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

Tag: crime scene (Page 1 of 2)

The Ocean Club Perimeter [South Side]

Most of the focus of the crime scene at the Ocean Club fixates on the labyrinth of doors, windows, beehive balconies, apartments, stairwells and foliage surrounding Apartment 5A.

But what about the other end of the complex?

In Goncalo Amaral’s book he briefly mentions that access to leisure areas wasn’t controlled.

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A case in point is the rear area behind the tennis courts, behind the Tapas Bar and kids creche.

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The creche is easily identified as a square, white tented structure.

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“Is The Yankees Blanket In The Bedroom?”

Some of you may or may not have seen this bodycam footage. The YouTuber speculating about “blood on the comforter” based on very fuzzy video isn’t helpful, and is [I believe] confirmation bias based on the scenario of the murder supposedly happening in the bed in the master bedroom.

The Yankee blanket question is more interesting. Was there one blanket or two? How many blankets in total did the kids have? Which blankets were missing? Which toys were missing? What did Watts dispose of at the dumpster on Black Mesa on his way home?

This bodycam footage also provides some of the best views of the downstairs television lounge, and the layout of the kids’ couches.

Look where the Defense Team's camera tripods are lying…

The strange thing about the Watts case is it sort of doesn’t look like a crime scene. The house doesn’t have that tape around it, so it doesn’t quite feel like a crime was committed, and it doesn’t feel like there’s a crime scene either. Are there any photos, by the media or the cops, showing crime scene bunting around the perimeter of the scene at 2825 Saratoga Trail?

Besides this, Weld County haven’t released any official police photographs from either crime scene. Generic bodycam footage yes, but no focused images directed at particular areas and items of evidentiary value [with the exception of the bed sheets and thief hatch].
And yet as we know, this was a very serious crime, a grotesquery.


We get a potential clue to where a defensive case may have gone [had their been one], and what they were looking at, by peeking through the front door on August 17th, and seeing what the media couldn’t.
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When a fellow comes down from upstairs, the first thing he does is move those tripods. The suit then stations himself right beside them, and folds his arms.
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Food for thought.

Bella and Ceecee: Murdered in their Beds?

At 1:04 in the clip below, CNN’s breezy narrator describes Watts murdering Bella in her bedroom. Really? Is that where Bella was murdered?

Let’s be clear, it’s been the contention of TCRS from the start that no one was murdered in their beds. Not Shan’ann, not Bella and not Ceecee. We’ve gone to some trouble thus far to discuss the ground zero of Shan’ann’s murder. Unlike the kids, Shan’ann’s shoes by the front door, the suitcase by the stairs, the Vivint alert and the doorbell camera footage, all provide a fairly clear glimpse of the final location of the 34-year-old saleswoman on Monday night.

Whether we postulate that Shan’ann was murdered immediately upon entering the home [at 01:48] or hours later [no later than 05:18], we still have a window of a handful of hours in which to definitively say Shan’ann was killed.

We don’t have anywhere near the same certainty about the children. The last time they were seen alive was Sunday afternoon/early evening. We’re not even clear about exactly when they were last seen, which is bizarre in itself.

The window of the children’s murders is anywhere from approximately 17:00 [depending on exactly when Bella FaceTimed with her grandfather] to roughly 05:00 the next morning. That’s roughly twelve hours of uncertainty about when. It’s also a very long period to be uncertain about where.

Did they have dinner? It appears Bella was snacking while she FaceTimed. It also appeared [again, strangely] that the kids swapped their snacks. Did they have dinner or snacks?

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Were they bathed? [Watts claimed he gave his girls a shower and then put them in bed, Discovery Documents, page 584].

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Did they watch tv before bed? Did they ever go to bed?

I recently discussed this aspect with a fellow true crime addict, and a new thought surfaced that I hadn’t considered before. While many of you may disagree with the details and the fineprint, try to take this in as a global hypothesis. It’s simply an idea or theory that came up during a discussion. The idea is to test, evaluate and explore some of the thoughts and ideas in it, and see where that might take us.

Ready?

The broad pattern of the murder and disposal was that it was a carefully premeditated attempt to blend a triple murder within Watts’ normal, everyday schedule. So when the rest of the suburb is asleep, he’s not, but if he’s up earlier or goes to bed later than usual [or the kids meet their death at bedtime] who is to know?

He wakes up pretty much on schedule, and leaves to work pretty much on schedule, and goes to work roughly corresponding to where work needs him. From an outsider’s perspective there is minimal deviation. It’s just Mr Watts heading out on a Monday morning as usual.

What impression is Watts working at here? Watts is trying to achieve plausible deniability. When his family disappears where was he?

I was just going to work…

I was at work…

I was out near Roggen all day…

I was busy…

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Watts also used his work, indirectly, as a cover for where he was during the Rockies game [when he had dinner with Kessinger]. He said he was at a work function with colleagues.

Clearly the neighbor picked up that it wasn’t normal for Watts to back his truck into the garage, and his coworkers at Anadarko said it was odd for Watts to be calling on a Sunday, or to be heading out to a well site straight from home on a Monday.

But Watts was probably counting on folks being less savvy about silly little details like that. Besides, who would really notice his truck at that time of the morning, and if they did, who would care? And if they did care, he was just loading tools, so what? What other choice did he have? Load up the Lexus? And drive where? For what? And how did he explain that?

If the cops did suspect him the GPS data wouldn’t be of much use because he’d visited a number of wells that day, and the next. What, were they gonna search every well? And if he played it cool, they wouldn’t suspect him to begin with.

Whatever the details of his plan, it seems Watts felt he could bury the crime inside plausible deniability. Getting up, going to work, and acting nonchalant.

If we take this psychology and apply it to the crime scene, and the question about where the children were murdered, a new scenario unfolds. 

And the scenario is this:

When Shan’ann arrives home the children are – plausibly enough – in their beds. They’re not asleep though, they’re dead, but Shan’ann won’t know that. She’ll simply quietly look in, see them lying there and presto – Watts has plausible deniability in plain sight with them.

I realize this scenario is at odds with the idea of Shan’ann not going upstairs at all, but let’s just explore it a little further, for argument’s sake. If the children were murdered early in the evening, and placed in their beds, by 02:00, roughly six hours after death, their bodies would likely be stiff and pungent. If Shan’ann entered the room, and approached them, or kissed them, there was a good chance she might notice their palor, or smell something. So perhaps Watts murders the children late at night, shortly after finding out Shan’ann’s flight would be delayed.

In this scenario when Shan’ann arrives the children are in bed, and less blue, stiff and smelly. Alternatively, Watts could commit the crimes within half an hour, or minutes before Shan’ann arrives home. In this scenario the children are asleep in bed when they are killed, and then left where they are. Once again, it’s plausible deniability. At face value, they appear to be asleep but actually they’re not.

In this scenario, Shan’ann arrives home and possibly enters their bedrooms. She somehow realizes something is wrong. They’re not breathing, and their skin is cool or cold to the touch. Perhaps Shan’ann notices they’re blue. Instead of strangling her own children, Shan’ann tries to resuscitate them. Thus distracted, Watts then attacks her from behind and murders her. Perhaps his original plan was to kill her in her sleep as well, but her finding the kids dead prematurely forces him to abandon his plan.

Taking the scenario further, Nichol Kessinger noted that Watts felt the children’s blankets were smelly in their conversation Monday night. This suggests the children were dead in their beds, which left a lingering odor. By Monday night Watts felt a sense of urgency to wash these blankets.

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Watts also disposed on blankets, apparently, somewhere between CERVI 319 and the house on Saratoga Trail. So the blankets appear to be virtually the only items missing in this case. This suggests that the blankets have something to do with the crime. Either they were wrapped in them for transportation, or they died in them, and the blankets were removed as part of the cover up.

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There also appears to be some reinforcement to this from the dog handler, who picked up some interest in an area below Bella’s bed.

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Watts also indirectly references this psychology of death in the bed by referring to Shan’ann wanting to wash the airport out of her sheets, and off herself.


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Although the above scenario is credible in some ways, it’s not the position of TCRS, which remains that none of the murders were committed in any of the bedrooms upstairs.


 

GUEST POST: Did the murders happen in the bedroom or the basement?

The post below is from a reader who asked to remain anonymous. Thank you for your thought provoking contribution!

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…did Shan’ann, not seeing her husband immediately as she entered the home, decide to head downstairs where Chris Watts had admittedly been sleeping and working out the last several weeks or months to find him and speak with him face to face?

Anxious and with blatant and bold determination to wait not a moment longer to confront him right then, an argument could have taken place over something as simple as Chris’s last credit card charge that Shan’ann had been alerted to on her phone.

Could it have been an argument in the basement of their Saratoga Trail home, near the foot of the downstairs steps and across from Chris’s bed where Shan’ann was killed; rather than by a totally unexpected, surprise blitz attack from behind her at the foot of the stairs? There are two main reasons why neither of these possibilities should be discounted.

The first reason is the fact that the dogs that were brought into the Saratoga Trail home on the 14th of August trained to sniff for possible trauma or traumatic events alerted that some sort of event, such as an argument or possibly even an altercation may have occurred in a few places within that house.

Curiously, one area where a trauma dog provided an alert was in the basement, near where the bed in which Chris Watts slept was situated.

Eager to talk to her husband and find some resolution to the tumult that had become their lives in the months leading up to the murders of her and her children, it’s a definite possibility that after entering her home if she did not see Chris Watts at first, Shan’ann proceeded down the stairs leading to the basement to talk to him. Perhaps an argument began downstairs. Shan’ann, oblivious to the fact that her children MAY have been deceased at that point in time, would not have thought twice or worried about talking loudly or even yelling in her interaction with Chris if they were way down in the depths of their home because she knew it was highly unlikely the children could hear anything or be woken up by noise that far down from where they slept.

If she went downstairs to find and or confront her husband after arriving home in those early morning hours and an argument did ensue in the basement, the possibility that she was murdered there cannot be ruled out. Then however, we are still left with the how of the logistics of her strangulation. The autopsy report for Shan’ann Watts states that she died by means of strangulation/asphyxiation. Yet, one of the biggest mysteries in this case that still requires much in depth questioning and examination, must be how absolutely no visible defensive marks or wounds were found on Shan’ann. The only thing found were finger shaped bruises on one side of her neck. That begs the question once again of how could her murder have been carried out in a way that essentially left her completely disabled to fight back in any manner?

Is it possible that given the supremely high state and level of extreme fitness Chris Watts had worked diligently to commit himself to by the time these murders took place, coupled with the fact of an almost guaranteed physiological adrenaline surge while committing the murder, that he was able to lift his wife right off of her feet; off of the ground and continue to hold her up, one hand firmly held to one side of her neck, compressing her caryodid artery in precisely the right location for the necessary length of time to end her life? If this is possible, it’s also possible the murder really could’ve taken place either downstairs or on the main level of the house at the foot of the stairs. If her murder took place in this manner, the location of her murder becomes less important in a sense.

The reason this premise is even a possibility is because not only were there no defensive wounds or marks found on Shan’ann, but even with Shan’ann’s perfectly groomed and religiously upkept long fingernails, there were absolutely no obviously visible scratches, bites, cuts or even minor abrasions found on Chris Watts either. Even further; to the public’s knowledge, no trace of blood, urine or other bodily fluids were found on any carpeted areas in the Watts home.

If Shan’ann was killed down in the basement and some form of bodily fluid or excretions were present during or afterward her being killed, wouldn’t a more comprehensive and effective clean up on a concrete surface be even a little bit quicker, easier and more efficient than attempting to remove all trace of DNA evidence from plush, medium depth, light colored carpeting found on the main and upper levels of home? We do know from the discovery documents in this case that it was noted the home smelled of bleach and cleaning fluids when first entered by the Atkinsons and law enforcement the afternoon of August 13th.

Obviously, swabs for DNA can be collected and tested from almost any surface. Therefore, if when Shan’ann was killed, her face was pressed directly against carpet, possible bleeding from her nose or mouth due to pressure being exerted on her head, cheeks or some area of her face, while up against even a carpeted surface should leave blood/fluid stains that would be quite difficult to get rid of in all traces, especially in a very limited time period in terms of clean up. However, the same thing would have occurred if Shan’ann was in fact strangled at the bottom of the basement stairs. If her head or face was pressed up against any surface really while her heart was still actively pumping blood through the organs of her body, there would have been evidence of bruising in and around her face and yet, apparently, there was absolutely nothing. Are we to believe this strangulation occurred in midair? Extremely difficult, yet perhaps not impossible.

The Second Reason

After reviewing all of the discovery evidence available, I concur with Nick’s view that a premeditated murder would almost guarantee Bella and Celeste were already dead when their mother returned home. This scenario would also indicate that Chris Watts would not want to risk his wife heading upstairs to check the girls first thing after arriving home. If one goes with this train of thought, perhaps the possibility of Shan’ann being murdered in the basement must be abandoned.

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Yet once again, given the limited amount of evidence that we have to indicate anything to the contrary, the thought must at least be explored that Shan’ann could have met her end in the basement.

I think her feelings and internal drive of extreme anxiousness and desperation at that point in time in terms of her need to confront and immediately speak to her husband, cannot be entirely discounted.

Therefore, unless she happened to see Chris Watts almost as soon as she walked in the front door of that house, I believe it’s quite probable that Shan’ann’s first thought was to locate and confront Chris Watts.

She had likely finally realized Chris had to have been lying to her for months and she wanted, needed to hear the whole truth once and for all and to hear it directly from him. If that was her final wish, it’s highly unlikely her husband granted it. 

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Updated Photos of 2825 Saratoga Trail, 6507 Black Mesa & New Wattenberg Well

Some of the regular visitors to this site are locals, and so they’ve volunteered to go to actual locations to photograph and fact check. This is invaluable and much appreciated. There is no quicker way to clear up confusion and dispel myths than to investigate in situ and in person [assuming of course you’re already in the area].

All the images below were taken on the last day of 2018, a devastating year for the Watts family above all.

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Below is 6507 Black Mesa. This site was still under construction when Watts visited it briefly on his way back from CERVI 319 at around 14:00 on August 13th. The Black Mesa address was not the house Watts intended to buy, but an alleged dumping site.

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For more on the relevance of this address: On his way back to the crime scene, Chris Watts first went to look at a house recommended by his realtor… [Updated]

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Photographer’s note: I did NOT stop on HWY 52 to photograph the Wattenberg well site, too dangerous to pull over, but I did get this ‘passing by’ photo as I was heading east on HWY 52:

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Photographer’s note: Approaching Wyndham Hill subdivision as I was heading east on HWY 52 (note the development).

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Additional Info: 

  1. The Wattenberg drill site (owned by Crestone) is a drilling site in the area (one of eight, I believe) and was the talk of the town for years leading up to the drilling. Some wells in the area are routed to a Wattenberg site for collection. The site north of HWY 52, east of Outdoor Craftsman (landscape company), and west of CR 5 was drilled earlier this year and is now a collection site. (see attached map/screenshot)Aerial View - Weld County O&G - 12.31.18 (1)
  2. There is an active well very close to the Watts house per the attached map, but I didn’t see it while driving around today. It may be behind the new townhouses being built. Per the interactive map (link below), it is a Spindle field well (also owned by Crestone) – this well, and the Wattenberg sites continue to be a hot topic in the neighborhood (according to my brother who lives in Wyndham Hill). There are many residents stating they are seeing heightened asthma diagnosis and respiratory illness rates – but no firm information from a reliable source. My brother’s two children spent several nights in the hospital this past November – one for a collapsed lung, the other for severe asthma symptoms. My brother is considering moving.

Further reading: Wattenberg Field oil and gas could be worth $179 billion, royalty owners say

Look Closer at the Wrought-Iron Railing At the Bottom of the Stairs [UPDATED]

There’s already one nonsensical conspiracy theory based around distortions in the Trinastich surveillance video, that Watts had an accomplice. So I want to be careful not to add to the nonsense.

The video, which is flagrantly defamatory in its accusation, has since been removed, as it should be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJS5q2-Vj_Q&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1BPe3txfxZn8WveMIhSpf5sHl52Y0ktHdJp4-qFzbOlMuSq2LnI7x9Iy8

In Shan’ann’s Mother’s Day video shot in the lounge of 2825 Saratoga Trail on May 13th, we can clearly see the bulging lattice in the second-last wrought-iron wrung from the very bottom is intact.

We also get an up-close view of the impression of the carpet as it normally appears. We can see that the carpet does have certain areas of shading, produced by dirt, foot traffic and cleaning.

Mother’s Day wouldn’t be complete without a tantrum! 😆🤣😂

Posted by Shanann Watts on Sunday, May 13, 2018

In video footage of the K9 handler searching the lounge on August 14th, the lattice seems intact. Although, compared to the two above it, it seems less intact – if that makes sense. This could just be a distortion in the video, and as we all know, motion and digital can and does produce fine distortions. So I’m not sure we can rule that out.

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There are two more images which appear to show the left hand whirl of the lattice has been damaged, even ripped open. Fullscreen capture 20181207 112341

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Personally I don’t undertstand it. Shan’ann’s suitcase was the last artifact of herself she left behind, indicating her final movements when she arrived home that fateful night. So why not look carefully at the damn suitcase, and that area of the stairs!

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UPDATE: At 07:26 in the video below the bodycam footage is clear and unambiguous – the lattice at the bottom is intact.

The footage also shows excellent close-up video of the staircase carpet, but unfortunately not at the bottom of the stairs, or to the right of the railing.

https://youtu.be/-gee1rVvGnU

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More: The suitcase at the bottom of the stairs

BREAKING: First Crime Scene Footage INSIDE #2825 Saratoga Trail [UPDATED] #TCRS

The video below has incredible footage from August 13th at around 14:00, actually capturing Watts returning from CERVI 319 [actually he was at another well in the area, but relatively close to the dumping site], and rushing inside ahead of the cops.

Notice how he runs ahead down the basement while everyone else is on the main floor?

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Notice below how Nicolas Atkinson starts eyeballing Watts…

More on Nicolas Atkinson – the Unacknowledged Hero of the Watts Case [36th Tranche]

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Screengrabs below are from the bodycam worn by an officer on Tuesday, August 14, the day after the murders, and shortly before Watts’ infamous Sermon on the Porch.

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Above: The upstairs loft lounge area where Shan’ann’s phone and iwatch were found beneath two cushions.

 

More: Shan’ann’s Phone Was Left HERE – and what it means

Getting to know the Watts Home as a Crime Scene: #1 Original Floor Plans #2 Upstairs Landing, #3 The Balcony, #4 Revisiting the Windows

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And then detective Baumhover arrives. Notice Nicolas Atkinson doing his own investigation on the side while Watts is distracted talking to the detective.

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Notice how the open basement door just over Watts left shoulder [right side of image] jutts out, potentially blocking the Vivint motion sensor to its immediate right.

As Watts is questioned here, he repeats the curling in of the upper lip thing, folds his arms and sways while he’s being asked a few questions. He has his head slightly down, like a naughty child not wanting to make eye contact. Even here his demeanor is so completely, it;s not even close. All those Thrive videos had perhaps given Watts the false idea that he could perform in front of the camera if he had to, and that he was a good actor.

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#ChrisWatts Crime scene.

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#Chriswatts Crime Scene Upstairs.

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#ChrisWatts Crime Scene Master Bedroom.

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#ChrisWatts Crime Scene Dining Room and Lounge

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#ChrisWatts Crime Scene Kitchen

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Cadaver dog search – August 14:

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The screengrabs below are from video sourced at this link. In the video one has the impression of a chaotic crime scene with the alarm blaring, Deeter barking the cops stumbling and bumbling about, filling in forms on the kitchen counter etc.

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More: Excellent Video Footage of the Moment Officer Coonrod Arrives on the Scene at #2825 Saratoga Trail

This last image wasn’t photographed at Saratoga Trail. It’s unclear where the photo was taken. Fullscreen capture 20181130 041605

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