Five months after the Watts Family Murders a strange silence seems to have settled over the case. This was to be expected in the absence of any legal challenge from Watts. But given the amount of information placed in the public domain it’s been surprising, frankly, the silence not only of the media, but also some of the main players in this case.
At the same time Watts himself was secreted away to a distant prison, his mistress Nichol Kessinger disappeared into witness protection. Watts’ parents have – understandably – withdrawn into a self-imposed exile. Shan’ann’s folks did an exclusive with ABC, but have otherwise been relatively media shy of late. Frankie Rzucek, despite being scornful of the media at turns, has made some overtures to some social media pundits like “Molly Golightly”.
But what about all the other witnesses? The co-workers, promoters, neighbors, ex-husbands, ex-girlfriends? Shan’ann’s friends are clearly – very clearly – still an active presence on social media, actively Thrivin’ but apparently less keen to talk in public about their recently deceased friend.
Slowly but surely, a few important friends and witnesses are coming out of the woodwork. It’s important that they do because no one can address the Monster Myth better than the people who were there. The folks who knew the Watts family firsthand, personally and directly. And the Monster Myth does a great disservice to this case.
Dismissing Watts as a narcissist and/or psychopathic monster deprives his family of their humanity, and incidentally, it exposes us for our facile view of true crime, and this crime in particular.
In this respect Nate Trinastich’s interview is both timely and insightful. Some of the low hanging insights from his interview with Dr. Oz include the following:
1. Trinastich says the Watts family didn’t fight any more than a normal couple. The bodycam records Trinastich speculating that the “flat-out screaming” arguments he heard were the reason Shan’ann had left for North Caroline [for 5-6 weeks] in the first place. The Discovery Documents on the other hand contain no record of arguments witnessed by Trinastich.
Although it’s useful to hear that Trinastich feels he may have embellished the intensity of the arguments, and that Watts’ portrayal as a monster isn’t accurate, the fact that Watts murdered his family means this aspect of the dynamic isn’t irrelevant and shouldn’t be minimized either. It shouldn’t be embellished, it shouldn’t be minimized, and it shouldn’t be dismissed. What we need to know is the true dynamic that existed between this couple, and the family.
2. The location of the motion detecting surveillance camera is indirectly shown for the first time.
We can see that the yellow and white pillar of the Trinastich home seems to block the view of the Watts driveway, as well as the protruding garage wall and boundary tree. From the perspective of Watts on the driveway, he may have underestimated the ability of the camera to be triggered by motion, and perhaps also miscalculated the capacity of the various barriers to block out what he was doing .
Even so, what the camera does show isn’t clear. It doesn’t show any bodies directly, or any bodies being loaded. This visual uncertainty is why conspiracies have developed around fragments of apparently disconnected shadows and plays of light in the critical left corner that recorded only intermittent parts of Watts’ activity that morning.
3. There were four witnesses checking the surveillance footage when Officer Coonrod arrived: Coonrod, Nickole Atkinson and her two children. Notice Watts is the only one with his back to the television when Coonrod arrives, as if trying to visually confront his audience.
4. It’s worth noting that during this interlude, Watts has his sunglasses propped onto the top of his head. This certainly invokes CCTV footage from earlier that same day of the Orange-Shirt guy who has his glasses propped on the top of his head, on a cap.
5. It’s regrettable that Dr. Oz, who has pontificated about weight loss supplements, some affiliated to MLMs [and gotten into trouble over it] didn’t use his medical knowledge to analyze the Thrive aspect of the narrative. In his interview he commends Trinastich for trying to protect the integrity of the victims. Dr. Oz’s failure to interrogate the medical aspect of this case [thus far anyway] is puzzling, because there are very many aspects that remain troublingly unclear.
A further aspect that is worth highlighting, but not an insight per se, is Trinastich’s observation to Coonrod that Watts explaining quickly and in detail while the CCTV was rolling, what he was loading was unnecessary, suspicious and didn’t really make sense. If Watts was loading tools why did he load them into the cabin of his truck?
One of the key reasons the Watts case was prosecuted as effectively as it has been had nothing to do with the quality of law enforcement. It had everything to do with the vigilance and intervention of the community and neighborhood, the fabric of society, the friendships, and to some extent the social media surrounding Shan’ann and her children.
Although Nickole Atkinson raised the alarm, her son Nicolas played an integral part in investigating the scene before anyone else did. His connection to the Watts’ was tenuous, based on dog sitting and his mother’s connection to the victim. But he got involved. Trinastich too, went to the trouble right then and there to check what he had, and it wrong-footed the suspect. It exposed him, and caused the momentum to shift significantly against him.
This was a crime solved by ordinary citizens first, before the cops, FBI and District Attorney swooped in.