The area under the thief hatch where Chris Watts dumped his daughters’ bodies into two separate oil tanks measures just 8 inches [20 centimeters] in diameter. Is that wide enough to push through a 3-year-old child and a 4-and-a-half-year-old child?
According to the WHO’s average measurements for girls 3-5, the average width of a girl’s head is around 16-7 centimeters. There’s about 3.5 centimeters to spare, or just over 1 centimeter on either side of the skull. [The calculation from circumference to diameter can be performed using this tool].
In July 2011, the BBC reported on an adult man whose body [but not his head] was dragged through a 5-inch [12.7 centimeter] hole. He survived, but these are the circumstances surrounding what happened to him:
Two companies have been fined a total of £75,000 after a man was dragged through a 5in (13cm) gap in machinery. Matthew Lowe, 25, broke his back in two places during the incident at Compass Engineering in Barnsley in December 2008. As well as suffering from a broken back, Mr Lowe ruptured his stomach and bowel, shattered his pelvis and fractured his right arm and several ribs. Only his head was not dragged through the machinery. He survived, and went on to retrain in a different role.
Lawyers for Mr Lowe said he was left with psychological injuries and still suffered from the effects of injuries to his arm and hips.
To further complicate matters, it’s possible the area under the vent looked like this:
Is that a ladder [doubtful] or a sensor of some sort? Is it used to visually measure volume? Or does it perform some other function like stabilize the liquid inside, or chemically alter it in some way through exposure to the metal?
The video below illustrates how bodies can, perhaps counter-intuitively, penetrate through small, uniform round holes. It also shows there must be an absolute limit to this, both for living creatures and non-living, before internal damage occurs.
That’s the real question this line of inquiry faces. Did the bodies of the children require tampering, crushing force or involve any kind of post mortem injury when they were dumped into the tanks? The autopsy reports will hopefully provide certainty on these questions.