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Tag: Shanann Watts grave

Shan’ann’s Closest Friends Nickole Atkinson and Cassie Rosenberg pay touching tribute to her on Facebook, 1 year after her tragic death

Nickole Atkinson talks about the incident as if it were a bad dream. Cassie Rosenberg refers to a nagging voice in her dead telling her something was wrong. She also remembers Watts begging her not to call the police.

I have been thinking about this day for well the last year. Thinking that is was a bad dream and I was going to wake up…

Posted by Nickole Atkinson on Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Today has made me replay that horrible day in my mind and I hate it. I wouldn’t get off the phone and couldn’t that…

Posted by Cassie Rosenberg on Monday, August 12, 2019

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Updated Photo of Shan’ann Watts’ Grave

There is something heartbreaking and mournful about a grave and a graveyard. It has an inevitable, unbreakable, unreachable, suffocating, claustrophobic permanence about it, doesn’t it?

The the area that was green and bursting with summer when they were buried is brown, grey and forlorn today.

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The area in front of the gravestone has a Merry Christmas appeal to it, given the red and silver bows interspersed with the green.

It should be noted on the tombstone that Shan’ann’s name is spelled Shan’ann [the same convention followed by this blog and the narratives surrounding it]. Almost six months after her tragic death, even her staunchest defenders, as well as numerous media pundits still can’t get the spelling of her name right.

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With that being said, while Shan’ann’s name on the grave is correct, the spelling of her unborn son’s name is incorrect. Incorrect because in Shan’ann’s own text messages she repeatedly used “Niko”.

Shan’ann used this spelling as recently as the last completed day of her life [August 12, 2018] in a message meant for her husband [sent to Addy Molony at 21:13]:

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Shan’ann confirmed the same spelling on August 9th at 21:12 in a message to Nickole Atkinson and Cassie Rosenberg.

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When it takes this long to get the kindergarten stuff right in a high-profile true crime case, it’s no wonder it’s so difficult for a society to ever get to grips with far deeper darker and more complicated questions – like why.

More: Shan’ann Watts: Photos of the Funeral

Was Niko Buried With Shan’ann Watts?

Three coffins, not four. Three hearses, not four. Three graves, not four. And the unborn child’s name was Niko, not Nico.

PINEHURST, NC – SEPTEMBER 1: Frank Rzucek puts his hand on the casket of his daughter Shan’ann Watts, 34, before it is loaded into a hurse outside Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church on September 1, 2018 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Family and friends gathered for the funeral mass of Shan’ann her daughters Bella, 4, Celeste, 3, and unborn son Nico. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

PINEHURST, NC – SEPTEMBER 1: The bodies of Shanann Watts, 34, her daughters Bella, 4, Celeste, 3, and unborn son Nico are taken from the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church to head to their final resting place on September 1, 2018 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

PINEHURST, NC – SEPTEMBER 1: Friends and family gather as the bodies of Shanann Watts, 34, her daughters Bella, 4, Celeste, 3, and unborn son Nico are taken from the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church to their final resting place on September 1, 2018 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

PINEHURST, NC – SEPTEMBER 1: Friends and family make their way from the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church after the funeral mass for Shan’ann Watts, 34, her daughters Bella, 4, Celeste, 3, and unborn son Nico on September 1, 2018 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

At the end of the funeral service at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pinehurst, North Carolina on September 1st, 2018, a video recording [see below] shows three coffins exiting the church.

The autopsy results aren’t available, but the funeral and grave site suggest that Niko’s remains were either removed, destroyed or buried with his mother.

 

Was Niko Buried With Shan’ann Watts?

It’s difficult to speculate what the norm would be in a criminal case, especially where an autopsy would need to be performed on both the mother and fetus. But generally speaking, if an early term pregnant woman dies: is the baby removed and buried separately?

The answer probably depends on a case by case basis. What is the the wish of the family?

In some cases, such as this one reported by The Sun, a young mother who died of cervical cancer had her baby sewn back into her post mortem and buried with her [as this was apparently her wish]:

…five-and-a-half months into her pregnancy [Scarlett De-Lacey, 18] suddenly collapsed and was rushed to hospital after suffering deep-vein thrombosis which caused a blood clot in her leg. Doctors were unable to save Scarlett or her unborn baby Rocco, and after delivering him by caesarean, sewed him back inside his mum for burial. Gayle, from Newport, Wales, explained: “Rocco was too young, legally, to require a separate burial and I was asked if I’d like him put back inside Scarlett.”

“I knew that was what she would have wanted, so they’d be together forever. Her baby was back where he belonged.”

 

 

 

 

It’s possible that 15-week-old Niko was also too young to “qualify” for a separate burial, as Colorado law currently only recognizes the rights of a fully-fledged person at a particular point post-conception. What is that point? Live birth.

According to Westword:

To be considered a person…a baby has to be born alive. As proof, t[lawyers] cited a 2008 case in which doctors performed a C-section on a woman who was five months pregnant when she was in a car accident that caused her placenta to detach from the uterine wall. A Colorado appeals court ruled that she could sue the driver who caused the crash because the premature baby lived briefly — even if it was only for an hour and six minutes.

 

Count 6 of the arrest affidavit states “the woman died as a result of the unlawful termination of the pregnancy”. Does this mean the fetus was removed from Shan’ann’s body, prior to the first burial at CERVI 319?

One reason for the murderer to do this would be contingent on rational premeditation: to break the link between the remains of a pregnant victim and and Shan’ann – assuming Chris Watts succeeded in getting away with her murder. Let’s face it, he thought he would as all would-be-murderers do.

In other words, by sequestrating the fetus from Shan’ann’s corpse, if Shan’ann’s remains were ever found, the absence of the fetus could “prove” it wasn’t her. In such a scenario her DNA would need to be destroyed too, perhaps through chemical means.

In the Scott Peterson case, the mother and child’s remains washed up a mile from one another. At the time, three months after Laci’s disappearance, there was uncertainty whether either cadaver was related to the Peterson case. It required specialized DNA tests to confirm the corpse as Laci and the smaller body as Conner’s.

Without access to the autopsy evidence, we can’t know for sure whether this grotesque processing of the corpse/s occurred or not. Given the efforts to dispose of the three bodies, all three in separate “graves” at a remote site under the cover of darkness, there appears to be some reason to suspect the defendant may have made the effort to remove the fetus before burial and disposal.

On the other hand, the affidavit makes no mention of blood evidence inside the Watts home when the first safety inspection was made. A removal of a living fetus, if it happened, would have been very bloody and difficult to clean up, especially if it occurred over a short span of time – only two to three hours in this case.

What’s in a Name?

 

At the grave site and in the funeral flyer, Niko’s name is spelled “Nico”. This has led some to speculate that Shan’ann named “Nico” after her “best friend” Nickole Utoft Atkinson.

It’s a nice story. Going through the media narrative it’s clear that the Watts themselves intended to call their son Niko. Niko with a K, not a C. This has led to speculation – not unfounded in my view – that the name-choice and the specificity of the spelling was a nod to another Nichol with a surname beginning with the letter K.

Niko with a K is unusual. I should know,  I’ve seen my birth name – Nicolas – misspelled over the years, but never as Nikolas, and almost never shortened as Nik or Niko.

There’s something else too. Celeste, the second-born daughter, took their mother’s second name. Niko was the first child to take Christopher Lee Watts’ middle name as his own.  Niko Lee may or may not have been a symbolic message to his mistress-in-waiting. Maybe if the third child was unplanned, as a gesture of good faith or his future commitment, or even as a kind of apology, naming his son in some way after his mistress may have sent a symbolic message to her.

If so, it wasn’t enough.

Significantly there appears to be purposeful changing of the spelling at the funeral and the grave of the unborn child’s name, as if to undo this intention. Either that or it was a simple mistake, a misspelling.*

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*Shortly after the murders in mid-August, an effort was launched to initiate “Niko’s Law”. The ongoing petition is in aid of changing Colorado law so that it recognizes unborn children as people. As of this writing, the petition  has over 96 680 signatures.

TWO FACE is the definitive narrative on the Watts case available exclusively on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.