herself was still living in a fairy tale, unaware of the pregnancy. And by not mentioning it, Watts was doing his damnedest not to burst that bubble.

Conversely, if she knew about it, and he knew she knew, why not admit Shan’ann was pregnant? Why kill her on the very same day she was going to do the gender reveal? Wasn’t it because Kessinger didn’t know, and if she did, she’d drop him and run the other way?


The #1 Word Missing from the Sermon on the Porch, #1 Document Missing from the Discovery Documents and the #1 Evidence Photos We Still Haven’t Seen

“Chris Watts is a sociopath” or “Chris Watts is a narcissistic sociopath” – No, he isn’t, but can you articulate why not?

At 1:50 the YouTuber providing unofficial psychoanalysis of the Watts case [besides Dr. Phil] diagnoses him as a sociopath. He isn’t a sociopath. Are you able to say why?

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The narcissist in the sociopath will believe that they are better than everyone else. The sociopath in the narcissist, in turn, will have a total lack of regard for others and will tend to violate these rights with no compassion for their victims.

One worrying consequence of a sociopath that has narcissist tendencies is that generally, sociopaths do not care if they are criticised by others, as they are not interested in the opinions of other people.

The narcissistic sociopath, however, will react aggressively to negative criticism as the narcissist cannot tolerate any judgement on their behaviour.