When we add the 7-minute Sermon on the Porch to the 8-minute Sermon on the Driveway, we have a 15-minute statement by Chris Watts. That’s a whole lotta talkin’. When compared to Patrick Frazee, who a year later hasn’t made a peep to the press, these Sermons were – and remain – true crime gold. This is essentially his first public version, which he gave against the advice of his mother-in-law, and it preceded his First Confession by roughly 24 hours and change.
Very likely the Feds and cops also studied the same footage like hawks before bringing in the Silver Fox and subjecting him to a slightly tougher line of questioning.
It’s possible Watts thought he did a pretty good job during these Sermons. That he’d convinced those asking questions. They asked something, he answered it, and then that was it. Easy. Done. Back to business as usual? Not quite, as it turned out. The moment Watts opened his mouth he was on a slippery slope.
There is a lot to mine out of these 15 minutes. The Sermon on the Porch alone is a goldmine for those interested in true crime statement analysis and figuring out body language. When is a tell a tell, and when isn’t it? When is a blink, a stutter, a sway, a folding of the arms relevant and when isn’t it? It takes intuition, sensitivity, gut feel and what we might call the X-factor to know the difference. You either have that intuition or you don’t, although some of it certainly develops with experience.
No two criminals are alike, but criminal psychology is similar enough that there is some intertexuality between tells. The most significant slip-of-the-tongue in the Sermon of the Driveway is one 99% probably missed. It was easy to miss because it occurs in the very last frame of the very last moments of the Sermon. By then most people had found what they want and moved on.
When we go to the final seconds of the Sermon on the Driveway, since Watts has sort of let his guard down, sniggering about how much he likes his t-shirt, a reporter crosses the psychological sand, and asks a question that reveals the press are pretty suspicious after all, and haven’t been playing all their cards. The question, when it finally comes, comes in the final 20 seconds of the 15-minutes interview:
REPORTER: You guys have a baby on the way…
WATTS [Blinks]: Mm-hm. [Watts starts to sways a lot here, and sighs].
REPORTER: You’re about to have your third child…
WATTS: Mm-hm. [A second intake of breath.]
A YouTuber referring to this moment described Watts as angry. But was he? He may have been annoyed at being asked the question, but if he was, there’s no sign of anger. It’s not in anything he says, if anything it’s what he doesn’t say, or do. And that’s an introvert for you.
More likely Watts is shitting his pants right here. He’s gotten through the quarter of an hour just fine dodging the issue of Shan’ann’s pregnancy. In fact that word is the one word he doesn’t bring up. He never brings up the word pregnant through either the Sermon on the Porch or the Sermon on the Driveway. Ultimately it’s brought up right at the end, by the reporters, and this effectively shuts down the interview. By invoking this aspect, Watts likely panics, and when he panics he shuts down. He has nothing to say because when the chips are down, he has no game.
The Feds watching this probably took real notice of this. Tread carefully around this guy. Don’t push him. Be nice, get him talking, keep him talking. The DNA for Watts interrogation, the strategy of it, was laid here.
To get inside the apparatus of Watts’ mind, what he’s doing – or trying to do – through these Sermons is convince an audience of just one [Kessinger] that he’s fine, everything is fine, even though his family is missing. But while doing that, he needs to make sure he doesn’t say anything about the pregnancy. When the media does, he makes sure it’s unusable. The fact that Watts is so secretive about the pregnancy, so shut up about it, does lend some credence to the idea – the possibility – that as late as Monday, and in the few hours leading up to these interviews, Kessinger herself was still living in a fairy tale, unaware of the pregnancy. And by not mentioning it, Watts was doing his damnedest not to burst that bubble.
Conversely, if she knew about it, and he knew she knew, why not admit Shan’ann was pregnant? Why kill her on the very same day she was going to do the gender reveal? Wasn’t it because Kessinger didn’t know, and if she did, she’d drop him and run the other way?