18 minutes before Nick Thayer’s text – sent from the parking lot of the Frederick Police Department – Watts handed over his phone to the FBI. Watch that moment here.
This means Thayer’s text came through when Watts no longer had his handset with him. It was the best advice he ever got, from anyone. Approximately an hour after giving up his phone, and half an hour after Thayer’s text, Watts had already consented to give a polygraph.
Who better than the FBI to profile Chris Watts to his face – and as soon as Agent Grahm Coder did that, the tide of lies shifted, and the other face of Chris Watts slowly emerged, like a tortoise slowly raising its head out of its shell.
CODER: We’re gonna be looking for the man who did this. And you can imagine that [shifts in his seat] we’re gonna include you as that man.
WATTS [Softly]: Yeah.
CODER: I think that you’re trying to put on a brave face because you’re a man and you’re a father and you’re a husband. I can tell that there’s just something you’re not telling me. And I’m not sure what it is, and I don’t know why that is, I don’t know why you’re not telling me that there’s something that’s making you a little bit uncomfortable tonight. I just don’t believe some of the things you’re telling me. Okay, I just don’t. Simply do not believe you.
WATTS: Wh- what makes you think? What – what have I said that makes you not believe me at all?
CODER: This just doesn’t make sense to me, doesn’t add up. So can we talk about two Chrises? Okay.
WATTS: Two Chrises?
CODER: The tale of two (Chris)’s kinda, um, and you need to help me know which (Chris) I’m looking at today. And which (Chris) you really are. So (Chris) number one is right here. Right? And fell out of love with his wife, okay? Started wondering what it might be if he didn’t have a wife to take care of, any girls to take care of. Spent some time alone, liked that time alone. Came home, may or may not have had a conversation about how to get out of this marriage or how to fix it, but probably how to get out of it. Is looking at a bachelor pad in Brighton, and did something terrible. To his wife and kids. And that may have been an accident and I think it was an accident.
WATTS: The man you’re looking at is the man who loves these kids and loves his wife and will never, ever, ever do anything to ha- harm them. That’s the (Chris) you’re looking at right now. The (Chris) you’re looking at right now wants these kids and his wife back at his house. Right now. That’s the (Chris) you’re looking at.
CODER [Not buying it]: Why didn’t you call 911?
WATTS: I didn’t think anything was wrong.
CODER: I think you knew what was wrong.
WATTS: I did not know what was wrong, sir. I promise you that.
CODER: What do you think it’s gonna look like when someone finds out that it was not you that called 911?
WATTS: Everybody’s gonna have their own perception about what’s going on here, but I know my wife. I know that sometimes she doesn’t text me back. I know that happens. I – I’ve – I’ve been th- I’ve – it’s happened to me multiple times. Throughout many days. That she’s busy with work, it doesn’t happen. That’s why it didn’t register for me that day.
CODER [Not buying it]: We’re back to this tale of two (Chris)’s, (Chris).
CODER: There’s a (Chris) who cares.
WATTS: I’m – I care. I promise.
CODER: Tell me about the call to your daycare.
WATTS: To Primrose? I called them to see if the girls were there. They said they weren’t there.
WATTS: I told them since they weren’t there, to put them back on the waiting list.
CODER: That’s not what you told them.
WATTS [Correcting himself]: I told them that we were gonna sell the house. Um, put it on the market, we probably won’t be in the area any more.
CODER: That’s two different things, (Chris).
WATTS: Well I want them to be back on – on – I put them on – on the waiting list as they weren’t there.
CODER: Why weren’t they there?
WATTS: I don’t know.
CODER: Where were they gonna go?
WATTS: They went to a – Shanann took ‘em to a friend’s house.
CODER: Why wouldn’t they go to daycare?
WATTS: I am not sure. I, honestly, sir, I am not sure.
CODER [Yaking things up another gear]: It’s hard for me as a father to talk to you like this.
WATTS: Uh huh.
CODER: Not because it’s a hard issue to talk about, it’s because I’m worried about your daughters under your care.
WATTS: You shouldn’t have to worry about them under my care.
WATTS: I watched them all weekend. I went to – went to a pool party, went to a pool party at (Jeremy Lindstrom)’s house. Like I love those kids. With all my heart.And nothing in this world would ever make me do anything to these kids. Or my wife.
CODER [Turning up the volume a notch]: When you walk out of this room, there’s nothing I can say to a room full of police officersthat’s going to convince them that you have nothing to do with this.
WATTS: I know.
CODER: You know what they think.
WATTS: I – I know what all the – all of them, yeah.
CODER: There’s a guy who didn’t call 911, who woke his wi- wife – wife up…to get things off his chest and say I don’t love you any more, I’m leaving you. That didn’t go well. Okay, so what happened?
WATTS: Uh, she told me she wanted [me to] pick her up before I left. That’s why I – I didn’t just wake her up, like just to tell her this. Like I woke her up, that’s what she wanted to do and we talked. Like usually at 4:00 am I wake up, I go down and work out. This day I wanted to talk to her about this. I love these girls. I love these girls so much. And this picture right here, Celeste and Bella, those are my life. I helped make those kids. There’s nothing in my life that means more to me than these kids. Nothing. Kids, that’s – that’s your life, that’s your lifeline. That’s everything that – you make kids, they’re – they come first over anything. Kids, spouse, family. That’s what it’s always been.
CODER: Nothing you’ve told me tonight makes sense. Nothing you’ve told me tonight feels like the truth. Can we start over?
CODER: I think that there’s something that happened. That got maybe a little bit out of control.
WATTS: There was no fight, there was nothing physical. It was in m- it was a conversation, there was – there’s n- we didn’t raise a voice, nothing. I promise you that, sir, there was – there is nothing physical with this conversation.
CODER: What was the last thing – what was the last thing you saw about your daughters?
WATTS: Last thing I saw like when I left.
CODER: What did it look like?
WATTS: S- saw them on the monitor as it was switching back and forth.
CODER: What’s the last thing you saw with your wife?
WATTS: She was lying back in bed as I was walking out the door. Walking out the bedroom door.
CODER: Okay. When we finally got you to come, what do you think we should do?
WATTS: Honestly like they’re gonna come home safe, correct? When you find the guy.
CODER: When we find the guy, they’re gonna come home.
WATTS: Life in prison would be the – that’s what I w- that’s what I would think for two kids that are involved.
CODER: What if he hurt them?
WATTS: The, uh, th- I’m not sure if like that penalty is even used, is it used in Colorado? I am unsure.
CODER: What is?
WATTS: The death penalty.
WATTS: And I mean like if these kids are not alive, like there’s no – there’s nothing you could do to – to cope with that, to make me cope with that. If those kids are not okay.
CODER: Okay. All right. What was your plan after you guys separated?
WATTS: That I’d get an apartment.
CODER: Yeah. Nearby?…All right. Um, tonight’s been pretty intense I can imagine. How’re you feeling?
WATTS: I – I slept like two hours last night so, um, like running on empty right now, but…
CODER: I know. I can see it. So why don’t we do this? I’m sure you don’t mind if we take a break for the night. Um, and I’m sure that you are, um, feeling some of the pressure from me. Okay? I will…
WATTS: You’re doing your job.
CODER: I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t grill you a little bit, right? Okay.
WATTS [Throwing the earlier aspersion back at Coder]: I’ve seen you turn into two different guys, like. Honestly like I’ve seen like where you’re smiling and I’ve seen where it’s – it’s different.
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.”