True Crime Analysis, Breakthroughs, Insights & Discussions Hosted by Bestselling Author Nick van der Leek

Tag: Guru Badge

GURU BADGE: When did Ronnie Watts find out his son was having an affair?

The good news is there’s 100 minutes of audio with Chris Watts’ father. Unfortunately Ronnie Watts’ interview with the cops is mostly garbled.

We do know that according to Ronnie, Watts let them know he intended to separate from Shan’ann while he was in North Carolina [during the first week of August, two weeks before the murders].

What’s less clear is whether Watts told his parents about Kessinger. It stands to reason that he did, but is it confirmed anywhere? When Watts told his father during the interrogation in mid-August about the affair, his father didn’t seem surprised. The discovery [page 1076] notes:

Watts told him [Ronnie] he failed the polygraph test and that he admitted [to the cops] to having an affair…

8 Simple Questions for a True Crime Guru Badge + Book Giveaway [#6]

What separates the gurus from the rest is that at some point – whether by reading or research – they find out for a fact whether something is this or that. By far the majority won’t know something, but then form an opinion based on hearsay or what’s in the media, and then their speculation is driven by that opinion. That’s not Rocket Science, it’s waffle and gossip.
Getting the information right isn’t easy, as I hope this post illustrates. Simple questions are devilishly complicated to answer.
I’ll be posting something shortly on Amber Frey, but before I do, let’s see who has got their headspace in the right place in terms of the mistresses “voluntariness” in this case versus the Scott Peterson case.

If you can provide a link or source to your answers, all the better. In terms of the Amber Frey question, my trilogy on Scott Peterson also dealt with this issue.
The most correct answers stand a chance to win Book 6 in the series. If you’d like a chance to win used #Kindle in your comment [regret this is not open to readers].
Here we go.
1. Did Amber Frey [Scott Peterson’s mistress] approach the cops? If she did, when did she come forward?
2. Who is Hazel Heckers?
3. When was Detective Baumhover introduced to Nichol Kessinger for the first time?
4. Nichol Kessinger and Chris Watts exchanged texts on Tuesday, August 14 about the paternity of the unborn child.
WATTS: It’s not mine.
KESSINGER: It’s OK if it is.
WATTS: OK, then it’s mine.
Are these texts in the Discovery Documents?
5. Did law enforcement request assistance in the investigation of the Chris Watts case, or did [some other entity] offer it? Do you know when this request/offer occurred?
6. When District Attorney Michael Rourke addressed the court he spoke for approximately 13 minutes. Did he mention Nichol Kessinger during the sentencing hearing?
7. Nichol Kessinger was asked to provide her Verizon phone logs. Until what date were those phone logs and when did she give them up?
8. When was the last text message sent between Watts and Kessinger and what did it say?


5 Questions to Speculate Over – True Crime Guru Badge [#5]

Normally we’re less interested in opinions than in facts at TCRS.


The Chris Watts case isn’t a normal case.

There is a place for speculation in true crime, but speculation needs to be informed and anchored in the patterns, personalities and dynamics of a particular case to be meaningful or worthwhile. Typically, speculation needs to be limited.

In a criminal trial, a prosecutor can rap the knuckles of his opposition counsel [or witnesses] by objecting to “speculation”, ditto defense counsel.  For the most part we try to run the same sort of tight ship in true crime. What can be proven? What does the evidence say? What do we know for a fact? Where does it take us?

As a true crime narrator, I try to weigh any speculation down with a host of references, facts and underlying data. Once anchored, we can set the ship adrift and see which way the tide draws it.

The Watts case is an enigma because despite having a tsunami of information, we really don’t seem to have anything concrete – about anything.

The five questions below are meant to check your knowledge, insight and understanding in this case. If you’re able to answer any of these questions instantly, chances are you’ve still not developed the capacity to really think critically and constructively about this case. Good true crime makes us better thinkers, and ultimately, better people.

Incidentally, there are no right or wrong answers to these 5 questions, just varying degrees of being better, or closer to reality [whatever that might be]. So, without further ado, put on your thinking caps and lets get started:

1. Do you think the Rzuceks saw the autopsies? Motivate your answer.

2. Do you think the Watts family saw the autopsies? Motivate your answer.

3. Are the emails between Kessinger and Watts in the Discovery Documents? If so, where?

4. Why did Watts take the plea deal, if what he was getting [life in prison with no parole] was no different than what he would have gotten anyway? Motivate your answer.

5. Were the resources used in this case commensurate to the crime committed? Motivate your answer.

The best responses will be acknowledged, and used in a guest post.

Can You Source the Interrogation Photo of Bella and Ceecee? True Crime Guru Badge [#4]

During Chris Watts’ first interrogation with the FBI he’s shown a color photograph of Bella and Celeste. The photo appears red in the CCTV footage of the interrogation.

Can you find the original among Shan’ann’s Facebook images?

The True Crime Guru Badge goes to tbp with this image:

Can anyone source it from Shan’ann’s social media [location and date]?

5 X Random Questions for a True Crime Guru Badge [#2]

Since almost everyone who participated got the first Guru Badge, I thought I’d make this one harder, and also leave out the multiple choice. As always the right answer has to be factually correct, and complete.

1. What do you know about Nichol Kessinger’s phone “pinging” on Franklin Drive?

2. How many dogs [all dogs] are involved in the Watts case?

3. Who does 2825 Saratoga Trail belong to?

4. Who owned the white Lexus?

5. How many blankets disappeared from the home?

3-4 correct answers earns you a Guru Badge.



Random Question for a True Crime Guru Badge [#1] [Updated + Answered]

It’s time to check where the regular visitors [and lurkers] at this site fall in the True Crime Rocket Science hierarchy. Are you becoming a guru, or are you still learning the ropes?

The best questions in true crime are always the simplest. One of the simplest questions that emerges time and time again in try crime is why? Yet it is virtually never answered, or even addressed fully.

I won’t torture you with such a difficult question. Even after four narratives, the answer to why isn’t short, and although it’s been comprehensively addressed, it can never be fully understood. The best we can do is study a case from every conceivable angle, become experts at it, become encyclopedias of accurate case facts and compelling probabilities, and use these tools to master the criminal psychology at play.

How accurate is your encyclopedia on the Watts case?

Let’s find out.

At what time did Watts arrive home from CERVI 319 on Monday August 13th?

To assist you I’ve provided a screengrab of the applicable part in the Discovery Documents [page 2126]:

fullscreen capture 20190103 203424

Pick one of the five possibilities below, and in the comments, explain your answer:

A. 14:02

B: 14:10

C. 14:13

D. None of the above.

E. The exact time Watts arrived home is unknown. 

Good luck!


ANSWER: 14:07:44.

The three screengrabs below show not only the moment Watts, Nicholas Atkinson and Nate Trinastich leave 2825 Saratoga Trail together to show Coonrod the surveillance footage, but as Coonrod heads that way he turns and sees Baumhover arrive.

Baumhover’s arrival on the scene coincides with Coonrod’s exit.


These screengrabs are from the final moments of Coonrod’s bodycam footage following his arrival at the Watts home.