1313 words. That’s how long the Denver Post scoop on Nichol Kessinger is. Perfectly timed, perfectly held back until the moment it would do the most damage – the weekend before her lover’s life sentencing. And oh boy, it is damaging.
What we learn from the Post – and it reads like an affidavit more than an interview – is that:
1. Kessinger says she barely knew Watts, and was only in a relationship with him for two months [meaning it started in mid-June, roughly the same time Shan’ann announced her third pregnancy on Facebook].
2. Kessinger seems aware Watts was married at the time, but was under the impression – she says – he’d already started divorce proceedings. Wasn’t Kessinger active on Facebook?
3. Kessinger says she never doubted her lover’s guilt, and co-operated with the cops even prior to his arrest. The Post describes “multiple police interviews” and her telling them what he told her privately about his “missing family”.
The italicized text below is quoted directly from the Denver Post:
4. “Kessinger was working in the environmental department with an Anadarko Petroleum contractor when the two met, she said during a Thursday morning interview in the office of her lawyer, Ed Hopkins.”
5. “Every morning, Watts and the other operators would gather in the office break room while they waited to be dispatched to a field site. Kessinger would walk through the group to place her lunch in the fridge, but she never spoke to Watts.”
6. “One day in the middle of June, he walked into her office to introduce himself. They continued casual conversations. She noticed that Watts did not wear a wedding ring, and Kessinger, who was single, thought he was attractive.”
7. “’When he spoke to me, he was very soft-spoken. He appeared to be a good listener,’ she said.”
8. “Watts told her that he had two daughters and, after Kessinger asked, Watts said he was separated and at the end of divorce proceedings, she said. ‘I believed him,’ she said.”
9. “When they first met outside of work in late June, Kessinger asked Watts more questions about his divorce. He told her the mutual divorce was almost final, and they were working out financial details, she said.”
10. The two began a physical relationship in early July and saw each other four to five times a week, Kessinger said. She told him she wanted to take it slow and he should focus on helping his daughters adjust to the divorce. [Early July is around the time Shan’ann was away on her extended 6-week vacation to North Carolina. It ended in the first week of August].
11. When Watts was in North Carolina with Shan’ann, he called Kessinger to tell her the divorce was final. It seems around the same time he told Shan’ann and her family he intended to separate and were having problems. This is why the Live videos on Facebook dried up in July and August.
12. “Later that month [July], he asked Kessinger to help him find an apartment that would be good for him and his daughters. They never spoke about long-term plans for their relationship.”
13. Watts was clearly a keen manipulator: “‘He made me believe that he was doing all of the things that a rational man and good father would do,’ [Kessinger] said. Kessinger never met any of Watts’ family or friends.”
13. “On Aug. 13, the Monday that Shanann and the girls disappeared, Watts texted Kessinger to say that he had been busy. The two chatted like normal throughout the workday.”
14. “[At] about 3:45 p.m., Watts texted [Kessinger] that his family was ‘gone,’ she said. He told Kessinger that Shanann had taken the girls to a play date and had not returned. He seemed casual and didn’t show any emotion, she said.”
15. “Kessinger was worried about his missing family, but she didn’t want to make a big deal out of a situation that Watts seemed calm about. Then, news reporters showed up at the Watts’ family home. ‘I was very confused why the media was at his house,’ she said.”
16. And now we know exactly what Watts did on the night of the 13th. ‘When I read the news, I found out he was still married and his wife was 15 weeks pregnant,’ Kessinger said. She was shocked at his lies and scared for the missing woman and children, she said. ‘If he was able to lie to me and hide something that big, what else was he lying about?’ she said. In a flurry of long calls and texts that night, Watts changed his story about his split with his wife. Kessinger interrogated Watts with a barrage of questions. His answers seemed ‘off’ to her.”
17. While Kessinger was at work on August 14, Kessinger texted Watts. By now she was accusing him of the crimes, and pressuring him to tell her what happened. But he wouldn’t. He told her he’d never hurt his family.
18. “’It got to a point that he was telling me so many lies that I eventually told him that I did not want to speak to him again until his family was found,’ she said.”
19. “The next morning [August 15, the same day as his arrest], [Kessinger] called the Weld County Sheriff’s Office to tell them about her relationship with Watts and his lies, she said. [Kessinger] met with FBI investigators that day.
20. “‘I just wanted to help….I was going to do anything that I could.'”
21. And here’s the part that feels just a little too much like made-for-TV PR: “Since his arrest, she has never doubted that he killed them. The story that Watts told police — that he killed Shanann after he saw her strangling one of the girls — is a lie, Kessinger said.”
For the Post Kessinger also sat for a suitably somber studio photo. It’s a far cry from the party pictures that have emerged thus far on social media.
Kessinger’s exclusive comes at the end of a week-long media blitz during which Watts’ parents have put their weight behind their son. The PR war for control of the narrative suggests forces are stirring in the Watts case that go beyond the veneer. Monday’s hearing is likely to be very high-profile, with the whole of America watching, and holding its collective breath to see what happens. With the odds stacked against him, including his own mistress, will Watts go through with the plea deal or will he recant?
Read more: Chris Watts: Inside the Mind of His Mistress