Would you have done better at Murder than Chris Watts did?

When we run scenarios in true crime, we’re not trying to commit murder, nor are we trying to commit the perfect murder. We’re trying to see the logic [or lack of] in heinous crimes, and why they were committed to begin with.We’re also doing a kind of True Crime IQ test, except what we’re testing for is criminal acumen and criminal logic, which is different to normal psychology and common sense. Chris Watts’ murder of his family was particularly heinous but within the context of criminal psychology, was it logical? Just how illogical was it?

The idea for this particular post comes from Sylvester’s comment [read it before reading further], and his idea of how the Watts crime could have been better executed. Could Watts have gotten away with it?

Murder is dumb as it is, but committing murder only to be caught a few hours later, and then to undo your own stupid schemes a few days after that is even dumber. No argument there. The question is: how dumb was the execution itself, and by extension, how dumb was Watts.

fullscreen-capture-20181212-123246fullscreen-capture-20181212-123426fullscreen-capture-20181209-1926221

In Sylvester’s Scenario:

Watts murders his family and then goes to work leaving their bodies in the house. Perhaps he takes her ring and some jewelry. When enough time has passed he can call 911 and have them checked on. The idea when they’re found is a burglary gone wrong. Maybe they got in through the back door.

What’s good about Sylvester’s Scenario is it’s a better story than Watts’ story in the sense that Watts theoretically doesn’t really have to come up with any explanation of Shan’ann visiting a phantom friend or why she left behind her phone, car and medication.

The bad thing about this scenario is it doesn’t solve the original problem. The original problem was that the Watts home and the homes surrounding it were a kind of spider’s web of digital surveillance. There were layers and layers of digital security. So if it was tough to take bodies out of the house without being seen [and Watts almost succeeded], it’s equally tough proving anyone came in with malicious intent. It’s not just the doorbell cams that wouldn’t show approaches from the front and back, it’s the hi-tech Vivint system that wouldn’t show anything either.

In theory Watts could have disabled the home system himself and then failed to account for it [as happened in the Ramsey case].

Fullscreen capture 20190410 121105

When I first stumbled into the Watts case, I remember thinking if he had only broken a window somewhere in the house, it would have given the idea of an interloper [someone who had come in and taken the three of them] some credence.  But it seemed Watts cared too much about the expensive house and maintaining it to break anything, let alone purposefully. But if he had, he would have set off the perimeter layer alarms. Probably the Vivint protocols would have automatically alerted authorities to check on the house. This is why Watts seemed to want to use the dodgy garage door sensor as his go-to explanation for how Shan’ann left on her own volition. It was a hole in the perimeter security.

The other issue facing Sylvester’s Scenario and effectively any scenario is, well, Nickole Atkinson. If Watts murdered Shan’ann at 05:00 or completed the execution of that phase of the crime [including washing up and removing bodies from the home] at about that time, then he only really had until 08:43 to get a headstart. Because that’s when Nickole contacted Shan’ann. If the bodies were in the home, the cops would have found them very early in the game, and would have provided [arguably] the best evidence against Chris Watts much earlier than they actually got it, and in a much better state of preservation. Time of death, cause of death, manner of death, crime scene, all provided to the cops on a silver platter.

If Watts had acted more like Patrick Frazee, and responded to Nickole’s message and perhaps even posted something on Facebook along the lines of…

SO UPSET! TAKING A TIMEOUT TODAY WITH SOMEONE WHO CARES ABOUT ME…

…maybe he could have bought himself some time. Probably not though because any response posted on her phone would have pinged from wherever he was, if he had her phone.

Posting a message on her Facebook while he was still home was another option, but it would be very unlikely Shan’ann would go to bed after 02:00 and be up at 05:00 posting declarations about her day. Not completely implausible, just something that might raise suspicion.

2Dw0Jpz

It’s important to remember, if this was a premeditated murder [and I believe it was], Watts himself also ran through many scenarios in his own mind. What was clever about the execution was he had the end result – the evidence – mostly taken care of.

He also hid almost the entire fabric of the crime within the plausible deniability of just going to bed, waking up and going to work like he always did. It didn’t quite work, because he didn’t typically head out to the well sites first thing, but only someone close to his colleagues would know that. Also, if caught, because of the flight delay he’d have to explain how a lot happened between him and Shan’ann in three hours instead of twice that time.

If Shan’ann had arrived on time, maybe Watts had a different plan involving the Lexus, and maybe it would have played out better. Maybe there would have been time for a late night fake Facebook announcement. 48427215_736786590028657_1063860525886078976_n

My view is that the technical aspect of the crime was executed fairly well, as heartless as that is to say. If Watts had the resources to afford an elite defense lawyer, and if he’d stuck to his first confession, who knows, he may have pulled a Casey Anthony.

It was all hidden in the fabric of the average work day, in plausible deniability, not only the digital traces of the home, but the GPS traces of the truck. Watts also went to some length to send fake messages of concern and make fake calls to Shan’ann’s phone. It shows he was ready to play.

But the social aspect of his game was abysmal. Maybe his mistress had led him to believe he really was a kind of Rain Man who could do [and get away with] anything.

20180611__12TCAFREDw_2_400

But Watts was a bad liar and an even worse actor from the get-go. Even so, it took a massive law enforcement team several days, and many hours of continuous questioning and data analysis to crack him. Watts did crack, but not completely, not even close to completely. He didn’t spill the beans during the first round. He cracked and revealed a little information.

True to his introverted nature, he has never fully revealed what he did, when or how. And the fact that many of the people closest to the case and charged with prosecution it still don’t know what really happened suggests Watts wasn’t so dumb after all.AP18233621618014-600x400

54 thoughts on “Would you have done better at Murder than Chris Watts did?

  1. He did alright in some ways, but he was completely tone deaf in regards to how connected his wife was to Nickole and her social media. He should have predicted how frantic her friend would be with no response from her. He also probably assumed incorrectly that the police would give it 24 hours before creating a missing persons case. Again, tone deaf. A pregnant woman with medical issues with 2 young children with medical issues sprung everyone into action right away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He was tone deaf because he was tuned in to someone else. And the 5 [arguably 6] weeks apart made him forget a lot of day to day stuff, as did him deactivating his own Facebook. The tone deafness had something to do with him becoming standoffish, might have helped him to commit murder but didn’t help in the part that came afterwards – trying to get away with it and trying to look the part of a concerned husband and father.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Nick, I had a thought – what if Anadarko contacted Chris and told him that if he accepted the plea deal, they’d give NK a nice severance and relocation assistance so she could make a new life for herself?

        I’d thought of the possibility that they threatened his family and NK, but what if they went at it from the other direction? They *did* let her go – Chris must have known that. What if they told Chris that he could do one last kindness to her in accepting that plea deal?

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree with Nick. Had he left the bodies there, saying he turned security off because Shannon was coming in so late and then saying he forgot to turn it back on, and kept his mouth shut, and lawyered up he could have Ramseyed the investigation. And he needed to act worried and responsive to her obsessive friend. What if he’d left the bodies and given her the code when she called him? She and her son could have Ramseyed up the crime scene some more.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Everything that got Watts nailed had to do with moving the bodies and his own mouth. If he’d left the bodies in the house, security turned off, wiped down the door knobs between the back door and the bedrooms, and lawyered up, he would have had a chance. He got decisively caught by GPS, neighbor’s camera, and his confession. If he left them their and been too grief stricken to talk, per his lawyer, a more plausible argument in his favor could have been made. The way he did it, he seemed to want to be caught.

      Like

  3. I often remark that it’s a wonder, in this age of technology, surveillance, GPS, DNA, etc., that anyone even *tries* to get away with committing murder, yet many still do, and some actually succeed. Humans gonna human.

    I agree that it was Watts’ social and personal tone deafness that led to his making mistakes and thus being caught out for his crimes. He also got sloppy, either due to panic or to running out of time, or both. Leaving the sheet at Cervi to be picked up by the drone camera is an example.

    Disabling his security system and leaving the back door unlocked, maybe cracked a bit, would have added a bit more plausible deniability, but his truck GPS was essentially a map to the bodies, and that sheet was left in plain sight, plus Shan’ann was buried in such a shallow grave, that it probably wouldn’t have bought him a whole lot more time. Cervi 319 was being searched on the Wednesday, as he sat in the police station being interrogated and polygraphed. What’s interesting to me is, I wonder if the girls’ bodies would have been found without his confession, or should I say, I wonder how long it would have taken.

    A lawyer certainly couldn’t have hurt, nor would have shutting his mouth. I don’t ever plan on committing a crime, but if ever questioned, I’m getting a lawyer first, regardless of being completely innocent. And polygraphs are essentially, by and large, bullshit. There is a very good episode of This American Life, featuring a guy who used to be a polygrapher for the FBI, and he talks about how useless they really are. (That said, I am of the opinion that the training of the polygrapher, the equipment used, the technique employed, etc., can render them less or more accurate. Tammy Lee probably gets decently accurate results, overall, when she polygraphs people. )

    Liked by 1 person

    • his truck GPS was essentially a map to the bodies

      Disagree. CW was just going to work as usual. Under the assumption that his family was ‘missing’, the truck’s movements would not have indicated anything at all out of the ordinary. If the corpses had not been inside the truck, would the truck GPS have still been a map to the bodies? What if he’d managed to take them out earlier in the Lexus and bury them on some remote farm? What use would the truck GPS be given *that* scenario?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Combined with the neighbor’s video footage of Watts backing his truck into the driveway, which, to a person, everyone told the cops he’d never done, yeah. He was loading *something* into that truck for a very long time. Plus, it was pretty unusual that he’d head right out to a work site, rather than going to the office first. It’s all about context.

        One of the smartest things law enforcement does early in an investigation is look at changes in routine. Here we have two major deviations by Watts, on the very morning his family goes missing: backing up his work truck into his driveway, and heading right out to Cervi. Certainly, in a vacuum, his truck GPS isn’t an indication of much, but we have to look at events in context.

        One of the investigators, and I forget if it was Tammy or Grahm, actually tells him, there is no way your wife and daughters left except by your truck. Context was very important in this investigation.

        Like

        • What I’m saying is that *given* what we know about the truck, yeah, the truck GPS is helpful. It’s using the conclusion to evaluate the evidence. Yes, backing his truck into the driveway was out of the ordinary, but as for going straight out to CERVI, Chris had already discussed this with his coworker regarding a problem at the storage tanks; I think that would have passed as “normal”, since it was addressing a problem that had been found by his coworker. This wasn’t a regular day, in other words – there was a problem that Chris was going out to evaluate, and his coworker (can’t remember his name – Cody Barody or something?) was going to go straight to a different problem site.

          I just don’t see it. It looks like backwards reasoning to me.

          Like

  4. If he knew shanann’s changed code on her phone, he could have offset a lot of people.
    disabling his own facebook put him at a disadvantage.
    I am still wondering if some stuff was deliberately done so he did get caught. that’s how sloppy some aspects were (bed sheet, shallow grave).
    From Chris point of view, yes he is now in prison for the rest of his life but now he doesn’t have any real worry’s does he ?
    No mortgage to deal with, no loss of house, no excessive spending any more, no more health issues to deal with, no more medical costs.
    He could have as many financial companies chasing him but he still has a roof over his head
    Chris has only two issues to worry about (in his mind), Do people still like me and am I going to get killed by an inmate ?

    Like

  5. Good documentary. Not surprised Harold Shipman is classes as the perfect murder.
    However, I wouldn’t regard Chris Watts in the same league

    Like

  6. Chris could have killed all in there beds. Broke a window, make a mess…. robbery gone wrong. Disable security. Saying he forgot to turn back on. No calls to the guys at work.
    When breaking window, stand outside, break, this way glass falls the proper way.
    Go to work as if nothing wrong.
    When Nicole calls, say must be sleeping, tired from trip. He could call home….no answer.
    His way, too late, to much. Should never have spoken to anyone. No reaction to video. Play stupid. Hire lawyer in few days.
    Pologragh tests I don’t think admissible in court. They always say….you failed. Strike fear, espically if a suspect.
    Cops would never have thought kids in tank. I doubt they would have never been found. Probably gonna fix sheet, later on. Maybe re -move her.
    Just pretend all are missing or either dead in house.

    Final conflict,
    Final moment,
    Final breath.

    Like

  7. PS.
    A skilled killer, premeditated would think of all angles. Leaving no footprints anywhere.
    Chris was not skilled in this case.
    But only the few are.
    This killing was an Open Book…..lol.
    And we’re still waiting for the final chapter.

    Like

  8. We are definitely waiting for the final chapter.
    I suspect that we will, given enough time and the fact that Chris will no longer cover for Nicole Kissenger.
    My gut feeling is that she had a larger part to play even if it is only as small as advising Chris or putting ideas into his head.
    After all Chris isn’t assertive. he is a follower. some one said something to him or convinced him he could get away with what he has done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t blame NK for what happened. There is no reason to think she is anything other than an innocent bystander, effectively. None of it was her idea. If you have any *evidence* that she had more substantial involvement, I’d *love* to see your evidence. Until you can show that, you are libeling an innocent person.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You have to remember Chris was very good at his job. He wasn’t stupid.
    Festering in his mind after meeting NK and their conversations and perhaps her pushing for divorce…made him think differently. He might have played the game…yea yea gonna leave her…to keep her happy.
    Then realized, he no longer wanted the marriage, kids, and all the “ugly” that comes with divorce. Espically with someone like Shanann.
    Some how, his mind turned to Elimination.

    Like

  10. That’s where Chris is ‘a can short of a six pack’. apparently Colorado has some of the fairest divorce laws out of all of the Sates. so I heard. not sure if it’s true.
    Yes he would have had to have paid maintenance for the kids and the house would be gone but he wouldn’t have been broke. I hear Shanann would have had problems taking the kids out of state (if she wanted to move back to North Carolina).
    if anything, he would have been financially better off than when he was married.
    Instead what he has done is a massive waste all around for everyone but that just shows his screwed up logic.

    Like

    • The problem was his credit was ruined because they were behind on their mortgage and up to their eyeballs in credit card debt. Thus, there were some significant obstacles to him just finding an apartment and moving on. He chose to commit and evil act to escape, thinking of it as an easy way out, rather than man up and do the hard work he needed to do to rebuild his life.

      Liked by 2 people

    • There is so much info on this web site, I may not have read everything.
      so there is a chance I haven’t seen everything.
      In Nickole’s case and to what extent she played, yes i would agree there isn’t enough solid evidence to say for sure.
      However In Chris Watts mind, if NK said ‘i will always be second place to your wife and kids’ he could have read that as ‘time to get them out of the way’

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I think he was panicking toward the end of the morning on the 13th. I can maybe see why he hid her phone in the couch cushions if he was going to come home later and dispose of it but then again, who was he hiding it from? I don’t think he was expecting a search of his house at 2 p.m. on the 13th (Nickole, Nicholas and Officer Coonrod). And why turn it off? Baumhover asked Watts did he plant the phone and watch and Chris answered “I didn’t know what was going on.”

    Liked by 2 people

        • But wouldn’t he have been out of breath when he opened the front door if he’d raced up the stairs to hide the phone and raced back so that not too much time elapsed?

          Like

          • No. He was in top physical condition, the best shape of his life. Doing something like that would get me out of breath, but he could have done that no problem.

            Like

          • There’s no other explanation though Ralph. His story was she took the kids and went to a friend’s house. Then he gets unexpectedly called home and if he left her phone out – and iwatch after he removed it from her wrist – then it would look suspicious. It did anyway as her purse was there and her car was there. But on the ride home from work he likely went over in his mind what his story was going to be and that he had to stage it to look like she left. And, he had to turn the phone off so that if Officer Coonrod and Nickole called her phone it wouldn’t ring in the house. That’s the only thing I can think of as to why it was between the couch cushions, and when he put it there – when he had the approx. 60 seconds to run into the house by himself. Coonrod’s body cam was trained on the garage door. Had he been peering into the front door windows he might have seen Watts run upstairs. I don’t know what reason he would have had to turn off her phone before he left for work so I suspect it was turned off when he ran into the house ahead of of his unwanted and unexpected guests. Run the scenarios over though and see if any other explanation makes sense. He was in good shape too. He also had officers asking him questions right and left in his house on the 13th, as well as Baumhover, and he sat in the interrogation rooms for hours appearing calm.

            Like

            • “Had he been peering into the front door windows he might have seen Watts run upstairs.”

              I don’t know if he could have seen that or not. We’re talking about the tall skinny windows on each side of the door, I’m assuming. That wall, on the hinge side of the front door, went straight back through the entryway and then there was the door to the basement on the plane of that same wall. *THEN* you find the stairwell heading up at about 90° to the left. If he’d been watching through the windows carefully, he *might* have seen Chris round that corner and head upstairs, but unless he was watching at the exact moment that Chris entered the stairwell, he wouldn’t have been able to see anything after that from the front windows – the stairwell was out of the line of sight.

              Like

          • Not necessarily, Watts was incredibly fit…all that jogging and weight lifting, he was in the best physical shape of his life. Maybe he’d be out of breath if he was his previous chunky self, but that wasn’t the case.

            Like

    • “I can maybe see why he hid her phone in the couch cushions if he was going to come home later and dispose of it but then again, who was he hiding it from?”

      I believe he brought that phone along with him on the corpse disposal run because he was planning on using it to send out “Hey, don’t worry about me – I’m just resting with the kids – too tired and sick to go out – rescheduled my Dr. appointment for next week” messages to keep her “community” calm. But then he discovered she’d changed the password and he couldn’t guess it. So he had it on him when he came home to find all those people around. He went in through the garage, did *something*, and then opened the front door. That *something* could have been hiding the phone upstairs at that point, or was he the first one to go upstairs once everyone came inside?

      Like

  12. What railroaded him finishing out his plan was Shanann’s friend Nicole,
    and her Level friends, suspicions, not only quick to act, but side tracking him
    with texts, letting him know they were on to him.
    He also was a terrible actor in the aftermath of his crime!

    Like

  13. And if I might add, look how LeVel has elevated itself even more as a force for good. I would say they got little to zero bad publicity over the Watts family murders and are now capitalizing on it. Shine On (LeVel) You Crazy Diamond.

    Like

  14. Well, looks like another Chapter might be opening up.
    Chris Watts is looking to Appeal his Conviction.
    Yeehaw.
    In the News today.

    Like

  15. I think phone on table, bed when he left the house. He ran in grabbed phone turned off hid under cushions.
    Don’t want it to ring now……do we.
    He thought he would have time to “finish up” when he got home alone.
    Never expected, he was gonna be met by Nicole and cops.
    I bet he was shitting driving home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think so too Shannon. And thanks for the scoop – that Watts is “considering his options” with an appeal, that it all happened so fast and he wasn’t in his right mind, etc. According to a source at People magazine, it’s true! Will he go back to his first confession do you think?

      Like

      • Hi Sly honey….
        He now needs a Super Duper Good Lawyer…. hopefully one will come forward. I’m not sure after pleading case, saying he was Quilty at first, but could use cochered, mental stress, sure there is more he can use. He probably wouldn’t get off, maybe less time. Only thing, who would help him in that State? Word out is probably not to touch him. DA will make sure of that, which is injustice, playing with the rights, of a person guilty or not. Also in that state another dude appealing his sentence…killing also. He needs money….GoFundMe page…there’s enough people out there I’m sure on his side.
        Maybe a hungry lawyer.
        I have to look up, plead guilty, now inmate wants to appeal in that state.
        I always said after he learns in jail about crimes, the law….he will change his mind.

        Like

  16. The internet seems to have gone mad tonight.
    From the sounds of it, Chris Watts is looking into appealing his sentence.
    Not sure how true it is, but loads of Youtube channels are making videos on this at the moment

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have mixed thoughts about this.

      On the one hand, if it’s possible for him to do this, (I have no idea what options are left open to him under Colorado law), perhaps more facts, details, answers will come forth.

      On the other, this rather feels like a sad, insane circus that just goes on and on and on. The bottom feeders were starting to slink back into their hidey holes; any legal action on the part of Watts will get them all revved up again.

      Like

  17. For selfish reasons I don’t want this case going away. This is our little case isn’t it?
    If he happens to get a good attorney they will file a motion to suppress the second confession. They will say the Agents showed up unannounced pretending to be friendly to try and tie up loose ends and he was just playing along. Then his attorney will say he was coerced into signing a plea deal making him think he would be put to death if it went to trial. The more flamboyant and dramatic the attorney, the better. He signed over his rights to the house didn’t he? That could have been his retainer fee. He could go the angle that LeVel stole his wife’s sanity, broke up his family, took all of his money, and make patches and drinks that had harmful side effects to his health and mental sanity. When Coder asked him if he was in love with NK he said I thought it was true. Now he could say I thought it was true but I see now she was just using me for her own twisted purposes, and I think she might be bipolar.

    Like

  18. Circumstantial evidence would have nailed him regardless. Scott Peterson and Ross Harris were convicted without a trace of physical evidence, and despite having good lawyers. His only chance, if at all, was in committing it somewhere far from home (like Aspen) and making it look like an accident. Even then, the moment the jury learn about the extra-marital affair, they would start crucifying him in their minds.

    Like

  19. I was also going to suggest CW would have had a better chance of getting rid of SW and the baby on a weekend away from home, her routine, friends, video surveilance and constant texts. Then, he could have pulled the girls out of the expensive school and downsized his house to a more affordable rancher like he told NK he’d like.

    However, because pregnant women are usally killed by their spouse, their significant financial problems and his affair at work that took 5 minutes for police to find out about, I don’t see how CW thought he would get away with the murders. Premeditated (I believe) or not.

    I doubt a trial would help him unless he can bring them all back to life.

    Like

  20. There are many good suggestions here in how this could have gone better for CW. The “burglary gone wrong” scenerio was his best bet if he was convinced killing them at home was his best option. He mentioned, I believe at his neighbors house, that there had been burglaries in the neighborhood. Was that even true? Can’t remeber if the neighbor confirmed that or not. I wonder in that moment if he didn’t think to himself, “Oh crap! I should have went that route, instead of loading them up in view of my neighbors security camera, in my GPS tracked work truck and disposing them at the very place I work which directly ties me to the crime.” Shucks! Chris must have never heard of or was aware of Scott Peterson? Wife found at the very place he admitted being at? You should have been a fan of the Crime Rocket website Chris!

    All kidding aside…I agree with you Maura. He should have committed the crime somewhere else with all of the surveillance and security inside and outside of his house. You’re right…he should have gotten a lawyer, and never taken that polygraph test. In addition to that, he should have never participated in an interview with the media if he couldn’t have acted distraught. Scott Petersen at least tried to cry. Let one of Shananns friends speak to the press for you telling them that you are too broken to speak and have them plead for her return. Why did he even mention to the police that he and his wife had an emotional discussion about ending their marriage when she got home? How did that help him? How about saying, “I was asleep when she got home, she mentioned that she was going to a friend’s house but I was groggy and I don’t remember if she mentioned the friends name.”

    I agree with the all the incriminating evidence you mentioned, and adding to that, all his correspondence with Shanann discussing the state of their marriage. Not to mention all the friends that SW confided in. She even commented that all of a sudden he’s changed, she suspects he’s cheating, that he doesn’t want the baby, and wanting to cancel the gender reveal party. Could the motive be any more obvious? How could he have no forthought concerning the digital evidence that can never be totally deleted from a phone? There was no way for him to have known SW’s friend Nicole would show up and call the police. You have to ask yourself…would YOU take the risk of waiting until you were home from work to clean up the crime scene and hide or destroy evidence? I know I wouldn’t.

    No matter when, where or how he decided to commit this crime, he was going to get arrested and charged with murder based on circumstantial evidence.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.