Shan’ann had a plan to deal with the debt situation – but Chris Watts wasn’t going to like it, not one bit

If Shan’ann was in financial difficulty previously [and she was], the solution seemed to be fairly simple. Move someone in and scrimp. She did this in 2015 when they went bankrupt. She moved in her parents for 15-16 months. Presumably this “saved” money in child care fees, and by pooling resources, food and meals could be cheaper when the expenses were shared by four rather than one or two.

How would you like to live with both your in-laws for over a year?

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When Shan’ann had neck surgery, Cristina Meacham came to stay for two months in 2017.

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So in 2018, when they were scraping the bottom of the barrel again, there was an easy solution in the offing. Do what she’d always done. Move someone in and piggyback until things improved.

That someone turned out to be Josh and Cassie Rosenberg, just another family of Thrivers [a mom and pop team, and their kids], who could pool their resources. This plan wasn’t just theoretical. We know this because on Saturday night [August 11] when Watts was wining, dining and [doing other things] with Nichol Kessinger, Josh Rosenberg sent Watts a text to ask if everything was okay – could they still come and stay at the house.

Josh had good reason to be uncertain if the plan was still in the offing, He knew because Cassie knew that Watts and his wife were arguing. If they arguing, where did it leave them?

Watts didn’t respond to Josh until the next morning – Sunday [August 12] – and when he did he said it was cool [even though it wasn’t cool at all]. Watts said they could move in, but wanted to know when.

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Watts then lied to Josh about something else – he pretended he knew what it was like at the Rockies game.

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It’s important to see the texts between Shan’ann and her pals Nickole and Cassie in context to get a real sense for how the idea of moving in with Shan’ann [to provide support, perhaps help pay the bills and take care of the kids] came about.

It’s clear – and to some extent understandable – that Shan’ann, Nickole and Cassie had formed a formidable alliance of three, and they meant business. Fuck him was the general theme of it. Fuck him and take the house. Even though the house was in Watts’ name, they figured they could sort of bully their way into it and taking charge, and at the very least, taking the kids and getting half of what the house was worth.

Fuck him!

Perhaps under normal circumstances Watts would have crumbled and turned the house over to his wife and whoever she wanted to stay over/rent/cohabit or whatever. But these weren’t normal circumstances. This situation this time around definitely wasn’t going to work for him and his mistress.

The red arrows and circles in some of the final texts below point out specifics of the conversation to move in to casa Watts, and also how Weld County deals with alimony and splitting the house, even if it is in the husband’s name.

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“I have enough to worry about with the world out there I’m not going to worry about family.  I will just remove it.”

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These images are of a for sale sign on the lawn of the Trinastich residence. It’s also possible if the for sale sign was on the lawn during the six weeks Shan’ann was away, Watts could have been nudged – almost on a daily basis – to contemplate whether he could keep his home. And we know where that calculus took him, once he took time to do the math.

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Below is Shan’ann’s final ever message on her phone:

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On iPhones do text messages and WhatsApps [or messages via the internet] appear on the same screen? If so, then why did Watts’ message at 07:40 not appear on Shan’ann’s phone? Could it be because the phone was off, or because the router wasn’t connected, or is there another explanation?

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Guest Post: Pondering the financial angle

In true crime we often don’t see the wood for the trees. It’s always useful to get some perspective on what we’re looking at, and to make sure we’re not too close to or familiar with our case, by looking elsewhere [either the real world or other analogous true crime cases].

This post by Ralph Oscar does that. It not only humanizes Shan’ann and Chris Watts financial circumstances, but personalizes how they may have responded to them:

I was pondering the financial angle, which I feel is the wild, drunken elephant in the room in this case. I was talking to a new acquaintance online, who revealed that he was twice divorced. Something he said brought to mind the Watts case, and so I’ve been quizzing him about the finances of divorce 

He and his first wife divorced in a state with *permanent* alimony. Even though his ex now has a really good tech sector job, he still must pay her alimony. He’s asked if they can change this; she says no. Who would turn down free money? He remarried, had two daughters. His financial situation has never recovered – he’s been unable to set aside anything for his two daughters’ college. He lives paycheck to paycheck, and meanwhile, there sits his first wife, who is earning good money, receiving permanent alimony. He describes the two divorces with child support/alimony leaving him with “virtually nothing”. Some of his observations:

“It’s virtually impossible to stop or modify the alimony as long as she wants it. I’d attempt to talk to her and she’d say things like ‘would you stop taking money if you didn’t have to?’”

“It can get pretty bad financially when you’re busting your ass at work and doing well but still taking home as much as if you were working for minimum wage. The wife getting alimony … lives in a paid off home with her mom.”

“Meanwhile I can’t save to retire although I can modify or stop the alimony when I’m ready to. The catch 22 is that I can’t save to retire but that’s the only way to stop it.”

“Many angry men and a few women in my shoes. Very frustrating but you need to make it work somehow.”

“I can’t honestly relate to the idea of killing someone to avoid giving them money but I do understand how another might get there. I also can’t honestly say I’d mourn her passing if that did happen. I’ve joked about loosening the lugs on her car wheels but that’s just out of frustration, etc.”

“I haven’t been able to recover financially. I’ve gotten raises at work and the dollar amount of my commissions increase but never enough to pay bills without having anxiety about next week or next month.”

“I had two daughters with my second wife and haven’t been able to save anything towards college.”

“The person making the payments becomes nothing more than a source to enable the other to be ok with no consideration regarding its affect on the payer.”

“The ex who receives the alimony seems to feel fully entitled to my money to this day. If I bring it up in any shape or form she will move away or discontinue the conversation immediately.”

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While Colorado is not a permanent alimony state, in 2014 a new law went into effect that prescribed a formula for how to determine spousal maintenance payments: 40% of the higher-earning spouse’s income minus 50% of the lower-earning spouse’s income. Shan’Ann would finally have incentive to come clean about how much she was *not* making on her “business”, or at least there would finally be an accounting of just how much it was *costing* her to make that income amount (which means that’s not the actual income). If she’d been making $80K/yr in actual income, they’d have been paying their bills. That’s all there is to it.

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While my acquaintance would never countenance murder (he has two daughters from that first marriage), he is clear that the financial fallout of his two divorces, particularly that first one with the permanent alimony, has changed his life for the worse. His perspective is that the financial situation for the Watts family was likely a very important factor in Chris Watts’ deciding to do what he did.

If Chris and Shan’Ann had won the lottery the day before the murders, I’m confident there wouldn’t have been any murders.

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