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Tag: Dieter

Brief Notes on Nomenclature

Now is probably a good time to deal with the small issues of nomenclature dogging the Watts case. Why is it that some people refer to her as Shanann, others [including this site] as Shan’ann, and some uninformed former drama teachers as Shanna Ann? What’s the correct spelling?

I took my cue from the funeral leaflet. It seems unlikely that Shan’ann’s nearest and dearest would get her name wrong.


So, from September 1 onwards I used this spelling as the convention. I believe the way Shan’ann spelled her name on Facebook was because Facebook often doesn’t recognize unusual names, hyphenated names or names with apostrophes.

The name on her grave also appears to follow the same convention.

Thus the TCRS convention is to use:


To use the conventional spelling [which, incidentally, the lawyers “representing” the Rzucek family have just done, suggests pronouncing her name Shannon. I.e. Shanann = shannon.

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The apostrophe breaks the name into two syllables, with slightly added emphasis on the second instead of the first:

sha -nann sha’nann

As recently as November 14th, media outlets like KDVR were still spelling Shan’ann’s name Shanann and Shannan in the same article!

People magazine, on the other hand, appear to have accepted the apostrophe as a convention.


Is the unborn baby spelled Nico or Niko? If we use the same reasoning as the funeral nomenclature then we ought to go with the former, and yet, I haven’t. So why haven’t I?

I believe the Rzuceks purposefully altered the spelling from Niko to Nico because of the association with Nichol Kessinger. This may be the reason, or it was a spelling error. Either way, the initial spelling for Niko in the media, when the press were referring to Niko’s Law, was Niko with a K.

It’s not clear where Brittney Basher’s petition on to charge Watts with a 4th count of murder [by recognizing the unborn fetus as person in its own right] was a misspelling, and that all the media then cottoned on to the misspelling. It seems unlikely that someone would misspell Nico with a K when it’s conventionally spelled without one.

It also seems unlikely that if the name was misspelled, it would have been corrected immediately. On the other hand, the Rzuceks don’t seem to be avid readers. In any event, the “Niko’s Law” spelling seemed to indicate the spelling at the funeral was to score a point against the killer by misspelling his son’s name, or was a misspelling.

I elected to follow the Niko’s law spelling for reasons that were grounded in reality, but were also in a sense more intuitive than anything else.


Shan’ann spelled Ceecee’s name Cece, so why not spell it the way she wanted it? The reason is because when “e” follows “c” the “e” [when there’s just one] is usually silent. One way to illustrate this convention is with the letter “v”. When “v” is followed by a single “e” it has a “buzz” sound to it, as in the case of “have” and starve”. So no one intending to say “Vee for victory” would spell it “Ve for victory”.

I’ve used the same logic with a word that when spelled out in “practice”, ”
nice” or “rice” doesn’t translate to the “ee” sound.

So in the instance of Celeste’s name, I’ve overridden Shan’ann’s spelling because it seems to be a misspelling. Facebook is full of misspellings, and that doesn’t mean these misspellings should be carried over into journalism and reporting as well.


I’ve taken quite a lot of flack for spelling Deeter with two “e’s” instead of “ie” – that was how both Shan’ann and Frankie spelled it. If the word is written in small caps, we have “dieter”, from someone going on a diet. Removing the “t” it still has the wrong sound. “Die” and “Dee” are completely different. So why not “Deter”, from “Peter”? Because, again, in small caps it’s “deter”, as in a deterrence. English is a funny language isn’t it?

There are a few names based on double “e’s” including “Fleet” and words like “creeper”.

In the same way that I thought Nico might be a type, and Ceecee clearly is, Deeter is also a misspelling. While I would like to be as conscientious in honoring the spelling as it’s supposed to be, and as it was intended, I draw the line at misspelling, and then making a misspelling a convention.

I hope this clears any confusion going forward, but with that said, in a case where there’s  so much uncertainty about how names are spelled, don’t the public deserve a court case to get certainty about everything else?

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Chris Watts: Don’t Forget About Deeter!

As I left in my car this afternoon to do some grocery shopping, I noticed in my rear-view mirror a neighbor walking his dog. It’s a little dachshund, just like Deeter. I’d been meaning to ask him a few questions about temperament, so I hoped [while shopping] that he’d still be out walking the dog when I got back. Fortunately he was.

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One thing I picked up during research for the first TWO FACE narrative was the neighbor at 2817 Saratoga Trail – 68-year-old Cheryle Hallowell – remarking on the dog’s barking being “different” on the day the family were killed.

2817 is not directly beside 2825, there’s one house in-between. Even so, the neighbor said she could hear the dog barking and what’s more, could tell the pitch of the bark changed too.

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When I approached my neighbor, he had let go of the leash and the dog – Gigi – was moving around a neighbor’s brick wall sniffing various drainage orifices. I asked him – let’s call him Ted – about how he experienced Gigi’s barking.

“How long does it take if you leave the dog outside for him to start barking?”

TED: Well, it’s a her, and we don’t tend to leave her outside. She’s treated like…


TED: That’s the word.

“But if you did leave her outside, how long would it take her to start barking?”

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TED: If she had something to distract her, like this, it would take longer for it to start. But she’d probably start after about ten minutes.

“What about the change in tone? You know when they go from barking, which is already quote loud, to a sort of whining and shrieking?”

TED: Hard to say. We don’t let that happen to her.

“But if you did?”

TED: Half an hour. They’re quite anxious animals.

I told him I’d lived beside another neighbor once who had a dachshund, and they worked during the day. And at some point in the day, every day, you could hear the dog bleating and shrieking from simply being left alone. It got worse and worse as the day wore on and grated the nerves. Not all dogs do this of course, but this one does.

Wikipedia also makes note of the dachshund’s idiosyncratic “separation anxiety”:

They can have a loud bark. Some bark quite a lot and may need training to stop…Dachshunds are known for their devotion and loyalty to their owners…If left alone, many dachshunds will whine until they have companionship. Like many dogs if left alone too frequently, some dachshunds are prone to separation anxiety and may chew objects in the house to relieve stress.

Dachshunds are burrowers by nature and are likely to burrow in blankets and other items around the house, when bored or tired. Their temperament and body language give the impression that they do not know or care about their relatively small size. Like many small hunting dogs, they will challenge a larger dog. Indulged dachshunds may become snappy or extremely obstinate.

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Many dachshunds…growl or bark at [strangers].  Although the dachshund is generally an energetic dog, some are sedate. This dog’s behavior is such that it is not the dog for everyone. A bored, untrained dachshund will become destructive. If raised improperly and not socialized at a young age, dachshunds can become aggressive or fearful.They require a caring, loving owner who understands their need for entertainment and exercise.

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Dachshunds may not be the best pets for small children. Like any dog, dachshunds need a proper introduction at a young age. Well trained dachshunds and well-behaved children usually get along fine. Otherwise, they may be aggressive and bite an unfamiliar child, especially one that moves quickly around them or teases them. However, many dachshunds are very tolerant and loyal to children within their family, but these children should be mindful of the vulnerability of the breed’s back…

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What we get from all that it is:

A. The dachshund’s loud bark is an issue. Deeter’s bark was an issue and we know it was because the neighbor heard it the day of the murders, Monday August 12th.

B. The dachshund’s temperament [its separation anxiety] is an issue. Deeter’s temperament meant he couldn’t be left outside when the crime/cover-up was committed, not even for a short time, and especially not at night, as this would soon awaken/disturb/alert the neighbors.

C. Its loyalty to family members is an issue. If one family member wishes to murder another or several, sequestrating the dog will likely form part of the preplanning. Given the propensity to bark after a short period, it’s not ideal to leave the dog outside, and then be seen [during the commission or cover-up of the crime], awake and opening the door for the animal. Given the loudness of the bark, somewhere has to be found inside the house that is soundproof. Three possibilities in this respect are the basement, the upstairs laundry and the inside of a vehicle parked in the garage.


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Since the neighbor from two doors away heard the dog on the Monday when Shan’ann and the children were considered “missing”, and since by then already the barking had escalated from normal loud barks to anxious hysteria, it’s clear that when Nickole Atkinson arrived, Nickole who was right in front of the door HAD to have heard Deeter barking too.

In an article by the Daily Camera posted on August 15, Madeline St. Amour reports on visiting the Watts residence sometime on Tuesday August 14, but that:

…No one answered the Watts’ door when the Times-Call knocked, although a small dog did come to the door and bark.

Wouldn’t Deeter have done the same when Nickole came round? We know from the latch that Nickole was able to open the door, but only three inches. Could she see Deeter?

We know that when Nickole arrived at the house, Deeter had been left alone [counting from when Chris Watts left the house after 05:27] for at least five hours. That’s more than enough time for a dachshund to experience chronic distress.

“What about the change in tone? You know when they go from barking to whining and shrieking?”

TED: Hard to say. We don’t let that happen to her.

“But if you did?”

TED: Half an hour. They’re quite anxious animals.

What if Deeter couldn’t come to door, but Nickole could hear him loud and clear? Could it be that the dog’s hysterical barking and shrieking inside the house, and perhaps the dog’s inability to get to the front door on Monday was what got Nickole to call the cops as soon as she did?

Was Deeter the first one to raise the alarm?

Deeter Dieter Watts dog