In the clip below there’s a touching moment at about [1hour38] where Kessinger bursts into tears. She cries for almost a minute. For my part I was touched by her tears and obvious sadness, and sympathy for the children.
Many will sneer at that. So what – I can hear some saying – if Kessinger showed emotion? Or her emotion isn’t real etc. For my part I find it quite touching. Of all the folks involved in this case, this moment seems to be filled with with a great deal of remorse. We see some of the same grief in Shan’ann’s father Frank, especially when he appears in court, but in very few others.
There was some grief in Cindy Watts when she was in court. And a little by Watts himself that same day.
Grief is a redeeming quality. In true crime, wherever we see grief there are authentic human connections and emotions. Real grief overcomes bullshit and bullshit semantics. Real grief means there is contrition after the crime has been committed. But that’s what makes the moment immediately following Kessinger’s tears so gut wrenching.
They spoke for 111 minutes a few hours before Shan’ann was murdered. It’s also possible this crucial 111 minute conversation took place after Watts murdered both his daughters. And yet Nichol Kessinger says she can’t remember what they spoke about.
If Kessinger herself truly wants to know why, and wants to understand why, then because of the timing of that final conversation, crucial conversation, the contents matters greatly. What was his mood? What did they talk about? What were their plans?
Sometimes what we don’t know isn’t Rocket Science. It’s obvious. Sometimes it’s so obvious we miss it. There are two big contextual clues [besides the premeditated psychology of this crime] that strongly suggest Watts murdered his children before his wife returned home that night.
The second clue involves a throwaway remark from Nichol Kessinger, the last person Watts spoke to before killing his wife [a much under-appreciated, under-estimated and under-reported fact].
Kessinger told CBI Agent Koback that she heard a television blaring loudly in the background during her 111 minute call with him on Sunday night. Since there was no television in the basement, the television was likely the loft lounge or in the main bedroom [although he could also have been the television in the downstairs lounge].
This was very odd behavior for Watts, particularly because his children were such light sleepers. Even pulling the car out from the garage in the morning was liable to wake them up.
This suggests prior to the 21:00 call with Kessinger, the children were already dead which is also – perhaps – what allowed him to make such a long call without any threat of interruption or distraction from their waking up and needing him for any reason.
There is another even stronger indicator that the children were murdered on the 12th, and it shifts the timeline even earlier. Do you know what it is?
My impression, both on this site and the social media I’ve seen, is that folks are so busy trashing Nichol Kessinger, they’re no longer trying to figure out what insight she provides into Watts and Shan’ann.
Just prior to the two minute mark in the clip below, Kessinger covers a particularly murky area in the Watts case – the family finances. The mistress was privy to the Watts’ financial set up, but like everyone else, she was only provided a limited view.
Eventually [not knowing about their bankruptcy in 2015], Kessinger asked Watts:
“Is your lifestyle sustainable?”
If Shan’ann had been asked the same question [by anyone], how would she have answered?
When we first examined Trinastich’s surveillance video, most of us focused on the television. There wasn’t much to see, was there? Even the original video is fuzzy in depicting the goings-on in that all-important top left corner.
It didn’t take long though for folks to pick up on something else in the bodycam footage: Watts’ oddball behavior beside the flat screen. He seems at turns nervous, restless, distracted and even seems to be daydreaming at times.
On a few occasions he reaches for his phone and seems to be simply checking messages. Now we know he was responding to messages, including one – it looks like – to his mistress.
Although a reader brought this information to my attention, it’s been surprisingly difficult to confirm, and to be honest, it still may not be. This is because Detective Dave Baumhover and the other cops are somewhat vague in describing 1) at what time Officer Scott Coonrod entered the neighbor’s house to view the surveillance footage and 2) detective Baumhover’s exact time of arrival at the scene.
And a check of bodycam footage at the moment Coonrod enters the house for the first time confirms this.
In any event, Coonrod was on the scene for approximately twenty minutes before Watts showed up.
Detective Baumhover arrived on the scene sixteen minutes later [subsequent to Coonrod entering the home] at “approximately” 14:35 according to the arrest affidavit.
So we see, Coonrod was inside the scene with Watts for just a few minutes when he reckoned uh-oh, something is badly out of whack here. And then he summoned resources.
Coonrod and Watts were heading over to Trinastich’s house when detective Baumhover arrived at about exactly 14:35.
We know Watts remained at the neighbor’s house for seven more minutes after Coonrod made Watts aware of the detective’s arrival at the scene. That pushes the clock close to 14:42.
Now let me show you how and why we make these inferences.
At 02:04 in the video clip above, while Watts is doing his lip-curl thing, has both hands cupped against the back of his head, and sways from side to side [henceforth known as the Watts Bullshit Dance] Coonrod says: “My detective just showed up.” The bodycam records the time as 20:40:42Z.
If we assume the 14:35 arrival time is fairly accurate [but it may not be], and we advance 9 minutes forward through the timeline of the bodycam video [to the time of the text message to Kessinger] we get this at approximately 14:44 [20:49:35Z on the bodycam clock].
At this point in the bodycam footage, Watts has just exited Trisnatich’s home and returned to his own home to be questioned by Baumhover. It’s possible during this interlude, Watts sent this text to Kessinger:
As mentioned above, the bodycam clock shows the time when Watts exits as 20:49:35Z. I’ll explain the “Z” in a moment. For the time being, bear with me.
If the detective’s arrival time has a five-minute margin of error, and if we add a minute or two for the detective to arrive on scene and for dispatch to convey that to Coonrod, then it’s possible Watts sent the message to Kessinger while standing beside the cops. And we know that he was texting because on at least two occasions we can see he is texting beside the television.
His last text is at 20:42:53Z.
What does the “Z” mean?
The bodycam seems to be configured to Zulu time, which is a military metric based on Greenwich Mean Time [GMT]. 20:42 Zulu converts to 15:42 Mountain Standard Time [MTS]. So it appears Officer Coonrod’s bodycam clock is fast by one hour or the arrest affidavit is inaccurate by an hour. It seems unlikely detective Baumhover would mistake his ETA by more than a few minutes.
The Discovery Documents do show Watts texted Cristima Meacham at 14:26, which is nine minutes prior to Baumhover’s estimated arrival. Watts’ text to Cristina read:
Police are here, call you when I know.
Unfortunately the Discovery Documents are silent on further activity from Watts, or the cops – there is nothing between 14:26 and 15:46.
It’s frustrating that on so simple an issue as when the cops arrived there’s so little clarity or consistency.
Incredibly, in the Amanda Knox case, there’s also confusion around a critical part of the timeline; when the cops arrived at the Villa crime scene in Perugia.
After their meal at the Lazy Dog on Saturday night [August 11th], Watts and Nichol Kessinger had their final intimate encounter.
From her home Watts drove to his home, but stopped at a gas station on the way to draw babysitting cash for McKenna Lindstrom.
Below is a map showing the route from Watts’ home to Kessinger’s place on Claude Court.
The closest gas station on that route is at 3768 State Highway 52.
McKenna described Watts that night wearing a white-t-shirt and black jeans.
The screengrabs below are from 22:19 to 22:22. McKenna and her mother Jennifer said Watts arrived home late that night, at around 22:30. He’d agreed to be home by 22:00.
At first glance the brunette on the right in the screengrab below appears to be Nichol Kessinger. But the label on her shirt and the fact that she appears later with her back to the camera, counting notes for him from behind the counter, suggests she was a convenience store worker.
Many thanks to a follower of CrimeRocket who brought this info to my attention, but asked to remain anonymous.
It’s been repeated ad nauseum by now: why didn’t Chris Watts just get divorced? Are we a society that permits divorce? Of course, I hear you say. Divorce is as common as muck [as they say in Australia].
How about divorcing your pregnant wife, taking responsibility and going bankrupt in the process? How does society – and the opposite sex – look on a potential partner who does the right thing, but is exposed as a worthless, no-good scoundrel in the process?
Is such a person allowed to go on with their lives, allowed to pursue some happily ever after, or is society wired to mire them in scandal, crushing obligation and reputational ruin? Shan’ann’s Facebook hovered like a giant guillotine over the Watts marriage [in the event of it unravelling]. The nuts meltdown on July 9th, where Watts’ mother was lambasted in public, was proof enough of this.
Many of us know of divorced couples who air their dirty laundry in public. It’s ugly, it’s damaging, everybody loses and it happens all the time.
Watts stood to lose a lot if he was honest – his home, his mistress, possibly even his job. In his mind, the risks of full disclosure outweighed the risks of triple homicide. That may be a damning indictment of him, but whether we accept it or not, and whether we like it or not, it’s also his damning indictment of the world we live in.
Who cares what Chris Watts thinks of society, right?
But it’s the same society that is now condemning an innocent bystander to the murders. Kessinger is innocent [yes, some people can’t abide those words side by side] in the strict sense that she didn’t directly destroy Watts’ family. It feels like heresy to say that, but to address the point more fully – in the history of cheaters and adulterers, how many have gotten away with adultery with zero repercussions?
In the history of human beings cheating on their partners, how many have cheated during a pregnancy, or during financial stress, or when the brood becomes too much to handle, with no blood being shed?
And how many of those encounters have led to triple murder? The answer is, almost none, but it did for Kessinger.
The court of public opinion can be just as effective, if not more so, at pronouncing judgment, and executing a sentence against perceived lawbreakers. Again, Kessinger hasn’t been put on trial, and at least in the eyes of the law, she’s not been found to be guilty of anything, not even obstruction of justice.
While Kessinger is clearly not blameless in this debacle, neither is it true that she was entirely to blame either.
If there is an argument that Kessinger losing her life [her home, her job, her married lover] is a kind of just desserts, there is, at the same time, a demonstration here for how society can destroy you if and when the tide turns. Just as it can destroy anything, including a song or anyone else when it makes up its mind.
Kevin Hart did not handle his PR fiasco well! Rather than issuing a proper apology for his homophobic comments, he posted a defensive Instagram post that ostracized many fans. Issuing and a genuine apology is crucial. Remember COGNITIVE empathy is necessary in all cases! #CM215bupic.twitter.com/0yAxj7sLWl
When they fired @JamesGunn because of stupid tweets that were meant to be edgy & provocative but were just gross and he had ACKNOWLEDGED & APOLOGIZED for – something called taking personal responsibility. The very theme of #GOTG2 (2 of 4)
So how about a thought experiment. Let’s imagine you [or I] are Nichol Kessinger. We’re her. We’re in her shoes. We’re the most hated woman in America. What do you do?
The first answer that comes to mind is that she [you/me] should have gone to the cops the moment she [you/me] learned Shan’ann and the kids were missing, and that the cops had been summoned. Let’s leave out the debate about whether or not she [you/me] knew about the pregnancy, or when she [you/me] might have known.
Our argument is that Kessinger [you/me] should have gone to the cops, and done so with full disclosure. No deleted messages. Just tell them what happened. Is that what you/me would do in similar circumstances? Wouldn’t that have made the public lynching even worse?
Whatever we may say in response to that, Kessinger thought it would, hence she stayed out of the spotlight and went underground for several months. When she did come out, she gave a carefully contrived interview with a defamation lawyer present, to a reputable media agency. She had to come out from the cold, because her part in the Watts case was days away from being confirmed for the first time at the sentencing hearing.
Kessinger’s story didn’t do much good. Her public lynching went ahead regardless.
So what would you have done, if you were her?
It’s a valid question, and one Kessinger is doubtlessly tormented with each day as she tries to begin a new life, with a new name, in some unknown place, while she considers her former life lost.
What can she do now?
Full disclosure now is no longer an option, because it runs counter to witness protection. So there probably aren’t any books in the pipeline like there was with Amber Frey.
So how about this. It may be that the cruel, vindictive society we are is no accident. A proper execution of justice, and disclosure, in this case, would have been in court, not in the media and social media. The reason that didn’t happen is sinister, and part of the way our lack of clarity on this case manifests, is through knee-jerk demonizing of Watts and Kessinger. But neither Watts nor Kessinger arose in a vacuum. They were once thought of fondly by their family, friends, colleagues and society, just as you are now.
Who cares what Chris Watts or Nichol Kessinger think of society. Who cares if they were both too scared – and remain too terrified – to take society into its confidence. Who cares! But it’s that fear of society that caused Watts and Kessinger to engage in a secret liaison, and when things went bad, to keep those secrets secret. We may wag our fingers at him and her, we may call them cowards, but we can only do that while we’re on the higher ground. What happens when we’re in their shoes?
This societal status quo reminds me of a famous scene in Kill Bill Volume Two that addresses the critique of a comic book hero on society. On us. Have a listen.
The operative part of Bill’s monologue is when he talks about heroes wearing costumes, and then Superman arriving on Earth already a hero, but donning a costume of human society as he sees it [as he sees us] to blend in as Clark Kent.
BILL: And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He’s weak. He’s unsure of himself. He’s a coward. Clark Kent is Superman’s critique on the whole human race.
Highlighted in yellow in Nichol Kessinger’s Verizon call log [below] is an unusual entry at an unusual time. It’s a one-minute call to someone in Milwaukee at 06:16 on the morning of August 13th, roughly when Chris Watts was arriving at CERVI 319 with three dead bodies in the rear car seat behind him.
Although Jim Gutoski is not named once in the 1960 pages of discovery, Kessinger’s friend Charlotte Nelson is.
Gutowski and Nelson are mutual friends on Facebook, and like Kessinger, Gutowski has been educated in geology.
Jim Gutoski had a profile on LinkedIn associated with Sunburst Consulting, however it’s since been removed.
Kessinger refers to “her buddy” at 1:52:10 in the clip below, and off-and-on describes how she knows Jim, but begs the investigator not to involve him or ask him any questions for the next five minutes of the conversation.
The Discovery Documents are numbered from page 46 to page 2155. There are a total of 1960 pages in the tranche, meaning almost 200 pages have been redacted or held back.
The crucial Phone Data Review timeline data from Watts’ phone, as well as Kessinger’s, Shan’ann’s and a few others, is one of the final entries in the tranche, all the way at the end of the document. The Phone Dada Review starts on page 2081 and ends at page 2130.
In the 49 pages of data extracted from various handsets, what you won’t find is this:
On Sunday night, August 12th, at 21:28, Kessinger received an incoming call from Chris Watts [910 309 1702]. The conversation lasted 111 minutes, or 1 hour 51 minutes. The conversation ended at 23:19, around the time Shan’ann was originally supposed to have arrived home had her flight from Phoenix not been delayed.
Yet this crucial call, at a crucial time, to a crucial person in the schema of this crime, doesn’t appear in the Discovery Documents timeline.
Confusingly the timeline shows Kessinger called Watts on August 13th, and that they held a 51 minute conversation [easy to confuse with the 1 hour 51 minute conversation the night before that’s not recorded in the timeline].
Kessinger’s call logs show two consecutive outgoing calls on August 13th at 17:01 and 17:02. Both are to 910 numbers [North Carolina].
At 21:12 on Monday night, Officer James calls asking Watts to give him names and numbers, and also asking him to talk about whether he was in an affair, or whether Shan’ann was.
Then, the 14th, a busy day that includes the Sermon on the Porch, multiple canine dog searches and Watts’ first brush with FBI Agent Grahm Coder at the department which lasted around 4 hours, from 19:00 to close to approximately 23:00.
At 17:00 on Tuesday Kessinger Googles “can cops trace text messages” and “how long do cell phone companies keep text messages.”
At 21:48 Kessinger gets called back, apparently from one of the numbers she’d called earlier in the afternoon, and she speaks for 50 minutes to the caller. At 23:09, presumably a few minutes after his first interrogation ended, Kessinger makes a final call that night to Fayetteville, North Carolina. She speaks for 52 minutes, likely with Watts’ parents.
Although Watts can be seen fidgeting and texting on his phone during the first four hour interview with Coder on Tuesday [starting at 19:00], he never seems to actually take or make any calls. The timeline also doesn’t seem to show any calls or texts during this period. So who called his father and summoned Ronnie Watts, at a moment’s notice, to fly in first thing the next morning? Wasn’t it Kessinger?
We also want to know who Kessinger called in Milwaukee at 06:16 on the morning the bodies were buried and dumped at CERVI 319.
At 19:32 in the audio clip, Brown mentions the day Watts announced his wife was pregnant for the third time at work. When he congratulated Watts privately, Anthony Brown confided that his own wife had suffered three miscarriages. Watts offered – or implied to offer – to give Brown his child, if it was a girl.
He also witnessed Watts and Kessinger at work standing “extremely close” to one another. He said this happened “five months ago” in an interview dated August 30, 2018.
It’s a simple question and yet so much rides on the right answer. The Discovery Documents provide a timeline of the interactions between 33-year-old Chris Watts and his 30-year-old mistress Nichol Kessinger.
Kessinger’s story in the press is that she only initiated the affair in May or June 2018.
Now the very first entry into that timeline – a Google Search by Nichol Kessinger for “Shanann Watts” on September 1, 2017 – is being called “a typo”.
Really? The first item on the timeline is a typo? What part is the typo? 2017? 1? Or September? If her phone was seized and analyzed in August, how could she have made a search in September 2018? And if the entire entry is wrong [which is not a typo but a full blown data-entry error], then WHEN DID KESSINGER SEARCH WATTS’ WIFE’S NAME FOR THE FIRST TIME?
You’d think this question [if it is a minor data entry error] would be simple enough to clear up, and CrimeOnline have made the effort:
The records supervisor at the Frederick Police Department told CrimeOnline on Thursday that the entry in the discovery report showing that Nichol Kessinger performed a Google search for Shanann Watts on September 1, 2017 is a typo.
CrimeOnline reached records supervisor Amanda Purcell on Thursday after repeated inquiries made to multiple Colorado law enforcement agencies to confirm the accuracy of an entry in the Phone Data Review included in the discovery documents connected to the Chris Watts murder case, released by the Weld County District Attorney’s office late last month.
Asked if the entry in the Phone Data Review showing that Kessinger performed an internet search for “Shanann Watts” on her cell phone on September 1, 2017, was typographically correct, Purcell said it was a typo in the report.
Purcell was not able to provide additional clarification about another section of the phone data review that indicates Kessinger searched for Chris and/or Shanann Watts prior to beginning her relationship with Chris Watts in the spring of 2018, and referred our inquiry to the Weld County District Attorney’s office. The above entry, however, appears to be the only questionable date in the chronological Phone Data Review. CrimeOnline has reached out to the Greeley Police Department for clarification or confirmation of the information listed in the entry, and has not yet received a response.
We already know, however, that Kessinger purposefully deleted messages between herself and Watts from her phone. We also know that at 17:00 on August 14th, Kessinger Googled “can cops trace text messages” and “How long do phone companies keep text messages”as well as “Difference between text message content and text message detail”.
We also see the first artifact after the “typo Google search” coming in as late as July 7th, about two weeks into Shan’ann’s six week trip to North Carolina. This is also the first recovered call from Kessinger to Watts, but probably wasn’t the first actual call made to him.
So what is the truth and why is it so murky all of a sudden?
Greeley Police Detective Michael Prill authored the report that included a single entry of a September 1, 2017 search for Shanann Watts, and Frederick Police Detective David Baumhover authored the report, excerpted immediately above, that referenced multiple deleted searches for Chris and Shanann Watts.
Following a series of email exchanges and phone calls with the Weld County District Attorney’s office regarding the reports, CrimeOnline spoke by phone to Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke on Monday. Rourke said that the reports reflect what was shown in the forensic analysis of Nichol Kessinger’s phone.
“The dates to which you are referring — in 2017 where it appears she Googled or otherwise searched Shannan — was data that came off her phone,” Rourke said.
“It’s not a typographical error in the report. [The detectives] are reporting what was contained in the data from her phone. I don’t know the answer to the question of why or how those dates ended up in her phone.”
Asked if the District Attorney’s office questioned or planned to question Kessinger about data suggesting she was aware of Chris and Shanann Watts for up to a year before the murders, Rourke said that Chris Watts’ guilty plea precluded any need to further probe the results of the forensic analysis of Kessinger’s phone.
“We did not get to the point in our investigation of attempting to independently verifythat or not because Chris Watts pled guilty,” Rourke said.
“When you ask me if I have verified that information, the answer to your question is no.Nichol Kessinger told us that she met and started the relationship with the defendant in 2018. So where that anomaly in the data comes from, I can’t answer it for you. I don’t know the answer to it.”
Rourke said that prosecutors are confident in the results of the murder investigation, which is closed. “I have absolutely no reason to investigate Nichol Kessinger at this point in time,” he said.”This is not a witch hunt.”
“My job is to investigate and prosecute who was responsible for the deaths of Shannon, Bella, Celeste, and Nico. We have done that. I have no information nor any belief that any other criminal defendant is out there who is responsible for their death in any way, shape, or form.”
The Frederick Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for clarification of their earlier statements about the Phone Data Review.
So much for the District Attorney wanting to know why…
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!
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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.”