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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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

  1. In the top picture, it appears as though there is a lump or swelling on Chris’s left temple. Is it my imagination or a trick of light and shadow?

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  2. He’s furrowing his brow, which creates that impression. In the picture alongside there’s no obvious swelling on his forehead. He does have a reddish scratch on his neck though.

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  3. The silver fox always seems to be tying to give back what he thinks people want to hear. He slides in and out of the truth often changing his story to fit whatever new scenario emerges. I think he was never going to be much in life the way he was going, and he latched on to Sha’nann like a parasite to a host, until he felt he had enough strength to go it alone. And of course his girlfriend would have gotten a different version of what he wanted to project, likely none of it true either. Because the real Chris Watts was nothing much to begin with. If we can believe Trent Bolte he said – or his brother said – Watts was “trapped in a loveless marriage.” He wasn’t trapped. He put himself there and stayed there until he felt he had gotten some kind of identity for himself,having never had much of one to begin with, and could break free and try living on his own. What kind of message was he given as a boy. “If you work hard son you can achieve mediocrity. It won’t be much but we’ve learned to live with it and some day you might have a nice house to show for it.” Just keep showing up, hit your marks, and play your role.

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  4. Another thing that really irritates me about this family is that they constantly wore clothing with messages on it. It’s like they were trying so hard to appear normal but even that wasn’t enough, they had to reinforce it with the corny messages on their clothing….even those poor kids.

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  5. As far as Chris’s (the Silver Fox’s) comfort with lying, I’ve lived with two individuals who were both pathological liars (I.e., they lied when there was no reason to do so), one as I was growing up and the other when I became an adult. While this type of lying speaks to a sense of entitlement, it also provides a fantasy world for the liar, where he can avoid, for a time, having to deal with reality. By default, that job is left for someone else, who is often labeled pessimistic, a shrew, even crazy. When confronted with his lies, the seemingly docile liar sometimes explodes into a rage, because the construct of his lies is fragile and undermining it with an insistence on facing reality threatens his artificial self. However, to live for several years with a liar of this caliber requires cooperation: a willingness to suspend disbelief and believe in the lies yourself (e.g., “Chris is my rock, amazing, etc.). While I think Shan’ann regularly challenged Chris’s false sense of self by being critical and dismissive, I also believe she was an active participant in weaving the web of lies that manifested in the macmansion, bloated mortgage, Thrive therapy, too many children, and financial ruin. In the end, none of the perky labels or simplistic motivational messages could camouflage this family’s pathos and now stand as ironic signposts to their self-destruction.

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    • Cheryl I think pathological lying has to do with a convenience-attitude to reality. Just pick and choose the stuff that suits you, and throw away the rest. Unfortunately capitalism encourages this, were we can have everything we want, just as and when we want it, color-coded, customized, just the right flavor etc. And this psychology creates the impression that life is a game that’s simply there to entertain us and make us happy. We get rid of what we don’t like, and at its shallowest, it manifests as getting rid of people [permanently] because they’re spoiling the vibe.
      I’ve also known a few people who lie about insignificant details and appear to be extremely weak people. I do think the more insignificant someone feels the more they try to compensate – and as soon as one does that with deceits, I think there’s a recipe for being caught up in one’s own delusions. Delusional people aren’t only out of touch with reality, but out of touch with their own reality. That can’t or won’t see or accept who they are or the circumstances they have often created for themselves.It’s all someone else’s doing, and getting rid of them is part of their solution.
      Entitlement is also a big part of it. I deserve to be happy, even if it’s at your expense. If you lose, I win. There’s a problem with the wiring, where the pathological liar/criminal can’t seem to imagine real life consequences such as been arrested, going to court or standing trial and actually paying for what they’ve done.
      Their entire lives are geared to not paying for what they get. They simply deserve to have what they want.
      Probably, in jail, Watts is imagining scenarios where he will somehow not be held accountable or not need to. At the same time he’s probably imagining scenarios in which he is, or could be, or should be innocent. Such as that he confronted Shan’ann on the landing at the top of the stairs and she fell down. A change from a previous claim, but that doesn’t matter as long as it sticks. Know what I mean?

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      • Brilliant, Nick. I appreciate that you so clearly tie capatalism to the pathological commodification of our humanity, which makes us all mutually disposable. I also understand exactly what you mean about the self-delusional nature of lying. My father was a consummate liar who was addicted to his own self-delusion. Like Chris, he was a mechanic but was ashamed of his blue collar status, particularly since my mother was a white collar, very well respected high school English teacher. Like Shan’ann , she constantly disparaged my father for what she considered his inferior stature, his inability to measure up. I will never forget accompanying him to the hospital when he was having severe stomach pain due to ulcers. When a practitioner asked him about his profession as part of filling out the intake form, he said he was a professor at a local university. I was astounded, but I also found his self-delusion pathetic. Years later I married someone who was also an inveterate liar. Like my mother, I stayed with him for many years and in doing so was complicit in his fantasies—particularly those he promoted about himself. Years after we separated and finally divorced I wondered why I didn’t see him for what he was: a facile liar. In finally confronting my share of the blame, I realized the signs were there from the very beginning; I just didn’t want to read them.

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      • Thanks for your honesty, Cheryl. It’s only when we admit mistakes – which is painful – that we move beyond them and grow. Ironically, in our desperation to hold onto fantasies, our lies become our prisons. We are our greatest jailers.

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    • Great observation Cheryl… and the part of Nick’s comment where he says “Probably, in jail, Watts is imagining scenarios where he will somehow not be held accountable or not need to. At the same time he’s probably imagining scenarios in which he is, or could be, or should be innocent – Hit’s the nail right on the head.
      No matter what story he spins or how many times that story changes… everyone MUST believe it.

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  6. Cheryl, great posts, “commodifying”, yea.

    Nick, on your next fascinating blog I was wondering if you could post the pics of S and CW on vacation in their bathing suits? There were two or three of them that they showed on HLN. There was something about those photos that bothered me, and I don’t mean her fake boobs, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I’ve looked for them online but cannot find. I’d love to study them and see what it is that bugged me. Thanks!

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  7. I only have a second here and I’ll post more about this later but when he was doing the driveway interview he’s got his arms wrapped around himself, etc, when he’s asked about the shirt the arms unwrap, feet apart, showing off his shirt. Soon as the reporter goes back into question mode he wraps his arms back up, feet together. Check it out

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