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Debunking Gladwell’s Analysis of Amanda Knox: #1 “Rudy Guede [the black guy] did it”

The chapter in Malcolm Gladwell’s book TALKING TO STRANGERS dealing with Amanda Knox is Chapter 7 of 12 chapters, in Part 4 of 5 parts. As the chapter itself admits, it’s a “short” explanation of the Amanda Knox case. And that’s the problem. In a case spanning four years and four separate hearings [between November 2007 and October 2011], five pages hardly does the Amanda Knox case justice.

I’ve written six books on the case, with two to go. That’s two trilogies. This blog post on it’s own [and it will be one of several on the same subject] is likely as long if not longer than Gladwell’s chapter on Knox. It’s impossible to give this case a fair airing in a single “short” chapter. Even in that chapter Gladwell provides other cases, including Bernie Madoff and someone he refers to as “Nervous Nelly”.

And Gladwell* admits at one point:

I could give you a point-by-point analysis of what was wrong with the investigation of Kercher’s murder. It could easily be the length of this book…But instead, let me give you the simplest and shortest of all possible Amanda Knox theories. Her case is about transparency.

Gladwell is an expert at thin-slicing, and arguably a craftsman at keeping things short, sweet and succinct. For my part I’ve bought, read and enjoyed several of Gladwell’s books.

The problem here, dealing with this particular subject matter, is that brevity becomes reductionist. Short becomes not only simplistic, but grossly oversimplified.  What Gladwell’s done here is basically taken the veneer of the mainstream media version of Knox’s story, the generic Wikipedia version, and adopted it seemingly at face value. He may have Googled a few other sources, and did some background reading, but then figured, he’s figured it out, let’s stick to the basics and not confuse the audience.

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True Crime sets a high bar for truth-telling, and though Gladwell means well, it’s questionable whether he succeeds in clarifying the Knox case or contaminating it even more than it already is.

Bear in mind, his book isn’t a book on the Amanda Knox case, it’s a book about something else, and the Amanda Knox case is just one short chapter on the way to making his points about effective discourse with strangers.

In this series True Crime Rocket Science will evaluate Gladwell’s assertions on Knox. In itself, Gladwell’s “thin-slicing” of the Knox case is fortuitous – it’s an excellent summary of the mainstream narrative and what’s wrong with it. It also shows how in our haste to make our “expert” opinions known, we are tempted to cherry pick the low hanging fruit that suits our own confirmation bias. True crime can’t be rushed, and complex criminal cases shouldn’t be treated like a convenience store for civil intertextuality.

You get intertextuality within crimes, and that’s one thing, but there be dragons when you start to assume murder suspects are innocent and they are then recruited as part of a PR effort to promote some sort of cerebral agenda.  It would be like conflating Stephen Avery with the plight of the poor – just don’t do it. Leave true crime out of it. It’s a separate discipline.

If Gladwell is a cognitive specialist, the Amanda Knox case is the epitome of a case, and a character, that is anything but cerebral.


Cerebral people use their brains instead of their hearts. 

I don’t mean that the case itself isn’t challenging, I mean the personality and the character of Amanda Knox, as it relates to the Murder of Meredith Kercher, is anything but cerebral. Knox’s book Waiting to be Heard is exhibit A in confirming someone who was trying to live it up, as most students do.

Chocolate festivals, sex, Halloween parties [and not being invited to them], boyfriends [and being passed over by someone you fancy living downstairs in favor of her housemate], smoking marijuana and then stepping the recreational drugs up a gear.

The most cerebral aspect of Knox’s existence in 2007 was Harry Potter. She read it in English, German and at the time of the murder, was trying to read The Deathly Hallows in Italian. Even in her choice of boyfriend, Knox selected Raffaele Sollecito because he resembled her hero Harry Potter.

Instead of carrying a wand and being interested in magic, Sollecito was a knife freak, who was into violent manga and cocaine. In today’s parlance we’d think of the young Italian as an incel. He was closer to an Elliot Rodger than Harry Potter, and Knox herself – loud, boisterous and promiscuous – was no Hermione.

This is what I mean by “the personality and the character of Amanda Knox, as it relates to the Murder of Meredith Kercher, is anything but cerebral.”

But let’s deal with the cool intelligence of Gladwell as he writes about the case. We’ll assume, as a thought leader, he became a scholar of the case, and we’ll test his application of his research through the prism of True Crime Rocket Science.

Worth playing for? 

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1. Someone was caught = case closed?

It seems ridiculously obvious doesn’t it? The black guy did it, so what’s the fuss about Amanda Knox anyway?

This is what’s known as being reductionist in true crime. Similar arguments have been made against the West Memphis Three, the three youths accused of brutalizing, torturing and murdering three eight-year-old boys. Why did three youths have to be guilty? Why couldn’t it be just one, or for that matter, anyone? Curiously, one of those youths found guilty and then acquitted in the West Memphis  Three case appeared on the same stage to proclaim his innocence as Amanda Knox.


Interestingly, in the West Memphis Three case, one of the main challenges to the prosecution’s case is also a black person as a “possible alternate suspect”.

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It should be noted, in the trials of Amanda Knox, as well as those of the West Memphis Three, Knox and Damien Echols both were charged with two sidekicks, and both received the harshest sentences. Both were implicated as ringleaders within a trio of suspects.

So Gladwell’s very first sentence in his chapter implies that because some person was caught and charged, Knox is off the hook. In theory, he could have stopped at that sentence and gone on to the next chapter.

There are many cases involving accessories to murder, one of the most famous – but never proved, nor tested in a court of law – was JonBenet Ramsey. JonBenet’s parents were found by the Grand Jury to be accessories after the fact to the a third party.

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So even that case involves a potential trio – of accessories and a perpetrator. I could go on, but let’s get back to Gladwell. Nowhere that I can see, does Gladwell provide the most obvious thin-slicing. What’s the first thing one does when establishing the possible involvement of a potential suspect? What’s the first and best way to exclude a potential suspect of a crime? You find out whether they have an alibi. It’s not rocket science. And so you need two pieces of information. When did the victim die, and where was the suspect at this estimated time of death?

2. True Crime 101: Be Precise About Time of Death

I love the way Gladwell uses the most indirect language to skirt around this issue. He doesn’t write: “At 22:11 Rudy Guede murdered Meredith Kercher. At that time, Amanda Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito to were – WHERE EXACTLY?”

Instead Gladwell uses pretty clumsy English – for him.

“On the night of…Meredith Kercher was murdered by…”

Murdered by? I’m not sure when last I’ve heard those words. X murdered Y. It’s never a case of X was murdered BY Y.

By being this vague about the timing, Gladwell’s also vague about the date. November 1 was a holiday in Italy. It meant, on that day, most of the students in Perugia where Knox was attending college were away, visiting their parents over a long weekend. This meant it was only Knox and Kercher in the house, no one else. They were the only expats. And what do university students – especially expats – tend to do over long weekends?

In his next sentence, Gladwell juxtaposes mountains of speculation [what’s argumentation?] and controversy with the certainty of Guede’s guilt. Yes, Guede’s guilt is certain. He left his feces in the toilet bowel, and a bloody handprint on the wall above Meredith Kercher’s bed. He also left a series of shoeprints when he bolted from Meredith’s room down the hall and out the front door.


And this is where the rubber of True Crime Rocket Science hits the road. Look at the image of Guede’s shoe trail. What do you see? You don’t see anything. If you’d entered the house, as Knox claimed she did, at face value you wouldn’t see any blood. That’s a problem.

3. Where’s the blood, and why is so much of it a washed-out pink?

The original crime scene in Meredith’s bedroom was a bloodbath. Meredith throat was gashed deeply in two places, and she was also cut or stabbed seven times and had sixteen bruises on her body.

As Knox herself said: “She fucking bled to death…” When that happens, there’s a lot of blood. And there was. Arterial blood sprayed everywhere, and yet the crime scene had a weird combination of thick pools of blood, and pinkish transparent streams of diluted blood.

There was also a weird combination of the grotesqueness of the crime itself, and the fact that Meredith’s murderer had thoughtfully placed a duvet over her body, then closed the door behind him [or her], and locked it.

Somewhere in Gladwell’s “mountains of controversy” there are a few good reasons. Thin-slicing the evidence around Guede, we see if he was the only murderer, and if he beat a hasty retreat, then why did he fail to leave clear shoeprints in Meredith’s blood? He’d left a finger smear on the wall, and clearly more blood had to have sprayed onto his trousers and pooled onto the floor, so it was more likely he’d leave a trail of shoeprints. So why aren’t they there? Why, instead, are there various other footprints and shoeprints laid into the blue bathroom mat and in a shoe Guede didn’t even own?

So we have a situation here where it appears someone spent time cleaning up the crime scene – not only inside Kercher’s room, but in the hallway. Guede’s shoeprints left in Meredith’s blood were mostly wiped away, but not completely. Why weren’t they clearly visible, bright, and solid? After all, blood in a situation like this, where someone’s neck is cut open, is thick and scarlet. Think about Nicole Brown. So much blood flowed out of her it traveled down the garden path and dripped onto the sidewalk.

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We won’t go into detail here about the blood evidence, or the mixed DNA traces, but it’s extensive. There’s an orgy of evidence.

4. “I wasn’t there” vs “Of course my DNA was there, I lived there”

Knox often refers to this aspect dismissively, saying there’s no evidence of her in the crime scene. She seems to be referring to Meredith’s room when she says that. As if the crime scene begins and ends inside Meredith’s room.


Knox’s lack of DNA in Kercher’s room was no fault of her own. According to Knox, cleaning DNA is not one of her specialties. “That’s impossible. It’s impossible to see DNA, much less identify whose DNA it is.”

It’s not impossible to see DNA. If blood is lying on the ground, DNA is in that blood lying on the ground. If you clean up the blood, you clean up the DNA.

<> on September 29, 2011 in Perugia, Italy.

When asked about her DNA in Meredith’s blood elsewhere in the house, Knox is equally dismissive.

“Of course my DNA was there. I lived there! We lived together for months…”

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5. Shady Character/s

Now let’s deal with Guede. Gladwell accuses Guede of being a “shady character” but doesn’t explain why. He mentions Guede having a “criminal history”, but doesn’t say what for.

So let’s answer that. Guede was drug dealer. He was said to be involved in several break-ins, but these were so petty, even when he was caught, the police didn’t press charges. More pertinently, Guede was a fairly frequent visitor to the house where Meredith, Knox, and the Italian boys downstairs lived. He played basketball with the guys, and sometimes smokes joints with the girls. On at least one occasion Guede got so high he fell asleep in the bathroom of the villa.

Gladwell is right to observe that Guede had been hanging around the house, but he should be more explicit that he also hung around inside it. On one occasion he went out clubbing with them. In this scenario, where Guede is a fairly frequent companion to the residents of the villa, it suddenly becomes less preposterous that there might be a crime involving more than one person.amandaKnox_2142321a

We’ve also got to link Guede to Knox’s Italian boyfriend. How do we do that? Actually, it’s pretty simple. How did one link Guede to any university student?

Guede was drug dealer.

In July 2014 the Telegraph reported on a cocaine dealer who Knox met on a train and had sex with, while her younger sister was traveling with her through Italy [and just prior to her commencing her studies in Perugia]. Guess what? This cocaine dealer wasn’t Rudy Guede, it was someone else.

Amanda Knox was reportedly having sexual relations with a cocaine dealer…Reports of Ms Knox’s drug dealing connections were not mentioned at her murder trials in Italy, but the Italian crime magazine Giallo has reported that in January 2008, police investigators wrote that she had had a relationship of a “supposedly sexual nature” with a man they refer to as ‘F’, who had sold drugs to the US student.

Giallo wrote that ‘F’ was a psychology student from Rome who met Ms Knox on a train from Milan to Florence and shared a joint with her. His number was later found on Ms Knox’s cell phone and Giallo said he had been in contact with her frequently, before and after the slaying of Ms Kercher.

Source: The Telegraph.

What we have here is a precedent for Knox and Sollecito to require the drug peddling services of Guede. And if he was a shady character, and they were actively using his services, what does that say about their characters?

When Gladwell refers to Guede hanging around the house Knox stayed in, why was he hanging around? Well, what about to do his trade with them, as he was doing with the student population in general?

Gladwell portrays Guede as a stranger to Knox, but that’s a mistake. It’s even possible Knox was either sleeping with Guede, or infatuated with him.

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Source: The Education of Amanda Knox, from

Meredith Kercher Murder Trial Resumes

6. Fleeing the crime scene

Gladwell finishes off his opening gambit linking the discovery of Kercher’s body to Guede fleeing to Germany [where, as it happens, Knox’s aunt also lived].

Now, to be clear, all of Meredith’s British friends fled Perugia. They cut short their studies and decamped back to Britain. But Knox wanted to stay. Everyone in the villa had to move out following Meredith’s murder, but Knox wanted to continue staying there. In fact, Knox was bummed out that she’d just paid the rent and now wasn’t going to get anything for it. Knox wanted her life to go on business as usual, even though someone in the room next door to her had been brutally murdered.

Gladwell might dismiss this as simply quirky, but most right-thinking people would realize something more was amiss. This isn’t just goofy behavior, although the goofy behavior is relevant. It’s more goofy than everyone else, why is that? And what might this goofiness have to do with her street cred, and her attitude to…say…alcohol use [as a 21-year-old American] and her proclivity to recreational drug use, and sex?

When Guede went to Germany, a friend of his got hold of him on Skype and had a conversation. This is an extract of that conversation.

GUEDE: I’m afraid. But I don’t want to stay in Germany, I’m black and if the police catch me I don’t know what they might do to me. I prefer Italian jails. In the newspaper they’re writing that I was drunk and slept on the toilet. That’s crap. In that house we were smoking joints, we smoked and so did those girls, everyone did. After that I said to the guys, who are men of their word, “Listen, guys, I’m tired, I can’t walk now, can I sleep over here?” So I slept on their sofa. I was only ever at their place twice. After that, after that I met Amanda, but I didn’t talk to her any more, I just saw her one other time, at that pub, at Lumamba’s pub, whatever his name is.

GIACOMO: Right, Lumumba.

Slipping ahead.

GUEDE: Listen to this [Guede is reading from a newspaper], “Meredith’s clothes were put in the washing machine. When the police came to the house it was still full, the girl’s clothes were wet”, so if that really did happen, Amanda or Raffaele did it. Do you understand? That must have been them, if it really happened.

GIACOMO: Why would they have done that?

GUEDE: Because when I left she was dressed, see?

GIACOMO: Meredith? The girl who died?

GUEDE: But Meredith was dressed.

GIACOMO: So they killed her dressed?

GUEDE: Yes, but it says here that they were washed in the washing machine, but it’s not true, she was dressed, she had a pair of jeans on and a white shirt and a woolen thing. She was dressed.

GIACOMO: All right, and that…

GUEDE: This means that they washed them, Giacomo. I left [the house], and that guy [quello] must have left that house and…

GIACOMO: But what the hell did Amanda go wash the clothes for?

GUEDE: How the hell do I know?

Read the rest of the transcript here.

There’s also something else that’s interesting. When Knox was arrested, she implicated another black man as being at her apartment. Her boss. According to that confession she was with this black man while he was in the room with Kercher. What are the chances Knox would know that Meredith’s killer was black person before anyone, before the rest of the world did?

And further, if Guede was at the villa, and Knox knew about him, why wouldn’t she tell the police about him, rather than her boss, was a married father who had never been to her home to begin with?

In Episode #2 TCRS will deal with Gladwell’s version of the police investigation into Knox and Sollecito, including his version of the forensic evidence. 

*Malcolm Gladwell. Talking to Strangers (Kindle Locations 1975-1983). Little, Brown and Company.

TCRS Assessment of Chris Watts’ Affect – AUDIO ANALYSIS #1


Hello, and welcome to True Crime Rocket Science.

For most people, their first introduction to 33-year-old Chris Watts was on Tuesday, August 14th, 2018, during his seven-minute Sermon on the Porch. We watched as a well-groomed man, a Silver Fox, stood in charcoal shorts and a t-shirt, and spoke casually about his missing family.

Where were they? He wasn’t sure – he was concerned – but he also seemed unperturbed. Maybe they were safe, maybe they weren’t. The game of psychological cat and mouse was underway.

Over the course of these first few minutes we saw Watts for the first time, but most of us missed the first wave of telltale micro expressions. It didn’t really matter, because overall, what we did see was loud and clear. We could all see that his affect just wasn’t right. While many of us didn’t know what it meant, we suspected something bad had happened, and most of us were right about that.

Since then, dozens of experts have analyzed the footage recorded by media, media that incidentally Detective Baumhover made sure were there when Shan’ann and the children didn’t turn up over night, nor early the next morning. At around 07:00 in the morning the media were contacted, and by around 10:00 they were gathered around Watts’ porch – on 2825 Saratoga Trail, in Frederick Colorado.

From Dr. Phil to the District Attorney, from YouTubers to the millions around the world who started following this case , we all saw the same thing. We saw – before any forensic evidence was located, before any bodies were found – that Watts simply didn’t appear as we expected him to appear. As strangers, and even the reporters only met the Anadarko field worker for the first time that day, we knew something was off, we just didn’t know how off.

But someone did. The neighbor knew. And Shan’ann’s best friend knew. The detective and police knew. And then, once Watts was interrogated, and his interrogators got to know him, they realized just how oddly he was behaving, and the alarm bells started clanging.

This getting to know a suspect takes time. And we never really finish the job of assembling an identity that the perpetrator is doing his damnedest to conceal from us.

In this episode, True Crime Rocket Science will take you through the audio of these actual conversations, and deal with his affect in a new way.  Firstly, we have to bear in mind what we don’t know, and what True Crime Rocket Science says about that. Secondly, we have to take our cues from those on the ground who knew Watts, but bearing in mind their context is limited too. Thirdly, we have to break into Watts’ mind and see why he was playing his cards the way he was playing them.

Finally, we want to take all of this, and apply it where it hasn’t been before, which is to ask whether – after a year and countless hours studying this particular killer – whether we’ve become effective not just at lie spotting, but putting together a personal profile. In other words, do we know who Watts is one year later?

Worth playing for?

Let’s begin at the beginning, with the Sermon on the Porch.

  1. The Sermon on the Porch

What we didn’t know when we saw Watts was how he really felt about Shan’ann. This really lay at the cruz of it. How did he really feel about his family? We know now that Watts would have wanted to conceal this, and also to minimize it when he dealt with it. Why? Because his enmity with his wife went directly to motive. The state of his finances, went directly to motive. The pregnancy, went directly to motive. The new love of his life, went directly to motive. So, if you were Watts, you wouldn’t want to draw attention to any of those things.

Meanwhile, you’d want the media and everyone watching, including and especially Nichol Kessinger, to think Watts cared about his family, but [given his schema], not that much.


He couldn’t be too traumatized, you see, or that might put his mistress off. After all, she needed to believe most of all that Shan’ann had just had enough of everything, taken the children, and left, and as it happened, initially at least she did believe this.

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If we were encountering Watts for the first time during the Sermon on the Porch, we may have already seen photos of Shan’ann, and of the children, including on Facebook. That sketched a picture of harmony, even perfect harmony, but we couldn’t be sure how they were really getting along.

It was only when I researched the first book on the case, when I studied the transcript of the Sermon on the Porch in detail, that I realized what had been left out. Watts never mentions that Shan’ann was pregnant. He never mentioned the word divorce or a mistress. He never mentioned Shan’ann’s doctor’s important. He doesn’t mention Shan’ann’s plans for a gender reveal and why her disappearing then, given that context, was weird.  Instead he spoke lightheartedly about his children throwing him with chicken nuggets, and how he missed them not getting their dessert after dinner.

When he was asked about the emotional conversation he had with Shan’ann Monday morning, he said it wasn’t very emotional. When he spoke to Coder and Lee about it, he said it was, and that they were both crying. Why the different statements in front of the camera and in the interrogation cubicle? Because when he was on camera Kessinger could listen in, when in the cubicle, she was essentially out of the game.

While the symbolism of many of his statements, and other colorful language was [and still is] a minefield of information, Watts’ affect was what stood out loud and clear. This raised the question – didn’t he know to act more concerned than he was? Didn’t he know that by acting more concerned Watts would be more convincing as someone who was innocent? Was Watts stupid? Because he didn’t show emotion and seemed to be enjoying being interviewed, was he a psychopath, or a narcissist?

But despite what the pundits said, Watts wasn’t a psychopath, or a narcissist, and neither was he being as stupid as he seemed to be. The critical thing was he wasn’t being himself, his affect showed a man portraying an appearance – a lie – and this clearly indicated he was hiding something.

This was an open question, and members of the public had their ideas, some on track, and some way off. Like these:

it was very obvious that this man committed this horrific crime from viewing this interview the first time I saw it.How anybody can do this to their own family, is beyond my comprehension.

I think you have completely misread what I have written. It is beyond my emotional and moral comprehension as to why someone could commit a heinous crime against their own family. 

His affect is flat, he keeps grinning where a distressed person’s mouth would be downturned — if you didn’t know the subject matter and turned off the sound he would look like a guy talking about his preferred yard service.

HE is gay,he does not have another woman.I told my friend the first time I saw him”he is queer as a two dollar bill

2. Am I my Neighbor’s Keeper?


It probably bears repeating that Nate Trinastich is very aware that Watts isn’t acting right. He tells the police, with Nickole Atkinson and her son Nicolas present, and both appear to be in consensus with the neighbor’s take on Watts. Trinastich role plays Watts rocking back and forth, something we noticed but perhaps not immediately. Trinastich pertinently says:

“He doesn’t look worried…He looks like he’s trying to cover his tracks.”

This is an excellent, and effective assessment for so early on. Then he provides reinforcing information.

“He’s normally quiet, more subdued.”

So for those of us who didn’t know Watts at this point, we couldn’t tell if he was being more talkative or less reserved than usual, but his neighbor could. Nickole Atkinson could. And giving out extraneous information, just being a lot more talkative than usual, is a classic symptom of lying.

Coming from a guy who didn’t talk much, this was difficult to see. When he was being interrogated by the FBI, and during his polygraph, Watts was trying very hard to appear like a regular guy. Open, talkative, transparent, not himself. He was doing this to hide the fact that there was an awful lot he was hiding. And it took a while for his interrogators to latch on this.

Let’s move on to the cubicle.

3. Interrogation Room

This is the late afternoon of August 15th, at around 16:15.


Is affect important? How important is affect? Right here, we hear how forcefully Watts was confronted by both agents here, on his affect. And then, what happened after this?  This confrontation took place about a minute before he asked to see his father. When that happened [20 minutes later] the game was over; that’s when Watts admitted to him for the first time, in a very low tone, that all three of his family members were dead. The ruse that he was hoping they were still alive was finally over.

We can see how, in an interrogation scenario, telling a suspect how his affect is raising suspicion, is a clear way of riling him up, but also potentially shutting him down. We know shortly after the agents told Watts his emotions weren’t right, he wanted to shut down the questioning and talk to his father. He knew he’d failed in his game, and needed an exit. He felt panic and wanted to fix his situation.

But coming back to this notion of hoping his family are safe, he’s not hoping. He knows they’re dead. What he’s doing is pretending to hope, pretending to not know what happened, pretending to be unaware of his own actions. And through this lack of caring, what he’s trying to do is fool them into believing he’s innocent. Ironically there is some truth in his ability to pretend not to care – he didn’t care, that’s why he killed them.

I hope it’s clear from this that by acting unemotional, Watts wasn’t stupid. It did initially lead many to think maybe Shan’ann had run off, and maybe she’d be back the next morning. Let’s face it, even Shan’ann’s mother gave him the benefit of the doubt until the next morning. So did Kessinger, and Nickole Atkinson [who went to work], as well as law enforcement. While law enforcement bided their time on Monday night, Watts cleaned and vacuumed the crime scene. Why, because he had succeeded in infecting them with false hope.

4. True Crime Rocket Science Assessment

If Watts’s affect was unemotional, that isn’t to say actually committing the murder wasn’t emotional for him, or traumatic, or difficult. He likely felt a range of emotions, from reluctance, to resistance to relief, and even joy when it was over.  Perhaps, as the knowledge flushed through his veins that his family were “taken care of”, perhaps he felt exhilaration…because now nothing – hopefully – stood between him and his happily ever after with his mistress.

So, what’s the takeout from all this?

It’s very difficult for any person to be objective about their own subjectivity. So when Watts is confronted about his affect, he instinctively and immediately ratchets his affect up a notch. He sniffles. They want to see it [otherwise they’re suspicious], and he quickly obliges.

When he talks to his father his demeanor and his voice changes. When he lies about Shan’ann killing the kids, Watts also makes his voice sound strained and anguished, but this is all an act too. What this shows is the scale and scope of not only Watts’ deceit, but his capacity towards sadism. It’s one thing to lie, it’s another to implicate on something he did, while pretending to care.

Affect is a primary giveaway in true crime, but it’s difficult to interpret. One might say it’s the best tool of True Crime Rocket Science, but it’s also the one that we can almost never use because it’s so difficult to use correctly. This is why it’s seldom used in court, and when it is, the flip side of the coin can just as easily be used to argue innocence.

In the Madeleine McCann case, the insistence from Madeleine’s parents has also been that they remain hopeful. Why? In the alternative, if it turns out Madeleine didn’t disappear, but died, then suspicion turns to someone. This is why pretending to hope is a red flag. In the McCann case, as in the Watts case [early on] the question was always: is the pretense to hide what he did, or is it simply human weakness?

A year later, many people feel they are experts on Watts, but I’m not so sure we are. A year later, many people feel they are experts on Kessinger, but I’m not so sure we are. A good True Crime Rocket Scientist never knows all there is to know – instead he always suspects that there is more, perhaps a lot more, he doesn’t know.

A year after we studied his body language, counted his tells, figured out his psychology, and became experts at lie spotting, the followers of this case are split into two camps.

1. Children murdered first, at home; premeditated murder. There are those who believe Watts killed his children at home before Shan’ann arrived home in a cold, callous, calculated fashion – a premeditated crime and an introverted criminal who defaults to premeditation.

2. Children murdered last, at the well site; Watts “just snapped”. And those who believe Watts. Who believe him when he said he didn’t know what to do, he snapped, and he killed one or both of his children at the well site.

If Watts fully intended to get away with murder, and he did, he would never have taken the enormous risk to take his children – alive – to the well site and murder them there. True Crime Rocket Science allows us to use the psychology and identity of a person to see what they won’t allow us to see, and to see their shadowy intentions for what they really are, rather than what they want us to believe. The shadows on the driveway that some see as a child brought back to life, is the same hopefulness blinding us to the truth.

When we get to know Watts inside out, we can see he tried to leave nothing to chance, and in the next episode, we’ll see just how close he actually may have gotten, to getting away with triple murder.