What Car did Nickole Atkinson Drive? And Does it really Matter?

“What Car did Nickole Atkinson Drive?” This was one of the unexpected questions I was confronted with when trying to visualize the final moments of Shan’ann’s life, when Nickole drove her home from Denver International airport in the early hours of August 13th, 2018.

It was an agonizingly difficult to answer in early September, when I was writing THE MAN UNDERNEATH CHRISTOPHER WATTS.  I knew how I wanted to open the narrative – which became a series of 9 books – and I needed Nickole’s car to do that. What car did she drive? At that stage there was no bodycam footage. It wasn’t even certain what color or what type of vehicle Niockole’s car was.

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It took a thorough search of Nickole’s Facebook timeline to come across a small handful of references to her car. Like this one.

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And this.45491553_10210933259042030_2880445844564213760_n

In the screengrab of a video [below] it’s almost possible to see the brand of the vehicle on the steering column.

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When I posted an audio excerpt of the book onto YouTube recently, some listeners were quick to point out [obviously with the benefit of the bodycam footage] that Nickole’s car isn’t a “battered Mitsubishi”.

Some said it was a Chevy Malibu, which isn’t a bad stab at it except the rear lights don’t line up and the logo is very prominent.cc_2019chc110006_02_640_gaz

It does look like it could be a Mitsubishi [see below], but it’s not. When I reviewed the data I wondered what made me think it was a Mitsubishi to begin with?

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Well, it was this image.

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The first time I saw this image, I looked closely and saw the Mitsubishi name and logo, and GT on the right hand side. But I should have looked even closer. Above Mitsubishi was the word DART although the font made it hard to make out. Was the D an O or a 0? Was it 0art? The letter “E” was also peeking out beside Nicolas’ star-spangled shirt. That ought to have been a clue too.

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As one YouTube commenter rightly pointed out, Nickole’s car is a DODGE DART, a vehicle that was discontinued in 2016. The image below is missing the GT but the one below it has the GT on the right, just as Nickole’s car does.

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Although there are a couple of permutations of the Dodge logo, and often in either red or black, the Mitsubishi logo is still pretty distinct.

This [below] was the original post.

In the scheme of things, the make and color of Nickole Atkinson’s vehicle wasn’t relevant to the facts of the Watts case, but it’s still important that True Crime Rocket Science gets the details [even the unimportant ones] right.

“Fuck him!” “Fuck you and fuck you and fuck you.”

The word “fuck” appears 28 times in the Discovery Documents, two of those are from Trent Bolte [“fucking ridiculous”], but about half – perhaps surprisingly – aren’t from Shan’ann, but from Chris Watts. All of these instances from Watts occur in a few minutes during his “confession” with his father and FBI Agent Coder.

Did Chris Watts see any of the messages about him on Shan’ann’s phone?

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It was important to Watts to be thought well of, and clearly, Cassie and Nickole sided with their friend in solidarity against Watts, especially in the last week of Shan’ann’s life. If Shan’ann was against him, perhaps he thought he could handle that, but if she recruited her Facebook flock, what then? They could ruin his reputation in a public lynching, far worse than she’d just done to his mother on social media in early July.

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Page 605 of the Discovery Documents provides the following instance of Watts quoting Shan’ann – what she supposedly said on the morning when he supposedly confronted her about wanting to end the marriage:

Ronnie asked Chris what Shanann said that morning when he told her everything. Chris said Shanann asked him why and asked him why he wanted to give up. Chris said Shanann told him, Fuck you, and fuck you, and fuck you.

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Frederick Watts murder

(Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

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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The Atkinson Transcripts – Shan’ann’s final call to Chris Watts on the night of August 12, hours before her murder: “He started working out while he was on the phone with me. So I just let him go.” [#11 of 15]

On the night of August 14, CBI agent Greg Zentner was dispatched to Boulder to interview the most crucial witness in the Watts case. The transcript below is an excerpt from a 72 page document spanning 3223 lines of text.

CrimeRocket is the first to reproduce and analyze this critical transcript in-depth. The entire transcript has been broken down into 15 sections.

The eleventh part includes:

  • One of the earliest indications of infidelity.
  • Nickole describes the circumstances around Watts going to the “Rockies Game” [a lesser crime in the scheme of things but one he couldn’t get away with either].
  • Shan’ann’s also received security alerts from the house on her phone, so she knew when Watts was home and when not.
  • The fact that Shan’ann asked Watts to save the receipt means he had to have known he would have been busted shortly after Shan’ann returned home.
  • During one of Shan’ann’s last conversations with her husband he told her he didn’t want to talk to her because he needed to “work out”.
  • Nickole describes Shan’ann being in “a lot of [emotional] pain on the plane”, during the flight home. This suggests Shan’ann intended to confront Watts when she got home, and probably wouldn’t have been able to sleep even if she’d tried to sleep.

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The audio for the above transcript is available here.

The twelfth part deals with Nickole’s knowledge of the Watts’ finances.

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The Atkinson Transcripts – “I don’t understand why the police officer let us go in the house”[#10 of 15]

On the night of August 14, CBI agent Greg Zentner was dispatched to Boulder to interview the most crucial witness in the Watts case. The transcript below is an excerpt from a 72 page document spanning 3223 lines of text.

CrimeRocket is the first to reproduce and analyze this critical transcript in-depth. The entire transcript has been broken down into 15 sections.

The tenth part includes:

  • Nickole describes Watts “tell her” [presumably Shan’ann] that he didn’t want the baby.
  • Nickole describes Josh Rosenberg and Watts as “bros”.
  • Nickole describes a woman calling her [perhaps Agent Tammy Lee] and wonders if the status of the case has changed from a Missing Persons case to something else.
  • Nickole sends texts to the officers phone so that he has the contact details of Shan’ann’s friends [Cristina, Addy, Cassie and Josh].

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The audio for the above transcript is available here.

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The Atkinson Transcripts [#2 of 15]

On the night of August 14, CBI agent Greg Zentner was dispatched to Boulder to interview the most crucial witness in the Watts case. The transcript below is an excerpt from a 72 page document spanning 3223 lines of text.

CrimeRocket is the first to reproduce and analyze this critical transcript in-depth. The entire transcript has been broken down into 15 sections.

The second part includes:

  • Confirmation that their flight was supposed to land at 23:25. It arrived instead at 12:45.
  • Shan’ann’s neck was really bothering her [this may have been why she felt out of sorts].
  • According to Nickole the doctor’s appointment was at 09:00.
  • Shan’ann expected get three hours sleep on Monday, from 02:00 until 05:00 [05:00 was the time Ceecee woke up].
  • Chris Watts first version of how the girls and Shan’ann had left the house was to Nickole, telling her “a friend must have picked them up or something…”
  • Nickole called Watts three times before he answered at approximately 12:27.
  • According to Nickole, Deeter had been “caged”, something they usually did when everyone left the house.

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The audio for the above transcript is available here.

The third part includes Nickole’s explanation for why she called the cops when she did.

fullscreen capture 20181201 144508The Atkinson Transcripts [#1 of 15]

Nickole Atkinson Audio Interview with the Cops

Although Nickole Atkinson’s statement is mysteriously missing from the Discovery Documents, the audio of her interview on the evening of August 14 [around the same time Watts was being interviewed for the first time by the FBI] is available.

Give the clip 3-4 minutes before Atkinson begins to speak. There is no video.

More: Why is Nickole Atkinson’s Witness Statement Missing from the Discovery Documents?

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