Bella and Celeste’s corpses were submerged in crude oil for four days before authorities recovered them. The cadavers of these two children will implicate either their mother or father in their murders, or possibly neither. If their mother is implicated, Christopher Watts could beat the charges against him based on “justifiable homicide”.

But what if no DNA is found on the girl’s necks, and no contusions? In that case, the law tilts in Chris Watts’ favor. If there’s a lack of evidence in this area, there is also doubt, and arguably reasonable doubt that he didn’t kill his daughters.


ABERDEEN, NC – SEPTEMBER 1: Shanann Watts, 34, her daughters Bella, 4, Celeste, 3, and unborn son Nico are at their final resting place at Bethesda Cemetery after services on September 1, 2018 in Aberdeen, North Carolina. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Curiously, it’s been Chris Watts’ own defense team who’ve asked for DNA swabs to be taken from Bella and Celeste’s necks. That must mean they know [and Chris Watts knows] they won’t find DNA on their necks. This also suggests strangling may not have been the cause of death [although it doesn’t necessarily preclude asphyxiation].

According to CBS:

The motion filed…by Christopher Watts’ attorney, James Merson, asked that DNA swabs be taken from the girls’ necks. The request quotes an expert, Richard Eikelenboom, who believes the oil would not eliminate DNA and said samples can be obtained “after strangulation.” 

Eikelenboom also recommended taking DNA samples from the girls’ hands and the hands and nails of their mother.  Authorities separately announced that the Weld County Coroner’s Office had performed autopsies on Friday [August 17] and confirmed the bodies as 34-year-old Shanann, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste Watts.

Police have not released any information about how the mother and daughters died. More testing is planned to help determine that.

Although the autopsies were performed on August 17th, it’s not clear whether they were completed by then. Since the bodies were only made available for buried two weeks later on September 1st, it suggests plenty of time was spent examining the three bodies and potentially the fetus as well.  The bodies also had to be transported to North Carolina, so not all of the 14 days were spent doing tissue samples etc.

Still, it appears the corpses presented an unusual challenge to the coroner, and may have presented an enigma, especially if chemicals were being sought that had been altered or perhaps even preserved by the oil. It’s also possible that the oil that held the children in suspension was collected and tested.

In the same article cited above, we’re reminded that Chris Watts had been working at Anadarko since early 2015, iow for almost three years. Was he up for promotion after that length of time?

In June 2015, according to CBS:

Shanann Watts was working in a call center at a children’s hospital at the time, earning about $18 an hour — more for evenings, weekends or extra shifts she sometimes worked. But the family remained caught between a promising future and financial strain from debt and other obligations. 

During her second pregnancy and the Thrive years, did she earn more or less? Were her expenses [including the new Lexus and travel roster] adding more debt, or less?

Now, back to Watts’ defense. Irrespective of the autopsy findings, he will probably claim his right to a fair trial has been “substantially damaged”, and his prospects “wrecked as a result.

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Personally I doubt whether any right-thinking jury will buy anyone damaging Chris Watts’ case more than he damaged itself during his Sermon on the Porch.

The real question is this: If it can be proved, and let’s face it Chris Watts also admitted killing Shan’ann Watts, will a jury be able or allowed to make an inference that he also called his daughters, even if there is no corroborating evidence? If not, then could he conceivably beat not just one charge, but all three charges fielded by the prosecution against him based on reasonable doubt and a lack of evidence?