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.
Shan’ann wasn’t murdered in her bed – she never made it up the stairs.
But the trilogy was written months before the Discovery Documents came out. The trilogy was written before it emerged what clothes Shan’ann was buried in, or the 02:30 credit card purchase, or the stains on the sheets dumped into the trash were revealed.
So do the scenarios presented in the first three books still hold up now that we’ve seen the inside of the house in vivid video detail? Thanks to the latest release of evidence, we’ve been able to see into the crime scene literally hours after the cover up was completed, through the eyes of Officer Coonrod on the 13th and Officer Katherine Lines [the dog handler] on the 14th [after Watts had time to do more cleaning and covering up].
With RAPE OF CASSANDRA, the 4th book in the TWO FACE series, I’ve been able to integrate vital aspects within the enormous tranches of Discovery Documents and video and audio of the actual confession. These insights have moved the narrative forward, allowing for the fine-tuning of the original hypothesis.
For example, there’s an important clue in the screengrabs below that shows Watts wasn’t only lying about Shan’ann killing the children [that part of his so-called “confession” is false], but he was also manipulating his interrogators in terms of telling them when and how he killed Shan’ann.
One of the reasons the TWO FACE trilogy was written before any of the evidence came to light was to counter the myth that until there is a court case, “we don’t know anything yet”. Between mid-August and mid-October, Shakedown published about 70 blogs, most of them dedicated to the Watts case, and Rocket Science over the past month almost twice that number – 138 blogs.
A fourth book, TWO FACE RAPE OF CASSANDRA is waiting in the wings, but is it really worth reading? Don’t we know all there is to know about this case – now – and more importantly, where did all the “Rocket Science” speculation actually take the narrative in three short months?
What TCRS got right…
1. Strangling as a the manner of death for Shan’ann was the position from the very first book. The autopsy has since proved this to be true.
2. No defensive wounds on Shan’ann. The autopsy has proved what the trilogy has maintained all along, that it was a stealth attack and murder.
3. Chris Watts had a slight contusion on his neck. During the sentencing hearing the District Attorney noted this as the only recent injury Watts suffered when he was photographed from head to toe. As early as August 19, Shakedown highlighted this injury [using several highlighted images of the wound] as an extremely likely defensive wound inflicted by Shan’ann during her death throes [Shan’ann had long nails]. This wound was also compared to a similar slight injury to Amanda Knox’s neck found immediately after the death of her housemate, Meredith Kercher.
“He had one small mark on his neck that was observed on the night he was originally interviewed, we don’t know if that’s related or not, but other than that, no, we had him photographed from head to toe that night and nothing was observed that could be consistent with injuries to him as result of a struggle.” —Carl Blesch, Weld County Coroner
4. That all the murders were premeditated. None of them were spur of the moment or in a rage. There was an enormous push back from many readers who felt, because Chris Watts said they had a row which led to an argument, that’s how the murder happened. Don’t always believe what I lying murderer asks you to believe.
5. The time it took to murder Shan’ann has been brought up repeatedly as a sign of Chris Watts’ strong intentionality to commit murder. The District Attorney also brought up the “slow death” that a strangling invokes, as long as 2-4 silent minutes of desperate but fruitless struggle for survival.
6. That the murders and dumping of the bodies were disguised through “plausible deniability”. In other words, far from being the bumbling crime many have epitomized this crime as, Watts was carefully trying to hide the crime in plain site by integrating it [without being seen or detected] in his work day. His call to a co-worker on the evening before dumping the remains reinforces this notion of a carefully calculated and co-ordinated crime as well.
7. That the bodies were dumped through the thief hatch at the top of the tanks. An analysis by an expert on HLN describing the thief hatch as eight inches through a spanner into the carefully crafted scenario in TWO FACE. 8 inches is small, and yes, conceivably too small. But no matter how I looked at it, it didn’t make any sense that the bodies weren’t dumped through the top hatch. To have done otherwise would have required draining both tanks, which would have taken a lot of time – hours – and left a lot of evidence and alarms going off. HLN were happy with this cockamamie scenario, I wasn’t. I insisted they were dumped through the thief hatch, and if the bodies didn’t fit, then I surmised they may have been altered in some way – dismembered or partially dissolved [processed] by chemicals. But this aspect was contingent on them not “fitting” through the hatches in the first place. Now we know they both did, and that poor Bella’s little body was forced through and stomped on, causing abrasions on her buttocks and a divot of her hair and scalp to dislodge on the side of the hatch.
I’m not 100% convinced Bella’s injuries [as reported in the autopsy] were suffered when she murdered [including the biting of the tongue]. I suspect they may have been inflicted post mortem during the dumping process. But that’s based on intuition and how other aspects of the case hold together. I will need to apply my mind further to reach more certainty on this point.
8. Because the grave sites of Shan’ann and the daughters differed, the manner of death likely differed as well between Shan’ann and her daughters. This turned out to be true. While Shan’ann was strangled in a killer move that caught her by surprise, Bella and Celeste were both smothered, officially, though it’s less clear to me that Bella was smothered.
9. Nichol Kessinger was identified as early as August 23rd, ten days after the murder, as Chris Watts’ mistress, on Shakedown. It was also the position in TWO FACE that his affair with Kessinger played a significant part in the overall motive. This has subsequently been confirmed:
10. It was also stressed that Nichol Kessinger was a co-worker of Chris Watts [and her father was his boss], something that was addressed in the media a week before the sentencing trial, but not addressed in court whatsoever, in fact Kessinger’s name wasn’t so much as mentioned in court.
11. TWO FACE made the contention that the six week period when the couple were apart was a sort of trial separation. Watts told his mistress they were separated and getting divorced. Shan’ann, her parents and his parents knew. There was also significant push back on this, with many people insisting that she was simply away on vacation and the marriage was still fine. It wasn’t. This aspect too was confirmed more by Cindy Watts than the trial coverage.
12. TCRS also unambiguously called the plea dealhere before anyone else, and on twitter called the plea deal about two minutes before it broke in the mainstream media [time is recorded in GMT not MST].
Anything else TWO FACE and these blogs got right?
I don’t want to deal with what the District Attorney got wrong, but their assessment that Chris Watts’ finances were an issue just as they are for any other couple simply doesn’t wash.
The fact that he called a realtor hours after dumping the bodies of his wife and children isn’t just a sign of Watts’ monstrous and reckless inhumanity, it’s also a sign of the debt monster that was breathing down his neck. The fact that the District Attorney is so blasé about the family debt is a massive miss in my view.
Another aspect that TCRS disagrees with: the District Attorney believes Shan’ann came home and there was an emotional conversation in the night or early morning [that no one heard] immediately prior to the murder/s.
The prosecutor, the media and both families still seem completely in the dark about why this crime happened. This is the central question – a question of psychology, identity, desire and motivation – that the ongoing TWO FACE series of books has attempted and continues to answer.
What TCRS got wrong
1. The girls may have been dead by as early as Saturday. It wasn’t stated that they were definitely murdered on Friday or Saturday, just that if it was a premeditated murder, it’s possible they may have been killed earlier rather than later. Why wait?
Information emerged later that they were looked after by a babysitter on Saturday and at a birthday party on Sunday afternoon, and metadata from a camera at the party shows they were alive at least until 14:30 and likely for a few hours afterwards.
The autopsy doesn’t provided a time of death for any of the victims, so this is another area that it left to the true crime writer [and readers] to figure out.
2. That the girls were sedated. Although Bella clearly wasn’t sedated [according to the literal reading of the autopsy reports], Celeste may have been. It’s very shocking that the older child, who was similar to her father in so many was, was killed by him apparently without regard for her suffering. Poor child!
An important reason why I felt the girls were sedated was no screams were heard. It may be that Bella bit her tongue post mortem [as mentioned above], of course, while getting stomped through the thief hatch.
If she bit her tongue when she was alive, it’s difficult to believe she wasn’t screaming in agony, but even if she was, she could have been dispatched in the basement or subdued and silenced very quickly.
JonBenet Ramsey was just two years older than Bella when she died, and she managed to scream just before she was garroted and bludgeoned over the head. If Bella was smothered while biting her tongue, would that have muffled her cries?
3. Chris Watts didn’t withdraw his guilty plea. Because of the media blitz and cries of coercion, is seemed likely he could withdraw his plea. When the anonymous woman explained the media blitz as a mistake, that the parents were simply misinformed, I must admit, I was surprised. That switcharoo still requires some figuring out.
4. HLN was correct in saying that GPS data was used by law enforcement to track the location of Chris Watts truck.
My assessment [posted on October 10] was that this had to be read in conjunction with the video surveillance footage. Shan’ann and the girls never left the house, and round-the-clock video surveillance confirmed this. But when the cops arrived none of them were home, so it stood to reason they left with Chris Watts, and wherever he went that morning, that’s where the bodies would be.
At the time I didn’t think GPS was absolutely necessary to ascertain where he was, but it appears it was fairly key after all. It should be noted though that CERVI 319 wasn’t the only site Watts visited that morning. He also visited CERVI 1029.
This means if Watts hadn’t spoken to the media, hadn’t confessed to his father, had lawyered up, and if law enforcement weren’t able to find the bodies early on, they may only have ever discovered Shan’ann’s remains, and even that wasn’t guaranteed. An oil site is likely to be smelly and odors of death might be misinterpreted as natural gas odors for some time.
A smarter man, and a more socially savvy murderer – using the same scenario – could well have gotten away with this crime.
What’s still uncertain…
1. Time of death. This applies to all the victims.
2. Given Bella’s defensive wounds it’s not completely unlikely that Chris Watts strangled her in a rage. If that’s the case then Bella’s murder triggered all the others.
3. What’s the expert medical opinion on the date Shan’ann conceived Niko? The autopsy curiously leaves out Shan’ann’s medical history even though it was completed on October 2nd.
4. Will Watts appeal?
5. Is he bisexual?
So many questions remain, but so many answers have been provided over the last week, compared to three months ago. There’s a treasure-trove of reading-between-the-lines that remains to be done in this still unfinished criminal case.
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.
TCRS MERCH available now – just in time for Christmas!
Book 5 – ALL NEW! “I have thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook…” – Connie Lukens. Drilling Through Discovery Complete Audiobook
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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.”