In the last three weeks, the Phone Data Review becomes chock-full of drama, emotions, details and tension. As such, the episodes dealing with this period are invariably an hour to an hour-and-a-half in length.
Due to the time and effort editing videos and analyzing the data by applying True Crime Rocket Science [and what we know now] to what we thought we knew then, a world of possibilities, and a whirlwind of new insights emerge.
On Patreon, many who thought they had a clear grasp of the case have had their socks blown off. Are you ready to see the Watts case through a brand new lens, and from a brand new perspective? If so, then you are go for launch.
LINKS TO FINAL 3 WEEKS OF THE PHONE DATA REVIEW [PATREON ONLY]
During the first two months following the Watts Family Murders in 2018, perhaps the best and most consistent mainstream coverage came from HLN’s Ashleigh Banfield. On October 16th, seemingly out of nowhere, Banfield was taken off the air and purged from HLN entirely.
The reason given was “political.”
“The current cable news landscape is dominated by politics. Our live news shows have not benefited from this trend given our story mix. In today’s news environment, every network has to focus on its strengths. To ensure HLN’s growth, we will shift some of our resources from live to longform programming and produce our live shows in as streamlined a manner as possible.” – CNN EVP/HLNexecutive vice presidentKen Jautz, via an internal memo
Even if HLN’s coverage was competing for the same market, this move came as a blow to TCRS, CrimeRocket.com and the enormous audience following the Watts case. HLN and TCRS were actively researching and reporting on the developments in the Watts case, and at one point even discussed collaborating.
Below is a compilation of Ashleigh Banfield’s excellent coverage of the Watts case.
52.25 into the Lifetime movie we see a dramatization of Kessinger finding out Shan’ann was pregnant. After cutting to a close-up of Kessinger’s eyes peering at a computer screen we hear a voiceover from a reporter saying:
“Shan’ann is fifteen weeks pregnant. I know this may be a tough question, but did you guys get into an argument before she left or anything…?”
“It wasn’t like an argument or anything. It was like an emotioonal conversation…”
The actual moment a similar question was asked was at the very end of the Sermon on the Porch, basically 15 minutes into it.
In the dramatization Kessinger is shocked. Scene cuts to her calling Watts that night and him saying the child isn’t his.
A few obvious problems with this scene:
1. Kessinger was likely at work when the news footage first aired, whereas the zoomed-in scene suggests she’s at home. Although the TCRS position was initially that Kessinger had to have known about the pregnancy all along, this position changed in late 2018 to one where she found out about the pregnancy on Monday afternoon or Monday night [when Watts told her the baby was not his], or very early on Tuesday morning after additional internet searches.
2. More likely Kessinger found out online about the pregnancy, rather than from television footage or from Watts. It’s unlikely the clip where a baby is mentioned actually even made it into the news reporting. It’s an open question whether Kessinger ultimately found out the truth about the pregnancy via Facebook or on the news. One good reason to believe she didn’t find out via Facebook is because Kessinger herself wasn’t on Facebook. The first report of Shan’ann missing – and that she was pregnant – was this one on Facebook.
This timeline corresponds to Kessinger’s marathon internet search starting at Tuesday noon for news.
3. In a recent documentary, Agent Tammy Lee said law enforcement watched the Sermon on the Porch at approximately 17:00 on Tuesday afternoon. It’s unlikely Kessinger – who was at the center of things – would have found out was going on when everyone else did, including law enforcement.
4. Kessinger was already actively Googling for news about Shan’ann starting at midnight on Monday and – as mentioned – around noon on Tuesday. It’s likely during these searches she would have discovered news of the “pregnant mother” missing as early as Monday afternoon or as late as Tuesday at around noon.
Clearly by 17:00 on Tuesday the penny began to drop for Kessinger that Shan’ann and the kids were in real trouble, and if they were, she was because she suspected – rightly – that Watts was involved, and why he was involved.
The moment dramatized of the adulterers discussing the pregnancy likely didn’t happen on Ceecee’s bed, nor the bed in the basement, but the bed in the main bedroom. We know that by Tuesday Watts had put new sheets and pillow covers on the bed in the main bedroom, and also laid on that bed.
The conversation with Kessinger on the matress probably took place late on Monday night, and lasted 51 minutes, but there was also a second call at 02:07 early on Tuesday morning.
Over at CrimeRocket II I’ve been doing a day-by-day recap of this case [follow #1yearagotodayCW or on Twitter at #yearagotodayCW]. The time machine is a useful, and powerful methodology to analyze these cases, in particular the hard-to-see family dynamics.
Journalism is great when it’s providing reports at the time, especially in the hours and first few days after a crime. But then the media gets afflicted with its typical ADD and it becomes lazier and less effective over the long term. Over the even longer term, this laziness can lead to a lack of accuracy, and eventually can start to distort or impinge on the facts as they happened. Here’s a case in point.
Going by the headline alone, this looks like a topical update, doesn’t it? Some new news on the Chris Watts case, right? The article is dated July 31st, 2019. In fact the article is recycled from an interview conducted more than six months earlier. CrimeRocket blogged about it at the time.
So what, you might say. An article was resuscitated and recycled six months later, what’s the big deal?
In the interview, Trinastich explains that the Watts family seemed like a “normal, everyday” family.
“Shanann was always really friendly. She came over, welcomed us to the neighborhood. The girls were always running around laughing, having a great time,” Trinastich said on the show. Watts, on the other hand, had a different demeanor than Shanann, Trinastich explained. He said, Watts was “real quiet” and sometimes was somewhat “standoffish.”
“There were times where he just didn’t want to wave or didn’t want to say anything, but usually he was nice.” Trinastich told Dr. Oz that Watts and Shanann “didn’t fight any more than any other couple,” but because his home was close to theirs, he could often overhear their arguments.
“They had a couple confrontations that I happened to see, but it was never him being a big, huge monster,” he said. On the day that Shanann and her daughters were murdered, Trinastich can be heard telling police on bodycam footage, according to KCNC-TV, a CBS affiliate in Denver, that he “heard them full out screaming at each other at the top of their lungs.” Trinastich tells the police that Watts “gets crazy.” The couple reportedly was fighting over Watts’ wanting a divorce so he could be with his mistress.
Going by this article, apparently the neighbor thought it was normal for Watts to be standoffish. But it wasn’t normal. He was introverted, yes, but he only became standoffish towards his wife in the first week of August, a week before the murders, while he was in North Carolina [when the neighbor wasn’t present].
It’s also a misappropriation of the facts to say the couple “was reportedly” arguing because he wanted a divorce to be with his mistress. Shan’ann never knew about Kessinger. That was why she murdered – to prevent her from knowing.
In terms of the neighbor’s appropriation of the term, what’s more likely is that by January Trinastich had read some of the discovery, and perhaps heard some of the media reports himself, and so adopted this term standoffish.
The term first enters the media narrative around August 21st, 2018 when Michelle Greer – who saw the couple in Myrtle Beach – thought Watts appeared standoffish.
There’s also Nickole Atkinson who, though she never uses the term standoffish, refers to the general theme of Watts not acting in a loving manner towards Shan’ann. The way ABC frames it [1:30 in this video], Shan’ann either told her this [which she did, and we know when she did] or Atkinson observed it firsthand [which she likely didn’t]. It’s unfortunate ABC aren’t more clear on the circumstances surrounding Nickole getting this insight.
But there’s also another fairly obscure reference to standoffish. Guess where it comes from?
The date of this article from WRAL.com is August 16th, just three days after the murder and a few hours after Watts’ arrest. It precedes all the media references mentioned above by at least 5 days. It’s even possible Michele Greer, who lives in North Carolina, read or saw the local content and adopted the term herself. Other media rebroadcast this term, some swapping the word standoffish for aloof.
In criminal psychology semantics matter, and there is a world of difference between standoffish [which is distancing] and aloof [which can mean arrogant, which Watts was not, certainly not in an obvious way].
Taken together, what does this all mean? It means the standoffishness took root in North Carolina. This also suggests the premeditation began to germinate there. By quoting, misquoting or appropriating these words, the media collaborate in muddying the timeline, and making it harder to see when things happened. Eventually the narrative becomes so polluted by this mixing process, it requires a True Crime Rocket Scientist to unravel it.
Going by the Phone Data Review, nothing much happens on August 1st. After entire pages filled with mischievous activity preceding his reunion with his family, on the day he’s with his family there’s almost nothing. Watts takes some photos of his kids at The Pavilion Park in Myrtle Beach in the evening and then its on to the next day.
Okay then, moving right along to #30, August 2nd-
Whoah whoah whoah. Not so fast.
Think of the context here. Watts has been on an epic high, had the time of his life with his mistress for several weeks, but now he’s back in the thick of things, not only with his wife and children, but his in laws. Is there a seamless transition for him from the bachelor life back to this one? And of course now the roles are reversed. While he was with Kessinger, he was trying to keep his wife in the dark and sort of juggle his obligations to them with what he wanted to do with his mistress.
Now that he’s with his family, does he try to keep his mistress in the dark about anything, or does he persist in keeping his family in the dark. Does he try to be in two places at once – dutifully hanging out with the family in the sense of sort of just showing up, meanwhile staying in regular contact with Kessinger who must be feeling in need of reassurance.
It turns out to be a bit of both. He is keeping his mistress in the dark about something. Him and Shan’ann aren’t separated…well, not until August 1st. And the night of July 31st leading into August 1st is really the first time Shan’ann realizes something is seriously wrong. It’s only on the first night with her man that Shan’ann is alerted for the first time that he might not be [with her, that is].
At the same time Watts is also keeping Shan’ann in the dark. He won’t say why he’s feelings have changed. And he’ll take the whole week to figure out 1) how much they’ve changed 2) what that means and 3) how he intends to fix the situation.
This strategy is exactly what we’d expect from an introvert, and because of this Shan’ann at first isn’t quite sure what it means. She’s used to being in control and controlling the situation, so she sort of figures he’ll come round, and after a few pokes, jabs and barbs, she’ll get him back to jumping when she says jump, and back to dancing to her tune.
This situation starts the moment Watts arrives in Aberdeen the previous night, July 31st. You’ll notice Shan’ann texts him, asking him at 21:49 for a wake-up call at 05:00. Watts responds, “Yup, I got it. Love you.” Shan’ann texts back, “Love you, too.”
Watts probably got very little sleep the night before [at Kessinger], unless he was able to sleep on the plane. At any rate, why are Watts and his wife texting each other about wake up calls and loving each other? Why not simply say it to each other? Isn’t it obvious? Because on his first night in North Carolina they’re sleeping apart. In fact, Shan’ann is sleeping on the couch presumably in the family lounge.
If Watts was very tired, he may have used this as an excuse to go to bed early, either simply because he was tired, or to forestall a deep discussion in the bedroom and in bed, or both. It’s also possible that Shan’ann was upset by Watts’ cool response to her at the airport, and so, to demonstrate her pique, she would sleep on the couch and also make sure her family [the Rzuceks] were aware of what was happening. In other words, the real world version of coercion, but instead of using Facebook as a platform, she was using the family lounge.
If the texts don’t seem adequate proof that something was afoot that first night, then how about Shan’ann’s brother’s statement to CBI agents Matt Sailor and Traci Schwartzbauer on August 21st [Discovery Documents, page 685].
Frankie Rzucek was also in the home, and noticed Shan’ann sleeping on the couch. Think about it. She’s pregnant, she’s in her own families’ home, and she’s sleeping on the couch. Does this seem like Shan’ann having a fit and electing to sleep there, or Watts demanding to sleep alone?
Now, we might want to dial back the melodrama and say it was a one-off. Because Frankie also says this:
But the next night the Watts family headed to Myrtle Beach for the week, so Frankie wouldn’t know what the sleeping arrangements were after that. It’s easy to find out what they were, because Shan’ann talks to her friends about crying herself to sleep all week. We’ll get to that in due course. At this point we only want to be clear about the state of mind Watts is in when he arrives in North Carolina, and how quickly the battle lines are drawn.
Although we can’t rely on everything Watts says, on this point he lets slip that the moment he arrived in North Carolina, everything was different.
Now, another aspect Frankie raises is that the moment Watts arrived in North Carolina, Shan’ann became sick.
It may be that the stress and strain of what was happening made her feel sick, or it may be that she was acting up to curry sympathy. In this context it’s even more bizarre that Shan’ann ended up sleeping on the couch.
We also need to pay urgent attention to Frankie knowing Watts was “acting standoffish” on Day 1, but “they” [presumably Frankie and his parents] did not think much about it.
Let’s hover over this aspect for a minute. Shan’ann is sick and out of sorts, Watts arrives in town after not seeing his family for 5 weeks. His wife is 13 weeks pregnant. Their son/brother in law is sleeping under the same roof but they didn’t think much about him being standoffish to their daughter/son?
If we take this statement at face value, it suggests that the Rzuceks took Shan’ann with a pinch of salt, not only her tantrums, but her health scares. In this respect, one can say they found themselves in the same boat as Watts, and allegorically at least, let Shan’ann act out on the couch while they slept in their beds.
On this issue, let’s look at an interview with the Ruzuceks where they were asked specifically if they noticed Shan’ann wasn’t happy:
At 1:17 in the clip below, the ABC reporter mentions Shan’ann appearing to have the perfect life, and that she was happy. Both Sandi and Frank are adamant here that Shan’ann was “absolutely” happy, although Sandi seems more certain of herself than Shan’ann’s father.
It beggars belief in true crime when someone ends up dead, that the family and friends stick to a narrative that everything was perfect, it was all a wonderful fairy tale until the moment it was a nightmare. This spiel repeats itself so often in true crime it’s virtually a cliche. But the explanation is simple. The murderer is a monster who just snapped. No further context necessary. No underlying dynamics are relevant. Except they are.
On August 1st, the morning after Shan’ann’s headaches and vomiting and sleeping alone on the couch seems to have passed. She’s excited about August and Thriving again!
I’m so excited about August! Girls and I Fly home August 7th! I fly to Scottsdale Aug 10-12 for an amazing weekend with my Le-Vel family! Gender Reveal for Baby Watts #3! Our team is having lots of success, growth both personally and business, several new friends starting their Thrive Experience and lots of new Promoters who decided to change their life! Lots of excitement, Lots to be Thankful for!
You know what I love about waking up everyday…It’s a brand new day to have a fresh start, to be better than I was yesterday, To help someone feel better and happier, to make someone smile and laugh!
I am just truly blessed and love waking up thankful and happy!
If you are not happy, it’s up to you to change that!
Everyone have an amazing day and absolutely fantastic month!
On August 1st, what’s missing from this anecdote? There’s zero mention of a significant change in her life – her husband is back at her side after 5 weeks apart.
Besides that, Shan’ann seems to be in a position to counsel and provide guidance to others less fortunate than herself.
I am just truly blessed and love waking up thankful and happy!
Now imagine if you’re Sandi, Frank and Frankie, and you know the Shan’ann on the couch, you’ve seen her, and then you see that. One reason you wouldn’t want to be too truthful about the real situation is because the above is a sales pitch. It’s how Shan’ann makes money, by trying to convince the world how happy and well they are [and subsequent to her murder, the Rzuceks inherited her sales business].
It doesn’t take a genius, an expert, an FBI agent or even a rocket scientist to gauge the level of harmony or happiness from these pictures and video.
At 0:55 in the clip below Shan’ann is documenting on Facebook how happy she and the family are. It’s the first time the kids are at the beach and Bella is mostly terrified [and unwilling to hold her father’s hand]. Shan’ann never mentions Watts, and Watts never talks to her. Frank seems to tippy-toe in and out of the periphery. It’s a stilted scene, but with Shan’ann in control, her friends assume all is well. They assume Watts’ silence is just the same old introvert they’ve seen in other videos. But it’s not the same Chris.
While he stands dumbly with Shan’ann’s camera mercilessly trained on him, Watts must be wondering whether Kessinger will see this. And if Shan’ann is suspicious of an affair, she will want her [whoever it is] to see it.
The question is, did she, and if she did, what did she think?
Tomorrow will be exactly fourteen days prior to the triple family murder that shook the sleepy town of Frederick, Colorado last year, and rocked America. I’ve been tracking the timeline of the case in real-time since July 4th this year, and we’re now up to 26 separate timeline posts. You can view them chronologically at this link or use these:
According to Watts’ confessions, he told Shan’ann on the morning of the murders that he wanted a divorce separation. This was supposed to trigger the annihilation that followed. But this wasn’t the trigger, it couldn’t be, because Shan’ann already knew about the divorce, and had known for a long time.
Before drilling further into this question, we need to be clear about the difference between divorce and separation. The word divorce comes up 35 times in the Discovery Documents and just once in the CBI Report. Separation comes up 38 times in the discovery, and 8 times [“separate or separating”] in the CBI Report.
It’s clear from a thorough analysis of all the discovery and both “confessions” that Watts was trying to separate from his wife in the weeks and months before the murders, going back as far as a year [close to when Kessinger allegedly made that first Google search for “Shanann Watts”. And this seems to be the word he prefers to use.
However, at the same time he was telling Kessinger a slightly different story. To her he was in the midst of a divorce, and by the time of the murders the divorce was being finalized, and so was the sale of the house. In fact neither was true, divorce proceedings hadn’t even started as far as we know.
So we have two narratives:
A milder separation narrative [to Shan’ann]
A more assertive divorce narrative [to Kessinger].
And we know when Shan’ann returned from Phoenix that night she was still hoping to woo Watts back into the marriage, hence the planned trip to Aspen the following weekend, the love letter, the self-help book and the imminent gender reveal. Shan’ann thought – or hoped – the marriage was stuttering slightly. Meanwhile Kessinger thought the marriage was over.
It’s no mystery, the Watts marriage was in trouble long before Shan’ann received that critical credit card alert on Saturday night, proving Watts wasn’t at the Rockies Games, and suggesting he wasn’t eating alone.
As early as August 8th, Shan’ann confided in Cassie Rosenberg and Nickole Atkinson that her husband wanted a divorce [she didn’t], but not right away.
Kessinger says something to same effect, that Watts wanted to sell his home, but not right away. There is this notion of delay, postpone, string things out…
Watts told Ann Meadows, the realtor, on the morning the disappearance that him and Shan’ann hadn’t gotten on “for over a year”.
This is not necessarily true, but it could be true.
The fact that Shan’ann was talking to a divorce lawyer about custody in April, three-and-a-half months before the murders, suggests there was a protracted period of unhappiness, and acknowledgement from both sides that things were falling apart.
The fact that the self-help book was put in the trash and the wedding ring left on the bedside table aren’t incidental. They were Watts’ way of communicating to Kessinger what he just couldn’t do with Shan’ann.
So why didn’t Watts just get a divorce, like the district attorney said? Well, it may be because Shan’ann didn’t want to, and thought she could sort of control Watts into not going through with it. This narrative isn’t very nice, and not very popular. It paints Watts less a coward than as someone who was bullied into towing a line, until things got desperate.
There is content out there that confirms not only did Shan’ann know a split was on the cards, but her own family did too. When Watts visited the Hair Jazzsalon in Aberdeen where Sandi Rzucek worked, it was clear to the hairdressers [Sandi’s co-workers] that Watts wasn’t happy, and Sandi actually told them then [in early August 2018] that the marriage wasn’t working, and that the couple were separating.
We also know there was a lot of anger and bitterness, especially from Shan’ann’s side, over Nut Gate.
And yet we know while this was happening Shan’ann still wanted to do a gender reveal. We also know that in the weeks prior Shan’ann was setting her husband up in her Thrive spiels as a great father and perfect husband and “the best thing that has ever happened to her“. She was making it very difficult for him to go through with a divorce.
She was making it very difficult to admit to an affair. And by recording him, for example, reacting to news of the third pregnancy and posting it on Facebook, it was becoming almost impossible to get out of it. But what made it so difficult to interrupt the happy family fairy tale? Was it weakness on his part or hers? Shan’ann’s job and income depended on selling the idea of Thriving. They were facing financial ruin and so, to admit they weren’t thriving meant a further lose of income. That’s what was so difficult to get out of.
Shanann Watts Chris Watts family https://www.facebook.com/ShanannWatts/photos Credit: Shanann Watts/Facebook
The words “I miss you” appear a total of four times in the 1960 pages of discovery. Three instances are from Shan’ann Watts. None are from Chris Watts.
The first instance is at 19:42 on July 10th, almost two weeks into Shan’ann’s trip away from home.
“I miss you and I feel like you just want to work out and run.” [Discovery Documents, page 2085].
Watts’ response was that running helped him “clear his head”. It’s an interesting turn of phrase, as if he was saying indirectly to Shan’ann running helped him clear his thoughts and feelings about her. In a certain sense this was exactly what he was doing, though not in terms of jogging but “running to another woman” and allowing his thoughts and feelings to “run away”…
Even then Shan’ann didn’t buy his excuse, and told him so.
“I wish my husband wanted to talk to me.”
Early the next morning, at 05:02 Shan’ann called Watts and spoke to him for seven minutes. She called him again at 16:20 on the same day [July 11th] and they spoke for thirteen minutes. The next morning at 04:46 [in other before he went to work] Shan’ann made two unanswered calls to Watts. Half an hour later, presumably when he was ready to leave Watts called his wife back and they spoke for ten minutes [05:16-05:26]. Whatever they discussed, and whatever Watts said to her, unfortunately Shan’ann allowed the situation to slide. What could she really do or say from North Carolina, especially while he was at work [where Kessinger was]?
The second instance is on July 24th, approximately the 4th week of Shan’ann’s six week stint in North Carolina. At 18:02 she tells Watts:
“It’s not hard texting love you and miss you“.
In other words, she’s telling him – remind him – that he’s not missing her or not letting her know he’s missing her. Shan’ann’s actually onto something here, but unfortunately she’s tempted to believe he’s not saying these words because of Watts’ introversion, his “crushed-in” emotional world and his poor communication skills. We know in hindsight that this wasn’t the case as much as the fact that Watts wasn’t missing Shan’ann, in fact quite the opposite – he was enjoying his time away from her and [perhaps surprisingly for him] the kids too.
And so when Shan’ann told Watts on the 24th, hey, why aren’t you telling me you miss me, it’s not clear whether Watts told Shan’ann what she wanted to hear. Maybe he did and he removed these message. Maybe he didn’t tell her. Maybe he told her even though he didn’t want to. And maybe Shan’ann bringing it up as an issue [probably during their many phone calls] Watts started to realize:
I don’t miss you. I say I do but I don’t.I say one thing but feel very strongly another way. I say one thing and then I act another way with someone else…
And each deceit started to build up a cowardly but murderous resolve.
The third instance, at least in the chronology of the discovery timeline, is from Kessinger, leaving a voicemail with Watts on July 25th at 16:35:
“I miss your face.”
At the time Watts was on the phone to Shan’ann. Immediately after ending his call with Shan’ann, Watts called Kessinger. After his conversation Watts Googled “sand dunes weather”, showing where his heart and mind was at [camping in the Sand Dunes National Park which they did on July 28th and 29th].
The final “miss you” in the discovery [Page 2114], and the third and final time Shan’ann is recorded saying these words was on the morning of August 12th, the day before her murder, and in the view of TCRS, the same day both children were murdered.
Although the second episode of the series is titled “Person of Interest” [singular] it basically looks into two individuals, Robert Murat and Sergey Malinka. It’s interesting that Robert Murat was quickly regarded as a prime suspect, despite having an alibi and despite no eye-witnesses placing him at the scene. Murat was neither implicated nor associated with the two sightings known as Tannerman and Smithman, because he didn’t resemble either of these figures in body shape, hair style or facially.
Murat also has another rather obvious distinguishing feature – his glasses. Was Murat really a better suspect to seize on than the folks staying at the hotel, including the McCanns themselves?
For some time now Malinka has been agitating about a book that is coming out. As of this writing, in March 2019, there is still no book. I was contacted at one stage to work with and ghost write for Malinka [not directly by Malinka, but by a third party]. I turned down the offer. It seems I’m not the only one.
Sorry to disappoint, but due to the content of the second episode, I won’t be analysing episode two because I consider both “suspects” to be debunked anyway. What I think is far more interesting to address is the gloss-over of the timeline in episode one. The next blog will return to a chronological analysis of the remaining six episodes over the next six days.
The essential timeline is dealt with for [are you ready for it] less than three minutes total in the Netflix documentary, between 12:00 and 15:00. It starts with the McCanns making their way down to the Tapas bar at 20:30, and they’re the first to arrive. There’s no mention whether them being early or arriving first that particular evening was unusual compared to the preceding week. That’s an issue I deal with in detail in the DOUBT series.
The next timecheck is at 21:00 when Matt Oldfield arrives at the restaurant, apparently volunteering the all clear that the McCann children were sleeping soundly.
Matt Oldfield was very much in the picture immediately after Madeleine’s disappearance, as can be seen in these images.
At 09:05 Gerry leaves the restaurant, presumably before eating anything [and it’s unknown whether he’d ordered anything, or what he ordered if he did] to make his first and only check on the children that night.
We see it dramatized how Gerry closes the door without closing it completely. In some descriptions, Gerry is so specific he even describes how wide the door was opened down to the last degree. This is an important precursor to the actions of the door that follow.
The next timecheck given is 21:25. It’s made explicit that Kate INTENDED to do her check but was forestalled by [guess who?] Matt Oldfield who volunteered to take her place.
And right here is where the timeline goes wonky. Oldfield enters the unlocked apartment the same way Gerry did, via the side patio door, and “saw light” and “heard the sound” as if of a child moving in their blankets.
Thanks to door being open enough to perceive without really seeing, Oldfield is able to do his check without really doing his check. If one of the kids was awake, Oldfield apparently heard it but didn’t look in to make sure. If he had would he have seen Madeleine?
In my opinion Madeleine was already dead at this stage, so she wouldn’t have been in bed, but her body was likely still in the apartment. Her body was either in the cupboard of her parents’ bedroom, or behind the couch, based on cadaver alerts, or possibly laying in the flower bed below the balcony.
It’s also possible immediately after Oldfield left, Madeleine woke up, fell over the balcony railing or down the patio stairs, and died. However since it takes at least an hour for cadaver odor to form it’s more likely Madeleine died earlier in the evening [prior to the McCanns leaving for dinner] than later. Cadaver traces were so strong they were still picked up in late August, three months after the incident, and in spite of the apartment being cleaned numerous times. This strongly suggests her little body remained inert – dead – for some time before it was removed from the apartment.
The Oldfield witness testimony is wonderfully inconclusive and murky, because it doesn’t confirm anything. Maybe all the kids were there and maybe they weren’t.
At the same time, Oldfield’s entry into the narrative means the fact that neither McCanns checked on their brood is justified because a third party is given the responsibility [except that he doesn’t actually check to make sure]. Also, the leaving of a door unlocked is justified to allow access to this known third party, which also – just incidentally you understand – paves the way for the imputed abductor.
So even in a scenario where Madeleine could be proven to have died, who would be to blame? Where would it begin and where would it end? Whose testimony, assuming there was ever a trial to test this version, could be relied on one way or another?
The Netflix timeline picks up again at 22:00. Kate gets up and heads to the apartment. Once again, the door becomes the central feature of her visit. There’s something very strange about the door!
All told, the documentary spends less than two minutes thirty seconds going through the critical timeline. There is virtually no analysis or explanation, no mention of several important witnesses within the timelines. Instead the door, “light” and sounds are emphasised supposedly confirming that everything was okay when it wasn’t.
Strangely, in another reconstruction of the door narrative, this one done inside the McCanns’ residence in Rothley, Kate seems to suggest the door was left virtually closed but that when she approached it, it had opened “quite wide” and it then slammed shut right in front of her.
This witnessed moving of the door and inconsistency of the door conjures the door as a sort of witness to an abductor is who is not otherwise seen or heard, and who doesn’t leave any traces.
That reconstruction can be viewed at 27:58 in the clip below.
Interestingly, in her checking of the children Madeleine is missing, but no mention is made of the twins who are also in the room, or whether they are awake or asleep, or safe. And having just had one child stolen [apparently through the open window], what does Kate do – she abandons both children, runs out of the apartment and raises the alarm, thus leaving the twins vulnerable to additional abductions.
Another easy point to miss: immediately after Madeleine disappears, an awful lot of running happens. Kate runs, then “everybody sprints back to our apartment…”
Now let’s focus on a few observations in terms of the aspects the Netflix timeline implicitly doesn’t address:
Between 20:30 and 22:00 Gerry makes a total of one visit to check on the children, and according to Gerry, verifies that at 20:30 Madeleine was alive and safe. This effectively makes this observation the last time Madeleine was seen alive by any witness, assuming the observation is true and accurate.
Kate McCann also makes a total of one visit to check on the children. When she does the incident has already happened, so arguably Kate’s visit doesn’t count. One can say that technically in the space of 90 minutes, when the plan was to check on the children every 20 minutes, Gerry made the only check and only did so once. In 90 minutes at least 4 checks ought to have been possible.
It’s not clarified what happened after Gerry’s check. We know he checked, but there’s not clarity on what time he was seen returning to the table. One way to establish this would be to look at what food he ordered when, whether he paid for it, and how much of the meal he actually ate that evening.
In the police interviews it’s established that Gerry didn’t go straight back to the restaurant after checking on his children. Instead he is seen on the street by a witness, Jes Wilkens at 21:08 and by Jane Tanner at 21:10. What this does is it pinpoints where Gerry is, giving him an alibi there and then, while also “allowing” Gerry not to be where he’s supposed to be [eating at the restaurant].
Jane Tanner also – very conveniently – sees the prime suspect carrying away a child while at the time seeing Gerry in the street [not carrying anyone, while talking to Jes].
Thirty minutes pass and it’s Kate’s turn to check on the children. During this interval Gerry’s movements aren’t known precisely. During this time, at approximately 21:50, the Smithman sighting occurs about 5 minutes’ walk from apartment 5A. The man and the child spotted in the alley broadly fit both the father and Madeleine’s description, and the man is said to be walking “briskly” in the direction of the sea. In addition, the child in his arms doesn’t appear to be conscious, and is being held “awkwardly”. Even the clothing of the child seen broadly matches what Madeleine was wearing the night she went missing.
Although Kate McCann is quoted in the documentary and in her book saying she ran out of the apartment and when she saw the table shouted “someone’s [singular] taken Madeleine”, others on the scene remembered it differently. One nanny described Madeleine’s mother shouting “they’ve taken her”. Another account from the Moyes couple who were staying two floors above the McCanns, quotes Kate shouting “the fucking bastards have taken her”. And wouldn’t it have made more sense to simply shout the message from the balcony, if the Tapas Bar was within earshot and visual range, as is so often emphasised?
It appears that at no point did either of the McCanns contact the authorities themselves, even when a neighbor offered the use of her phone. Gerry dispatched Oldfield relatively early, at 22:10, to head to receptions and call the police.
For several years the focus of the media was on the Tapas 7’s star witness account – fingering Tannerman – even though the cops had long since dismissed this theory. Meanwhile, Smithman was dismissed or disregarded by the McCanns and their private investigation into that sighting…well…was treated in a very different way to Tannerman.
A straightforward way to figure out who was where, when, and saw what, how and why events played out in a particular pattern, is for all the folks to return to the scene to do a recorded official reconstruction. Put the people like chess pieces on the board and move them about according to what everyone did and saw. This is precisely what the Portuguese cops asked the McCanns to do. This was their response at 4:19 in the clip below.
UPDATE: The clip above has been removed since the publication of this blog, so here’s another. This was the resconstruction response at 0:27in the clip below.
When Chris Watts was asked if he and Kessinger ever fought, and about what, Watts cuts to the bone. They argued about her always being “second”, and this just four days into their dalliance.
Now imagine how that had to feel five weeks later into their summer romance, with Shan’ann hours away from returning to end it all. Isn’t that what their 111 minute conversation was about on the night of August 12th…?
What we also see here is when Kessinger doesn’t get her way, there’s a consequence. A punishment.
July 4th was also the day Kessinger went to Watts’ home for the first time.
In his Second Confession Watts’ claimed Kessinger went to his house once. Kessinger said she went to his house twice, the second time on July 14th or 15th.
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
Visit the TCRS Archive of 100 Books dealing with all the world’s most high-profile true crime cases.
Join the TCRS Community on Patreon for as little as $1 per month. Multiple daily posts, interesting discussions, amazing audiobooks narrated by the author, ongoing series and powerful, informative weekly podcasts.
Subscribe to the Growing TCRS YouTube Channel
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.”