No one can understand why Chris Watts committed murder. He must be a monster, a psychopath. He’s evil, that’s why this happened. No, none of those are explanations. We need to try a little harder than that.
Murder is an aggressive act. Triple murder is a very aggressive act, so aggressive in this instance it’s aggression mixed with sadism. Where does sadism come from? That’s easy. When someone takes pleasure inflicting pain onto someone else, it’s seen as recompense [in their minds] for a perceived slight. Sadism in other words is revenge for humiliation.
In the Watts case the sadism is extreme. It suggests the humiliation is chronic as well.
Of course as soon as we interrogate the authentic nature of the relationship, as soon as we see a controlling, dominant and often sniping aspect in Shan’ann’s personality, then we’ve crossed the line into victim blaming. Shan’ann is innocent and good, we’re reminded, Chris Watts is evil, he’s to blame and that’s all there is to it.
If you want to know why, then you ask questions. If you don’t want to know why, we can stand on the rooftops and all scream together how EVIL Chris Watts is, and in typical social media madness, see who screams the loudest or comes up with the best meme. Whoever screams the loudest wins, and then, that’s your answer. There’s your 21st century why.
Except for the minority of intelligent people in this world, that’s not an answer, unless your standards for figuring out criminal psychology are based on the reptilian brain. We need to be less primitive, simplistic and black and white in our thinking than that.
So let’s try to be a little more sophisticated in our thinking.
The last week in the timeline leading up to the Annihilation of the Watts family is crucial. And what do we find during that last week? In Shan’ann’s own words on august 12th, hours before her murder, she confirms there was plenty of humiliation.
There was belittling…
In the week prior, from August 5th:
There was insulting, threatening and undermining him and his family to his face…
There was her claiming to be the dominant, controlling figure in their relationship at his expense…
There was her telling her friends he doesn’t have any balls, or any game…
There was her wanting him to choose between her family and his own.
This venting wasn’t the only reason for the murders. Their cratering debt [a situation they both contributed to], his affair with Kessinger and hers with MLM weren’t doing their respective families or finances any favors. The reality is, as horrible and tragic as the murders of Shan’ann and her beautiful children were, it wasn’t an act of madness, or evil, or psychopathy. It was a human choice made by an angry, deceitful, cowardly but also humiliated man.
In TWO FACEI discuss the seemingly esoteric subject of man as a symbolic animal, and as a symbolic animal, how we are nourished [validated] with symbols that mean things to us. Flags, colors, brands, songs – the human experience is awash with things that enhance our experience of the world. But just as an animal who is nourished on symbols can find them infinitely and exquisitely validating, he can also be infinitely and excruciatingly invalidated.
Facebook is a great example of a simple symbolic schema that, if we allow it, determines our worth. We measure ourselves [our social power] and one another [their social power] by the number of friends, likes and and interactions we get on social media, and we especially value gestures of reinforcement from people that are important, or important to us. There three dynamics at play on social media. My social power, yours, and then the dynamic between mine and yours. In other words, who am I vis-a-vis everyone else, and who are you vis-a-vis me, and everyone else.
The magic of Thrive is how it’s designed to be a system where a nobody can be thrown a social media life-buoy and turned into somebody by legions of other MLM nobodies all hellbent on same need for social self-enrichment [and the piles of gold coins anticipated to go along with that]. You sing my praises and I’ll sing yours. You follow me and I’ll follow you. I make you rich, give you free stuff, and you do the same for me. It’s brilliant, because everyone wins. Right?
We’ve seen Shan’ann singing her husband’s praises as her Rock, the love of her life, the one for her, the one who stood by her, someone who she considered “amazing” as a man, a husband and a father. Validating, right?
Now imagine what this feels like.
To understand what’s really going on here, Shan’ann actually took out her camera and snapped a picture demonstrating her husband’s idiocy after giving him instructions. What this reveals isn’t just someone who’s used to barking out a lot of orders, but someone who expresses anger and contempt when her servant falls short.
It’s unlikely the picture in the above post is from the two Christmasses past. But the fact that Shan’ann would go to the effort to demo how dumb her partner was in this instance to better and more fully illustrate her point and share it on social media [note the face palms] says something about a tendency to “borrow strength” from her Facebook flock when her husband fell out of favor.
It wasn’t enough to chastise him in private, he needed to punished, to be flogged in public.
In another post she uses seven face palms to make her point, all symbolic emoticons that, if Chris Watts saw them, would tend to invalidate all the flattering stuff Shan’ann had said about him previously.
Now imagine this. Imagine when you’re being validated it’s not because of something real that you did, or because of some genuine encouragement, but rather it’s part of a spiel to sell patches. Who he is is simply and conveniently expropriated for economies of scope to tip the social media scales in her favor. But then, at other times, when he’s being invalidated, well, that’s real. That’s based on real life. Nothing is being sold there except the abounding truth that he’s an idiot.
In either case, Shan’ann is turning to Facebook to be her megaphone about her feelings.
It’s a betrayal.
Each and every one of those face palms is deeply invalidating, it’s the complete opposite of the feel-good factor of social media mentioned earlier.
By anchoring praise in Thrive-themed promotion on the one hand and anchoring criticism to reality in the other, Shan’ann’s exposing herself as a capricious charlatan, at least in terms of her marriage. He sees all too clearly her contempt for him; he’s become only good enough as a prop in her business, and a fake one at that [and they both know it].
If Shan’ann could do this on a public platform, what did she say and do when she was really angry with her husband?
Without knowing anything about the Watts case other than the fact that their were three victims [and the unborn Niko], it’s abundantly clear there was an excess of sadism in this particular crime. To be clear, all crimes are sadistic. Sadism is the intentional effort to benefit at another’s expense. I kill you, you’re dead, I live at your expense and hopefully I flourish at your expense. The more murders the more sadism.
The Watts Family murders is one of the most sadistic family murders I’ve come across, though it’s no match for the sadism of the Van Breda axe murders, where a 20-year-old hacked to death both parents, his older brother and his younger sister [who ultimately survived].
The Watts case feels gentler than axe murders, but consider the level of sadism to carry out one, then another, then a third strangling? There’s also something particularly reprehensible about killing one’s own children, as well as this idea of quiet man quietly killing three innocent, helpless females in his care and custody.
If strangling is less sadistic than murder by axe, the carefully crafted disposal of the remains in oil drums and dirt feels coolly calculated, cruel and heartless. As if people he once knew as family, as a wife, as his own flesh and blood children, had suddenly been alchemised into garbage, and once they were garbage they could all be treated as such. And not a single tear shed in regret or remembrance.
Wherever there is sadism, there is anality. They go hand in hand. And wherever there is anality, there is humiliation. Without knowing anything about the Watts case it was immediately obvious that there was an extreme amount of humiliation somehow at play in the family dynamics.
We’re starting to see evidence of that now. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and the humiliation, mark my words, isn’t limited just to what the murderer felt…
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!
Book 5 – ALL NEW! “I have thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook…” – Connie Lukens. Drilling Through Discovery Complete Audiobook
Read the entire 9-Part TWO FACE series, the most definitive book series covering the Chris Watts Case
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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.”