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.
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.
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.
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.
Conoco’s Facebook page provides a handy map with directions to the gas station.
While there are hundreds of Conoco gas stations in and around Denver, there’s only one in Roggen.
The gas station is situated on Frontage Road, about 10-15 minutes drive to or from CERVI 319.
The gas station is also clearly en route to CERVI 319 from Saratoga Trail, or conversely, heading back.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Above image courtesy Jamie Kripke.