The Chris Watts case in a Nutshell: “I got lost in those stunning green eyes”

There’s the long version to the Chris Watts case, and then there’s the short version.

The short version goes like this:

They met at work and over an unknown period of time, hit it off.

Fullscreen capture 20190604 013807Fullscreen capture 20190604 013809Fullscreen capture 20190604 013824Fullscreen capture 20190604 013827Fullscreen capture 20190604 013834Fullscreen capture 20190604 013836

Meanwhile Kessinger communicated to Watts her intent:

I’m looking for someone to build a beautiful life with.

Watts liked the sound of that.

Fullscreen capture 20190604 013844Fullscreen capture 20190604 013846

Especially because he was getting lost too. He was falling in love.

Fullscreen capture 20190604 013851Fullscreen capture 20190604 013853

But there was a problem he couldn’t easily get out of…


Amanda Knox: A Cautionary Tale for Prosecutors and Interrogators

Whether or not you believe Amanda Knox is innocent, her case raises a few difficult questions. How ought the police and interrogators to treat suspects?

As we saw in the Chris Watts case, Coder and Lee adapted their style to fit in with his. They spoke his language, came down to his level, and sat with him for hours while valuable evidence dissolved in a tank and decayed in the ground. It suited Watts that the interrogation lasted a long time and went nowhere. But it also suited the cops that they had someone in the cubicle, talking casually and openly, while a big team were out in the field gathering intel. This included knowledge about Kessinger, and confirmation that Watts had been cheating on his wife and brazenly lying to Coder, even trying to beat a polygraph test.

If the Watts case went to trial, it’s possible, even plausible, that an expert defense lawyer could have argued – successfully – that he confessed not only under duress, but under false pretenses.


We know the scenario that Shan’ann killed the girls wasn’t something that happened, it wasn’t what Watts believed, it wasn’t even what the FBI or CBI believed. It was just a ploy to let him off the hook so he could give them some intel they could use. That part worked.

In a scenario of a disappearance, where time is also of the essence, this sort of skulduggery is likely necessary. The cops didn’t know they were dealing with a triple homicide until Watts let on that all three – Shan’ann, Bella and Celeste – were dead.

Fullscreen capture 20190619 045857

It’s also part of the stock and trade of criminal cases that the folks involved are thieves, murderers and liars. They’re habitual deceivers. Are interrogators really expected to be completely honest and completely straightforward when criminals never are?

These ploys may work in the interrogation room but what happens in a criminal case?

The Jodi Arias case is an example of how aggressive a prosecutor felt he needed to be in court trying to extract information from a a slippery slimebag on the stand.

In the clip below, Amanda Knox and Jens Soering seem to be making the case that as young people they should have been interrogated by young people. Or one on one. Or not for hours at a time. Imagine if we applied these guidelines to police interrogations everywhere, everyday.

How should a suspect be interrogated? For one hour at a time, or two? Is three hours in one day too much? If the police feel they have grounds, why shouldn’t they interrogate for hours until the suspect cracks?

We saw with Watts he wasn’t deprived of food or water, in fact bottles of water are seen in the room throughout. He was Mirandized, and though the idea of legal representation came up, he clearly elected not to speak with a lawyer. Had he been questioned more aggressively, would he have exercised that option? Had he been questioned less aggressively, or over a greater length of time, would he have exercised that option?

Fullscreen capture 20190619 050328

The danger in being too soft – in interrogations – is precisely that the suspect has the opportunity to buy time, fine-tune their story and find out what the cops know, and don’t know.

In true crime, time is always against the investigators while favoring the criminal. The criminal is carefully, deceptively, duplicitously play acting…the nonchalance is invariably an act to hide the fact of who’s really holding all the cards and guarding all the exits. It may feel the other way round, it may look the other way round, but it’s not.

Unless the suspect is innocent.

Court allows Amanda Knox to sue Italy for trial ‘abuses’

European court orders Italy to pay Amanda Knox damages

Amanda Knox’s parents sued by Italian police over abuse claims

The First Two Reviews for TWO FACE: OBLIVION

Many regular readers of this blog have followed the Watts case from the very beginning. If the murders themselves aren’t still shocking almost a year later, what is almost as astonishing is the investigation into it. It’s not that the investigation lacked resources, quite the opposite, it’s this mismatch between the crime and investigation, and the prosecution.


Each successive book in the TWO FACE series is harder to write, but perhaps easier and more interesting to read. The reviews reflect this, but let’s face it – the first two narratives were written without the benefit of 2000 pages of discovery, with no interrogations and very little evidence.

It’s been a challenge in the last few books trying to transcribe hours and hours of often indistinct audio into a cogent narrative. It doesn’t help that Watts and Kessinger are both mumblers, especially Watts. One hopes law enforcement will get their act together in this regard. If you’re going to record an interrogation, make sure you can hear it, and use it. But that’s part of the real meat and potatoes work of the true true crime writer.  Who’s going to do it if not TCRS?


Over time, true crime evolves. We’ve seen in the Watts case how the story has evolved. It’s already split into those who believe the Second Confession and those who don’t, into a group who believe Watts is a monstrous simpleton who just snapped, and another group [a smaller group I think] who see the case as more complex, and the crimes as premeditated.

As we become familiar with the facts, evidence and nuances, we have to decide what to do with it. That takes discernment. We have to decide which path we’re going to take, and who to trust.

maxresdefault (1)

In terms of the interrogations, it’s worth noting that while we hear the voices of the FBI, CBI and lead detective questioning Watts, and although we get to read the synopsis of the interview, we don’t get their interpretation afterwards. We don’t get to see what they actually believe, and what they don’t.


It’s tempting to imagine what-you-see-is-what-you-get in these interviews, but it’s really a game. It’s the true crime game, isn’t it? It’s a game from the side of the Silver Fox, but it’s also a game played by law enforcement. Are we able to decipher the rules of that game yet, and the criminal psychology that governs it? Are we becoming better lie detectors, or liars?

All of this is reflected to some extent in the Watts marriage. It’s also a game. It also has unwritten rules and invisible threads running through it, pulling strings, drawing it in this direction or that. The affair is really a reality check for all three players in this game. The affair is going to validate some and invalidate others. It’s going to reveal the true state of the relationships, commitments, cash and secret resentments.

Our incredible access in this case to the Watts family allows us not only to fathom how fairy tales are born, but how and why they die. The Watts case is a vital and valuable cautionary tale, and though the American public were denied the opportunity to learn from this tragedy in court, through a criminal trial, the TWO FACE book series provides another alternative.


Fullscreen capture 20190617 030649


“I’m not kidding Christopher…I’m spotting…” – What did Shan’ann mean?

On the afternoon of August 5th, 018, a Sunday, Shan’ann encouraged her husband to go see his grandmother, but without her and without the kids. In an uncharacteristically stern tone, Shan’ann told Chris Watts:

“I’m not kidding Christopher. I’m having a bad experience these last few days with my pregnancy and I’m spotting. I’m not dealing with it…” What did she mean?

Fullscreen capture 20190615 002851

In OBLIVION I make the case that Shan’ann was suffering classic symptoms of lupus – skin rashes, inflammation etc. brought on by stress. She started feeling unwell the day Watts arrived in North Carolina. We also know she wasn’t feeling well during her trip to Phoenix, and that she was due to see the doctor first thing Monday morning.

But a Seattle-based reader recently contacted me to to stress that spotting is also a well-known symptom in the first trimester of pregnancy. According to

Spotting is considered a light or trace amount of pink, red, or dark brown (rust-colored) blood. You may notice spotting when you use the restroom or see a few drops of blood on your underwear. It will be lighter than your menstrual period. There won’t be enough blood to cover a panty liner.

During pregnancy, spotting can be caused by a number of factors. Spotting is different from heavier bleeding, where you’d need a pad or tampon to stop blood from getting on your clothing. Seek emergency care if you experience heavy bleeding during pregnancy.

Given Shan’ann’s health issues with lupus, spotting would be a real concern, a real possibility of miscarriage. Was that why she had her doctor’s appointment Monday morning?

“Innocent” Amanda Knox to talk about her “Trial by Media”

It’s a good thing the mainstream media has amnesia. I just caught CNN doing their “analysis” of Knox, and according to their feature Knox was treated harshly in the press. It’s because of the media – so her story goes – that Knox ended up in an Italian prison.

Which media? The Italian media? The American media? The British media? All media?

Let’s do a memory check on this idea that the media were biased.

It was Knox’s father Curt who hired spin doctor David Marriott, of Gogerty Marriot Public relations Inc, just 9 days after Knox’s arrest. Following Knox’s “exoneration”, her father called this move – to hire a PR expert – the “smartest move he ever did…”


It doesn’t take a genius to see that PR [which is positive press paid for and organized to a particular end] actually did Amanda Knox a great service. Over time it exerted more and more pressure on Italy, then leverage. Even President Trump saw Knox come onto his radar in 2011, and he couldn’t resist tweeting his support.


Since then, Trump appears to have had a change of heart, however.

Knox ultimately sold the story of how she didn’t murder her roommate, Meredith Kercher, for a record sum. In 2012 the Telegraph reported on the book deal being worth $4 million. Her boyfriend and co-accused, Raffaele Sollecito made an estimated $1 million from television appearances and got his own book deal as well.

So if the press was so negative and incriminating, if Amanda Knox was made into a villain and a victim, how come Amanda Knox today is free, employed, in love and living happily ever after?

More: Why Amanda Knox Is Completely Innocent And The Italian Justice System Is Utterly Insane – Business Insider

Amanda Knox on Life After Wrongful Conviction – Rolling Stone

Amanda Knox: I am innocent – BBC

Amanda Knox: Guilty or innocent, five reasons why – The Telegraph

Of course one area where the media and social media has been less than friendly to Knox – or Sollecito – has been over their jabs and jokes, in pretty bad taste, in terms of the real victim in this case.

Amanda Knox’s murder joke riles up Instagram – AOL

Amanda Knox JOKES about Meredith Kercher trial as she shares ‘murder mystery’ party photos – The Express

FACEBOOK FURY  Raffaele Sollecito denies making sick Facebook jokes about Meredith Kercher’s murder two years after he was cleared of killing – The Sun

Ironically, minutes and hours after the murder, this was exactly the accusation made against Knox by other witnesses at the police station, and the police themselves. It all seemed like a joke to them, and at one point, Knox seemed to be doing cartwheels and gymnastics in the hallways while waiting to be interrogated, much as Jodi Arias once had…

Fullscreen capture 20190612 235811

CRIMECON: Nancy Grace explains why the slaughter of a Colorado family captured America’s Attention

Nancy Grace is right. In order to study a case, to really get to grips with it, you have to spend a lot of time reading, listening and thinking.

When asked her opinion on the Watts case Nancy answered:

“He had it all,” she said. “He had this gorgeous wife, Shanann. He’s got the children, Bella and Celeste, beautiful. They always wanted a boy. They’re having baby Nico. He’s on the way. Beautiful home.”

She noted from the outside it looked perfect.

“It looked like a postcard,” she said. “It was perfect. When you look at somebody like Chris Watts in court, this picture perfect setting, it’s hard. It’s like the mind is tricking the eye. You’re seeing one thing but the evidence tells you something different, that he in fact is a cold-blooded killer who killed his own children, so I think that’s the fascination. It’s like trying to put together a Rubik’s Cube. You can’t sort it out in your head.”

All of that may be true, but all of that is the surface layer stuff, the optics,the artifice, the superficial.

I get what she’s saying that one can’t put the dichotomy, the duality together, but given enough analysis and thought, we can figure it out, and arguably TCRS already has. In the first Rocket Science book, published in September 2018, only weeks after the crime, we were already looking at a different portrait of the Watts family.

Fullscreen capture 20190612 221236

To understand these crimes and these case we have to get away from projection and transference. We have to stop imposing ourselves onto these cases. We have to let the cases and criminals speak for themselves.