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

Tag: Rape of Cassandra

Two Recent Reviews of DRILLING THROUGH DISCOVERY by British Readers

I try to be balanced when blowing my own trumpet with book reviews, by also providing a poor review, and dealing with the criticisms. This time I’m not going to do that. I do find it strange how the reviews differ in that some [a minority] accuse the writing of being “badly researched”, while others refer to it as “superb journalism”. So which is it?

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It is important to note that, as “Liverbird” points out, one should read the books in the order they are written. The theories presented in the later books are “built” in the first narrative, and tested, developed and improved upon as more and more information is analyzed, integrated and the overall case understood.

More reviews from British readers for the first four books in the series, provided here in reverse order. RAPE OF CASSANDRA is the 4th book in the series.

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Below is a review, also from “Liverbird”, on TWO POLLYANNAS, the 3rd book in the series.

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British review for the 2nd book BENEATH THE OIL.

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I sincerely appreciate the reviewer “madbmad” for pointing out how accurate the first book was [published in mid-September] even though the book was only read in February. It’s easy to forget what we didn’t know prior to the discovery document dump in November. THE MAN UNDERNEATH CHRISTOPHER WATTS referred to the “other Chris” and a “second Chris” two full months before FBI agent Grahm Coder’s interrogation was made public, where he put it to the suspect that there were “two Chrises”.

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More: The Tale of Two Chrises

For American readers, follow this link to read samples or purchase the TWO FACE series from



The latest review, posted yesterday [December 27th], is the 7th straight five star review for RAPE OF CASSANDRA. RAPE  OF CASSANDRA is currently a #1 Bestseller in the Trial Practice category on Amazon, and #18 in the Hoaxes & Deceptions category.

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One reason, I think, for the strong ratings, RAPE OF CASSANDRA is by far the most voluminous of the four books currently available in the series, and for that reason it’s also the most expensive.

While writing RAPE OF CASSANDRA the intention was  to cover essential narrative territory, including the status conference [when the plea deal was announced] and the sentencing hearing. The idea was not to drill into the discovery. I wanted to leave that for the fifth book in the series. In the end, I decided to do some analysis from the discovery dump, simply because the books are meant to be the most current narrative available when they come out, so to not refer to the discovery in some detail would be a failure to do due diligence.

Unfortunately, dealing with the discovery meant sacrificing a fair amount of trial coverage and analysis. Even so, the discovery is only glimpsed at in RAPE OF CASSANDRA. The fifth narrative focuses entirely on the discovery; analyzing, filtering and organizing the information in an effort to make sense of it. That analysis goes way beyond the superlight coverage here on CrimeRocket.

RAPE OF CASSANDRA’s high rating isn’t bad, especially considering the string of poor reviews for the first book that have been coming through of late.

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Many of the complaints about the first book are from folks who are only coming into the narrative now. The complaint is that there’s nothing new in the first book. Personally, I don’t think that’s true, especially the narrative around the dogs which even the Discovery Documents don’t deal with in detail, and much of the information around the dogs is muddled and unclear.

When the first TWO FACE was published on September 10th, the information and the chronology was brand new. The power of the first narrative – in my view at any rate – lies in its prescience. The crime scene and execution of the crime was intuited and three books later, many of those original intuitions still appear to hold water. So the complaint that the first book was written “too early” misses the point – it was intended to be written early for two reasons:

1. To meet the demand of regular Rocket Science [originally #Shakedown] readers who have come to expect and rely on rapid delivery of true crime narratives.

2. To test and challenge my ability to fathom a brand new case while being mostly in the dark about many, if not most aspects of the crime, crime scene and characters involved.

So, to be fair, the first narrative ought to be evaluated within those parameters.

It should also be mentioned that in order to enjoy these books, to get the most out of them and the series as a whole, it’s important to catch the narratives as soon as possible after they come out. Besides being the first narratives to bite at the various cherries in this case, many of the links referred to work early on, but over time are sometimes removed by the original source. That is one reason why CrimeRocket exists. It serves as an archive of content – including photos – for the narratives to refer to, without the risk of them being removed months or years later.

Coming in January…


Two More Critical Omissions from the Discovery Documents

In the early hours of August 13, a Ring doorbell camera records 34-year-old Shan’ann Watts arriving home in Frederick, Colorado from a business trip at 01:48. The pregnant mother enters her home on Saratoga Trail and is never seen alive again.

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Where is this this footage of Shan’ann’s arrival, and why hasn’t it been released?

Also, did the cadaver dogs search the inside of Watts’ vehicle [where he said the bodies were stowed en route to CERVI 319]?

Why is there no footage of the interior of Chris Watts’ truck?

Shan’ann’s 33-year-old husband Chris Watts is seen on his neighbor’s doorbell camera from 05:27 onward. The camera records Watts backing his truck into the driveway, then heading back into the house and out to the truck several times. Although no bodies can be seen on the camera, during one of the trips to his truck he appears to be walking backwards, dragging something.

Exactly what happened in the 3 hours 39 minutes between the two camera recordings remains unclear and uncertain.

During the sentencing hearing on November 19, 2018, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said investigators don’t know the exact sequence of events. Because of the gruesome manner the bodies of his two children, Bella [4] and Celeste [3] were disposed of, investigators haven’t been able to establish time of death either. Were the children killed before or after their mother?

The Discovery Documents reveal how Watts’ story of the crime comes about. Eventually Watts is prompted: “Did Shan’ann do something?” But even Watts’ confession isn’t reliable.

In the moment that Chris Watts steps forward out of his quiet, introverted self and rises as the hero in his “confession”, Shan’ann falls as the villain, a convenient, symbolic and of course cowardly distortion of the truth.

So what is the truth?

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TWO FACE RAPE OF CASSANDRA, published on December 17, 2018,  investigates the exact sequence of events, from the time of the first death in the Watts home, to the disposal at the Cervi site, to how and why a “normal” family man wreaked a holocaust against his own family, and ultimately, himself.

Watts was undoubtedly devoted but weak during his marriage, inspired but duplicitous during his affair, and the murders themselves were the ultimate manifestation of his quintessential cowardice. But his resolve to murder didn’t arise in a vacuum. It germinated in a troubled paradise; that aspect has to be acknowledged as well. That aspect is RAPE OF CASSANDRA’s terrifying terra firma.

“Shan’ann had no defensive wounds…” But if she was murdered in her bed, there’s a problem. Can you see what it is?

The premise in the TWO FACE trilogy has been:

  1. The triple murders were all premeditated.
  2. The children were murdered first.
  3. Shan’ann wasn’t murdered in her bed – she never made it up the stairs.

But the trilogy was written months before the Discovery Documents came out. The trilogy was written before it emerged what clothes Shan’ann was buried in, or the 02:30 credit card purchase, or the stains on the sheets dumped into the trash were revealed.


So do the scenarios presented in the first three books still hold up now that we’ve seen the inside of the house in vivid video detail? Thanks to the latest release of evidence, we’ve been able to see into the crime scene literally hours after the cover up was completed, through the eyes of Officer Coonrod on the 13th and Officer Katherine Lines [the dog handler] on the 14th [after Watts had time to do more cleaning and covering up].

With RAPE OF CASSANDRA, the 4th book in the TWO FACE series, I’ve been able to integrate vital aspects within the enormous tranches of Discovery Documents and video and audio of the actual confession. These insights have moved the narrative forward, allowing for the fine-tuning of the original hypothesis.

For example, there’s an important clue in the screengrabs below that shows Watts wasn’t only lying about Shan’ann killing the children [that part of his so-called “confession” is false], but he was also manipulating his interrogators in terms of telling them when and how he killed Shan’ann.

Can you see where that it and why that is?

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QUIZ: Want to Win Book 4 in the TWO FACE Series? See how many of these 10 Questions you can Answer Correctly

In true crime some of the simplest questions are often the toughest, the most misunderstood or the most difficult to answer. But if we can’t answer some of the simple questions, then it really calls into question our entire efforts [and capacity] to figure out, let alone solve a case.

As criminal cases go the Chris Watts case appears extremely straightforward on the surface He confessed, the cops were onto him almost immediately, and so were a bunch of witnesses. But the reality is the Chris Watts case is a lot murkier than it seems. It has two faces, a shallow surface and a bottomless, darker, deeper face.

In order to clear away the murk, see how many of the questions posed below you can answer. A word of advice, take a few moments to consider the possibilities before answering.

For those who’d like a chance to win TWO FACE RAPE OF CASSANDRA, leave a comment below but make sure you have a Kindle, have read a Kindle book before and know how to receive and download a gifted copy. If you’d like to be in the running for a free giveaway, leave the word #tcrsKindle in your answer.

Whoever gets the most right answers first, wins.

  1. What is the correct spelling and full name of Shan’ann’s unborn child?
  2. On August 12th, when was the gender reveal due to be held?
  3. Who had the envelope and knew the name on behalf of the Watts family?
  4. On what day did Chris Watts delete or deactivate his Facebook?
  5. When did Nichol Kessinger search for Shan’ann Watts for the first time?
  6. Why were the autopsy reports sealed?
  7. Where was Deeter kept while Chris Watts was out at CERVI 319 on August 13th?
  8. Who found Shan’ann’s phone?
  9. What was the code for Shan’ann’s phone?
  10. What else was found next to the phone?

10/10 = Rocket Scientist

8-9 = True Crime Guru

4-7 = Informed but not quite there yet

2-3 = Rookie

0-1 = Wannabe/Ignoramus

Coming soon…


Full Confession Video: Chris Watts Re-enacts Shan’ann’s Murder – but there’s a problem

At 18:04:56 on the CCTV counter in Squad Interview Room 2 Chris Watts begins to “sympathize” with the events that played out that night. By that I mean he begins to make gestures to explain what he’s saying.

The entire “re-enactment” lasts about 45 seconds.

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It should be seen and listened to in context, however. Watts is being asked what it felt like [killing his wife], how long it took and what he was doing. This is worth reviewing from 1:26:20 in the video along with the transcript.

Special Agent Grahm Coder asks Watts whether Shan’ann screamed.

CODER: Was she talking? Was she scratching you?

WATTS: I-I-uh-I-I didn’t…I just felt…such anger…that…none-nothing-I didn’t feel anything.

CODER: Oh yeah. Alright. Was it quick or slow? Was it…?

WATTS [Gesturing]: I felt so numb I felt like it was over [gestures with his hands]…

CODER: Fast? Over fast?

WATTS [Gestures]: Felt like…

CODER: Was it a choke like this [gestures] or was it a head lock [gestures]?

Agent Tammy Lee who also did his polygraph test, interrupts and gesturing, asks Watts to hold out his hand and show how he choked Shan’ann [in his scenario to them] on the bed.

She also asks Watts to describe how Shan’ann killed the children, and Watts objects, saying the monitors were black and white, but also that it was dark.

There’s a serious problem in Watts’ description here? Do you see it?

I provide deeper analysis and an answer to this puzzling aspect in RAPE OF CASSANDRA, my fourth book on the Watts case, coming in early December.


“When is RAPE OF CASSANDRA coming out and what’s it about?”

There have been a number of eager inquiries about the next book on the Chris Watts case. When is it coming out? The fourth book in the ongoing TWO FACE series will be available in the first week of December.

What’s it about?

The current narrative of the Watts Family Murders is as follows*:

In the early morning hours of Aug. 13, a doorbell camera recording Shanann coming home from a work trip about 1:45 a.m.  Chris Watts was seen on a neighbor’s doorbell camera about 5 a.m. backing his truck into the driveway and going back into the house and out to the truck three times, likely as he loads the bodies, Rourke said, though the bodies can’t be seen on the camera.

Exactly what happened between those two camera recordings is still not certain.

Rourke said investigators do not know the exact sequence of events, partially due to how the bodies were disposed of, but it’s not uncommon for investigators to have difficulty establishing exact times of deaths.

RAPE OF CASSANDRA investigates the exact sequence of events, from the time of death in the Watts home, to how and why a “normal” family man wreaked a holocaust on his own family, and ultimately, himself.

*Source: Coloradoan, November 19, 2018

Available early December 2018…