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

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How the Hailstorm of June 18 Plays into the Watts Family Murder

There were two powerful hailstorms on two consecutive days in Frederick, Colorado in June. The first one, on June 18 was the worse of the two, with hail stones the size of chicken eggs. It was during this storm that the video [posted below] was taken, with Chris Watts Ford truck parked outside. As the hailstones clobber the roof in the live video, Shan’ann says: “Poor daddy’s truck’s getting beat up.” Yes, likely it was.Fullscreen capture 20181022 140010

Almost two weeks later, Nicole was still feeling sad about her vehicle, A white Mazda GT that was hammered [“totalled” in her words] in the same storm.

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This post has since been removed.

Because of Nickole’s car troubles [with the old car], I was interested to know whether she put her car bonus to good use. Shan’ann had made a big song and dance about it on the San Diego trip, which happened just days after the hailstorm.

Shan’ann also did a live video from the pool deck of the hotel, congratulating Nickole on the new car and promising to take her car shopping when they got back. It’s not clear if Nickole has untagged herself in that post, or if, now that Shan’ann’s Facebook is in legacy mode, the tag has been rendered invisible to the public. Anyway, here it is. To date it’s been viewed over half a million times.

I was curious, since Nickole had won this car bonus, and she obviously needed a replacement vehicle since the hail had totalled her Mazda mere days earlier, what did she do with it? In one of her posts, and also in this video, she mentions wanting to buy herself a Tesla [approximately $80 000 a pop] with the bonus.

In Paradise Nevada, on February 10/11 both Shan’ann and Chris Watts test drove Teslas.

Some Thrivers were doing the same in San Diego. Apparently Thrive getaways included that sort of thing – car demos, test drives, car shopping.

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Nickole herself seemed to have her mind on a luxury car for a while, posing alongside a few, sitting in others at various time in March and April 2018.

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During the San Diego trip Shan’ann also did some posing inside and alongside cars while sporting a Le-Vel branded jacket..

So what car did Nickole end up getting after that June 18 hailstorm? Since I couldn’t find any splashy news about it on in her public Facebook profile [unlikely as Thrivers are all about telling everyone about their windfalls, often repeatedly]. So I asked Nickole directly.

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Nickole and Shan’ann got back from Arizona in the wee hours of August 13th, the night Shan’ann was murdered. Wasn’t that why Nickole tried so hard to get hold of her that day of all days – after almost almost two months, she wanted to go get her car, she needed Shan’ann to do it, and Nickole wasn’t answering her phone.


On June 18 there was also a hailstorm in Utah. Chris Collins, one of the big kahunas behind LeVel, posted these images outside his home [which may well have inspired Shan’ann, who often modeled her posts on his to copy him].


Below are additional examples of Shan’ann copying [apparently] Chris Collins’ Facebook vibe. Collins is on the left, Shan’ann on the right.

It’s worth noting that Shan’ann appeared to be shopping for a new car for Chris earlier in the year, but that didn’t happen either. If neither Chris Watts nor Nickole Atkinson “exercised” their car bonuses but Shan’ann did, is this evidence that she was more reckless with her income and expenses than they were?

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A Quick Word on Chris Watts’ Work Truck

How many vehicles did the Watts family own? We know Shan’ann had a new white Lexus. Chris Watts had a “work truck”. Wasn’t there a third vehicle? Well, there should have been, since Shan’ann bragged early on about both of them earning their Thrive auto bonuses straight out the gate.


When the police impounded Chris Watts’ the work truck [as described in the first TWO FACE book] it was this vehicle.


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It doesn’t look particularly new or particularly spiffy, does it? This truck A Ford is also referred to in the 2015 bankruptcy filing, which means it may be at least three years old, but more likely even older, probably a 2012 – 2014 model.

[Update: The Ford work truck is a 2015 model, so it may not be referenced in this filing.]

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We know that when the Watts’ moved to Frederick from North Carolina in 2012, it was part of a work transfer for Chris. He worked as a mechanic at a Ford Dealership, and Shan’ann worked in internet sales for the same company. Hence the Daily Beast quoting Greg Alore about the dynamic he observed between his married employees at the Ford dealership.

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It’s likely Chris Watts got his “work truck” from the Ford Dealership, and perhaps Anadarko assisted with the payments when it became “their” work truck, when Chris Watts started working for them as an operator in early 2015. That was the year they filed for bankruptcy [06/05/2015], and the year their second child Celeste was born [in July 2015, about a month after the filing].

The truck appears to be a 2012 Ford Super Duty F-250 SRW Lariat. It has a retail value of about $33 000.



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It’s also possible Chris Watts used his auto bonus to help pay for this vehicle, and it’s entirely probable he was still paying the vehicle off six years after buying it, perhaps on a hire-purchase type deal.
No other vehicles besides this vehicle and Shan’ann’s vehicle appear in their social media. What this shows, possibly, is a clear difference between the approaches of the husband and the wife to spending, and to financing – including big acquisitions.

In keeping with his personality, Chris Watts seemed more conservative in his spending. And in keeping with Shan’ann’s mushrooming extroversion, she seems to be less conservative in her spending and saving choices.

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Chris Watts: 7 Easter Eggs on Tornado Day

During the ongoing process of researching the third TWO FACE narrative, I reviewed some of the photos and videos on Shan’ann’s Facebook timeline. It’s all still public. It’s amazing how much we miss even though we have the information. It takes several flybys to see what we’re not seeing, to see the world but through different eyes.

In the seven-minute video, nothing much seems to be going on. It’s just a hailstorm in a Colorado neighborhood, right? In fact it was the second hail storm two-days in a row, and the import of these storms was actually quite significant [I’ll share that with you in a separate post].

I want to encourage you to watch the full seven minutes on your own, make your own observations and take your own notes. That way you might see even more of what we’re not seeing.

In Shan’ann’s seven-minute recording  from June 19th [a Tuesday, two hours before a doctor’s appointment] she talks at some length about her third pregnancy, and her concerns that she might have twins. The storm is part of a tornado that struck Frederick, and later the same day, Shan’ann said Chris Watts was hiding in a field and so wouldn’t be attending the ultrasound. So she took Bella instead.

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There’s also an ironic moment where Shan’ann acknowledges Deeter, the Watts’ little dachshund, who is clearly fearful because of the storm. She doesn’t comfort the dog, and a few minutes later when she opens the front door she tells him to stay back. He was obviously never allowed to run around on the front lawn.

In the video Shan’ann mentions how seldom it rains in Colorado. She says she wished it rained more, but preferably at night when they were sleeping so it wouldn’t disrupt them. She wills the storm to stop so she can make it to her doctor’s appointment.

Most of the real Easter eggs have nothing to do with what Shan’ann says in the clip:

  1. Chris Watts work truck parked in the road in the front and left side of the house. Now, to be fair, this screengrab is actually from the storm the day before, Monday June 18th, so if you missed it in the clip, that’s why.  The hailstorm of June 18th was worse than June 19th, and had meaningful consequences going forward. As mentioned, I’ll deal with those in a separate post. What’s important to note here is where Chris Watts normally parked his car. Not in the driveway, but in the road. What this suggests is on the night of the murders he would have gone outside and reversed the truck from the road to the garage door. The position of the truck also suggests that Chris Watts usually left the house through the front door and not the garage. This means the latching of the door and the exit through the garage on Monday August 13th was unusual. A further question to consider, just as far as it extends to the personality of Watts, is would he walk directly from the front door to the car door, or would he stay off the carefully manicured lawn, and sort of walk in a U-shape along the walkway. Note the car is parked right where the triangular strip of lawn ends, and the car doors open. Fullscreen capture 20181022 161459.jpg
  2. Shan’ann usually left her shoes at the front door. In the arrest affidavit Detective Baumhover notes that he saw a pair of women’s shoes near the front door. If the crime scene was staged, altered or covered up, then the way the scene was found isn’t necessarily the way it was when Shan’ann died. The shoes are important, because it paints a picture of Shan’ann arriving home late, and having the time and inclination to casually kick off her shoes once inside the front door. It also suggests she was relaxed. Although it’s possible the shoes had been left there since before she left for her trip, this feels unlikely. It would be useful to get confirmation from Nickole Atkinson what shoes Shan’ann wore when she flew with her from Arizona back to Colorado.
  3. The front door appears to be unlatched.  This appears to confirm Nickole’s comment that the front door wasn’t usually latched in her experience, and so when she arrived at the house on that fateful Monday she was surprised that it was. It will be interesting to see if Chris Watts’ fingerprints are found on the front door latch. Fullscreen capture 20181022 164650
  4. “Deeter stay in the house.” In the final minute of the clip, when Shan’ann opens the front door a second time, she tells the dog almost automatically to stay back.One of the questions people are asking is where was Deeter when the crimes were committed? We can probably exclude the front garden.
  5. The clip provides one of the best bird’s-eye-views of the front door’s side windows. This is important because it establishes line-of-sight into the Watts home. Those tall vertical rectangular windows don’t have blinds, which means they’re permanently providing a view inside the house, especially when the lights are on at night. While this tends to suggest the attack on Shan’ann didn’t happen downstairs, there are virtually no houses looking in directly across the road because the Watts home is positioned opposite a t-junction. The houses opposite are oriented sideways to the Watts house. In other words, unless a car is coming down the road, it’s unlikely residents on the road would be able to see inside those vertical windows unless they were standing on the sidewalk at 2 in the morning.
  6. Chris Watts did not attend the ultrasound on June 19th.
  7. Shan’ann joking on Facebook about having 2 or 5 babies in her belly may have been alarming for Chris Watts to hear, whether at the time or subsequently.

Is there anything else?

Did Chris Watts not mind his wife Shan’ann humiliating him on Facebook?

In TWO FACE I discuss the seemingly esoteric subject of man as a symbolic animal, and as a symbolic animal, how we are nourished [validated] with symbols that mean things to us. Flags, colors, brands, songs – the human experience is awash with things that enhance our experience of the world. But just as an animal who is nourished on symbols can find them infinitely and exquisitely validating, he can also be infinitely and excruciatingly invalidated.

Facebook is a great example of a simple symbolic schema that, if we allow it, determines our worth. We measure ourselves [our social power] and one another [their social power] by the number of friends, likes and and interactions we get on social media, and we especially value gestures of reinforcement from people that are important, or important to us. There three dynamics at play on social media. My social power, yours, and then the dynamic between mine and yours. In other words, who am I vis-a-vis everyone else, and who are you vis-a-vis me, and everyone else.

The magic of Thrive is how it’s designed to be a system where a nobody can be thrown a social media life-buoy and turned into somebody by legions of other MLM nobodies all hellbent on same need for social self-enrichment [and the piles of gold coins anticipated to go along with that]. You sing my praises and I’ll sing yours. You follow me and I’ll follow you. I make you rich, give you free stuff, and you do the same for me. It’s brilliant, because everyone wins. Right?

We’ve seen Shan’ann singing her husband’s praises as her Rock, the love of her life, the one for her, the one who stood by her, someone who she considered “amazing” as a man, a husband and a father. Validating, right?

Now imagine what this feels like.

To understand what’s really going on here, Shan’ann actually took out her camera and snapped a picture demonstrating her husband’s idiocy after giving him instructions. What this reveals isn’t just someone who’s used to barking out a lot of orders, but someone who expresses anger and contempt when her servant falls short.

It’s unlikely the picture in the above post is from the two Christmasses past. But the fact that Shan’ann would go to the effort to demo how dumb her partner was in this instance to better and more fully illustrate her point and share it on social media [note the face palms] says something about a tendency to “borrow strength” from her Facebook flock when her husband fell out of favor.

It wasn’t enough to chastise him in private, he needed to punished, to be flogged in public.

In another post she uses seven face palms to make her point, all symbolic emoticons that, if Chris Watts saw them, would tend to invalidate all the flattering stuff Shan’ann had said about him previously.

Now imagine this. Imagine when you’re being validated it’s not because of something real that you did, or because of some genuine encouragement, but rather it’s part of a spiel to sell patches. Who he is is simply and conveniently expropriated for economies of scope to tip the social media scales in her favor. But then, at other times, when he’s being invalidated, well, that’s real. That’s based on real life. Nothing is being sold there except the abounding truth that he’s an idiot.

In either case, Shan’ann is turning to Facebook to be her megaphone about her feelings.

It’s a betrayal.

Each and every one of those face palms is deeply invalidating, it’s the complete opposite of the feel-good factor of social media mentioned earlier.

By anchoring praise in Thrive-themed promotion on the one hand and anchoring criticism to reality in the other, Shan’ann’s exposing herself as a capricious charlatan, at least in terms of her marriage. He sees all too clearly her contempt for him; he’s become only good enough as a prop in her business, and a fake one at that [and they both know it].

If Shan’ann could do this on a public platform, what did she say and do when she was really angry with her husband?

Without knowing anything about the Watts case other than the fact that their were three victims [and the unborn Niko], it’s abundantly clear there was an excess of sadism in this particular crime.  To be clear, all crimes are sadistic. Sadism is the intentional effort to benefit at another’s expense. I kill you, you’re dead, I live at your expense and hopefully I flourish at your expense. The more murders the more sadism.

The Watts Family murders is one of the most sadistic family murders I’ve come across, though it’s no match for the sadism of the Van Breda axe murders, where a 20-year-old hacked to death both parents, his older brother and his younger sister [who ultimately survived].

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The Watts case feels gentler than axe murders, but consider the level of sadism to carry out one, then another, then a third strangling?  There’s also something particularly reprehensible about killing one’s own children, as well as this idea of quiet man quietly killing three innocent, helpless females in his care and custody.

If strangling is less sadistic than murder by axe, the carefully crafted disposal of the remains in oil drums and dirt feels coolly calculated, cruel and heartless. As if people he once knew as family, as a wife, as his own flesh and blood children, had suddenly been alchemised into garbage, and once they were garbage they could all be treated as such. And not a single tear shed in regret or remembrance.

Wherever there is sadism, there is anality. They go hand in hand. And wherever there is anality, there is humiliation. Without knowing anything about the Watts case it was immediately obvious that there was an extreme amount of humiliation somehow at play in the family dynamics.

We’re starting to see evidence of that now. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and the humiliation, mark my words, isn’t limited just to what the murderer felt…

Chris Watts told the Thayers on Monday – the morning of the murders – of “financial trouble”

At 11:06 in the clip below, the reporter asks about financial problems. Did Shan’ann or Chris Watts ever talk to them about their finances? The reporter mentions the Wattses filing for bankruptcy protection in 2015. Did they knowing anything about that?

Nick Thayer furrows his brow, purses his lips, pulls a face and shakes his head slightly in response.

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But the reporter pushes back on the same point.

REPORTER: Did you guys ever talk about financial stuff?

NICK: I mean, I was never a part of anything. Um-

AMANDA [Interrupting]: Shan’ann and I…Shan’ann and I had discussed it but [shakes head] it was so long ago…that…it was like, you know she would…like bring it up that, you know, ‘We had to file bankruptceeee’, and all of that other stuff, but it was…it kinda ended there.

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How likely is it, if Amanda and Shan’ann were business partners, that Amanda wouldn’t bring up Shana’nn’s seriously compromised finances with her husband?

I mean, I was never a part of anything. Um-

In another, harder to come by interview, the story shifts slightly.

AMANDA: We had no idea they were financialleee….until we spoke with Chris on Monday. Um…

NICK [Nods while looking at the ground]: He mentioned putting the house up for sale. [Wipes his nose]. 

REPORTER [Narrating]: And then…last week [the week prior to the murders], Amanda says Shan’ann confided suspicions of infidelity.

AMANDA: She…said that…it came to her mind…that possibly…he…could be cheating…but at the same time,  she was like [laughs], ‘He has no game.’

Interestingly, the Thayers noticed on Tuesday afternoon that Chris Watts wasn’t doing the easy things to find out where Shan’ann was.

NICK: He didn’t seem all that eager to…look into it.

REPORTER: They called detectives that night to report it [Chris Watts’ suspicious behavior].  

Who are Chris Watts’ friends Nick and Amanda?

It’s hard to believe – while Chris Watts was giving his Sermon on the Porch on Tuesday morning, Nick and Amanda Thayer were also there, listening to what he was saying to reporters. But were they really listening, given what transpired afterwards?

We know they were there because of photos placing them there, as well as from Chris Watts himself. During his now infamous interview, when asked by reporters where he would be staying that night, Watts answered “probably my friends Nick and Amanda.” And that night, that’s what he did.

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The Thayers are in a sense the alter ego to the Watts family. They’re a similar age, both similarly working class, they also have a young daughter, and also live in the same neighborhood in a similarly looking house.


Bella and the Thayer’s five-year-old daughter were friends,  and were going to do a sleepover on the day of the gender reveal party [August 18, a Saturday]. The two families had also spent Fourth of July and Thanksgiving barbecuing together.

More specifically, Chris Watts and Nick Thayer were jogging partners, and Shan’ann and Amanda were work colleagues.


Looking at the Thayer’s social media, it feels a lot like Shan’ann’s social media: conveying a colorful almost fairy-tale sense of Thriving. Interestingly, although the Thayer’s social media isn’t Thrive-themed like Shan’ann’s, it’s not trying to sell patches, it nevertheless feels like it’s selling something.

Nick Thayer works as a professional photographer, specializing in seniors. Through the Thayers, one can see how another dynamic emerges beyond the core dynamic between Chris and Shan’ann Watts, and between them and the children. Everyone on social media has their own networks, and some friends feature very prominently in their influence over other friends.

Shan’ann would have often seen Thayer’s photographs, typically of youthful couples in love, vibrant and colorful scenes [Thrivin’] and she would have tried to model some of her own promotion with a similar upbeat vibe.

Shan’ann has done the same with her guru Chris Collins, even down to photographing the dashboard of her new Lexus and commenting on the heat, to name but a few.

It was Nick who took the promotional photo of Shan’ann in front of her new Lexus and the family photos that featured in Strive magazine in April 2018.

Nick Thayer also shot some tasteful dusk scenes of the whole family, which has featured in the media – almost iconically – as the default depiction of the family fairy tale.

Since photography and videography [in the sense of going Live] featured so prominently in Shan’ann’s spiels, one can see how the Watts family and the Thayer family had more than a little in common. In a way the Watts family were photography clients [besides friends], and Amanda was possibly working directly or indirectly for Shan’ann in Thrive.

But for Amanda the Thrive thing was a sideline. Amanda is employed in proper job as an education director. Shan’ann on the other hand was all-in.

What was surprising about the Thayers – especially when juxtaposed with Chris Watts deadpan Sermon on the Porch about something far worse – was how emotionally they defended their decision to “harbor” Chris Watts on Tuesday night on social media, and then how emotionally they apologized for doing so afterwards [following Watts’ arrest].

Nick seemed to be in tears about a decision he said he’d regret for the rest of his life. His contrition seemed disproportionate though. They’d been misled; it was enough to simply communicate that. But instead of a short statement to set the record straight, the Thayer couple gave a half hour interview, and then another follow-up interview, and then yet another.

Amanda Thayer Chris Watts

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The Park bench Interview is useful as far as providing additional insight into the true dynamic between the Watts parents. Just like Nickole Atkinson, Amanda Thayer was aware [and so apparently was Nick] of the possibility of Chris Watts’ infidelity. Shan’ann had apparently communicated this in confidence to her friend.

In the Park bench Interview Amanda Thayer and Nick seemed to minimize the significance of the affair, even though we now know Chris Watts was “actively engaged” in one. It’s also from Amanda Thayer that we gained perhaps our greatest insight into how Shan’ann saw her husband. Even when Amanda repeated the words, she chuckled, perhaps mirroring the same contempt Shan’ann felt when she told her: “He has no game.”

It remains to be seen whether the Thayers are the friends or witnesses mentioned in the prosecution’s motions who might be tainted by the autopsy evidence, or if it’s someone else.

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Which is Shan’ann’s Most Heartbreaking Post of All?

What’s so amazing about the Watts case is how familiar we’ve become with each of them. Every time we click on a video, Shan’ann and sometimes one or both of her children come back to life. But that’s an illusion. They’re dead and in the ground in a graveyard in North Carolina. The fairy tale – if there ever was one to begin with – is over for them, and always will be. It will be over for the rest of this year, next year, and for the next several decades. Whatever life they enjoyed is gone forever.

This case is about four lives lost, five if we count Watts wretched existence.

It’s never good to allow our own sentiment to leak into cogent true crime analysis. God knows the Facebook flocks are ALL about emotion and little else.

Every so often, when investigating the victim’s story,  even the hardest of hearts have to soften. For me it’s this image. Shan’ann looks young and playful, it’s as if someone caught her in a rare authentic moment of Shan’ann just enjoying being Shan’ann without putting on any airs.

At the same time her two daughters are modelling themselves on a mother who although wasn’t perfect, was still probably the person they loved and trusted most in their world. This trio spent a lot of time together, getting to know one another, and if one thing can be said about Shan’ann, she really wanted to bring life into the world. That dream, at least, did come true for her.

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There’s something haunting about the two pictures with the blackboard poking out in the background, the text meaningful but almost too small to read. The door in one image is closed, in the next it’s open. Perhaps a figure is standing there in the shadows, but if someone is there, they don’t notice.

All three of them are looking into the mirror, and then the youngest child – Ceecee – turns around, breaking through the hypnosis of seeing herself in the mirror. How long and how often did Chris Watts think about what he was going to do before he finally did it?

The Story Behind the T-Shirt Chris Watts was wearing during his Sermon on the Porch

At 12:56 in the audio clip below, a female reporter abruptly asks Chris Watts about his shirt. Reporters [and in court trial lawyers] often make the mistake of asking vague and open-ended questions. There’s a place for that, but there’s also a place for targeted interrogation.

Direct and specific questions tend to catch suspects off guard, and sometimes the silliest question [if it’s informed] can solicit an unexpected insight. Well, this was one of those.

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REPORTER: Shan’ann went tuh…where’d you get that shirt?

WATTS: Oh…this is uh…I think she got it off Amazon, but this is the…my favorite college sports team. 

REPORTER: Sh-she…was-wasn’t she just there?

WATTS: She was-yeah, North Carolina, yep. She prob-she actually probably got it from there. Usually she gets stuff from Amazon. But this one…I like these shirts [laughs] a lot. 

There’s so much to mine out of this brief repartee. Firstly, especially when one listens to the same clip a few times, it actually sounds like the female reporter is purposefully trying to catch him out – catch him in a lie.

One suspects she was one of a few journos listening-in while he was giving his spiel and the more he said, the less she was buying it.

Now, when she asks her question, she misspeaks, basically firing off the punchline by mistake before she can lead him into her snare. Kudos to her, she changes her question in mid-sentence, making it sound like she’s forgotten what she meant to say and then just throws out a random question, except it’s not random.

The second point is that the reporter does actually succeed in catching Watts in a little lie. The fact that he lies about something so seemingly insignificant suggests this guy is a lot sneakier in general than we suspect. If he lies casually like this to the media didn’t he lie about anything and everything?

When we look at images of Watts, we forget he’s facing at least half a dozen journos – strangers – standing around him. He’s a fox in front of the media, isn’t he? A silver fox trying to outsmart the journos.

Apparently he’d outsmarted Shan’ann with his smoothness, and it had gotten him this far. Or so he thought. Maybe some wives give the impression to some husbands that they’re good liars, and it leads to false confidence.

The third insight from this short dialogue is that Chris Watts admits to being a big sports buff. I’ve written a previous blog probing at the events that played out over the weekend prior to the murders, and it’s certain there were a bunch of big sporting events he would have wanted to catch. The Carolina Tar Heels first football game of the season, however, was on September 1st. Watts was in jail when they lost 17 – 24 to California.

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There’s something that feels immature about this guy standing on the porch in shorts and slops on a work day, a week day, wearing a t-shirt with the logo of his “favorite” college football, talking to the media about his missing [murdered] family.

It’s difficult to say what it is exactly. Reading between the lines, although Watts avoids saying his wife’s name, he admits that his wife bought him the shirt. There’s a sense there of coddling, assuming it’s true. Consider the cruel irony, to be standing there with your wife dead and buried, wearing the t-shirt she ‘s given to him, and luxuriating in being able to wear the shirt of his favorite sports team while shrugging and smiling for the cameras. It speaks, I think of conceit. And selfishness.

Finally the reporter reminds Watts that she’s aware that Shan’ann was just in North Carolina, and then, easy-as-you please, he changes his story to say Shan’ann didn’t buy it on Amazon after all, but bought it while she was in North Carolina. Actually she probably bought it for him while he was there with her, otherwise when else would she have given it to him?

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In addition, there are a few incidental observations surrounding the t-shirt worth highlighting:

That white object appears to be a holder for the garage keypad. It’s not a light, the exterior lights are similar to the one above Watts head.

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The light on the wall where the keypad is, is just out of picture.

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A zoomed in view confirms the lower part of this plastic object appears to be a receptacle for the remote, which slots in from above.

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Finally, Watts isn’t wearing a watch or wedding ring in these pictures. Going through the archive it’s a mixed bag, with some photos showing him wearing what appears to be a black wedding band, and often a colored wristband on the opposite wrist, and sometimes a watch, but not always. The physical and greasy nature of his work probably meant he often had to remove things from his finger and wrists when he was getting his hands dirty.Fullscreen capture 20181020 233823

The Best Mainstream Theory on who killed JonBenet is still full of Crap

Detective Steve Thomas was the former lead detective on the Ramsey case. He had a strong case, and a good theory on who wrote the Ransom Note, not so much who killed JonBenet Ramsey. Thomas’ book when it came out in 2000 provided valuable firsthand insight into what was going on on the ground inside the troubling case that rocked Boulder, Colorado in the Christmas of 1996.

As valuable as Thomas’ narrative was then, and remains now, Detective James Kolar’s case was stronger, his theory better and more refined, but then he had twelve years to fine-tune the theory.

But even after twelve years of editing and adapting and fixing the theory, when James Kolar actually put his hypothesis on the record, it was highly simplistic. You can listen to and watch it in full at this link, but what it amounts to is:

  1. JonBenet arrived home at about 21:30 and went to bed.
  2. She did sleep.
  3. John Ramsey did carry her upstairs to bed.
  4. Patsy remained downstairs with Burke.
  5. She served him the tea and the pineapple.
  6. “I think that accounts for the physical evidence as well as the latent print…”
  7. “Then I think [Patsy] got JonBenet up to make sure she used the toilet so she didn’t wet the bed that night.”
  8. “JonBenet was up. She may or may not have brushed her teeth that night.”
  9. “Maybe she was still hungry. And she went downstairs.”
  10. “In the meantime Patsy continued packing for the Michigan trip.”
  11. “I think if Burke was upset about circumstances, or Christmas presents, he probably would have been upset about [JonBenet] trying to snag a piece of pineapple.”
  12. “Out of anger he may have struck her with that flashlight.”
  13. All the experts around the table then sign off on this theory, saying they agree with it, and it’s not actually intentional murder, it’s an accident.

It seems like a pretty darned good theory, doesn’t it? Well, it’s a good theory if you’ve been snoozing through at least half of the sizable archive of evidence that’s out there! This theory makes zero provision for a garrote, and also zero provision for sexual interference. There were actually tiny drops of blood on JonBenet’s underpants. How did that happen when she got bashed on the head? Why were her genitals wiped down and her panties changed? Why was that necessary if she’d simply been hit on the head, presumably in the kitchen?

The TCRS take on the 13 points of Kolar’s hypothesis is that all 13 points are probably not true, and a few only half true. The gist of Kolar’s hypothesis nevertheless may be true, if that makes sense.

What does this mean?

Going through Kolar’s list one-by-one:

1. JonBenet likely never went to bed that night and thus 2. Never slept that night. An initial knee-jerk explanation for this is to simply look at her bed. Does that look like a bed someone went to sleep in, or a bed parents would have tucked their daughter in and left pillows and clothes on?

Beyond the low hanging fruit, there’s plenty of evidence from the housekeepers [plural] who worked for the Ramseys that JonBenet was a problem sleeper. She was often put to bed with a video and a bottle, the latter causing her to wet the bed. Since this was the only reliable way to settle her down, the Ramseys adopted it and had others [the housekeepers] clean up the mess the next morning. JonBenet was also very late in getting weaned off her bottle, a factor that’s not relevant strictly speaking in the circumstances that Christmas in 1996, but is nevertheless generally relevant, as I’ll explain in a moment.

3. John Ramsey probably didn’t carry JonBenet to bed that night. He just wasn’t that kind of dad.

4, 5 and 6: Patsy’s fingerprint on the bowl doesn’t mean that she served Burke the pineapple, though it might. The fingerprint could have left earlier when Patsy handled the bowl, or after the incident. One reason it seems unlikely Patsy served Burke is the over-sized spoon. Patsy cared about appearances, from matching outfits for herself and her kids, to Christmas trees in every room, and candy sticks on the lawn. It’s unlikely she would have not cared about her son using an oversized spoon. That seems to be the sort of error a little boy, and perhaps a hungry little boy, might make. The oversized spoon and the messy bed speak of the same thing – neglect.

7. Patsy didn’t care whether JonBenet wet the bed, just as she didn’t do anything about Burke’s scatalogical behavior. The bedwetting was a chronic pattern, so chronic it was happening virtually every night. The Ramseys’ response to this was to simply cover the mattress with a protective [water/urine proof] plastic sheet, and then have the housekeeper wash the urine-soaked pajamas the next morning. Patsy would habitually strip the urine-soaked sheets each morning, and load them into a conveniently situated washing machine right outside JonBenet’s bedroom.

The extract below is from the long form Vanity Fair article Missing Innocence, written in October 1997 by Ann Bardach. The original article has since been taken offline.

If Patsy wasn’t taking care of chronic bed wetting issues with both her children, isn’t it doubtful that she was preparing special snacks for them late at night, and taking her daughter to the bathroom before bed?

8. This is probably the most true fact in Kolar’s hypothesis: JonBenet was up. Yes she was, and Burke was too. They were both up late at night – it was Christmas after all. If she and her brother had been taken care of generally in a more consistent manner by her parents, probably they would have been in a routine to go to bed at a specific time. As things stood, they weren’t, and there were consequences for this ongoing oversight.

9. Was JonBenet hungry? Was Burke hungry? The pineapple bowl is hardly eaten, which suggests either that someone made the snack for Burke and he lost interest, or that he made it for himself, and then got sidetracked. He did seem to be thirsty as the glass of tea is completely drained.

Besides the evidence in her stomach, there’s no evidence JonBenet was hungry or actively eating, and one should bear in mind that Christmas tends to be a time when there is plenty to eat, including confection. There is a small amount of pineapple in JonBenet’s stomach contents. The autopsy reportsuggests 10 cc of mucous material remained in the stomach, while fragments of pineapple appeared even lower in the small intestine.

Although the pineapple isn’t irrelevant, if Kolar’s scenario is accurate, moments after ingestion a single piece JonBenet was smashed over the head. This would suggest the fragment would have lodged in her throat or esophagus, maybe her stomach. So how did it get all the way down to her small intestine?

The dramatization shows JonBenet heading downstairs with her pillow, and in the photo of her bed, the pillow is missing. A pillow was found on the kitchen counter, however crime scene photos in this respect are inconsistent.

10. According to Kolar, both children were in the kitchen – eating – while Patsy was upstairs [elsewhere] packing for their trip first thing the next morning to Michigan. The evidence doesn’t support the fact that Patsy was packing. Nothing was packed. In fact the only suitcase that’s worth noting is the almost empty one belonging to Andrew that was found in the basement below the window, likely as part of a staged scenario.

ccording to Patsy’s interview with the Boulder cops, all she packed was a single plastic bag. Have you ever heard of a pageant queen going on a glamorous trip via chartered jet carrying her clothes in a plastic bag?

[The screengrabs below are from this link]

Does this look like anything was packed?

I do think Kolar is generally correct that wherever the Ramsey children were, the parents were likely somewhere else that night. I don’t think the incident, as Kolar describes it, happened in the kitchen however. I’ll get to why I think that in a moment.

11. “I think if Burke was upset about circumstances, or Christmas presents, he probably would have been upset about [JonBenet] trying to snag a piece of pineapple.” This is Kolar’s best and most prescient insight, but in the terms expressed here only half true. The pineapple is valuable evidence in calculating time of death, and in confirming that JonBenet was up and eating when she was supposedly in bed and asleep. In terms of the merits of the crime itself I believe it’s completely irrelevant.

12. “Out of anger he struck her with a flashlight.” Kolar’s right, Burke probably had reason to resent his sister, and he’d struck her in past in a fit of pique on JonBenet’s fifth birthday, so why wouldn’t those same events play out on the night JonBenet was killed?

For one, no fingerprints were found on the flashlight. If the flashlight was the murder weapon, and the little girl was killed in the kitchen, why leave the flashlight there to “explicate” the circumstances? Let me be more clear. If Kolar’s version is accurate, then the Ransom Note was an elaborate ruse meant to mislead investigators about what really happened. If the Ramseys went to so much trouble to cover up evidence, why would they leave something as instrumental as the murder weapon at the crime scene? Why not get rid of it? Why not put it somewhere else?

In my opinion Kolar [and his cohorts in the documentary] are a tad unsophisticated in their assumption that pineapple + pineapple fragments + flashlight = death by flashlight in the kitchen. It’s too simplistic, and it doesn’t account for the fashioning of the garrote, the tying of the hands in nylon rope or the sexual interference. If Burke struck his sister, it was out of fear – in my view – of being found out about said sexual interference.

13. The thirteenth and last point is the most absurd of them all. The experts – from the FBI, the world’s leading forensic minds – are all unanimous. JonBenet wasn’t murdered, it was an accident. It wasn’t an intentional murder.

If it wasn’t an intentional act, why the intentional cover-up of an accident? Why cover-up an accident for 22 years? Why construct a Ransom Note? And when the police asked Patsy if it might be some sort of accident, why didn’t she tell the cops investigating and interrogating them that it was?

According to CBS:

“JonBenet got up and somebody in that house – legally, lawfully, one of the three of you – also happens to be up, or gets up because she makes noise,” Haney said during the questioning. “There is some discussion or something happens, there’s an accident.”

“You’re going down the wrong path, Buddy,” said Patsy.

Haney continued: “OK. Somebody accidentally or somebody gets upset over bedwetting, that’s one of the things that’s been proposed.”

“Didn’t happen,” said Patsy. “If she got up in the night and ran into somebody, it was somebody there that wasn’t supposed to be there. I don’t know what transpired after that, whether it was accident, intentional, premeditated or what not. It was not one of her three family members that were also in that house. Period. End of statement.”

If Patsy ever admitted it was an accident, she’d be throwing Burke under the bus, and herself [for misleading the cops], and implicating her husband as an accessory too. If one was implicated, all would be.

On October 18, 2018, an interesting update occurred in the Ramsey case. InTouch reported on Burke Ramsey “urging investigators to release files proving his innocence…” as well on Burke’s lawyers responses to Kolar’s Hypothesis:

Burke’s lawyers say key evidence about the contents of JonBenét’s stomach was deliberately left out of the docuseries in order to frame him. The scenario alleged that a then-nine-year-old Burke was furious at JonBenét for stealing pineapple from his bowl, so he smashed her over the head with a flashlight and killed her.

But Burke’s lawsuit claims the pineapple found in JonBenét’s body was in the intestinal tract below her stomach — meaning it had been eaten two to three hours before she died. Additionally, grapes and cherries were found in her system, which the series failed to disclose.

Experts — who testified in the case — said JonBenét would have died within three minutes of a blow to the head, so she wouldn’t have digested the pineapple. In other words, the docuseries’ theory is impossible.

TCRS’ assessment of this: the docuseries rather than “framing” Burke, implicates him in an accident. The 2-3 hour claim seems about right in the sense that it would take time for food to move through the stomach and into the small intestine. Three hours however seems excessively long. The mention of grapes and cherries in JonBenet’s system actually points to the little girl eating a small fruit cocktail, or the remains of one prepared earlier, before her death. The additional fruit pieces obviously pours cold water on the theory that JonBenet plucked pineapple out of her brother’s bowl.

The docuseries theory is implausible, but the theory that Burke smashed his sister over the head is not.  As noted, he’d smashed his sister in the face before with a golf stick just one year earlier. The findings of the Grand Jury accusing both parents of child abuse, and accusing both parents of being accessories shows further reinforcement of Kolar’s contention.

Further reading: 

Debunking the JonBenét Ramsey Kidnapping: What was the family’s real role in the murder?

New Clues in JonBenet Ramsey Murder

JonBenet Ramsey Case: James Kolar, Former Leading Investigator Rejects Intruder Theory In New Book (PHOTOS)

‘The Case Of: JonBenet Ramsey’: Investigators Land on Theory of Brother Burke Ramsey

Lawyer’s claim the JonBenet Ramsey documentary wrongly accused her brother Burke

Former Jonbenet investigator talks to CNN

‘Burke did it’: Crime show claims JonBenet Ramsey WAS killed by her ‘violent’ older brother and her parents covered it up after the siblings ‘clashed over a midnight snack of fresh pineapple’

Brother of JonBenet Ramsey Sues CBS for $750 Million Over TV Special

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