Gates, Conoco Gas Stations and the Mystery of the Man in the Orange Shirt

When British tabloids reported that Watts – or someone that looked like him – was seen wearing an orange shirt and buying a breakfast roll at 08:00 on Monday morning in a convenience store, legions rose to debunk the footage. IT’S NOT HIM! they screamed.

I suspected it could be.

The fact that Weld County released the footage to begin with suggested the District Attorney thought so too.

Intuitively, in terms of the timeline,  I knew it was possible because there’s a gas station and convenience store right there in Roggen. The first time I came across it was while researching the drive to CERVI 319.

As part of that research I found this video; the visit to the gas station is documented at around the 13 minute mark.

When the videographer turns off the road to visit a Conoco gas station which is right in the area of CERVI 319, he mentions the station is right beside a Guttersen CERVI ranch gate.

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That gate is only just visible to the right of the grey pole in the screengrab below. It has small, white signboards attached to it. Fullscreen capture 20181229 174859

Below is the same scene zoomed in. The videographer assumed the area behind the gate is also part of the large Guttersen ranch, but it’s not. The large Cervi ranch borders the even more massive Guttersen ranch. Both ranches have hundreds of fracking pads scattered across the landscape.

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In order to get to the gas station and the Cervi gate, one has to exit the highway and take the overpass to the other side.

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Conoco’s Facebook page provides a handy map with directions to the gas station.

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While there are hundreds of Conoco gas stations in and around Denver, there’s only one in Roggen.

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The gas station is situated on Frontage Road, about 10-15 minutes drive to or from CERVI 319.

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The gas station is also clearly en route to CERVI 319 from Saratoga Trail, or conversely, heading back.Fullscreen capture 20181229 165858

The other aspect to consider: if it was Watts,  should he have been hungry by 08:00 on August 13th? If he’d last eaten at around 19:00 [during his chicken barbecue on the porch], and particularly if he’d been up all night committing and covering up three murders, then after the dumping, digging and disposal, he was likely to have developed quite an appetite when it was all over.

All over was likely to be close to 07:30-07:40, which gave him around half an hour to get back to the store for breakfast. That fits the timeline perfectly.4221396001_5974669446001_5974665781001-vs

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It’s important to note that the layout of this store is different to the one where he is wearing a white shirt. It’s not the same convenience store.

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The other aspect that stands out in terms of the orange shirt, was Officer Coonrod’s bodycam footage. When Watts is standing with his back to his wardrobe, the color coded shirts behind him show a hanger with nothing on it right by the orange shirts.

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At the same time, there also appears to be a gray or black shirt missing from the wardrobe. There’s another hanger missing there too.

This line of inquiry is interesting because it suggests Watts may have changed his clothing three or four times that morning. It made sense to change out of the black shirt and jeans, because these were likely to be dirtied by sweat, dirt and possibly other body fluids and fibers.

He may also have dumped clothing and/or materials on his way home at the dumpster at 6507 Black Mesa.

Watts making multiple changes to his clothes also implies he’d do the same to Shan’ann after her murder. The change of clothes is intended to get rid of evidence transferred to the clothing during the crime and/or dumping of the bodies.

In a way the many changes of clothing make sense. It’s like the leopard trying to change his spots, and that’s exactly what lay behind this crime. Watts was trying to craft a new life for himself. Putting on a new shirt was almost like becoming someone else. If anyone spotted a guy in a dark shirt running around CERVI 319, or standing atop the tall tanks, well, they wouldn’t think to link him to the guy in the orange shirt…

Far from not thinking his crime through, Watts was trying to think of everything. He arguably got many of the technical aspects right, but failed dismally at the social game. Not only could he not explain where Shan’ann had gone in a convincing way, he failed to predict  human behaviors, including how Shan’ann’s best friend and her son would respond to her disappearance.

He also seemed to overestimate his own social game, or as it turned out, lack of.

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Further reading: The Story Behind the T-Shirt Chris Watts was wearing during his Sermon on the Porch

Chris Watts: “Most Likely to Spend Daddy’s Money” and other T-Shirts

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Above image courtesy Jamie Kripke.

37 thoughts on “Gates, Conoco Gas Stations and the Mystery of the Man in the Orange Shirt

  1. Wow. When I first saw the orange shirt hanging in the closet I hadn’t thought that an empty hanger by the orange shirt could mean that he had more than one orange shirt. And then a few shirts down, another empty hanger in the black/gray category. It’s not at all unrealistic to think that he gathered up several clothing changes for his day ahead knowing he had a very dirty and ugly job to do. Something about the “size 38” jeans in the blue bag though strikes me as very odd. Did he forget to take those that morning, did he already change out of them, or was he planning on disposing of them when he got home (and Baumhover finds them first). It’s also curious to me that his newer, cleaner boots (and in the documents someone remarks that he was very proud of them) were recovered from the cargo area of the Lexus. He knew he didn’t want to get his newer boots messed up while disposing of bodies and maybe thought he would get rid of his older work boots later. Good good eye spotting in the closet and connecting what it all means.

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  2. There is an interview with a co worker that claims Chris called him and asked where he was around 7:45 that very morning. The guy mentions that he has just finished his breakfast burrito that is served every morning at work and was headed to the site where c.w said he was. I sorta thought this was key? CW basically may have figured out that he had enough time to run grab himself some grub. As to the orange shirt… if I had just dug a shallow grave and handled 3 dead bodies I would probably change clothes as well. As to the hangers… it could have been a white shirt missing? Like the one he wore on his date night with NK. Also the co worker claims that CW truck was parked in an odd spot at cervi and had he left and returned it seems he would have parked where he normally does… not so close to the tanks. But what do I know… I got torn up on reddit for suggesting it could have been him. 🥴
    I just sorta want to know! Would the convenience store be compliant in maybe at least confirming if this surveillance even looks like their store. Forget the guy in the orange shirt. Crop him and maybe an answer could come via other means?

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    • I see your point Kim – it could be a missing white shirt. Further down in the blue category there is another empty hanger. What we should do is see if we can find a collection of billed caps. He’s wearing his glasses when he is in the white shirt, but not when he’s in the orange shirt. Did he change his shirt 3 times that morning? From black to orange to long-sleeved gray?

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      • Kim and Sylvestor, I was curious enough about these videos to stop in to the Conoco station on hwy 52 near Wyndham Hill and take a look for myself. These videos were both taken at the same store with 2 separate surveillance cameras. When you walk in the door there’s a long beige counter with the 2 cash registers, which look to be identical. There are 4 aisles running from the counter down the length of the store, and they have a gray concrete floor. The yellow candy bar stand still sits between the registers but there’s a little distance between. In the first video you see the entrance and the first aisle and part of the 2nd aisle. On the other video you’re seeing the 3rd and 4th aisles. The empty donut case is in the same spot. It hasn’t changed since August, and has the same square baskets of fruit at each of the check outs. I think you can see those in each pic. I was going to talk with the blonde employee to ask her for clarification and if the date reported was an error, but she wasn’t working. Please don’t kill the messenger!! I still can’t answer why this was released in the discovery documents but I’ll try to stop in again when she’s working.

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  3. One other curious thing – he has one pant leg tucked into one boot, the other one over his boot. His coworker noticed it and laughed about it to Watts. He obviously had it that way in the neighbor’s surveillance above, and kept it that way or forgot about it at Cervi 319. Just a sloppy dresser, or some other reason for tucking a pant leg into his boot.

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    • If you consider that it could be him, it forces you to check and investigate. If you think it’s not him, you win some non-thinking time. You get to not check anything and just wag your finger. This site is for critical thinkers. Even if it isn’t him we can learn something theough the process of verification. Odd though if it’s not him, wouldn’t the shopkeeper and misidentified man come forward and say so. Guess you didn’t think about that either, did you?

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      • I won’t reply again then if you I am not allowed to say my thoughts. I am a very big supporter of your blog and your books. Thanks for being so kind (insert sarcasm).

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      • You’re allowed to say whatever you want to say. If you don’t see the value in thinking things through, or if you feel stung by the necessity for that, perhaps you should venture elsewhere. Make no mistake those who appeal for ignorance and not thinking things through will be discouraged from hanging around here.

        Quite often I have to remind people that this site is called True Crime Rocket Science. It’s not just any run of the mill true crime site. It means here we try to go the extra mile to think things through. We try to be as thorough as we can be. If that brings the sarcastic side out of you, move on.

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      • I noticed on the video and I can’t remember where I saw the video but this guy does that twist with his head like you do when you have neck problems. I’ve seen Chris do that a few times, even in court video so that’s why I believe this IS him. Could it be some odd coincidence, yea, but the time, location, shirt, physical appearance plus the neck twist would be hard to dismiss as coincidence

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  4. Good point Sylvester about the jeans. Maybe he did forget to take them with, either to change into or to throw them out. Or perhaps he did take them and when he brought them back that’s where he put them.

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    • Wasn’t there an interview with a co worker that said normally Chris is wearing tighter fitting clothing and work boots and he came that day wearing baggy clothing that they teased him about slumming it. I’ve been off line for a bit but has anyone had any theories on why he’d suddenly wear baggy clothing. That’s why I don’t think investigators were supposed to see those size 38 and why he seemed flummoxed when asked

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  5. Thanks Nick. I mean, clearly it’s a stuttering lie to Baumhover “uh it’s just some Anadarko stuff”. Who was to be the recipient of a pair of used size 38 jeans? Doesn’t equate. One of the takeaways from all of this is that Watts was a very neat person. If Sha’nann was OCD, Watts was overly neat. Clean clothing, cleaning house, tidied up crime scene, and a pair of used jeans in a nice little blue tote, placed right behind her suitcase where I think he wheeled it in the first place. So bottom line is I’m still pondering it.

    .

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  6. another little thing – When Officer Scott Coonrod is searching the house on the 13th, with his flashlight pointed strategically here and there, up in the master bathroom there is a tube of Desonide ointment on the bathroom counter by a sink. Desonide is a steroid topical cream, and not to be used if you are pregnant, or for diaper rashes or on children period. It can be used on skin rashes or to reduce inflammation. Might Chris have used it on his neck scratch the morning of the 13th, thereby reducing inflammation so that it didn’t appear so “angry” the next day during his porch interview? As I said, it’s a little thing. I just noticed the tube on the bathroom counter in an otherwise neat and tidy master bath setup.

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  7. I haven’t been able to keep up closely enough lately, so I’m at a total loss as to which size 38 jeans are being discussed here, but thought I’d throw this out here…Could these jeans have belonged to Shan’ann? Remember she was missing pants when buried and although that’s a large size, she was pregnant and many women wear men’s jeans. Again, I haven’t followed lately and my suggestion may be totally wrong for the scenario being discussed but wanted to throw it out anyways. Don’t yell at me anyone!

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  8. Yes please someone give us more info on the jeans and boots. Is there somewhere I can reference this? It’s a blurr with my memory if I read it in the doc dumb! Thank you!

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  9. I’ve been one of those who wonder if the guy in the orange shirt is CW. At first glance, it looks like him yet too much scrutiny seems to show a different shape to his head, nose, and torso. Then I wonder if CW would eat something from a convenience store after all the work he has dedicated to his fit/clean body. He had no trouble eating pizza at the precinct so, who knows. He also has a certain stride orange shirt doesn’t exhibit in that video. Then I wonder why, if it’s not CW, the person doesn’t come forward and say “Hey, I’m no monster! I’m a random guy buying myself breakfast who happens to look like him. Leave me alone!” Then it’s back to CW and how ridiculously strange it is how nonchalant he can be and that his timetable includes meal breaks. For someone who lost a lot of weight in those few weeks he was romancing NK, he sure was an insatiable killer. Double/triple/quadruple entendres intended!

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  10. Addendum to above: I also thought I could recall CW pulling a bifold wallet from his pocket to search for something the officers requested, banking info. maybe(?), and orange shirt has a trifold. Anyone else remember a bifold from bodycam footage? I’m definitely not certain about that one.

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    • FWIW: in the discovery documents page 970, CW’s wallet is taken and logged as evidence. It’s described as a bi-fold wallet.

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  11. Thx for the bifold /trifold billfold post. Very telling, imo. As to this “orange shirt guy” coming forward… the problem could be that the ole boy wearing that orange shirt that day living in “ Bronco country” ( home of orange shirts) has most likely paid absolutely no attention to this case;) I guess the only thing we know at this point is that CW is NOW the guy in the orange shirt and he will be wearing it from here on out.

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    • Agree with you Kim. Not everyone follows crime stories like others such as myself. For example, my husband would have no clue about any of this if it weren’t for me so “orange shirt guy” probably doesn’t have a clue that he is being profiled as CW…if in fact it is CW which I don’t believe it is.

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      • I take it none of you are from Colorado? I guess none of you can imagine a society turned upside down by very high profile media coverage – on television, radio, newspapers and online. Are you really dumb enough to think if this was another person, someone who knew him – of the dozens of people who know people – no one would say anything?

        And in the months that have passed, people would continue not to say anything?

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  12. The photo of Chris in the white shirt was taken on Saturday night when he was on a date with Nichol. The photo in the orange shirt is allegedly taken 2 days later on Monday. Chris has broader shoulders and more upper body mass so I do not think it is him.

    The orange shirt the guy is wearing isn’t the same colour of orange shirts hanging in Chris’ closet, and yes, if you look closely, there are two orange shirts side by side hanging in his closet. The is also another empty hanger at the very right of the photo. Empty hangers don’t prove anything though because I have empty hangers in my closer to because the shirt that belongs on the empty hangers is usually in the dirty cloths hamper.

    Chris told the cops he eats 5 times a day. Chris told the cops what he took to work for lunch that day, but in the neighbours video we never do see him carry out his lunch and all that water he claims he took to work. But if Chris did not take a lunch too work he would certainly be hungry and dumb enough to stop at a store for food.

    The story is the guy in the orange shirt is at the store at 8am.

    Chris’ truck has GSP and would show he stopped at a store, just like the GPS shows he stopped at at 6507 Black Mesa for 5 minutes and 19 seconds.

    Chris arrived Cervi 319 and shut off his truck 6:53:57am and the GSP shows Chris never started his truck and left Cervi 319 to go to the other battery until 9:39:48am.

    All of Chris’ coworkers (except for Melissa) did recorded interviews and none of them report taking Chris to the store in their vehicle’s on August 13. I find it odd Melissa didn’t do a recorded interview, but all the coworkers just arrived at Cervi 319 so I would also find it odd if they decide only minutes after arriving to decide to drive back out and go to the store when they could’ve just stopped at the store before driving into Cervi 319.

    Therefore, unless Melissa took Chris to the store in her vehicle at 8am, the guy in the orange shirt is not Chris Watts.

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  13. @JC Please take some photos from different angles inside the store. And try to “interview” the shop assistant. Reality trumps all, and that’s what this site aims to get at.

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    • Nick, it looks like you found the officer body cam footage taken inside the gas station. That’s much better than any photos I could take! I’ll try to talk to one of them though next time I’m there.

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  14. At first, I didn’t believe this was him either. But I believe that is what he was wanting to do. Confusion. He was changing clothes all day long. The orange shirt could have been from before he lost weight. Where did he clean up that morning? Shower somewhere? There are no photos of him with caps like this. Of course he wouldn’t want to be recognized that morning. If this was anyone else, they would have came forward.

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  15. @nickvdl, not from Colorado, not dumb (or dumb enough), have critically thought this one through much more than I’ve posted, and just don’t think it’s CW. Beyond other considerations, it’s enough for me that physical attributes don’t match and there is evidence CW carried a different style of wallet than this man reveals in the video. Perhaps CW was smart (enough) to think of these little details and changed his wallet after committing his atrocities, (could that be part of what he dumped at his stop before coming home, what was tucked under his arm as he exited his truck, or what he stashed in the backseat of the Lexus?) but I don’t give him that much credit.

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  16. Does it look to y’all like Orange Shirt has a mustache but not a beard? The facial hair does not look the same, though the chin shape is very similar.

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