I came across a discussion recently that had me scratching my head. It’s around the popular myth that Shan’ann arrived home, her murderer allowed her to enter the house, make herself at home, go to bed and even fall asleep. I’m not sure in this scenario whether they believe she brushed her teeth, took off her make-up and did some online shopping as well, they will know better than I do.
Presumably according to this theory Watts lay awake for several minutes or hours waiting for his wife to fall asleep so he could murder her in his bed after she’d lost consciousness. is that right? But if he moved to get up wouldn’t that wake her too?
And while murdering her, wouldn’t that wake the children and cause the Deeter to go nuts?
A bed of course is like a sponge for forensic evidence. Blood, saliva, sweat, DNA, touch DNA can be perfectly preserved between sheets and the mattresses. So it’s not the perfect place to kill someone, and in terms of a premeditated murder it’s the worst place, because the most logical explanation for a wife murdered at home in her bed with the whole family present is it had to be the other person who shared that bed. And who is the other person in this scenario? It’s the husband – Chris Watts. So why murder her in such an obvious place and have all the arrows pointing to himself?
Oh, you may argue, it wasn’t a premeditated murder, it just happened. Well, that’s a separate argument, even crazier than the murdered-in-bed theory, but let’s deal with theories one at time. Let’s put the murdered-in-bed theory to bed.
If Watts knew he had to be up at 04:00 and Shan’ann only got into bed at 02:00 [or 02:30 if she removed her make-up, bought make-up online etc] then him laying in bed waiting for her to doze off, when he had so little time to work with, had to be agonizing.
Personally, I can’t imagine Shan’ann falling asleep after spending most of Sunday worrying about what her husband was doing while she was away. What was that $62 transaction on her credit card all about?
Would she really have arrived home and not confronted him about it, when she’d spent the whole weekend distressed, depressed, wrecked and out of sorts about it [and let’s face it, she was right to be worried because he wasn’t at the Rockies game, he was in fact out with his mistress cheating on her just as she feared]?
All of that aside, let’s examine a piece of evidence and see where we’re at when it comes to our standards of perception and analysis when it comes to a crime scene.
It’s the circled patch of Thrive powder beside the bed. What does it mean?
In true crime we try to be guided by the evidence. That’s our first and best source. The crime scene is the origin, after all, of what happened, where, and how. But a crime scene can be manipulated so that what was originally there appears different. There may be cleaning, removing things, putting things there that weren’t there, even contaminating an area incidental to the crime to throw one off track.
So with that in mind, here’s the question:
What is the significance of the Thrive powder sachet beside the bed in the master bedroom?
Here’s some more footage to provide further context to the question [and answer].
Some have used the picture at the top and the Thrive powder to reinforce the notion that Shan’ann went to bed on Monday the the 13th. But that’s wrong. Chris Watts slept on the right side of the bed.
Besides that, the crime scene footage in the above screengrabs are all from August 16th, three days after the murders. It seems Watts himself either slept in the master bedroom on the night of August 13th after the murders, or he made the bed after stripping it. Either way, the way it was found on August 16th is nothing like the way it was after the murders.
Remember, officers on the scene early in the afternoon on Monday August 13 found the bed stripped, with sheets and pillows on the floor.
So if we’re going to play detective, it helps to be working with the original crime scene. it helps to get the basics right. Subsequent photos are helpful, especially where one identifies what’s been changed. It’s not helpful to look at crime scene photos that are a few days old and draw all our inferences solely from those. However, it does appear that the Thrive sachet is beside Watts’ side of the bed on the 13th as well.
So is the sachet irrelevant?
It seems to be irrelevant to whether Shan’ann slept in her bed that night. If anything, we need a good look at the bedside table on her side.
What we can say, however, is there seems to be a mismatch between Watts sleeping in the basement, and the baby monitors and Thrive powder on his side of the bed. This raises a few questions. When did he start sleeping in the basement? Why did he start sleeping in the basement? Did he do so by choice, and if so, was that part of the separation?
We also know – and this is important – that while in North Carolina, Shan’ann and Watts didn’t sleep in the same bed. This was witnessed by the Rzuceks, and Shan’ann’s mother told her colleagues that at Hair Jazz that they’d discussed separating. It was no mystery.
So riddle me this. If they weren’t sleeping together in North Carolina, why would Shan’ann arrive home and get into bed with him? Why would he be there? Why wouldn’t he be in the basement? And if he was in the basement, if that’s where he was living over the last days or weeks, how happy could he have been about that? The house was in his name, and here he is, sleeping in the basement while his wife and kids enjoy the luxury suites!
Do you see how this theory, this asinine insistence that Shan’ann was murdered in her bed with her husband initially asleep beside her actually shoots itself in the foot? It does because it completely ignores the actual dynamic surrounding the crime. That’s part of the crime scene fabric too, the emotional reality they were living, experiencing, feeling.
While I have my daggers out for sloppy armchair detectives, I’d like to raise a few additional gripes. I do so in the hopes of raising the bar of those who visit this site, and also those who speculate about the case without a second’s afterthought. True crime isn’t a simple or easy discipline, it requires second-guessing because criminals are doing their best to mislead you. A lot rides on them doing so successfully. They win their freedom and a happily ever after. So a lot of work goes into making things appear a certain way. But as we well know, appearances can be deceiving.
So, applying these lessons in what-you-see-isn’t-necessarily-what-you-get [which by the way is meat-and-potatoes in true crime], let’s see if the thinking has sharpened. Test you knowledge with three more simple questions:
1. Loading the Bodies
You’ve seen the surveillance video, right? Do you need to watch it again to be 100% of your answer?
The answer is no. The surveillance video doesn’t show Watts loading any bodies. It does show activity early in the morning. But at no point can he be seen carrying what looks like a body, let alone three, or loading a body, let alone three. He does appear to load a red gas can into the back of the truck on the camera side at one point, and he’s seen walking to and from the garage a few times, but that’s about all the footage really shows.
During the sentencing hearing, the District Attorney mentioned Watts loading three bodies into his truck. He said this was captured on the neighbor’s surveillance video.
In fact, Rourke’s actual words were, from the Coloradoan:
In the early morning hours of Aug. 13, a doorbell camera [recorded] Shanann coming home from a work trip [at] about 1:45 a.m [actually 1:48]. Chris Watts was seen on a neighbor’s doorbell camera about 5 a.m. backing his truck into the driveway and going back into the house and out to the truck three times, likely as he loads the bodies, Rourke said, though the bodies can’t be seen on the camera.
Likely is isn’t a statement of fact, it’s an inference, and I’m not sure Rourke saying he went in and out “three times” is even accurate or, for that matter, verifiable.
This should be an easy one. During his lengthy interrogation on the night of August 15th and the morning of August 16th, did Watts confess to the murders or didn’t he? It’s a yes or no answer.
It appears he only confessed to killing Shan’ann, never to killing his children, and an argument can be made that he didn’t directly confess to killing Shan’ann either. He said he “hurt” her, and that he no longer wished to “protect” her, and by inference, one can say he confessed. The words “killed her” appear only twice in the entire 1960 pages of Discovery Documents.
This was Chris’ confession:
The Discovery Documents aren’t a 100% accurate narrative record either. Ronnie Watts’ response wasn’t “Oh my God” but “God Almighty, Son.”
Where Watts does say “And then I killed her“, he says the words “killed her” so quietly the enhanced audio barely picks it up. So we can’t be certain he actually says it. You can hear the clock ticking louder, but you can barely hear what he says to his father. This is why the agents need to come back in, nail it down and make sure.
Even so, the Discovery Documents don’t record Watts ever saying “And then I killed her.”
You can watch that particular moment of the interrogation at this link.
So did Watts confess to murder? No. He confessed to “killing”, which is theoretically a justifiable homicide in the circumstances that he sketched. Even so, his confession was likely not true anyway, so in fact it wasn’t a confession.
3. “Framed” letter
What is the significance of the “framed” letter?
[I’ll leave you to figure that one out on your own].