What’s so amazing about the Watts case is how familiar we’ve become with each of them. Every time we click on a video, Shan’ann and sometimes one or both of her children come back to life. But that’s an illusion. They’re dead and in the ground in a graveyard in North Carolina. The fairy tale – if there ever was one to begin with – is over for them, and always will be. It will be over for the rest of this year, next year, and for the next several decades. Whatever life they enjoyed is gone forever.

This case is about four lives lost, five if we count Watts wretched existence.

It’s never good to allow our own sentiment to leak into cogent true crime analysis. God knows the Facebook flocks are ALL about emotion and little else.

Every so often, when investigating the victim’s story,  even the hardest of hearts have to soften. For me it’s this image. Shan’ann looks young and playful, it’s as if someone caught her in a rare authentic moment of Shan’ann just enjoying being Shan’ann without putting on any airs.

At the same time her two daughters are modelling themselves on a mother who although wasn’t perfect, was still probably the person they loved and trusted most in their world. This trio spent a lot of time together, getting to know one another, and if one thing can be said about Shan’ann, she really wanted to bring life into the world. That dream, at least, did come true for her.

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There’s something haunting about the two pictures with the blackboard poking out in the background, the text meaningful but almost too small to read. The door in one image is closed, in the next it’s open. Perhaps a figure is standing there in the shadows, but if someone is there, they don’t notice.

All three of them are looking into the mirror, and then the youngest child – Ceecee – turns around, breaking through the hypnosis of seeing herself in the mirror. How long and how often did Chris Watts think about what he was going to do before he finally did it?