Today is two days shy of two months since the Watts family murders. HLN has provided consistent coverage of the case until now. But not all the analysis is what it’s cracked up to be.
Take the GPS tracking device stuff. The line of interrogation HLN took is that Anadarko looked at Chris Watts’ GPS tracker [it comes standard in many corporate vehicle fleets] and gave this data to the cops, and that’s how they located the remains.
But for one thing, that’s not how the affidavit reads. According to the affidavit Chris said he loaded all three bodies onto the back seat of his work truck and then took them to CERVI 319, a remote work site where he was stationed as an operator.
In other words, the affidavit notes that once confronted with the surveillance video and the fact it confirmed that Shan’ann and the kids were never seen leaving the residence, the only possible inference was that they had left – alive or dead – with him. [There’s actually more to it than this, which I go into in TWO FACE, and there’s also the possibility that they could have gone out through the back door, but for the sake of argument, let’s accept that the surveillance video alone was sufficient].
The affidavit pertinently notes that Chris said…[to the cops]…he took them to an oil work site.
HLN seems to believe he said this only because he was confronted with GPS tracking data. The cops knew the bodies were somewhere at the work site, they just weren’t sure where.
There have been lingering doubts about where the little girls were disposed, but the affidavit is unambiguous: they were placed in separate locations.
Secondly, there’s a very good reason why the GPS data isn’t crucial evidence. HLN makes out that Chris Watts was driving around unaware that he was being tracked, and this data caught him out. It’s possible of course, but in my view unlikely.
When Scott Peterson returned from his fishing trip [which we now know was actually a body dumping trip], he made several calls to Laci’s phone and to the home phone. The point of these calls wasn’t because Scott Peterson didn’t know where Laci was, or didn’t know that his movements were being tracked, timestamped, logged and the geographical location recorded, but the opposite. It was because he did. He wanted his trip to San Francisco Bay that day to pass the plausible deniability test. In Peterson’s scenario, his deniability lay in the “fact” that he was a hundred miles away from Modesto when Laci was walking her dog and disappeared.
As it turns out, his browser history on his work computer actually proved he was still in Modesto mid-morning. Uh-oh.
I’ve seen a fair amount of comment suggesting Chris Watts had “no plan” after the murders, and others that he may not even have planned any of the murders to begin with. I won’t deal with that here, except to say, just like Scott Peterson, the secret was to disguise the crime in plausible deniability. What does this mean? It means on the morning of Monday August 13th, Chris Watts was supposed to be at CERVI 319 anyway.
In TWO FACE I provided extended timelines, and also showed that Chris Watts often left home before the crack of dawn. A neighbor also said it was unusual that he’d leave as “late” as he did Monday morning. He usually left shortly after 04:00, not 05:00. Shan’ann said as much in several of her social media posts.
Like this one.
And so, the murder and the disposal of the remains was hidden in plausible deniability – hidden in the routine work schedule. Here was Chris getting up early as usual, except it was a little unusual that he was up and out quite a few minutes later that Monday morning of all mornings.
If the murder/s were committed close to 02:00, then what had Chris Watts been doing for the next three hours that delayed him getting through the door on time?
Chris Watts going to work as per his usual routine was meant to be his alibi. Where was he when Shan’ann disappeared? Why, he was at work. He, being the concerned husband he was, also called her from work throughout the morning [reinforcing his alibi].
So the idea that GPS tracking data gave away secret information is, to my mind anyway, a little silly. Chris Watts’ job was to monitor work sites. He knew exactly what was being monitored and where, and it’s likely he knew his vehicle was being monitored too. When the cops were investigating his house as a crime scene with sniffer dogs, he was also painfully aware of scent issues around the remains, which is why he dumped the children in separate oil drums to begin with.
So going to the work site wasn’t any different to where he was going anyway, and that was the point.
The affidavit does note that prior to Chris Watts’ confession, investigators arrived at CERVI 319 with consent to conduct a drone search. Does this mean Chris Watts consented, did Anadarko consent, or did Chris Watts and Anadarko consent?
More likely the latter. If either had objected the cops would have had to get a search warrant. Chris Watts was fine with the cops searching his house; why wouldn’t he play it cool and be fine with them searching the work site too? They’d need specialized tools to find anything inside the tanks anyway.
While the idea is intriguing that Andarko or the fleet controllers gave GPS data to the cops, what’s more likely is the cops simply asked Chris Watts where he went when he left home, and confirmed this information with Anadarko.
Exactly the same spiel played out with Scott Peterson. He was asked where he was that morning, and he told investigators where he was. He even had a ticket stub from the marina to prove where he was. The whole point was to commit a crime under the disguise of doing something completely plausible, in Peterson’s case it was going fishing, in Watts’ case it was going to work.
And in both cases, even telling the cops where he was, wasn’t going to reveal bodies very easily. That was also precisely the point, which is why it took as long as 48 hours to retrieve the bodies of the little girls even when the cops knew the location of the burial site.
In the Peterson case, they knew roughly where the burial site was but ultimately Scott Peterson and the currents of San Francisco Bay succeeded in fooling them. The cops never found Laci’s remains; nature – when she was ready – returned them to the world of the living. This happened with a little help from mother nature and man’s best friend. What was never meant to be found made its way back into the world thanks to a large storm and two families walking their dogs.
Just because the search span in the Watts case was much shorter doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot of planning, calculation and strategy involved.
There was a plan.
The bodies being found ever was never part of the plan.