It’s good to see the former lead detective bringing some sense and sanity to the ongoing chatter around the Watts case. In his second blog post, the detective issued this stern rebuke to the legions of brain-addled conspiracy nuts still obsessing over the Accessory Theory:
CrimeRocket has struggled with the same issue which is why the comment approval setting is still in place on this site as well. TCRS has been criticized in the past for “not allowing” posts that “disagree” with the TCRS position. It’s not as simple as that. This site, like Baumhover’s, is about a particular topic and maintaining both a scientific and neutral approach to the evidence and facts of the case. TCRS doesn’t take sides, unless the truth can be considered a side. So it’s not about your take on that particular topic, and even less whose side you are on, especially when that involves spreading unfounded conspiracies, rumors or gossip, none of which are helpful in true crime, and true crime is infested with it. And as Baumhover writes, some people simply can’t respect that. Those that can’t shouldn’t be allowed to influence the conversation.
There is always a special place for the loonies, and they should stick to those places.
As all creators know, the amount of filthy, mindrotting commentary that comes through on a daily basis by obsessive, addicted followers of the Watts case is staggering. It’s even harder when one has multiple channels [for TCRS it’s this site, the growing YouTube channel, Patreon, social media and book reviews]. Of course each commenter thinks they are the only one, and that their questions are either completely original or deserving of First Amendments Rights. Each voice does matter, but at the same time, when there is a dull roar endlessly recycling the same conspiracy nonsense, it’s just easier to filter that stuff out.
TCRS welcomes the detective’s commentary online. Writing can be cathartic and Baumhover’s approach is likely to do just that. It will also bring some much needed mythbusting to this case, and hopefully by shining a light into the darker side of criminal investigations – the emotional and psychological toll investigators suffer – do some good along the way.
Visit Detective Baumhover’s blog at https://www.mental-armor.org/
The favorite theory of the legions following the Chris Watts case [and the YouTuber Armchair Detective] firmly believe 1) Chris Watts killed his children one in front of the other after a failed first attempt 2) had an accessory help him commit triple murder and 3) his accessory knew his wife was pregnant all along and didn’t really care.
It’s the favorite theory for a simple reason – it’s shocking. Because it’s shocking, it must be true, right?
Wrong. The Vang Gogh myth is an excellent reality in check in this regard. The favorite theory of the legions of art fans following the life and times of one of the world’s most popular [and expensive] artists [and the Van Gogh Museum] firmly believe 1) Vincent van Gogh cut off his ear 2) was mad and 3) committed suicide.
It’s the favorite theory for a simple reason – it’s shocking, and people like to be shocked. They want to be titillitated. In a world that operates on hyperbole and rewards exaggeration, it’s no surprise that no one really cares about the facts or the evidence. They want the version that suits their own depraved sensibilities best.
But what happens when we challenge the popular mythology? What happens when one goes to some effort to check the facts, verify the information and make sure? Well, history tends to be rewritten, even in a case like Vincent van Gogh where that history is over 100 years old.
Take the trait that Van Gogh is most famous for around the world – the mad artist. The most basic thing everyone believes isn’t even true.
This assessment isn’t just one random publication, or written by a single reporter in some arbitrary journal. It made world headlines at the time. The time being September 2016 when the Van Gogh museum invited around 30 international medical experts, professors and art historians to settle the issue definitively, once and for all. Guess what? They couldn’t. They couldn’t offer a modern diagnosis, and instead offered something more “prosaic” – they sort of deconstructed the original diagnosis, which was this:
…temporal lobe epilepsy precipitated by the use of absinthe in the presence of an early limbic lesion….
And essentially replaced it with this:
…temporal lobe epilepsy precipitated by the use of absinthe in the presence of an early limbic lesion….
In other words, they agreed that all of Van Gogh’s symptoms couldn’t really be explained by a disorder or a disease, but it could be explained by a drinking problem. Lousy huh? Instead of a mad artist he was simply an occasionally drunk artist.
Even so, despite this unshocking [and thus unsatisfying assessment] by the medical luminaries, the Van Gogh museum who’d hosted the symposium went ahead with their exhibition eponymously titled On the Verge of Insanity. Everyone loved it.
What lesson do we learn from this? We see that human nature isn’t a reliable conduit for truth. Human nature is prone to projection and transference. Our truth tends to be self-justifying. So where can one turn for a neutral view of the truth, if not to one another, if not to the media, if not to experts, skilled lie detectors in law enforcement, historians and – oftetimes – even medical professionals?
Turn to True Crime Rocket Science – the most credible and authentic voice in true crime.
In recent weeks Armchair Detective has been doing overtime trying to prove that Nichol Kessinger was at the Watts home. If shadows can have double [or triple, or quadruple] meanings, if alarms could be triggered by anyone, why not semantics too?
At around 19:28 Armchair Detective plays his hand. Are you ready?
It’s established here that when Chris Watts refers to Nickole Atkinson, he calls her “Nicole.” When he refers to his mistress, it’s “Nikki.” This is an incredible insight that changes everything!
Let’s look at this clip in context though, shall we?
The reporter is asking about Shan’ann’s friends calling frantically yesterday. Who else can it be except Nickole Atkinson? AD spells it “Nicole” which is not the right spelling for Nickole Atkinson or Nichol Kessinger, but two years later, why would anyone expect him to get silly details like that right?
And now the reveal – are you ready to have your socks blown off?
At 19:38 Armchair Detective edits in what appears to be a slip.
WATTS: When Nikki’s [snaps fingers] son…uh…tried to move the door around…when they were trying to get in the door, garage door-
The audio cuts abruptly at this point.
That couldn’t be a reference to “Nicole”, it just couldn’t be. Armchair Detective says this was a slip; it wasn’t Nikki’s son…it was NIKKI [snap snap snap]. He said “Nikki” so it’s a slip, right, he can ONLY be referring to Kessinger, right? Has he nailed it? Was it actually Nichol Kessinger who set off the Vivint alert on Sunday night, early Monday morning?
Uuhhhhhh…hold on…why does the discovery refer to exactly what Watts was saying to Coonrod when he stood beside Trinastich’s TV: that Nicolas and “Nicole” [Atkinson] set off the alarm…
So the alarm thing isn’t a slip.
How about the Nikki-thing? Was that a slip?
Shan’ann and her friends [like Cristina Meacham] often referred to their friend Nickole Atkinson as Nikki, including during the Live she did from the rooftop pool in late June 2018 when Nickole won her auto bonus.
There are also references by Chris Watts to Nickole Atkinson as Nikki while talking to Officer Lines:
And Nichol Kessinger referring to Watts referring to Nickole Atkinson as Nikki.
So let’s do a logic check. We saw Nicolas Atkinson on the scene for almost an hour, actively interfering. We saw Nickole’s car. Witnesses saw her. What were they doing there? Trying to get into the house over several hours. They were looking for someone they cared about. The interference was such that Watts called Nickole Atkinson [how did he know to call her, because he saw her on the ring doorbell camera] and told them to quit messing with his door – because that’s what they were doing. And because that’s when they set the alarm off, purposefully and deliberately.
Pick your reality:
Or did Nichol Kessinger really levitate to the scene and levitate out of it, for no reason, while she was on a phone call late on a Sunday night when her adulerer’s spouse was due to come. Her and her car unseen. And why would Watts who was super careful for weeks on end not to let Shan’ann know about the affair, allow alarms to go off when he was there? Would he like to alert Shan’ann, the neighborhood and leave digital traces on the security system for what he’s about to do, or would he like to not do that?
ALL NEW on Patreon: TWO FACE EPILOGUE [Book 9 in the TWO FACE series] available as an audiobook. First review of the intro and first chapter:
“I listened to this 3 times. It was that good.”
During the first two months following the Watts Family Murders in 2018, perhaps the best and most consistent mainstream coverage came from HLN’s Ashleigh Banfield. On October 16th, seemingly out of nowhere, Banfield was taken off the air and purged from HLN entirely.
The reason given was “political.”
“The current cable news landscape is dominated by politics. Our live news shows have not benefited from this trend given our story mix. In today’s news environment, every network has to focus on its strengths. To ensure HLN’s growth, we will shift some of our resources from live to longform programming and produce our live shows in as streamlined a manner as possible.” – CNN EVP/HLN executive vice president Ken Jautz, via an internal memo
Even if HLN’s coverage was competing for the same market, this move came as a blow to TCRS, CrimeRocket.com and the enormous audience following the Watts case. HLN and TCRS were actively researching and reporting on the developments in the Watts case, and at one point even discussed collaborating.
Below is a compilation of Ashleigh Banfield’s excellent coverage of the Watts case.
Crime & Justice with Ashleigh Banfield – Podcast
HLN Jettisons Ashleigh Banfield, Michaela Pereira, Carol Costello In Latest Better Idea – Deadline, October 16, 2018
In a recent episode, a YouTube creator presents what appears to be a very elaborate and technical spreadsheet of timeline data. It appears, at face value, to be accurate.
During the episode, the creator and another party discuss evidence which they both agree would stand up in a court of law. The entire 66 minute spiel is predicated on a single moment at 22:52 when the Vivint sensor is activated.
This Vivint signal means, according to the creator and his fellow-commentator, that Nichol Kessinger entered the house. It’s also their hypothesis that Kessinger spent the night at the house, and left about half an hour after Watts did the following morning, making her an accessory to the entire crime as they see it.
It’s an interesting theory except at 23:20, 28 minutes after this alert, Watts and Kessinger were still talking on the phone. So were the couple standing together in his home talking to one another on the phone?
This Vivint alert, like the dodgy shadows story, is manufactured to have only a single explanation, and for this creator it’s always the same – it’s how Nichol Kessinger had to have been there, because she had to be an accessory to a triple murder.
While this creator seems very confident in his assessment, repeatedly asserting in this video that “law enforcement know this”, the title of the video shows he knows better than that too. He uses the words “seem to prove” and a question mark as a sort of disclaimer, and he never refers to Nichol Kessinger as Nichol Kessinger, but as NK, knowing that to do so would get him into a world of trouble. The content of the video says something else, however.
This is one of the most unambiguous episodes I’ve ever seen from this creator where he tries to link an innocent person to a crime, while emphasizing how unshakeably true and defensible his “evidence” is.
Of course, there could be numerous innocent explanations for the Vivint alert, one of them being letting the dog out, or letting some air in. Armchair Detective’s stock and trade is trying to figure out how innocent explanations may not be, and his audience, who are addicted to being titillated by this tabloid-style of one sensational claim after another, love it.
One aspect I found useful in the analysis of the timeline, was the router data showing Watts’ activity [as his phone or other device connects to the router] between 01:53 and 03:00 while Vivint shows no activity. While this doesn’t necessarily mean Watts himself was moving and thus the source of these connections, because devices make connections for a host of reasons as various apps automatically update etc., it does correspond to the TCRS theory that Watts never went to bed that night, and Shan’ann was murdered shortly after stepping in the door.
Another useful titbit was Shan’ann’s iWatch connecting to the router when Watts arrived home from the well site, suggesting he removed it prior to burial.
In general though, the confirmation bias in this particular video isn’t just alarming, it’s infuriating. Be careful, wherever you are, that your shadow doesn’t tear itself loose and get you into trouble.
Postscript: In the video below, at 19:50 the creator suggests – without naming names – that “some people might be friends with Nichol Kessinger…” This appears to be a slur to undermine arguments such as this one and others posted on CrimeRocket. A counterargument against a conspiracy isn’t valid, so their argument goes, not because it’s lunacy and illogical, but because of some relationship or agenda with Nichol Kessinger [in other words, it’s a conspiracy within a conspiracy]. Of course it was this site and via posts on Shakedown that first identified Kessinger to the world, before the mainstream media did or even Kessinger herself. Try to figure that one out.
According to REDDIT there’s now a conspiracy around me too. No surprises there.
Don’t believe everything you read on REDDIT, or believe what you hear on YouTube. I have a new book coming out this week on Chris Watts, and books take a lot of time to write, research and edit.
I’m constantly loading my own content onto Patreon and to some extent onto YouTube, so I really don’t have time or the inclination – or the pettiness – to set up or “be behind” so-called hate channels. That some are convinced I do says more, I think, about you and type of person you are.
The protocols of this site applies in this regard: argue the case, not with each other. When people get banned on my platforms it’s invariably because they can’t understand, and won’t abide by this simple premise .
argue the case, not with each other
If you argue, try to do it using the ordinary lexicon we have, without expletives, slurs, exclamation marks, all caps and all the rest. Try not to be about drama and triggering and reaction; try to think cooly and calmly for a change. Many can’t, won’t or do not want to do that, and I don’t want those sorts of people associated with TCRS.
Everyone who knows true crime knows how hard it is to keep the discussions clean and sensible. When we do though, we learn knew things, and we can actually start to see through all the noise and find out something new. I set a high standard, and one I acknowledge puts most people off. CrimeRocket and TCRS isn’t meant for most people, it’s meant for a more educated, more disciplined and more discerning audience. People who read. People who think. People who’re able to spell and modulate their own behavior. People who are honest and care about the material.
If we’re here to talk about true cime, let’s talk about true crime, not about ourselves or someone else. Once we understand the case, sure, then we can reflect on how it impacts society or certain individuals, but typically that’s a very private and personal matter, and it’s different for everyone. Almost two years after the incident, we are – sadly – still very, very far from understanding this case, or ourselves, much better than before the Chris Watts case.
And so, as soon as true crime devolves into pundits bickering with each other, or about one another, it’s no longer true crime. It’s me-me-me, and it’s little more than a cynical popularity circus. When that happens the leading edge of what we come, and still can learn about these true crime cases floats out the window. It’s for this reason TCRS only reluctantly wades into conspiracies, not to attack those behind it, but to counter, debunk and fight for the authentic narrative. That has been and always will be the position of TCRS.