Bill Finley, who runs the 411 YouTube channel, is one of the better, more informed commentators on the Chris Watts case. Finley apparently sent in a public records request shortly before sentencing in November 2018, and received the autopsy reports via FedEx which included several photos. It also appears the report he received had slightly more information than the one in the discovery file.
The relevant excerpt is provided below:
At 15:47 in Finley’s YouTube spiel, he brings up an element that isn’t in the autopsy report as we see it in the Discovery Documents. It has to do with Bella’s so-called “defensive wounds”:
[Reading from the report] “There is exterior evidence of injuries [to Bella]. There is a 13×3 cm area of vertical lacerations on her buttocks…and she had several defensive wounds on her hands [back sides] and forearms [outer edges] and the backs of her heels…also discoloration [bruising] of upper left shoulder…as well as a cut on the head. The autopsy report speculates that the cut on the head and missing hair is when Watts tried to shove [Bella] into the tank.”
Finley reckons the opening of the thief hatch was 15 inches. But this seems to be an error on his part.
I did contact Finley directly [see below tweetgrab] in an effort to get more information on the autopsy reports. While I don’t wish to leak photos, I would like to see them so that I can describe them, or get a description directly from Finley. Finley, as far as I can tell, doesn’t describe the images beyond saying “they ain’t pretty”.
Perhaps some of you might have have better luck getting a response than I did.
Many of us, perhaps most, intuitively knew something was rotten in the state of Denmark when we first saw Watts’ seven-minute Sermon on the Porch. We didn’t know why, it wasn’t necessarily anything specific, yet there was a suspicion [if not certainty] that things just weren’t adding up.
By studying and analyzing the Sermon again and again, we became more familiar with Watts, with the content and context, and as we became experts in this piece of dialogue it was more and more difficult for microexpressions to remain hidden. The more we looked and listened, the more sure we were that he was hiding something. It turned out he was trying to conceal a triple murder.
His main ploy was to act normal, but what counted against him was:
He acted too normal
His version of normal didn’t meet our expectations of “appropriate” emotion. He didn’t appear concerned or overwhelmed as most people would have been had they been in a genuine missing person’s scenario
We can see that by his acting normal, he was trying to communicate that there was nothing to worry about, and that everything was probably okay. But this was an early miscalculation from him, and an early sign Watts’ ability to recognize when his chips were down was very poor.
Once the bodycam footage emerged, we quickly recognized telltale patterns in his deceits – lip licking, swaying, folding his arms.
Some of us also picked up a few others – stuttering, Watts curling his lower lip under his upper lip [a sign of stress or nervousness], looking at the sky for inspiration, throwing out his hands, shaking his head at the wrong time, appearing to smile at the wrong time, and blinking at the wrong moment. But many of these were assumptions, and subjective assumptions at that.
Now, with the benefit of the Discovery Documents, we’re able to test them.
A VISUAL POLYGRAPH
We can use what’s in the Discovery Documents to cross-reference what we know as absolute certainties of fact against the bullshit parts of his Sermon. So let’s do a bullshit check with only one piece of information, and watch for the microexpressions that leaks out.
We’ll apply our visual polygraph test to the moment when Watts explains Bella’s kindergarten attendance. The fact is the four-year-old was supposed to return to Primrose school that morning [August 13] if she hadn’t died.
Now, there are numerous texts in support of this fact [scroll to the bottom of this post to review them]. Prior to the weekend, on August 9, Shan’ann pertinently asked her husband to drive with her and Bella to be with them to share Bella’s first day of the new school year at Primrose.
At 2:42 in the clip below, during his Sermon on the Porch, Watts lies not by his denial that Bella was going to school, but the opposite. He volunteers that Bella was going to go to school, but then realizes this disclosure could be bad for him, so he tailors the end of that message by changing the timing of her return [and that’s the lie].
WATTS: Bella [long blink] was gonna start kindergarten…[pauses as he realizes he’s just said this in the past tense]…[stutters] n-next Monday…and they-they’re just getting ready to start.
So his basic tells are:
Extended blinking while talking.
2. Looking into the sky for inspiration + stuttering
3. A lip curl at the end of the lie, as if signing it off and getting on to the next one
In terms of the semantics, can you see how this statement makes no sense?
Bella was gonna start kindergarten…n-next Monday…and they-they’re just getting ready to start…
But why would they be getting ready on Tuesday if they were going to school next Monday? If Bella and Ceecee were [are, actually] going to start kindergarten the following week, then as he was standing there, that was still true [within his spiel]. And that would mean present tense:
Bella’s starting kindergarten soon…[Bella is…]
So Bella was going to start kindergarten was a big booboo, and the stuttering, blinking, looking at the sky, and pausing, were all telltale clues that he was dissembling and trying to clean up his verbal diarrhea.
We now know Watts knew they were dead, and so he knew he’d already pulled them out of kindergarten, and he was probably nervous as hell the staff at Primrose were watching this. What about other parents, like Jeremy Lindstrom, and Shan’ann’s mother, who knew their kids had gone back to school that day [and Sandi knew the same].
It’s clear from this one lie that the kids going back to that expensive school weighed heavily on him, otherwise there would be no need for nervousness around this subject, and no need to lie about it.
So just as it’s valid to ask “Why didn’t he just get divorced”, in terms of the murders of those poor little girls, it’s just as valid to ask, “Why didn’t he just take them out of kindergarten?”
Perhaps the answer to the one question relates and interrelates to the answer of the other.
Chris Watts’ plan was to make his family disappear. Quick as law enforcement were to respond to the crime, by the time they recovered the remains of the two little girls, they had been chemical altered beyond recognition.
As the excerpts below illustrate, when Celeste’s body was removed Detective Daumhover noticed something floating in a puddle of oil right beside the tank. It was Celeste’s “degloved” hand, a glove of skin stripped from the child’s hand that still had her small fingernails attached.
Bella’s body was so altered the detective assumed was an adolescent. This was likely because the body had begun to tear apart from itself, and thus appeared larger than that of a 4-year-old child.
In a9News interview with Chris Watts’ mother, Cindy describes Bella as being just like her dad. And “shy, cautious and conservative” does sound like an accurate description of both dad and daughter. And then she describes Ceecee:
“Ceecee was…a ball of fire. I mean she was fearless, completely fearless.”
We now know Chris Watts killed both his daughters. How did he do it? The cause of death will be clarified by the autopsy reports next week, around 24 hours after the sentencing hearing.
The true test of Rocket Science lies in the ability to join dots with insufficient information. So let’s do it. What’s our theory on the murders, what do we say caused the death of Bella and Celeste a week before the autopsy reports come out?
In his bogus confession Watts claimed Shan’ann strangled Ceecee, and implies Bella was murdered in the same way. Does that mean Watts strangled both girls to death as well? I’m not sure it does.
One way of figuring out what happened to the children is to look at what supposedly happened to their mother, but the psychology can be quite complex.
Watts may indeed have strangled Shan’ann. At 02:00 [or 04:00 or 05:00] in a subdivision of closely packed houses a silent murder would have been necessary. And in the schema of his version, it may have sounded right and appropriate if he saw Shan’ann strangling one of the children, because then he was “entitled” to lose his temper and do the same to her.
Maybe Watts felt this version was his best chance of beating the charges against him.
One thing we know for sure is that Shan’ann was buried in a different way to the children, and in my opinion, killed at a different time to the children. So why would the cause of death not be different too?
So what really happened?
If Watts had reason [in his mind, not ours] to murder Shan’ann, it’s difficult to see the same level of malice and intentionality towards his children. If he strangled Shan’ann it doesn’t necessarily mean he did the same to his children. The main difference, logistically, was that he had a lot of time to “put the children down” [permanently], whereas the moment Shan’ann arrived home, in a premeditated murder scenario he was hours behind schedule [in my opinion].
If the murders of the little girls was premeditated, and if he knew he had the whole weekend to do it, then he’d have the means and the opportunity to do it in a way that suited him best.
I believe the autopsy will show that the Watts children ate dinner, or some sort of snack in the late afternoon/early evening after they returned home from the birthday party. I believe the snack likely contained sedative or painkiller type medication, or both, intended to put the children to sleep. To render them unconscious. They could then be painlessly killed – asphyxiated – in their sleep.
Oxycodone and morphine are painkillers typically associated with paintreatment by lupus sufferers. Both have a sedative effect at high doses. According to WebMD an overdose of Oxycodone causes slow/shallow breathing, slow heartbeat and coma.
In 2014, the rate of overdose deaths caused by natural and semi-synthetic opioids like morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone was 3.8 per 100,000.
One of the typical side-effects of morphine is a bluish or purplish hue to the skin…
Other overdose symptoms of morphine include extreme sleepiness and loss of consciousness.
After rendering the children unconscious, it’s possible Watts tried one method on the one child, and another on the other. So, for example, one child may have been drowned in the bath [while unconscious], and the other strangled or smothered with a shirt, sheet or pillow.
What supports the psychology of a chemical component to the murders?
1. The whole Thrive lifestyle is based on the ingestion of protein-bars, shakes, powders and chemical and vitamin laced patches that are placed onto the skin. In the same way that these chemicals were symbolically associated [and branded] with healthiness, if Watts’ personal [and financial] association with Thrive was negative, he may have seen the utility of chemicals in the opposite way: a murder weapon as opposed to a tool for wellness. I’m not suggesting Thrive products were used, but rather that Watts was used to the idea of chemicals being placed into and onto the bodies of his family, as well as himself.
If he wanted a lethal supply of chemicals/drugs/medication, or a supply sufficient to knock out a small child, he simply had to dig into Shan’ann’s enormous medicine stash, used to treat her lupus. This would have included a reservoir of adult-strength painkillers.
In the Christmas video above, at about 1:50 Shan’ann refers to giving both children “lots of Tylenol” while Chris Watts is standing beside her in shorts, holding Ceecee.
2. Watts himself worked with chemicals on a daily basis. As a mechanic he was well aware of fuels, lubricants, cleaning agents etc. As an operator for Anadarko he would have been well aware not only of the potentially dizzying impact of petrochemicals on his own safety, but the damage these chemicals can cause to human tissue. The oil industry also uses strong chemicals to clean their complex distribution systems, including hydrochloric acid.
3. The fact that the girl’s bodies were dumped into chemical tanks, also suggests he had the psychology of chemicals in his mind when committing the murders. In his mind he wanted to reduce his children’s bodies to oil and his wife’s corpse to dust. On September 14 I posted an extended version of the same theory, and on October 3 reiterated that the bodies were “processed” in some way post mortem. This processing could have amounted to something as simple as shaving the hair off the girl’s heads. Watts often cut the girl’s hair, so this wasn’t new to him. Given his knowledge about chemicals, he may have treated the girl’s remains overnight in a chemical bath, or even an acid bath.
The release of the autopsy reports will soon provide clarity on these questions.
Saturday, August 11th: Jeremy Lindstrom’s daughter McKenna babysat the Watts children. It’s unclear where Chris Watts was during that time, during the day, but we know he liked a tweet about a “big time win” for the Rockies.
Was there also a concert after the football game in Denver that Watts [and someone perhaps] attended? Irrespective, Chris Watts may have watched the game at a friend’s house or a bar and celebrated afterwards.
Note, both tweets below have since been removed, which means the timestamps can’t be verified.
13:59: Shan’ann posts a message against a background of hearts saying she’s ready to get home to Chris and her girls.
14:25: About 26 minutes later, Watts and the girls are photographed at Jeremy Lindstrom’s house. They’re celebrating his son’s five birthday.
17:20: Shan’ann posts a message about the baby moving twice over the weekend. Were Bella and Celeste still alive when this message was posted from Arizona?
PGA winds up during the late afternoon: Chris Watts also liked a post about Tiger Woods performance on Sunday. It’s unclear when exactly Woods played what, but what it certain he was playing until late on Sunday afternoon.
17:22: A photo of Shan’ann is posted indicating that her flight has been delayed. Shan’ann and her friends settle down to eat dinner at the Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill.
Were the Watts girls still alive at this stage? Did they live long enough to eat dinner, or was birthday cake the last thing left in their stomachs? Shan’ann’s last meal was also likely whatever she at at the Thirsty Lion Pub, and anything she ate on the flight to Denver.
19:22: Chris Watts is observed barbecuing on his outside balcony. The Watts children, as far as we know, were not.
It’s unclear when exactly the PGA finished that Sunday, but it’s likely Watts watched at least some of it, perhaps in-between barbecuing.
23:09: Sha’ann’s final post repeated what she’s said earlier in the day:
Ready to be home with Chris and the girls.
The fact that Shan’ann expresses the same sentiment twice suggests she felt uneasy, awkward or even guilty about being away all weekend, and the flight delay had compounded her absence. We also know from Nickole Atkinson that Shan’ann hadn’t been feeling well during the trip, though it’s unclear whether this was related to the pregnancy, to her being ill-at-ease, to lupus symptoms, or to some combination of these.
Within six hours of posting “Ready to be home” Shan’ann was dead.
Someone left an off-the-wall comment on a YouTube video saying how sorry they feel for Deeter. He never seems to get any attention, does he?
What about the children?
This question is for the mothers out there. There are plenty of videos and photos with the kids in them. Do they seem generally happy to you? Were they normal, healthy children? Did Shan’ann’s autoimmune disease make her overly anxious as a mother, in terms of how she treated her daughters’ health?
What impact does social media addiction in the home have on small children, especially excessive focus on social media and selfies? What impact would the constant shepherding of kids as Thrive props have on their relationship with their mother. It’s now no longer fun and games, or spending time with mom in the kitchen, it’s the colder and more mercenary business of performing for and with mother towards a device – constantly.
My impression is that the children quickly began to associate the camera negatively. Just as children can be jealous and possessive of a parent, they can also feel their space impinged by the things that distract attention from themselves, especially the wholesale distraction which is social media.
The disastrous Christmas video is an excellent example of how this fixation on social media can spoil something as special and important for children as Christmas. Truth be told it can spoil it for everyone.
Social media seems to have had an above normal impact on the Watts home. It wasn’t just the photo taking, it was the extended videos on a daily basis, some lasting more than half an hour on a Saturday morning.
This continual distraction, especially of their primary care-giver, could have made them desperate to get their mother’s attention. In some videos one or both of the children are screaming, but Shan’ann continues recording regardless.
Another aspect is the napping of the kids. They both took regular naps with clockwork regularity, and Shan’ann often said they were napping while she was elsewhere in the house recording her sales pitches. As mothers, does this raise flags that they may have been sedated?
What’s your experience, and your observations? Do two and three-year-old’s easily nap together in the day.
Finally, well-balanced and attentive parents are better able to raise well-balanced children. Not always, but generally. Did an unbalanced family dynamic in the Watts home cause the children to feel more anxious and unsettled than they otherwise would, causing them to act out? Because of Shan’ann’s “health challenges”, did the children inherit poor health by default?
I guess the question we’re asking here indirectly is: Was Shan’ann a good mother?
Please leave your thoughts and impressions in the comments below. Additional examples from Shan’ann’s social media to illustrate your answer will be appreciated if you can find them.
In POST TRUTH, the 100th True Crime Rocket Science [TCRS] title, the world’s most prolific true crime author Nick van der Leek demonstrates how much we still don’t know in the Watts case. In the final chapter of the SILVER FOX trilogy the author provides a sly twist in a tale that has spanned 12 TCRS books to date. The result may shock or leave you with even more questions.
SILVER FOX III available now in paperback!
“If you are at all curious about what really happened in the Watts case, then buy this book, buy every one he has written and you will get as close as humanly possible to understanding the killer and his victims.”- Kathleen Hewtson. Purchase the very highly rated and reviewed SILVER TRILOGY – POST TRUTH COMING SOON.
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“Book 4 in the K9 series is a must read for those who enjoy well researched and detailed crime narratives. The author does a remarkable job of bringing to life the cold dark horror that is Chris Watts throughout the narrative but especially on the morning in the aftermath of the murders. Chris’s actions are connected by Nick van der Leek’s eloquent use of a timeline to reveal a motive.”