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

Tag: T-shirt

Gates, Conoco Gas Stations and the Mystery of the Man in the Orange Shirt

When British tabloids reported that Watts – or someone that looked like him – was seen wearing an orange shirt and buying a breakfast roll at 08:00 on Monday morning in a convenience store, legions rose to debunk the footage. IT’S NOT HIM! they screamed.

I suspected it could be.

The fact that Weld County released the footage to begin with suggested the District Attorney thought so too.

Intuitively, in terms of the timeline,  I knew it was possible because there’s a gas station and convenience store right there in Roggen. The first time I came across it was while researching the drive to CERVI 319.

As part of that research I found this video; the visit to the gas station is documented at around the 13 minute mark.

When the videographer turns off the road to visit a Conoco gas station which is right in the area of CERVI 319, he mentions the station is right beside a Guttersen CERVI ranch gate.

Fullscreen capture 20181229 175016

That gate is only just visible to the right of the grey pole in the screengrab below. It has small, white signboards attached to it. Fullscreen capture 20181229 174859

Below is the same scene zoomed in. The videographer assumed the area behind the gate is also part of the large Guttersen ranch, but it’s not. The large Cervi ranch borders the even more massive Guttersen ranch. Both ranches have hundreds of fracking pads scattered across the landscape.

Fullscreen capture 20181229 195948

In order to get to the gas station and the Cervi gate, one has to exit the highway and take the overpass to the other side.

Fullscreen capture 20181229 175251

Conoco’s Facebook page provides a handy map with directions to the gas station.

Fullscreen capture 20181229 165818

While there are hundreds of Conoco gas stations in and around Denver, there’s only one in Roggen.

Fullscreen capture 20181229 171859

Fullscreen capture 20181230 121912Fullscreen capture 20181229 165806

The gas station is situated on Frontage Road, about 10-15 minutes drive to or from CERVI 319.

Fullscreen capture 20181229 170029

The gas station is also clearly en route to CERVI 319 from Saratoga Trail, or conversely, heading back.Fullscreen capture 20181229 165858

The other aspect to consider: if it was Watts,  should he have been hungry by 08:00 on August 13th? If he’d last eaten at around 19:00 [during his chicken barbecue on the porch], and particularly if he’d been up all night committing and covering up three murders, then after the dumping, digging and disposal, he was likely to have developed quite an appetite when it was all over.

All over was likely to be close to 07:30-07:40, which gave him around half an hour to get back to the store for breakfast. That fits the timeline perfectly.4221396001_5974669446001_5974665781001-vs


It’s important to note that the layout of this store is different to the one where he is wearing a white shirt. It’s not the same convenience store.



The other aspect that stands out in terms of the orange shirt, was Officer Coonrod’s bodycam footage. When Watts is standing with his back to his wardrobe, the color coded shirts behind him show a hanger with nothing on it right by the orange shirts.

Fullscreen capture 20190102 120148

fullscreen capture 20190107 121538

Fullscreen capture 20181230 120148

fullscreen capture 20190107 122242

At the same time, there also appears to be a gray or black shirt missing from the wardrobe. There’s another hanger missing there too.

This line of inquiry is interesting because it suggests Watts may have changed his clothing three or four times that morning. It made sense to change out of the black shirt and jeans, because these were likely to be dirtied by sweat, dirt and possibly other body fluids and fibers.

He may also have dumped clothing and/or materials on his way home at the dumpster at 6507 Black Mesa.

Watts making multiple changes to his clothes also implies he’d do the same to Shan’ann after her murder. The change of clothes is intended to get rid of evidence transferred to the clothing during the crime and/or dumping of the bodies.

In a way the many changes of clothing make sense. It’s like the leopard trying to change his spots, and that’s exactly what lay behind this crime. Watts was trying to craft a new life for himself. Putting on a new shirt was almost like becoming someone else. If anyone spotted a guy in a dark shirt running around CERVI 319, or standing atop the tall tanks, well, they wouldn’t think to link him to the guy in the orange shirt…

Far from not thinking his crime through, Watts was trying to think of everything. He arguably got many of the technical aspects right, but failed dismally at the social game. Not only could he not explain where Shan’ann had gone in a convincing way, he failed to predict  human behaviors, including how Shan’ann’s best friend and her son would respond to her disappearance.

He also seemed to overestimate his own social game, or as it turned out, lack of.


Further reading: The Story Behind the T-Shirt Chris Watts was wearing during his Sermon on the Porch

Chris Watts: “Most Likely to Spend Daddy’s Money” and other T-Shirts

6771dd8dcccda2735e3ceb1180156abf1961-Conoco-Oil-Gas-Continental-Company-Ad-theVintage Conoco Gas Pumpdownload (3)

Above image courtesy Jamie Kripke.

Chris Watts CCTV footage August 13, 08:00

Digging holes, burying bodies and dumping children into oil tanks is hungry and thirsty work. About an hour and a half later Watts was buying something to eat.

Interestingly, Watts has 3 different outfits on the same day.

There’s the orange shirt.

The black shirt [and apparently no cap].

And the long-sleeved grey shirt [sans cap]. The glasses below also appear not to have the orange tint of those in the first photos.

Video footage from the convenience store CCTV can be viewed at this link.

“Time for a Reset” + Shan’ann repeatedly pronounces her name on video… – New Orleans, April 27, 2018

New Orleans was where Shan’ann was celebrated for her “time for a reset” article, published in Thrive’s Strive magazine. Nick Thayer had taken the photos for the article.

This is them on the way to or back from that shoot:

The first few seconds of the video below, Shan’ann repeatedly pronounces her name to the guy holding the microphone.

Below: Nickole Atkinson test-drives a Tesla Model-X worth about $80 000.

The Story Behind the T-Shirt Chris Watts was wearing during his Sermon on the Porch

At 12:56 in the audio clip below, a female reporter abruptly asks Chris Watts about his shirt. Reporters [and in court trial lawyers] often make the mistake of asking vague and open-ended questions. There’s a place for that, but there’s also a place for targeted interrogation.

Direct and specific questions tend to catch suspects off guard, and sometimes the silliest question [if it’s informed] can solicit an unexpected insight. Well, this was one of those.

Fullscreen capture 20180830 105434

REPORTER: Shan’ann went tuh…where’d you get that shirt?

WATTS: Oh…this is uh…I think she got it off Amazon, but this is the…my favorite college sports team. 

REPORTER: Sh-she…was-wasn’t she just there?

WATTS: She was-yeah, North Carolina, yep. She prob-she actually probably got it from there. Usually she gets stuff from Amazon. But this one…I like these shirts [laughs] a lot. 

There’s so much to mine out of this brief repartee. Firstly, especially when one listens to the same clip a few times, it actually sounds like the female reporter is purposefully trying to catch him out – catch him in a lie.

One suspects she was one of a few journos listening-in while he was giving his spiel and the more he said, the less she was buying it.

Now, when she asks her question, she misspeaks, basically firing off the punchline by mistake before she can lead him into her snare. Kudos to her, she changes her question in mid-sentence, making it sound like she’s forgotten what she meant to say and then just throws out a random question, except it’s not random.

The second point is that the reporter does actually succeed in catching Watts in a little lie. The fact that he lies about something so seemingly insignificant suggests this guy is a lot sneakier in general than we suspect. If he lies casually like this to the media didn’t he lie about anything and everything?

When we look at images of Watts, we forget he’s facing at least half a dozen journos – strangers – standing around him. He’s a fox in front of the media, isn’t he? A silver fox trying to outsmart the journos.

Apparently he’d outsmarted Shan’ann with his smoothness, and it had gotten him this far. Or so he thought. Maybe some wives give the impression to some husbands that they’re good liars, and it leads to false confidence.

The third insight from this short dialogue is that Chris Watts admits to being a big sports buff. I’ve written a previous blog probing at the events that played out over the weekend prior to the murders, and it’s certain there were a bunch of big sporting events he would have wanted to catch. The Carolina Tar Heels first football game of the season, however, was on September 1st. Watts was in jail when they lost 17 – 24 to California.

Fullscreen capture 20181021 000925

There’s something that feels immature about this guy standing on the porch in shorts and slops on a work day, a week day, wearing a t-shirt with the logo of his “favorite” college football, talking to the media about his missing [murdered] family.

It’s difficult to say what it is exactly. Reading between the lines, although Watts avoids saying his wife’s name, he admits that his wife bought him the shirt. There’s a sense there of coddling, assuming it’s true. Consider the cruel irony, to be standing there with your wife dead and buried, wearing the t-shirt she ‘s given to him, and luxuriating in being able to wear the shirt of his favorite sports team while shrugging and smiling for the cameras. It speaks, I think of conceit. And selfishness.

Finally the reporter reminds Watts that she’s aware that Shan’ann was just in North Carolina, and then, easy-as-you please, he changes his story to say Shan’ann didn’t buy it on Amazon after all, but bought it while she was in North Carolina. Actually she probably bought it for him while he was there with her, otherwise when else would she have given it to him?

Fullscreen capture 20181021 003141-001

In addition, there are a few incidental observations surrounding the t-shirt worth highlighting:

That white object appears to be a holder for the garage keypad. It’s not a light, the exterior lights are similar to the one above Watts head.

Fullscreen capture 20181020 234304

The light on the wall where the keypad is, is just out of picture.

Fullscreen capture 20181021 005605

A zoomed in view confirms the lower part of this plastic object appears to be a receptacle for the remote, which slots in from above.

Fullscreen capture 20181020 234132

Finally, Watts isn’t wearing a watch or wedding ring in these pictures. Going through the archive it’s a mixed bag, with some photos showing him wearing what appears to be a black wedding band, and often a colored wristband on the opposite wrist, and sometimes a watch, but not always. The physical and greasy nature of his work probably meant he often had to remove things from his finger and wrists when he was getting his hands dirty.Fullscreen capture 20181020 233823