We know for a fact that Watts disposed of items – including at least one blanket – in a dumpster at or near 6507 Black Mesa, which was under construction at the time.
In the K9 search below, the dog is barking throughout the time they’re in Black Mesa road. At 06:10 in the clip below, the dog handler says: “He’s picking up scent from the house,” which we now know was true.
Notice all the red dumpsters lining the side of the road going down Black Mesa.
At this time when the dog is barking, they’re standing right beside a large, red construction dumpster. They’re also standing right beside a house that’s under construction. The cops don’t seem to know or inquire about the schedule for when the dumpsters are emptied, but it was each Tuesday, possibly in the morning prior to or after the search.
The red arrows denote the route Watts took on August 13th. The green is the route he should have taken home.
In retrospect it’s unfortunate that law enforcement weren’t able to coordinate with the K9 unit while they were out there to specifically look at 6507 Black Mesa, based on the GPS data. From the discovery [page 555] it appears the GPS data was only provided in the late afternoon or early evening of August 14th, by Tony Huskey, Anadarko’s regional security manager.
It appears the cops only inspected the scene properly on August 22nd, more than a week after they’d received the data. Officer Lines’ report neglects to mention the activity along Black Mesa, or the dog handler Jayne Zmijewski ‘s comment about the dog picking up scents from the house.
There appears to be a second alert, or certainly interest, in Bella’s bedroom. It’s at about 19:30 in the clip below.
We’ve discussed the porch cushions before, and the pendulum has swung from a supposedly suspicious pattern-interrupting-arrangement on the porch to the realization that the cushions were arranged like that anyway when Shan’ann arrived home.
But we’re still left with what appeared – and sounded like – interest from the cadaver dog when the dog ventured into that area. The interest was such the handler lifted the central cushion.
Now, in fairness, nothing is mentioned in the discovery about alerts on the porch. What is mentioned is the odor of cleaning chemicals, and the fact that Watts had placed his daughters’ shoes on the back porch. These were subsequently used to scent off, weren’t they?
It struck me as odd that the shoes were wet and that Watts said he had put them outside to dry. At the same time Watts had done the laundry and seemed to have vacuumed his home overnight too. Although the report claims shoes were used to scent off, it’s not specified which shoes. Were the shoes outside used or shoes from their wardrobe?
Now, we know for a fact that there was at least one cadaver in the truck, and from an investigative perspective, it’s reassuring that the dogs showed interest in this area. This confirms where there is interest [where there’s smoke] there was something suspicious, and probably a cadaver [there’s fire].
It’s for this reason that Rocket Science finds the interest on the porch significant. Just because the arrangement isn’t different doesn’t suddenly make the interest on the porch go away.
In a video posted recently, the cushion scenario was dismissed within a perspective where Shan’ann was killed first, and thus, if the cushions were already outside then, and the pattern unchanged, then why would they be relevant?
But in a scenario where the children were killed first in the home, we can see how and why the cushions might be used. They’re in the basement as it is, they’re weatherproof and waterproof, and easy to clean and wipe down. And we know Watts was cleaning. Since he put wet shoes on the back porch to dry, why wouldn’t he do the same with wet, newly washed cushions on the front porch?
The cadaver traces or bodily fluids in this scenario come from the children.
Something else I noticed simply by paying more attention to the Sermon on the Porch, was what appeared to be a slight, translucent red-brown stain on the middle cushion. When I zoomed in it didn’t appear to be an Armchair Detective-ism.
Do you see it?
Were the cushions ever tested for blood or DNA? Perhaps they should have been.
It’s pretty incredible, after the brief opening montage of cadaver dogs, that the PR person gives a voiceover “explanation” for the episode, summing it up as a “backlash”. Really? After three months of PR, when the dogs go in and find traces of a dead person, and this is the first evidence of what really happened to Madeleine, that’s a “backlash”?
Are dogs barking a backlash?
The fourth episode in the series, obscurely titled Heaven and Earth, is the best of the first four episodes which is another way of saying the most damning. A better title would be Backlash, or Putting a Nice Spin on the Cadaver Evidence.
Episode 4 is damning. Unfortunately many – especially in the media – don't understand that when cadaver odor comes into play there's no more wiggle room for a missing person. A cadaver means someone is dead, in an apartment, a cupboard, behind a couch, in garden, in car. #McCann
I suspect the 4th episode is the most damning of the entire series. I haven’t watched the entire series, but I suspect from here the narrative turns and builds back up to Madeleine being alive, the McCanns recast as a model of British moral decorum before defaulting to “there is always hope”.
Six Useful Insights from Episode 4
1. I liked that episode 4 kicked off straight to the point, with no muss, no fuss. It went straight to the dogs and provided a smidgen of extra archive footage of Grimes and the dogs at work than I’ve seen previously. But I thought it was a little tricksy to show the cadaver dog in the opening clip with no context, thus psychologically conflating Eddie’s alerts with Keela’s.
2. I liked that they provided an accurate representation of where the dogs alerted inside the apartment, even if it was slightly misleading by leaving out the important alert outside [in the garden below the balcony at the back entrance].In a later post I will explain why an additional alert in Madeleine’s bed should have been made [and would have had the cadaver dogs been brought in immediately] but wasn’t. It should be noted that some of the media graphics are incorrect and inaccurate not only in terms of the layout of the apartment, including the McCanns’ bed and closet configuration, but also what constituted the “front” and “back” entrance. This is somewhat confusing. The front entrance faces the road and car parking lot, while the back entrance faces the front of the hotel, and the balcony.
An updated diagram from 9News.co.au provides additional context for what is the front and back entrance.
The “front door” opens up into the area depicted below:
3. Keela [the blood dog] is shown giving a silent alert behind the sofa. That footage is fairly rare, and thus useful. Usually when one looks at the evidence of the dogs, we see Eddie jumping over the blue sofa [2:22 in the clip below] and barking loudly from behind the sofa as Eddie gives a strong and unambiguous alert.
I do think it’s interesting that the Netflix docuseries seemed to concentrate more on the blood dog alerting, which benefits the “Madeleine is still alive” narrative slightly, whereas the cadaver alerts certainly do not. Of all the dog alerts in and outside the apartment, there were more cadaver alerts than blood alerts, and yet the docuseries chose to focus on the single blood alert behind the sofa.
Interestingly, although the dogs went in on July 31st, three months after the incident, it was only reported in the media on August 15th, 2007. At the time, an updated picture of Kate McCann was published sitting on the rocky shoreline on the western side of Praia da Luz [i.e. on the side of the beach opposite to the monolithic Rocha Negra]. Thanks to the archive protocols of Getty Images, we know for a fact that this image was taken on the same day the press revealed the cadaver dog evidence [August 15th, 2007]. Even so Kate McCann can be seen smiling in photos and greeting well-wishers. Both her and her husband are dressed in matching white and khaki, and as usual, Kate is carrying her daughter’s pink cuddlecat toy.
4. In point #1 I mentioned the tricksy editing of showing Eddie barking with no context, and then explaining what Keela was doing. It’s interesting how Robbyn Swan, the co-author of Looking for Madeleine [there’s a 2019 update to her book] is pertinently quoted saying Keela was “not particularly interested” too. This falsely implies that the blood dog just like the cadaver dog was “not interested” or didn’t alert. But the blood dog is trained to only alert to human blood traces, and the cadaver dog to human cadaver traces. If anything it’s a credit to the incredible sensitivity of these animals that one dog alerted to one set of distinctive traces, while the other did not. It should also be remembered that the apartment was visited after three months of summer, when the potential for the evaporation and dispersion of liquids and odors were at a maximum.
Then, when the narrative flips over to the traces in the vehicle, the cadaver dog becomes the focus, while the PR person ridicules the idea that the car was only hired several weeks after the incident, so how could a dead body “magically appear” in the vehicle. This is ridiculous, and ludicrous, is the inference. Of course, the blood evidence inside the vehicle [found by Keela] ought to be the focus of the dogs, but instead the focus goes to the cadaver dog. Interestingly, no mention is made of cadaver traces also found on the key of the Renault Scenic.
In a story on page seven, Jornal de Noticias carried the headline: “Dogs detected scent of a corpse on the car keyof Madeleine’s parents.” The following sub-headline read: “Policia Judiciaira suspects transportation of a corpse.”
The article – which is not attributed to anyone, not even unnamed police sources – added: “English dogs helping the Policia Judiciaria in the investigation of the McCann case detected a strong scent of a corpse on the key of the McCann couple.”The animals also detected a sample of blood in the boot of the Renault Scenic which was examined along with other cars belonging to the McCanns’ friends.”
The paper went on to claim that the person who hired the car the McCanns is also being investigated before speculating that the corpse scent on the key could have come from contimination with another item which had been in contact with a dead body.
It also reported that another British police dog scented blood in the car’s boot, which ‘precisely indicates that a corpse could have been in that boot’.
In a further sign that the Portuguese media are not letting up in their attacks on the McCanns, Diario de Noticias carried an article by a former director of the Policia Judiciaria, Francisco Moita Flores, alleging that British police have been ‘manipulating’ the Portuguese investigation and that there had been political and diplomatic interference from the UK authorities to protect the McCanns.
The latest outrageous claims in Portugal come after Mr McCann was forced to respond to claims that he and his wife accidentally killed Madeleine with an overdose of sedatives. A spokeswoman for the couple said last night: “This is just another example of the wild, unfounded speculation in the media which Kate and Gerry find very unhelpful.”
Police spokesman Olegario Sousa was unavailable to comment on the latest allegations. Meanwhile, Mr and Mrs McCann are becoming increasingly frustrated at the way the Find Madeleine Fund is being administered. During their 16-week stay in Portugal, the couple have been paying much of the cost of maintaining awareness of their missing daughter from their own pockets, with cash from the £1million fund being released to them on a piecemeal basis.
A friend of the family said: ‘They’re remarkably patient and know people are trying to protect their interests but it’s very different when you’re in Portugal from when you’re in the UK. “The people operating the fund clearly think they have to protect the fund because they don’t know how long it’s going to last but Gerry thinks now is the time to be spending money because this is the time when it’s going to be most effective.”
Although the fund is mostly run by friends and family of the couple, they are keeping a tight rein on how the money is spent and have released just £70,000 from the £1,005,000 donated.
This has gone towards setting up a Find Madeleine website, producing wristbands, posters and T-shirts bearing the ‘Look for Madeleine’ motto, the cost of a campaign manager as well as legal fees.
They are finding it increasingly difficult to cover the cost of staying in Portugal while paying the mortgage and bills on their home in Rothley, Leics, while effectively being out of work. This is thought to have prompted Mr McCann to declare last week that he will soon be returning to work.
The fund, which was set up with four specific objectives – one of which is to ‘provide support, including financial assistance, to Madeleine’s family’ – has been established as a limited company rather than a registered charity because it does not have any public benefit. It is run by six directors.
Former GMTV presenter Esther McVey, who runs her own PR consultancy and is the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Wirral West, is among the directorsas is Mr McCann’s brother, 48-year-old pharmaceutical sales repJohn McCann, and Mrs McCann’s uncle Brian Kennedy, 68, a retired headteacher.
Retired hospital consultantPeter Hubner, 64, hospital director Douglas Skehan, 54, and former Leicestershire coroner Philip Tomlinson, 76, are the other directors of the fund, set up within two weeks of Madeleine’s disappearance on May 3.
Ms McVey said: “The McCanns very much know and are aware of how the money had come together. They know it’s from pensioners and kids in schools and they want it spent as carefully as possible.Because we’re a not-for-profit limited company they are very much aware that we abide by the best practice charity laws.”
The tone of the above article clearly shows to what extent the British press were both drinking the Kool-Aid and making it for mass consumption.
5. The archive of newspaper headlines shown in episode 4 include some I haven’t seen before.
6. The media footage of the McCanns driving the Renault Scenic, entering and exiting the villa, and fleeing to Faro airport as soon as the media tide turned [coinciding with an end to the deluge of public donations to the Find Madeleine Fund] is also useful.
In one clip, we see an army of waiting press, and each time the McCanns appear it’s an opportunity for them to manipulate and/or influence their image.
So we see them constantly holding hands in a show of solidarity. But the point isn’t the solidarity, it’s the show, and the showmanship within the context of missing – or more likely [in my view] – dead child.
That’s six, that’s enough.
It’s probably also worth noting six aspects that the docuseries left out of episode four.
1. Danie Krugel, the South African dude whose idea it was to do a cadaver search. [I’ll be writing about him separately in a follow-up post.]
Gerry McCann is in the US on a four-day fact-finding visit to learn about the work of specialist agencies in preventing child trafficking and sexual abuse. He and his wife Kate have mounted a vigorous campaign to find four-year-old Madeleine since she disappeared from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3.
Mr McCann, who flew to the US yesterday, will spend most of the day in talks with American child protection bodies. Accompanied by the family’s campaign manager,Justine McGuinness, he will discuss tackling child abduction with experts from the National and International Centres for Missing and Exploited Children.
Tomorrow Mr McCann and Ms McGuinness have meetings scheduled with US senators, congressmen and a senior member of First Lady Laura Bush’s staff. Mr McCann said in a statement: “We hope our efforts will help make the world a little bit safer for all children. Kate and I believe there is a strong, public feeling that crimes against children, wherever they may occur, are totally unacceptable.”
Mrs McCann will remain in Portugal with the couple’s two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie. Meanwhile, posters of Madeleine are being displayed at booksellers in more than 200 countries around the world thanks to Harry Potter author JK Rowling, whose final instalment of the boy wizard’s adventures was published on Saturday.
3. None of Madeleine’s DNA was ever found in Portugal. In order to find a reference sample, Madeleine’s DNA had to be sourced from her pillow in Rothley.
4. The docuseries makes no mention that the British lab which did the DNA testing was later closed down. It’s more than a little tricksy for the docuseries to interrogate the trustworthiness and prognosticate on the processes of the Portuguese police, but not do the same due diligence on a dodgy British lab which handled a critical aspect of the McCann case, and was subsequently shut down.
None of this was touched upon or even hinted at in episode four of the Netflix documentary. Obviously where there is a contention that Madeleine’s paternity might be in any doubt, this could potentially go to motive, and could possibly explain conflicting emotions and responses and a range of psychologies and dynamics to a particular child that is not the biological offspring of one of the parents, and who might also be difficult to raise or troublesome putting to sleep [conceived we know through IVF].
According to 24 Horas, Madeleine, who was conceived using IVF, was the child of his wife, Kate, and an unnamed sperm donor.The newspaper claimed that the four-year-old’s parentage meant her DNA could not be confused with that of two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.
The supposed revelation would prove that bodily fluids found in the family’s hire car had come from Madeleine and not from her brother or sister, the tabloid said. Portuguese police are seeking evidence that the girl’s body was transported in the Renault Scenic, which was hired 25 days after she disappeared. The sperm donor story was dismissed as ‘unwarranted, unsubstantiated and totally inaccurate speculation’ by the family’s spokesman Clarence Mitchell.
In a strongly worded statement agreed by the couple and their lawyers, he said: ‘For the record Gerry McCann is the biological father of his daughter Madeleine.
Mr McCann’s mother Eileen, 67, from Glasgow, said: ‘To say Gerry is not Madeleine’s natural father is utterly ridiculous. Madeleine is my natural granddaughter. Her eyes and nose are the same as mine. These allegations are totally unfounded. They are pure speculation and a load of nonsense. Whatever will the Portuguese papers make up next?”
The McCanns underwent IVF treatment near their Leicestershire home before Madeleine was conceived. They had further IVF treatment to conceive their twins while they were living in Amsterdam. A friend said the 24 Horas report was published without any contact with the family.
The newspaper has run a series of articles this week which have all strongly denied by the McCanns.
Its co- editor, Luis Fontes, insisted he stood by the sperm donor story. He said it was confirmed by the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham, which has carried out analysis on samples taken from the McCanns’ apartment and hire car. The FSS denied it had made any comment on the case.
Mr Fontes said he was not aware of any threat of legal action from the McCanns over the article and added: “It is absolutely true. Our sources are rock solid.”
He added: “If they [the McCanns] think they can sue us, bring it on.”
Friends also denied claims in another Portuguese newspaper, Diario de Noticias, which said Mrs McCann, a 39-year-old GP, flew into a fit of rage after she was made a suspect in the case. She was said to have broken crockery, pictures and “anything she could get her hands on” in the couple’s hired villa in Praia da Luz.
Kate and Gerry were “horrified and devastated” by the latest “absolutely untrue” slurs in the Portuguese press claiming Madeleine’s DNA was different to that of her twin siblings – all three of whom were conceived by In-Vitro Fertilisation – because she has a different father.
The tabloid 24 Horas claimed British police visited a sperm bank the couple used and tracked down the four-year-old’s natural father to rule him out of any involvement in her abduction. But family spokesman Clarence Mitchell described the reports as “unwarranted, unsubstantiated and totally inaccurate”. He said that the couple planned to sue 24 Horas over the allegations about Madeleine’s paternity as soon as their official suspect status was lifted.
6. The Last Photo controversy is not highlighted in episode 4, although, curiously, it makes a few appearances, including inside the church in Praia da Luz. The tip of Gerry’s left elbow is strangely missing from the image.
There are many more insights and omissions to highlight, but for me one of the aspects that stood out the most were the PR people skulking around in the background, and featured so prominently as important narrators in the docuseries.
There seems to be something patently unsavoury about characters whose job it was to provide publicity protection of a sort to the official suspects, and who later emerge as virtual self-styled celebrities, once again cast in the role of the shaper of the narrative.
Is there an image more symbolic than Justine McGuinness repeatedly pawing microphones, pushing them away, as a metaphor for trying to push the media narrative in a particular direction, especially when the police narrative became unfavourable, as depicted in episode four?
When I wrote the first book in the TWO FACE series, I was convinced that the cadaver dog evidence would be instrumental in solving this case. I was also certain Chris Watts made a fatal error in allowing the canine units into his home. This suspicion seemed to be confirmed by the loud barking of these dogs while he was giving his Sermon on Porch. I assumed those barks were the dogs alerting to cadaver traces. I was right. And wrong.
It’s true that Jayne Zmijewski’s K9 alerted in several places. But Jeff Hiebert’s K9 did not. For there to be “reasonable cause” to suspect a crime, an alert requires corroboration. This may be physical evidence, or a second dog showing a strong alert separately but in the same area. If this happens it’s considered “confirmed”. But this didn’t happen in the Watts case.
In fairness to the dogs we have to acknowledge that in this instance the dogs weren’t just scenting for one cadaver but three, and making it even more complicated was the fact that all three cadavers occupied the search area in life, which had been extensively cleaned prior to the search. Adding to this was the possibility that scented items were contaminated by Watts himself.
Although the shoes of the children were used to scent off, it appears these had been washed and touched by Watts.
Normally the brief for a cadaver dog is simple: find evidence of a dead person. In the Watts case the dogs had to identify the dead, and there were three identities to juggle in their noses.
When the discovery was made available, I made a beeline for the cadaver evidence but was sorely disappointed at how iffy it all was. Watts obviously had reason to be confident in letting the dogs in. He’d prepared and processed the house from top to toe. It’s not that he completely boggled the animals, just that he compromised the crime scene enough to produce a confusing and contradictory result. The dogs were interested in something, but they couldn’t agree on where. Nevertheless it’s a mistake to assume there were no alerts. The word “alert” appears 102 times in the Discovery Documents. Let’s examine a few of them: 1. Cadaver Alerts
2. Vivint Security Alerts
3. Transactional Alerts
4. Chemicals/Drugs causing reduced alertness and impaired muscle coordination
5. Ordinary Alerts [Notifications]
6. Missing Endangered Alert
What both dogs have in common is that they both alerted to the basement stairs. According to the discovery, one dog alerted at the bottom, the other at the top, or both at the bottom. The Discovery Documents are somewhat inconsistent and unclear on this information.
Where did the crime take place inside the house? The District Attorney can’t say where or when. But there is someone [if dogs can be called “someone”] who can. And that’s why I called the TWO FACE series the K9 series. Because they cracked the case before any human’s did.
Which is why I followed their lead.
In the TWO FACE narratives [published on September 10, October 1 and November 12 prior to the release of the Discovery Documents on November 21] I’ve maintained that the murder of Shan’ann Watts occurred at the foot of stairs, right where her suitcase was originally found. Chris Watts attacked her from behind after hiding behind a central pillar.
This theory was based on a number of factors which I explained in detail and in-depth in the TWO FACE books [and I won’t go into those explanations here]. In my view the scenario that Shan’ann arrived home, spoke to her husband [maybe looked into the children’s rooms], went to bed and fell asleep, and then was murdered in bed is nonsense and nonsensical.
One obvious reason for this is a murderer who is acutely aware of getting rid of evidence [and Watts went to a lot of trouble to go to CERVI 319 to get rid of them], he wouldn’t want a crime scene in his own bedroom. That would immediately and directly implicate him. His first, original version, if you remember, wasn’t that he’d attacked Shan’ann but that she and the children had simply vanished. Even in his statement when he finally “confesses” to Shan’ann’s murder, he’s not specific where he attacked Shan’ann, but it’s not in his bedroom.
I knew it would come down to the cadaver dog evidence to either prove or disprove the theory. Now the cadaver evidence is available
The evidence from Officer Lines is incredible. Not just the observations of the laundry, and Watts claiming to have gotten his dirty paws on all the clothing [except the shoes] but Watts’ dodgy demeanor too.
Lines even noticed the strong odor of cleaning chemicals [which no other investigators seem to have remarked on] and vacuum lines still embedded in the carpet. The laundry and vacuuming also show how painfully aware Watts was of leaving behind traces of himself or anyone else.
It’s unfortunate Officer Lines doesn’t specify exactly where she observed these vacuum lines.
The cadaver alerts in the basement are also worth noting.
Chris Watts’ confession came early; surprisingly early. What got him to confess? Was it guilt, was it a change of heart, was it because he hadn’t thought through the crime? Is it because he was stupid? Or had Nickole caught him – essentially – red handed?
It’s actually none of these. Chris Watts didn’t confess because he didn’t have to, he confessed because he had to.
Although Nickole Atkinson’s witness testimony to the cops was damning, it didn’t in itself prove that anyone was dead. In the same way the vehicle, phone and purse in the house didn’t prove anyone was dead either. The video surveillance footage didn’t prove anything either.
So what did?
When the cadaver dogs entered the residence while he was giving his interview, Chris Watts seemed pretty confident. But when a cadaver dog alerts it means only one thing:
A PERSON HAS DIED HERE
It was the early introduction of the dogs, therefore, that produced the big breakthrough in this case. By adding this element to Nickole’s early alert, and the video footage, and the personal effects in the home but the victims “vanished”, the cops had very good reason to believe harm had come to Shan’ann and the children – and it had.
In TWO FACE I provide a precise explanation for exactly when and how these events played out, and that when confronted with this evidence, Chris Watts had no choice but to throw in the towel and confess.
Was his confession completely truthful, or did the fox from Spring Lake have another trick up his sleeve? That’s the question investigators are still asking, and what will form the meat and potatoes of the upcoming criminal trial.
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 TWO FACE series, one of the best reviewed, is available now in paperback!
“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.”