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Tag: Front door latch

Who Engaged the Front Door Latch – and how that could have changed everything

Shan’ann’s father Frank believes when his 34-year-old daughter arrived home that fateful night on August 13, one of the last things she did was latch the front door. It was, according to Frank, something she usually did, and Frank noticed this because he was the one who put it there in the first place.

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My initial reaction to the door latch scenario was that Watts put it in place to secure the house [and the crime scene]. In other words, the latch was a secondary measure deliberately used to prevent nosy parkers from accessing the house while he was away [including Nickole Atkinson, who had the front door code].

But what if Watts didn’t even think the about the latch?

Does that change things?

There are a few scenarios to consider here, but I’m only going to be exploring one, and in limited detail.

In one scenario where the latch is left off, when Nickole Atkinson arrives she lets herself in. She enters, hesitates, calls for Shan’ann and the kids, and so does her son. Moving halfway through the lounge, but getting no response [and without going upstairs], she shrugs, exits the home soon after and decides to wait for news from Shan’ann herself.

In this scenario Nickole feels she has done her due diligence and does not summon the cops. She also leaves the home without confirming whether the car is in the garage. She assumes Shan’ann and the kids aren’t there [and she’s correct] but without going through the entire house to make sure [why should she?].

Meanwhile Watts receives an alert indicating that his home security perimeter has been breached by Nickole Atkinson and her son. The Vivint security system tracks miscellaneous moving through the main area of the house. Now [and later to law enforcement] it remains unclear whether Atkinson took his family during this period, whether they were already gone shortly before they arrived, or if they left some unknown time afterwards…

In this scenario, a great barn door of Reasonable Doubt is allowed to open. All because of a little latch that wasn’t left in place.

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Nickole Utoft Atkinson: “The front door was locked different to the way it normally was”

According to the affidavit, [Nickole Utoft Atkinson] went to Shan’ann’s residence and discovered her car in the garage with car seats positioned inside of it. [Then] she attempted to enter the front door, but a latch prevented it from opening more than three inches.

Nickole said this way of locking the front door was unusual. It’s not clear whether Nickole had a key to the front door, and that the latch was an additional security measure to make sure she never got in. Had she entered, Chris Watts could theoretically have accused her of tampering or contaminating with the crime scene, and even fingered her as a suspect.

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If the door was latched though, it suggests the last person who left the house did so via the garage. It also raises another interesting question. If the latching of the front door was unusual, and to be honest I’m not sure that it was, did Chris Watts place it there, or was it the last thing Shan’ann did when she arrived home? Probably the latch was Chris Watts’ doing, right?

But let’s be clear what we’re talking about. In very early images of the front door, going back to May 2015, there is no latch and no front door camera either.

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But then the latch appears.

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Now let’s focus in…

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That’s better, but this image above was photographed in selfie mode, so the actual image is in reverse.

Let’s see if we can find a better one.

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Does the latch appear to be in place when this video was taken on a Saturday morning?

Where Chris Watts is dressed up as Santa, standing at the open door, we get yet another angle.

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There’s also a keypad on the front door above the lock.

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Now, about the garage keypad, was it inside the house or somewhere on the exterior? If the keypad is on the outside, this could be it:

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The Watts home seems to have plenty of sensors, not only outside, but inside too:

The crucial insight we get from this is that when Chris Watts left his home on the morning of August 13th, it wasn’t through the front door. The front door can only be latched from the inside. That may seem obvious except it effectively rules out the crazy possibility of Chris Watts transporting bodies through the front door.

Since Chris Watts had to back his truck into the driveway, if he was truly loading tools he could theoretically have done so via the front door. If his truck was outside anyway, surely it was a shorter and more direct walk from the bedroom, to the stairway, to the front door and out?

One could argue the tools would likely be in the garage, so that’s why he took the less direct route to his vehicle. But we know he wasn’t loading tools from the depths of the garage on that fateful Monday morning.

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