Nichol Kessinger sketches a portrait of Chris Watts as a lying, duplicitous slimebag, who duped her into thinking he was divorced. She had no idea, she maintains, that Watts’ wife of eight years was a few weeks pregnant when they started sleeping together.
But why would the finality of Watts’ divorce or the status of his kids be so important if their relationship wasn’t serious? And why did Chris Watts disable his Facebook a week before the murders if it wasn’t important to hide the truth from a serious relationship-in-the-making? And why would Watts ask her to help him [them?] find an apartment that “would be good for him” [them?]. And did she start prospecting for a new place for Watts to stay?
No matter how you cut it, if Watts was trading out of his family to start a new chapter with Kessinger, it’s difficult to imagine it wasn’t serious. Chris Watts believed their dalliance was serious enough to murder his pregnant wife and both daughters. Did he do something as serious and significant as commit triple murder because the mistress in the wings wasn’t serious?
In the Casey Anthony case, Tony Lazzaro was a serious flame in her life at the time Caylee went missing. Ditto Scott Peterson. In fact Peterson was so fixated with him [and vice versa] he maintained serious contact with her for weeks after Laci’s disappearance. Wasn’t that relationship really serious too?
On the other hand, Nichol Kessinger may have had a point. She may have put the brakes on, letting Watts know they could take things to the next level once Shan’ann and the kids were taken care of. Not murdered of course, but no longer in the picture. If that’s the case, then Watts started calculating how best to go about that. Separation? Maybe. Divorce? Alimony? Custody? How about making them disappear literally…
Kessinger wanting to take it slow and wanting Watts to take care of his daughters within the schema of a divorce suggests a deeper level of commitment to the relationship and his children than the impression of a “brief affair” with a dude she “barely knew”.
It’s also worth noting that Watts worked at Anadarko from January 2015. The way Kessinger sketches it, each morning Watts gathered in an office break room and Kessinger walked through the operators – including Watts – to place her lunch in the refrigerator. Every day. But she never spoke to Watts until one day in the middle of June when he approached her.
Really? But wasn’t he supposed to be shy, cautious and not having any game?
All it would have taken was for Nichol Kessinger to do a single, simple Facebook search for Chris Watts’ wife, and all would be revealed: the pregnancy videos posted in mid-June, the ongoing declarations of love, the photos of the couple embracing in San Diego in late June. Shan’ann’s Facebook was [and still is] set to public, so Kessinger – had she been curious about her new boyfriends family circumstances – only had to look. So…didn’t she?
And if Shan’ann was thinking about divorce, why would she be posting pictures of her wedding on June 17th?
Notice these couple selfies on June 25th, and June 26th.
And Chris Watts probably didn’t want to appear in this video Shan’ann took of the couple’s hotel room on June 22nd. The video cuts off a few seconds after Shan’ann shows her husband unpacking his suitcase. A message to the mistress?
Now, what’s useful about Kessinger’s statement is the timeline it provides. It’s vague, but thanks to Shan’ann’s still publicly accessible profile, vague is fine, because we have time and date stamped images to cross reference from.
So let’s do that.
According to the Denver Post exposé: Chris Watts and Nichol Kessinger met “one day in the middle of June”. Strictly speaking that’s not true, because as work colleagues they would have encountered [met] one another anyway, but let’s assume that’s when they formally [or informally] engaged with one another for the first time.
Shan’ann posted two eparate pregnancy reveal videos on June 11th, and also changed her profile picture to one of herself wearing the “Oops, we did it again” shirt.
Watts and Kessinger, meanwhile, met for the first time “outside of work” in “late June”. Well, late June is when the San Diego trip happened, or directly after.
Directly after the San Diego trip is also when Shan’ann flew to North Carolina. That happened on June 26th. She told her Facebook flock where she was going, so if Nichol Kessinger had been curious, she’d be able to keep track of Shan’ann’s blow-by-blow accounts of her movements, and be sure the coast was clear [assuming she did check].
After meeting outside of work in late June, Watts and Kessinger began a physical relationship in “early July”. According to the article, Kessinger wanted to take it slow and kept asking Watts how the divorce was going. But if the timeline is right, the advance from colleagues to lovers took place in a few days [whatever the length of time it is separating “late June” from “early July”.
From the screengrab below [dated July 1st] it looks like Watts may have used his wife’s car to chauffeur Kessinger around instead of his beat-up work truck. It also appears Watts took time off from work around the same time.
According to her exclusive with the Post:
Watts told her that he had two daughters and, after Kessinger asked, Watts said he was separated and at the end of divorce proceedings, she said. “I believed him,” she said.
Now, although the relationship appeared to kick off close to the time Shan’ann was away, if Watts had told her he had kids, didn’t Kessinger wonder about the longer-term living arrangements? Didn’t she wonder where Shan’ann was day to day, week by week? According to the Post:
[They] began a physical relationship in early July and saw each other four to five times a week, Kessinger said. She told him she wanted to take it slow…
Since Shan’ann was gone for several weeks at a time, didn’t Kessinger wonder what was going on with the kids? This “disappearance” of not only his wife, but the children too, probably set in motion a psychology of dread for Watts. As soon as Shan’ann and the kids came home, his game would be up. And so, when she returned from her final trip – from Arizona – that was the end of the honeymoon phase. He waited until the very last moment to do what he’d probably been imagining in the back of his mind for weeks.
To keep his wife and family missing…
According to the Post:
Kessinger was worried about his missing family, but she didn’t want to make a big deal out of a situation that Watts seemed calm about. Then, news reporters showed up at the Watts’ family home.
But 30-year-old Kessinger didn’t make a big deal out of the situation that Tuesday either. She only contacted the cops on Wednesday morning, and the media three months later, in spite of rumors flying for several weeks about her involvement.
Kessinger says: “I don’t think there is a logical explanation for what he did. It’s a senseless act, and it’s horrific.” She’s wrong. There is a logical explanation. She says she thought he was attractive and a good listener, and by August, Watts was fitter and better-looking than ever. But had he really lost all that weight coincidentally, and then met Kessinger, or had she been on his heart, on his mind, for a lot longer?
If so, Watts’ heart and mind was clouded with emotion. It wasn’t just the positive emotion of a new romance that was driving him, it was the tsunami of conflicting negative emotions to deal with, not just the pregnancy, but Shan’ann. What he did was senseless and horrific outside of the emotional dynamic he found himself in. Within it, well, it’s starting to make sense, isn’t it?
1313 words. That’s how long the Denver Post scoop on Nichol Kessinger is. Perfectly timed, perfectly held back until the moment it would do the most damage – the weekend before her lover’s life sentencing. And oh boy, it is damaging.
What we learn from the Post – and it reads like an affidavit more than an interview – is that:
1. Kessinger says she barely knew Watts, and was only in a relationship with him for two months [meaning it started in mid-June, roughly the same time Shan’ann announced her third pregnancy on Facebook].
2. Kessinger seems aware Watts was married at the time, but was under the impression – she says – he’d already started divorce proceedings. Wasn’t Kessinger active on Facebook?
3. Kessinger says she never doubted her lover’s guilt, and co-operated with the cops even prior to his arrest. The Post describes “multiple police interviews” and her telling them what he told her privately about his “missing family”.
The italicized text below is quoted directly from the Denver Post:
4. “Kessinger was working in the environmental department with an Anadarko Petroleum contractor when the two met, she said during a Thursday morning interview in the office of her lawyer, Ed Hopkins.”
5. “Every morning, Watts and the other operators would gather in the office break room while they waited to be dispatched to a field site. Kessinger would walk through the group to place her lunch in the fridge, but she never spoke to Watts.”
6. “One day in the middle of June, he walked into her office to introduce himself. They continued casual conversations. She noticed that Watts did not wear a wedding ring, and Kessinger, who was single, thought he was attractive.”
7. “’When he spoke to me, he was very soft-spoken. He appeared to be a good listener,’ she said.”
8. “Watts told her that he had two daughters and, after Kessinger asked, Watts said he was separated and at the end of divorce proceedings, she said. ‘I believed him,’ she said.”
9. “When they first met outside of work in late June, Kessinger asked Watts more questions about his divorce. He told her the mutual divorce was almost final, and they were working out financial details, she said.”
10. The two began a physical relationship in early July and saw each other four to five times a week, Kessinger said. She told him she wanted to take it slow and he should focus on helping his daughters adjust to the divorce. [Early July is around the time Shan’ann was away on her extended 6-week vacation to North Carolina. It ended in the first week of August].
11. When Watts was in North Carolina with Shan’ann, he called Kessinger to tell her the divorce was final. It seems around the same time he told Shan’ann and her family he intended to separate and were having problems. This is why the Live videos on Facebook dried up in July and August.
12. “Later that month [July], he asked Kessinger to help him find an apartment that would be good for him and his daughters. They never spoke about long-term plans for their relationship.”
13. Watts was clearly a keen manipulator: “‘He made me believe that he was doing all of the things that a rational man and good father would do,’ [Kessinger] said. Kessinger never met any of Watts’ family or friends.”
13. “On Aug. 13, the Monday that Shanann and the girls disappeared, Watts texted Kessinger to say that he had been busy. The two chatted like normal throughout the workday.”
14. “[At] about 3:45 p.m., Watts texted [Kessinger] that his family was ‘gone,’ she said. He told Kessinger that Shanann had taken the girls to a play date and had not returned. He seemed casual and didn’t show any emotion, she said.”
15. “Kessinger was worried about his missing family, but she didn’t want to make a big deal out of a situation that Watts seemed calm about. Then, news reporters showed up at the Watts’ family home. ‘I was very confused why the media was at his house,’ she said.”
16. And now we know exactly what Watts did on the night of the 13th. ‘When I read the news, I found out he was still married and his wife was 15 weeks pregnant,’ Kessinger said. She was shocked at his lies and scared for the missing woman and children, she said. ‘If he was able to lie to me and hide something that big, what else was he lying about?’ she said. In a flurry of long calls and texts that night, Watts changed his story about his split with his wife. Kessinger interrogated Watts with a barrage of questions. His answers seemed ‘off’ to her.”
17. While Kessinger was at work on August 14, Kessinger texted Watts. By now she was accusing him of the crimes, and pressuring him to tell her what happened. But he wouldn’t. He told her he’d never hurt his family.
18. “’It got to a point that he was telling me so many lies that I eventually told him that I did not want to speak to him again until his family was found,’ she said.”
19. “The next morning [August 15, the same day as his arrest], [Kessinger] called the Weld County Sheriff’s Office to tell them about her relationship with Watts and his lies, she said. [Kessinger] met with FBI investigators that day.
20. “‘I just wanted to help….I was going to do anything that I could.'”
21. And here’s the part that feels just a little too much like made-for-TV PR: “Since his arrest, she has never doubted that he killed them. The story that Watts told police — that he killed Shanann after he saw her strangling one of the girls — is a lie, Kessinger said.”
For the Post Kessinger also sat for a suitably somber studio photo. It’s a far cry from the party pictures that have emerged thus far on social media.
Kessinger’s exclusive comes at the end of a week-long media blitz during which Watts’ parents have put their weight behind their son. The PR war for control of the narrative suggests forces are stirring in the Watts case that go beyond the veneer. Monday’s hearing is likely to be very high-profile, with the whole of America watching, and holding its collective breath to see what happens. With the odds stacked against him, including his own mistress, will Watts go through with the plea deal or will he recant?
Read more: Chris Watts: Inside the Mind of His Mistress
If he has two faces, does the same apply to his sexuality? Is Chris Watts bisexual or isn’t he?
Looking at the tabloid media narrative, two mistresses – a man and a woman – have already come forward claiming they were in secret affairs with Chris Watts. Not so secret now, but how do we know if either are true or not?
Tabloids are tricky. They do spread a lot of gossip and innuendo, but where this is done maliciously, they can be sued. As such they have to tread a fine line.
Looking at the semantics, it’s often a quick study to find out if the tabloids are cynically trying to milk a story, or whether there’s real smoke somewhere, and all they’re doing is trying to fan the flame of interest for all its worth.
Tabloid coverage of high-profile cases isn’t the fake news many people believe it to be.
While researching the JonBenet Ramsey case, I was surprised by how much tabloids pay private detectives to get some purchase on a high-profile case.
Tabloids can be a valuable resource for information, the difficulty is being able to separate the wheat from the chaff and yes, there’s plenty of chaff to sequestrate.
With that in mind, let’s briefly look at the two mistresses that have come forward so far.
The Other Woman [besides the co-worker]
- They met on Tinder. Since we know Shan’ann and Chris Watts met on Facebook, and Chris Watts is alleged to have met his boy mistress on an online app too, this holds water.
- The mistress said she was unaware Watts was married or had children. This might be the mistress covering herself from criticism, but the boytoy said the same thing. If true, it shows the extent to which Chris Watts could have been capable of lying to many people simultaneously, and although he may felt he was “getting away with it”, that doesn’t mean he was a good liar.
- According to the Daily Mail the mistress “got the suspicion that she was not the only person he was intimate with during their sex-fueled relationship.” The male lover said the same thing. The licentiousness seems to reflect the same profligate attitude to their finances.
- ‘He would put his hands on my throat during intercourse.’ This is, at least in theory, a psychological match for a repressed, socially inhibited introvert who has subconscious and sexual fantasies of dominating others, of reversing his daily powerlessness. The sexual strangling is coincidentally also a match for how it appears all three of the victims were annihilated.
- ‘He had a rape fantasy. He was very kinky.’ This also goes to the idea of domination, and violent domination. If true, then we have the psychological nuts and bolts for an extended period of premeditation. If he had violent sexual fantasies as a rule, then why wouldn’t he have homicidal fantasies – the latter addressing the need to escape his domestic debts and obligations?
‘When we had sex, it was very animalistic. He just zoned out into a different person.’ This alter ego scenario matches the idea of a perfect picture family man, and a murderer. One moment we see a neat, presentable husband and father smiling while lying to the media about his vanishing family on his porch, the next he’s in an orange jump suit.
‘He wasn’t the kind of guy who would cuddle and watch a movie.’ But there is evidence of intimacy or warmth between Shan’ann and Chris Watts, as well as between him and the children. He’s also generally seen as likable but reserved.
Nevertheless there is a pattern of warmth alternating with standoffishness. Chris Watts could be warm and loving one moment, and off the next. We saw that right in the beginning, in his not-quite-right demeanor on the porch contrasting with the unemotional, deadpan man in court. But others have commented on it too, including Michele Greer, the witness who saw the couple at Myrtle Beach weeks before the annihilation. And Nickole Atkinson, who said “Chris wasn’t his usual loving self.” We see a similar pattern of emotional disconnect from Scott Peterson in the weeks prior to Laci’s death. This is a clear sympton of premeditation, where the murderer has not only thought about what he intends to do, but begun to prepare himself emotionally, cutting himself off from the flak of inevitable feelings once the damage is done.
- According to the Daily Mail: Watts would visit the woman near her home, which was 30 miles away from the house he shared with wife Shannan and their daughters in Frederick. Although this doesn’t address where they met, it suggests they met somewhere other than where they both lived. This suggests the mistress had children or was also married.
- The relationship with the anonymous woman was meant to take place in May and June, immediately prior to the 6 week trip Shan’ann made to visit her family in North Carolina, and also during the initial weeks of Shan’ann’s third pregnancy.
Although a second mistress is hardly needed to corroborate whether Watts was cheating when he admitted he was actively cheating with a co-worker, the question is whether the tabloid article is trustworthy. Is it? Are the tabloids on our side?
The Other Man [besides the other woman, and the other mistress]
Although the other man in this equation seems to fit the bill for saucy tabloid gossip, if anything this aspect is more credible on the surface than the second mistress, not less. Crimeonline, HLN and CNN have covered Trent Bolte’s alleged link to Watts.
Below we’ll deal with CrimeOnline’s interrogation of Trent Bolte:
- Trent Bolte claims that he had a ten-month affair with Watts that ended this spring, not long after the 28-year-old Fort Collins resident learned that Watts had lied about being married. He said the affair, which began when the two met on the dating app MeetMe, continued for a short while after he discovered Chris had been lying. The ten months suggests the homosexual aspect wasn’t insignificant, assuming it’s true. The Fort Collins reference doesn’t seem to be right. Wasn’t Bolte from Casper, Wyoming? Irrespective, even the distance to Fort Collins creates an impression that Watts went to some trouble to keep his “dirty laundry” hidden, or some minimum safe distance from his happy home. On the other hand, it may be that there were no available gay men in the small town of Frederick, and so Watts had to look further afield. The distance to Casper seems quite far though, a factor that raises some doubt about the credibility of the claim.
- During that time, Chris Watts reportedly claimed to Bolte that his wife Shan’ann, who was 15 weeks pregnant at the time of her murder last month, had been verbally and emotionally abusive. There is a ring of truth about this, but we should exercise caution. Just as the public has access to Shan’ann’s videos, so do potential imposters claiming to have inside information into the inner workings of the relationship [John Mark Karr pulled the same scheme in the JonBenet Ramsey confession hoax]. Interestingly, the female mistress echoes the idea of abuse. There’s certainly a smoky psychology here for a man who feels maligned by his spouse in private, so much so that he needs to act out [role play] a kind of fictional turning of the tables.
- Chris Watts allegedly told Bolte that Shan’ann “treated him like he was stupid” and made him feel inadequate in front of his children. This too has a ring of truth, but could be based on Bolte’s own interpretation of publicly available content. Whether Bolte’s assertion is true or not, we know Shan’ann did repeatedly make snide remarks to Watts even while on camera.
- Bolte discovered Chris had been dishonest about his family circumstances, [and] said that Chris “played the victim” and continued to reach out to him, insisting that he was in a bad situation with no idea how to get out. Also true, but what matters here is Chris playing the victim when let’s face it, he’s cheating on his wife [with someone while she’s pregnant], and given what eventually happened to the Watts family, he’s clearly not the actual victim and yet he felt he was. A clear source of being made to feel like the victim is if he had a secret that he was unwilling to share, but as a result he was being taken through the washer because of it. Shan’ann may have misinterpreted his coyness for weakness, or even spinelessness. She may have had no idea how many skeletons were hiding his closet, or the extent of his “other face”. The scale and scope of these murders suggests there was a significant secret life going on, beyond the norm of other married men cheating on their wives.
- Bolte indicated that he trusts very little of what Chris Watts told him, and said he would not be at all surprised if he had been carrying on multiple affairs. According to a police affidavit obtained by CrimeOnline, an investigation found that Chris Watts had been having an affair with a co-worker. Since then, another woman has come forward in an interview with Radar Online, claiming that she had an affair with Chris Watts after meeting him on Tinder. The idea of multiple affairs sounds right, irrespective of whether Bolte is credible in this scenario or not.
- Bolte said when he was recently questioned by FBI agents they accused him of “leaving something out,” which he insists he is not. He also said that lawyers for both the prosecution and the defense had attempted to track him down at his parents’ home in Wyoming. If the FBI aren’t completely convinced of Bolte’s truthfulness, or lack of, should we be?
- The Fort Collins man, who works in healthcare, said that law enforcement agents initially reached out to him and that he cooperated with questioning. He said he wasn’t sure how investigators learned of the relationship. Obviously they learned about him because he went on national television.
- CrimeOnline confirmed that the man we spoke to on the phone is the same person who owns social media accounts belonging to Trent Bolte. Bolte provided CrimeOnline with screenshots of text messages between him and Watts that appear to support some type of relationship with Watts. It’s possible to fake text messages, so why not provide photos? It’s difficult to believe – if they had a 10 month relationship – that there wouldn’t be a few selfies between them.
- Bolte said they were the first text messages he and Watts exchanged away from the MeetMe app. The messages differ starkly in tone from screenshots circulating on social media, purporting to be messages between Watts and Bolte. Bolte is aware of the images that have circulated and insists they have been fabricated, pointing out that the messages indicate the two men met on Tinder, which Bolte says is not true. So even in the Bolte narrative, there are sub-narratives about fabrications, further raising doubts about credibility.
- He has denied claims, reportedly made on social media, that he was paid for the HLN interview. But Bolte did say that Chris had given him some money while they were together. He said that Chris gave him cash on a few occasions when he was in need of financial help, and that Chris offered the money while also stating that he was struggling financially himself. Bolte said that in addition to the cash gifts, which he believes totaled around $1,000, Chris Watts bought him expensive skin care products at Sephora. Bolte said Watts paid in cash. Bolte seems like an opportunist, and as a male nurse-type, seems like the sort of character who might be in need of a financial boost. If he did receive money from Watts, it’s possible if there was a real affair, it was a paid arrangement.
So what is the #tcrs assessment: is Chris Watts bisexual or not? At this point, it’s too early and too close to call. There doesn’t appear to be sufficient direct evidence to support Bolte’s affair as fact. At the same time, there appears to be some circumstantial evidence to suppose that Chris Watts may have been bisexual [with Bolte or with other men]. There’s also the fact that Chris Watts had made a concerted effort to groom himself and improve his appearance, especially in the months leading up to the murders.
Was there a high degree of licentiousness in Watts’ life? It appears so, doesn’t it? The same thing was true in the Peterson case. Scott Peterson denied the affair until Amber Frey came forward, and the tapes were made public. The licentiousness speaks to the idea of a double life, and of living a lie. Besides that, licentiousness is an eloquent mirror for the idea of repeatedly doing things in secret that you’re not supposed to do and getting away with it. This builds confidence and can set the stage for a criminal act.
Perhaps the biggest clue that something was rotten in the state of Denmark is the fact that Watts first denied then admitted to being actively involved involved in an affair with a colleague. In true crime, you never see suspects volunteering incriminating information about themselves unless it’s to distract from other even more incriminating information.
The Ramsey Ransom Note is a classic example of volunteering of useless information. It’s job, spanning three pages, was to do exactly that – to distract from something worse. And for all intents and purposes it worked.
So if Chris Watts didn’t have to volunteer this information about an affair with a colleague, why did he? What was the smokescreen for?
My guess is a) the co-worker would have volunteered the information if he didn’t, especially if her father knew about it too and b) the volunteering of the affair was meant to hide other affairs, and quite possibly affairs with other men as well.
The other aspect to consider is a familiar pattern in true crime. Theories in the run up to trial inevitably abound, but they often peter out just as quickly as they rise up. What we’ve seen here is the simultaneous reinforcement not only of one affair but three, and one of those affairs is an admission by the suspect himself.
His use of the word “actively” is also an important flag. Actively is unnecessary to add unless it’s to create the impression that he’s so busy in one affair, how could he be active in several?
Finally: Is Watts’ idiosyncratic introversion just a coincidence, or was it based on heightened privacy concerns? Facebook and social media tend areas where secrets like sexual orientation can and inevitably do leak out, sometimes with devastating consequences. His barely functioning social media wasn’t the problem though. Was hers?
Did Shan’ann have her finger on that trigger when she was murdered? Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. #tcrs
What must she be thinking? What is she doing? Has she visited him in jail yet? Does she want to? Does she still love him? Will she be a witness for the prosecution or the defense? Where is she? What was the dynamic really like between Chris Watts and his mistress?
The worst kept secret about the Watts case is his mistress and who she is. Although the cops [and the mistress thus far] aren’t talking, everyone else is, including Chris Watts.
As part of his confession, Watts told the cops that he was “actively” having an affair with a co-worker. The affair, Watts claimed, was the reason he broke the news about wanting a separation, between 02:00 and 05:00 on Monday, August 13th.
According to SoapDirt.com:
…a simple Google search turns up her name and address. As such, Crime & Justice producer Taria Tirella visited the home. But no one answered the door.
Some on social media who claim to be close to the mistress, believe she’s in witness protection.
Pieces of information in the legal filings when Chris was arrested point to the mistress. Watts had an affair with another woman, but she hasn’t surfaced via a press conference. “I know that there is a name on the witness list of a coworker who is also a woman,” said Randy Corporon, host of NewsTalk 710 KNUS.
There’s also speculation, apparently well-founded, that Watts’ mistress wasn’t only his co-worker, but the daughter of his boss at Anadarko.
And that’s all we know thus far, and all we can possibly know.
If his mistress is the daughter of his boss, then a brand new dynamic emerges with various possibilities of their own. The most obvious is that Anadarko will wish to limit damage to their brand through adverse press coverage not just of one wayward employee, but three. Anadarko may ultimately be calling the shots on what the mistress and her dad’s next move should be. #tcrs
Anything they do that might bring their company into disrepute could cost them their jobs. So there’s a big incentive to play ball, and play it by the book [Anardarko’s book].
Beyond all that, what’s N [let’s refer to her by the letter “N” for now] thinking? What’s she going to do? More important, what does she know?
We have a handy precedent for this situation in the Scott Peterson case. Amber Frey played a crucial role in Peterson’s conviction, not so much because of the evidentiary aspects of her testimony [which were neither here nor there] but due to the overall impression her secret recordings conveyed of the real Scott Peterson.
According to CBS:
Scott Peterson’s one-time mistress testified Tuesday that their first night together included slow-dancing to karaoke and a hotel-room tryst — but no mention of the pregnant wife who prosecutors say he later murdered. Amber Frey, the government’s star witness, described a relationship that quickly developed from sex to a serious relationship. A single mother, she almost immediately trusted Peterson with her young daughter and said he discussed a future with them.
One of the popular and enduring myths of the Peterson case, and it’s gaining rapid traction in the Watts case now as well, is the idea that these men wanted their freedom. It’s not true. If Scott Peterson didn’t want to be a father, and didn’t want to be married, then why was he acting like a dad, and investing himself so seriously with another woman? The truth is, he wanted to free of his wife, not of any role as a father-to-be.
Frey said Peterson did not wear a wedding ring when they met on Nov. 20, 2002. He poured champagne in his hotel room, putting a strawberry in her glass, and they had sex later that night. The next morning, he left her with his cell phone number, not his home number.
On their second date, he carried her 22-month-old daughter as they went hiking. Later that day, he gave the girl a children’s book. Then, he cooked seafood lasagna with wine before they had sex again.
“He made the comment that there would be many more corks … many more bottles to share,” Frey testified. The next day, Dec. 3, she gave Peterson a car seat and the key to her house, and asked him to pick up her daughter at day care.
In the Peterson case we clearly see how a man wishes to jump from one ship to another that seems to him to be a better option for him.
“He said he would be honored [to pick up Frey’s daughter from day care],” recalled Frey, who returned home to find him warming up the previous night’s dinner. Then all three went out to buy a Christmas tree. While trimming the tree, she said Peterson denied that he was ever “close to having children” with anyone else.
We’re not clear what the situation was like with Chris Watts’ mistress, but it’s difficult to imagine she didn’t know her co-worker was married, and it’s also possible N was married, and a mother.
We can see how being in a relationship with the bosses’ daughter could jump start Watts’ career prospects at Anadarko, especially if the relationship was serious. Perhaps Watts saw this as his exit strategy, not only an escape route out of bad and unfulfilling marriage, but a yellow-brick road to a better life – better job, better partner, and who knows, maybe N had an even nicer house.
The real value of the mistress is the depth of revelation around this idea of a Two Face. If a mistress can single-handedly change the course of a criminal trial, imagine what it can do to one man’s head, and one man’s heart?
“Watching the trial and being in the courtroom…[it] felt like a ship going into an iceberg,” Gloria Allred, Amber’s attorney says. “The prosecution’s case appeared to be weak. I had confidence in it, but a lot of people thought it was weak. But then when Amber testified, when those tape recordings were played, when the jurors realized that he was calling Amber talking about the Eiffel Tower, being in Paris, from the vigil for his missing wife where people were praying for her and searching for her; it seemed that that ship was turned around. It changed the climate in the courtroom. And I think people saw Scott for what he was: a real liar. A person who had a cold heart toward his missing wife, Laci, and who appeared to be obsessed with having a relationship with Amber.”
Thus far a lot of time has been spent trying to fathom the true relationship between The Watts parents, the children and the family dynamic. But the crucial dynamic in this story is the intensity of the affair. #tcrs If the Peterson case is any indication, it was very intense, and one would expect there had to be extremely passionate feelings somewhere in the operative dynamics to drive someone to commit triple murder.
Once again, the Peterson case provides cogent psychological context. According to SFGate.com:
“Is he acting like a man who is desperately searching for his wife? Or does he sound like a happy man who is relieved his wife is gone?” said Jim Hammer, a former San Francisco prosecutor who was in court Wednesday. “It’s creepy.”
After spending most of Tuesday describing how Peterson romanced her with roses, champagne and strawberries, Frey appeared just briefly on the witness stand Wednesday to verify the authenticity of the tapes. She wore a conservative black suit and largely avoided looking at Peterson. Judge Alfred Delucchi permitted Frey to return to her seat in the gallery while the tapes played. At one point, Frey left the courtroom for a half hour, according to her attorney, Gloria Allred, in order to breastfeed her son.
Several conversations presented to the jury — some that lasted more than an hour — were breezy, even sounding like inane teenage banter. Peterson flirtatiously asked Frey to describe her “sexy” outfit of black leopard-print pants and red boots, and he later asked her to watch the movie “Love Affair” so they could talk about it.
On Wednesday, Peterson even smiled a bit sheepishly in the courtroom when he heard himself on tape comparing himself to a “turd.” Frey, who had been coached by Modesto police detectives about how to act during the phone calls, spoke as if she believed Peterson was in Europe for a business trip instead of in Modesto. Peterson kept up the lie, telling her that he had tripped while jogging on the cobblestone streets of Brussels and asking whether she had heard there was a bombing in Paris.
“You didn’t get caught in it?” asked Frey on the tape. “I didn’t…I didn’t see any of it, no,” Peterson answered. “I guess I was on the other side of town.” At one point, Peterson also explained away a barking dog that was heard in the background. “This morning too, there is this f — ng dog next to this hotel,” he grumbled. “Oh, I want to kill it.” Frey said on the stand she does not have a dog, leaving jurors to assume it was Peterson’s retriever McKenzie, barking from the backyard of his home in Modesto.
Prosecutors will continue to play audiotapes of the couple’s conversations today, recorded on or after Jan. 6, 2003, when Frey was moved by police into protective custody for her safety.
If Chris Watts had fallen out of love with Shan’ann just as Scott Peterson had with Laci, then perhaps that was because he was deeply smitten with his mistress. Shan’ann may have had her flaws and possibly put Chris Watts off in some ways, but what’s easier to forget is the part we don’t know – what was drawing him into the fiery embrace of someone else? And what impact did that have on the man, the husband, the father and the murders.
In her photo does N seem as extroverted or controlling as Shan’ann? Her healthy, youthful face exudes a gentle, kind intelligence. That may not be much to go on, but it’s a start. The fact that they were co-workers may also have given Chris Watts a sense of validation – not only in terms of his work, but who he was while working. And if she was his bosses daughter, all the more.
Compare that reinforcement at work, where he was spending most of his time, to being at home with someone who was on social media much of the time, and asking him to sort of butt out, do this, say that, while she was running the show at home. In other words, it was invalidation at home, and reinforcement at work. When the schism became too great, especially with a baby on the way adding deal-breaking pressure to the scenario, something had to give.
During Watts’ Sermon on the Porch, he wasn’t wearing his wedding ring. This could be very symbolic. In the Peterson case we saw that it very definitely was, not only in the sense of his wearing it, but in trying to get his hands on hers after her death. Right now in the Watts case we’re dealing with similar issues. The family of the deceased jostling with the family of the defendant for the valuable trinkets. According to the Modesto Bee:
Scott Peterson’s family had planned to voluntarily turn over only some of the items that his wife’s family wanted from the couple’s home. Laci Peterson’s family and friends acted first, though, and took what they wanted Friday from the Covena Avenue house — over the Peterson family’s objections. Jackie Peterson, Scott’s mother, expressed dismay: “Yesterday we see a coroner’s report about a baby, and today we’re talking about salt and pepper shakers,” she said by telephone from her home in San Diego County.
In discussing the Rochas’ request for property from the home, Peterson said some of the items, such as Laci’s journals, could not be turned over. “Scott didn’t even know she had journals,” Peterson said. “If she did, police have them.”
Peterson said her son has a request, too: He wants his wife’s wedding ring, another diamond ring that he bought her, and a few diamonds given to Laci by her grandmother. Peterson said the rings and gems had been taken to a jeweler for crafting into one ring. “We want those,” Peterson said. She said the Rochas picked them up from the jeweler.
The Rocha family could not be reached for comment.
The family had submitted a 22-point list of items sought from the house. Peterson said Laci’s mother, Sharon Rocha, later revised it to 16 points.
In the same way the families on either side of the true crime divide jostled over a dead woman’s jewelry, husbands and wives stuck in unhappy marriages may develop a wandering eye, and may see a deal that’s better than the one they’re signed up to.
What happens when they stumble on what appears to be a VERY good deal, while stumbling through something that’s turning into a WORSE AND WORSE deal every day?
“I’m living in a nightmare, and I can’t get out of it.”― Chris Watts, August 14th 2018