Bella and Ceecee: Murdered in their Beds?

At 1:04 in the clip below, CNN’s breezy narrator describes Watts murdering Bella in her bedroom. Really? Is that where Bella was murdered?

Let’s be clear, it’s been the contention of TCRS from the start that no one was murdered in their beds. Not Shan’ann, not Bella and not Ceecee. We’ve gone to some trouble thus far to discuss the ground zero of Shan’ann’s murder. Unlike the kids, Shan’ann’s shoes by the front door, the suitcase by the stairs, the Vivint alert and the doorbell camera footage, all provide a fairly clear glimpse of the final location of the 34-year-old saleswoman on Monday night.

Whether we postulate that Shan’ann was murdered immediately upon entering the home [at 01:48] or hours later [no later than 05:18], we still have a window of a handful of hours in which to definitively say Shan’ann was killed.

We don’t have anywhere near the same certainty about the children. The last time they were seen alive was Sunday afternoon/early evening. We’re not even clear about exactly when they were last seen, which is bizarre in itself.

The window of the children’s murders is anywhere from approximately 17:00 [depending on exactly when Bella FaceTimed with her grandfather] to roughly 05:00 the next morning. That’s roughly twelve hours of uncertainty about when. It’s also a very long period to be uncertain about where.

Did they have dinner? It appears Bella was snacking while she FaceTimed. It also appeared [again, strangely] that the kids swapped their snacks. Did they have dinner or snacks?

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Were they bathed? [Watts claimed he gave his girls a shower and then put them in bed, Discovery Documents, page 584].

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Did they watch tv before bed? Did they ever go to bed?

I recently discussed this aspect with a fellow true crime addict, and a new thought surfaced that I hadn’t considered before. While many of you may disagree with the details and the fineprint, try to take this in as a global hypothesis. It’s simply an idea or theory that came up during a discussion. The idea is to test, evaluate and explore some of the thoughts and ideas in it, and see where that might take us.


The broad pattern of the murder and disposal was that it was a carefully premeditated attempt to blend a triple murder within Watts’ normal, everyday schedule. So when the rest of the suburb is asleep, he’s not, but if he’s up earlier or goes to bed later than usual [or the kids meet their death at bedtime] who is to know?

He wakes up pretty much on schedule, and leaves to work pretty much on schedule, and goes to work roughly corresponding to where work needs him. From an outsider’s perspective there is minimal deviation. It’s just Mr Watts heading out on a Monday morning as usual.

What impression is Watts working at here? Watts is trying to achieve plausible deniability. When his family disappears where was he?

I was just going to work…

I was at work…

I was out near Roggen all day…

I was busy…

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Watts also used his work, indirectly, as a cover for where he was during the Rockies game [when he had dinner with Kessinger]. He said he was at a work function with colleagues.

Clearly the neighbor picked up that it wasn’t normal for Watts to back his truck into the garage, and his coworkers at Anadarko said it was odd for Watts to be calling on a Sunday, or to be heading out to a well site straight from home on a Monday.

But Watts was probably counting on folks being less savvy about silly little details like that. Besides, who would really notice his truck at that time of the morning, and if they did, who would care? And if they did care, he was just loading tools, so what? What other choice did he have? Load up the Lexus? And drive where? For what? And how did he explain that?

If the cops did suspect him the GPS data wouldn’t be of much use because he’d visited a number of wells that day, and the next. What, were they gonna search every well? And if he played it cool, they wouldn’t suspect him to begin with.

Whatever the details of his plan, it seems Watts felt he could bury the crime inside plausible deniability. Getting up, going to work, and acting nonchalant.

If we take this psychology and apply it to the crime scene, and the question about where the children were murdered, a new scenario unfolds. 

And the scenario is this:

When Shan’ann arrives home the children are – plausibly enough – in their beds. They’re not asleep though, they’re dead, but Shan’ann won’t know that. She’ll simply quietly look in, see them lying there and presto – Watts has plausible deniability in plain sight with them.

I realize this scenario is at odds with the idea of Shan’ann not going upstairs at all, but let’s just explore it a little further, for argument’s sake. If the children were murdered early in the evening, and placed in their beds, by 02:00, roughly six hours after death, their bodies would likely be stiff and pungent. If Shan’ann entered the room, and approached them, or kissed them, there was a good chance she might notice their palor, or smell something. So perhaps Watts murders the children late at night, shortly after finding out Shan’ann’s flight would be delayed.

In this scenario when Shan’ann arrives the children are in bed, and less blue, stiff and smelly. Alternatively, Watts could commit the crimes within half an hour, or minutes before Shan’ann arrives home. In this scenario the children are asleep in bed when they are killed, and then left where they are. Once again, it’s plausible deniability. At face value, they appear to be asleep but actually they’re not.

In this scenario, Shan’ann arrives home and possibly enters their bedrooms. She somehow realizes something is wrong. They’re not breathing, and their skin is cool or cold to the touch. Perhaps Shan’ann notices they’re blue. Instead of strangling her own children, Shan’ann tries to resuscitate them. Thus distracted, Watts then attacks her from behind and murders her. Perhaps his original plan was to kill her in her sleep as well, but her finding the kids dead prematurely forces him to abandon his plan.

Taking the scenario further, Nichol Kessinger noted that Watts felt the children’s blankets were smelly in their conversation Monday night. This suggests the children were dead in their beds, which left a lingering odor. By Monday night Watts felt a sense of urgency to wash these blankets.

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Watts also disposed on blankets, apparently, somewhere between CERVI 319 and the house on Saratoga Trail. So the blankets appear to be virtually the only items missing in this case. This suggests that the blankets have something to do with the crime. Either they were wrapped in them for transportation, or they died in them, and the blankets were removed as part of the cover up.

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There also appears to be some reinforcement to this from the dog handler, who picked up some interest in an area below Bella’s bed.

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Watts also indirectly references this psychology of death in the bed by referring to Shan’ann wanting to wash the airport out of her sheets, and off herself.

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Although the above scenario is credible in some ways, it’s not the position of TCRS, which remains that none of the murders were committed in any of the bedrooms upstairs.


Chris Watts: “When a relationship breaks up, it’s normally *the more attractive one* that leaves…”

At 5:45 Chris Watts quotes Blumstein and Schwartz:

“When a relationship breaks up, it’s normally the more attractive one that leaves…”

Watts then shrugs, saying he’s not sure whether that’s true. What do you think?

Philip Blumstein and Dr. Pepper Schwartz were sociologists at the University of Washington in the late 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. Blumstein and Schwartz had begun studying sexual behavior in 1972. Eleven years later the researchers collaborated on a book simply titled American Couples.



On October 23rd, the New York Times published the following review of the book.

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A little more about Philip Blumstein:

[Blumstein was a] social psychologist skilled at analyzing everyday encounters, friendships, and business relationships, Philip was hired as a sociology professor at the University of Washington in 1969 and became renowned for his research in human sexuality and relationships. He had a reputation for fastidious methodology and a talent for interpreting data.

A little more about Dr. Pepper Schwartz via Wikipedia:

Dr. Pepper Schwartz is an American sociologist and sexologist teaching at the University of Washington in Seattle. She is the author or co-author of numerous books, magazines, website columns, and a television personality on the subject of sexuality. Schwartz is notable for her work in the 1970s and early 1980s that culminated in the book, with Philip Blumstein, American Couples: Money-Work-Sex which surveyed lesbian couples, gay male couples and heterosexual couples. Schwartz also… writes the column The Naked Truth.

“When a relationship breaks up, it’s normally the more attractive one that leaves…”

Is that what happened in the Chris Watts case? Was Chris Watts becoming “the more attractive one”…?


Chris Watts: Why He Killed His Family [Motive and Psychology of a Murderer] – ANALYSIS #2

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Chris Watts’ body language told detectives that he had murdered his wife and children – Meaww

“…A few days later, he confessed to murdering all three, though the reason why he did so is not clear to this day…”

At 8:58 in the clip below, the Weld District Attorney tries to answer the question.

What does True Crime Rocket Science say about the “why”? Well, there’s a short version and a longer version. It’s important to look at both. We can say the same about why people have affairs or why a marriage ends in divorce. There’s a short version, such as one partner finding out the other is having an affair, and a longer version, the reason the one partner fell out of love and was attracted to someone else. Both of these versions alone aren’t the full answer. It’s only when we put them together that we get the full story.

In his video about relationships, at 4:02 Watts refers to two types of deterioration in a relationship.

“You have sudden and gradual. Sudden would be an example of infidelity.”

At 4:19 Watts refers to a relationship “gradually” deteriorating.

“Gradual would be…if you met somebody at work, or a new friendship as occurred…and as it goes on you see that, well maybe this relationship has more potential…”

A short answer is necessary, but it’s not the whole answer. A long answer is necessary too, but even with the details of a long narrative, we still need to be able to break it down into its building blocks, and then find our way to the biggest block of all. And that block, in this case, is the pregnancy.

Initially it seemed like it was a mistake, didn’t it? Or even that Shan’ann had gotten pregnant to trap her husband in the marriage. Then it seemed like it was a mutual idea. Then it appears it was his idea, and then he changed his mind.

Probably what happened is the marriage hit the rocks, and Shan’ann confronted him about it and pushed him in the direction of another child. And probably he wasn’t opposed to the idea, after all he’d mentioned it before [at 3:26] in the speech he made about how to heal relationships.

He also mentioned [at 5:02 in the clip below] going to a place where one had first met, to heal a broken relationship, which is precisely what he and Shan’ann did.  Was this also like pregnancy, her idea based on his idea, and he simply went along with it?

So he probably went along with it, as he tended to do his whole life. Go with the flow. And then when Shan’ann announced she was pregnant, Watts realized he was scared, and confused. Probably at this time he had already developed feelings for Nichol Kessinger.

Thin-slicing the Psychological Building Blocks, from Biggest to Smallest

1. Late abortion

2. Kill the baby, kill Shan’ann

3. Kill the children, they were also an expense. Watts didn’t enjoy his time in North Carolina, and didn’t like that his children were being sequestrated from his family by Shan’ann.

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4. The expenses associated with the baby, Shan’ann and the children.


5. If he had gotten divorced he would have lost everything, except, perhaps his job. But with no money, his only recourse would have been to move in with Nicole. She said she didn’t want that. Odd because he had spent the night almost every night at her place while Shan’ann was away.

Overarching Psychology and Identity

A. He’s an introvert

B. He’s a mechanic. He wants to fix things.

C. Oil worker, oil industry is also about bullshitting. Clean energy and safety.

D. He was emerging as more confident but he was still an introvert. Physically fitter and better looking, and Kessinger was someone who took an interest in him, edified him.

E. Shan’ann’s Temperament and Nutgate. Nutgate in a sense provided the psychological apparatus, to kill his children and his wife. In his mind, Shan’ann had already killed his children, she’d taken them away, and put a “dagger” into his relationship with his parents, especially his father.

Late abortion

Kill the baby kill Shan’ann

Kill the children, they were also an expense. Didn’t enjoy his time in North Carolina.

Context and Perspective

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None of that would have been an issue if he hadn’t met Nichol Kessinger.

If he was a rich man, divorce would have been easier too. It might have been why Nichol was attracted to him in the first place, because he appeared to have the perfect life, as many rich people, and rich men do.

She was attracted to him because he represented a better life, which was a fairy tale and a fiction. He was attracted to her because she represented a better person, and a nicer person [in his mind], than Shan’ann, and he thought with her he could also have a better life. But this fairy tale was built on the delusional fiction that his wife needed to vanish and that his girlfriend would accept the fairy tale that she and the kids had simply gone somewhere else and carried on with their lives somewhere else.

Even this notion was a mirror of Shan’ann and the kids spending 5 weeks in North Carolina. If she’d done that, why wouldn’t she simply walk out of her own marriage. If was believable, but it wasn’t reality. If we think that’s stupid, consider our knowledge – and that includes law enforcement, the District Attorney, the media, and everyone talking about this case. How many have really been able to explain why? The true answer to that question tells you how delusional we as a society have become, and why individuals need to develop their own discernment, their own Rocket Science to burn away their delusions.


In the next episode I will debunk the “Narcissism Narrative” as communicated in these videos:

Two Face The Man Underneath Christopher Watts – Audio Excerpt of first chapter read by the Author


The Backstory – reference points

  1. “I came home and walked in the house and nothing. Just vanished.”― Chris Watts to Denver7
  2. Nickole’s white Mitsubishi GT, the dashboard, difficult. Hail damage.
  3. “The former nurse…”
  4. Nickole’s book – Girl, Wash Your Face
  5. Girl-Wash-Your-Face
  6. The scenario that Shan’ann was attacked immediately after she arrived home…
  7. “And this sleep, this night, will be the last on this world.”
  8. But somewhere in the dark up ahead, eyes like dark wet pebbles are wide awake, exhilarated and waiting…Silent inside?
  9. He blinks in the dark, his plan playing out in his mind like a movie…>>Television on that night.
  10. Shan’ann labors with her loud neon-pink-bleeding-into-red luggage…

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  11. …pulling the single suitcase along a narrow cement apron, then hoisting it over two grey steps and finally onto the porch outside the front door. The pregnant 34-year old opens it, takes a breath and steps inside…
  12. Unknown to anyone right then, a neighbor’s dashboard camera also silently records the scene.its lights swing away…

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FBI Interrogation Breakthrough: This is exact moment Chris Watts Lost Everything – ANALYSIS #2


Hello, and welcome to True Crime Rocket Science.

Today’s episode deals with three huge breakthroughs in the 6th hour of the 7 hour interrogation. We’re going to play Devil’s Advocate. What happens when we do that? We do we see when we look at the interrogation from the perspective of a defense case? Had this ultra high-profile case ever gone to trial, we will see there’s a moment, a precise moment where Watts still had the upper hand against law enforcement. If he had called a timeout then, he would have kept the upper hand. But he didn’t. Instead he voluntarily gave that advantage away. He threw in the towel on his own story, on his own elaborate effort to get away with murder.

Now, although we’ll be looking at this mostly out of context, we need to review a skeletal framework as a bare minimum for how things got to where they did. We’ll start by simply acknowledging that by Wednesday afternoon, following the polygraph, law enforcement had the goods on Watts affair. They knew he had a girlfriend, they knew she was a co-worker of his at Anadarko, they knew it was a recent affair, they knew the pair had been intimate, and they knew he’d been lying to her as well.

Nichol Kessinger deserves credit for this. She sat down for her first interview with two FBI agents at around midday on Wednesday, August 15th. It was as a result of this interview that the Feds were able to pass their intel on to Coder and Lee, and they had the confidence to exert some real pressure on Watts. They’d been buttering him up for hours, letting him waste time and have their say. They gradually nudged him here and there, but they had no idea how much Watts was hiding. Kessinger’s statement provided them with a least a little certainty in this regard.

1st Breakthrough

The first breakthrough happens at around the 7-minute mark, in the 6th hour on the interrogation. We’re going to spend some time dealing with the first ten minutes leading up to the breakthrough, and the three minutes following.

Now, in order to get to the finish line, in order to get Watts to willingly volunteer information, rather than recoil, withdraw and lawyer up, they had to play nice, but also get him to admit to the affair. If they told him they knew, some trust that had developed would be lost. By Watts admitting, he was able to save face and in a weird way, as law enforcement they could seem almost graceful in their beneficence. They could also extend clemency for the affair, which would make Watts wander if they’d be okay with him having done worse stuff.

The first breakthrough comes immediately after the polygraph, when Coder and Lee return to the cubicle together. Unbeknownst to Watts, while he has been stuck in the room – at that stage for around 5 hours – both agents have been appraised with more information, and have been able to refresh themselves with a change of scenery, and also consult with each other, and others, on the way to approach Watts during the next phase, bearing in mind what they know now about Kessinger.

Probably, they agree to be firmer, but not too firm. They decide to step it up a gear, while being prepared to back off if Watts gets too riled up.

Let’s start at 16:00 sharp, and listen in to the  first 105 seconds when the agents start off for their next session, immediately leading up to the breakthrough.


It takes another five minutes of softening Watts up to get him to admit to the affair after this point. Let’s take a look at some of the dialogue in that conversation before listening to it directly.

LEE: But you know they’re not coming back home…

WATTS: I know in the back of my head, I hope they come back home.

LEE: But you know they’re not.

WATTS: I hope they come back home.

LEE: Mmm.

WATTS: I don’t know they’re not coming back home.

CODER: Chris, Tammy and I are confused, and this is what we’re confused about. We’ve told you that we’ve done some work overnight, we’ve got a lot of leads, okay. We know a lot more than you think we do. And here’s where we’re confused. You’re this great guy. I’m not just telling you that, okay. I’m telling you that because everyone tells us that. We can’t find anyone to say anything bad about you. “Chris is a great guy. He’s a good father. He’s a good man.”

LEE: Mmmm.

CODER: We’re confused as to why you’re not taking care of your beautiful children…

WATTS: How I’m not taking care of them right now…?

Here, Coder is seeding the thought in Watts’ mind. He know it’s triggering Watts, and he knows it’s triggering Watts in terms of guilt – about the affair. But he needs Watts to acknowledge it. Watts does want to acknowledge it, he just doesn’t want to get into trouble. The agents must soothe him, appear as therapists temporarily rather than cops trying to nail his ass to post.

CODER: Where are they?

WATTS: I don’t know where they’re at. I honest – I do not know where they are at. If I could have my babies back home right now, I would. I want them back. I want everybody back. [With emphasis] And that’s the God’s-honest truth.

Then, incredibly, 55 long seconds tick by. These have to be seen, and felt to believed. This is ratcheting up the pressure. Two agents staring at Watts, Watts rebuffing them, and then the clock ticking out the time as the standoff continues. In a sense, this moment speaks volumes for the interrogation. Watts isn’t giving them anything, so it’s pointless even talking if he’s going to continue pontificating. This protracted silence not only indicates his resolve, but theirs. And we know ultimately who would win the standoff.

The amazing thing is Watts wanted to take them on; he thought he could outwit them just as he had outwitted his wife, her friends, Kessinger to an extent, and even his colleagues. If Watts wasn’t so pigheaded, he could have looked at the situation differently, and simply registered that they were onto him, and called the whole thing off.

There’s a reason, a few reasons actually, that Watts didn’t lawyer up.There’s also a reason Watts thought he could bullshit his way out of a sticky situation. Maybe one at a time, Watts was an agile liar. But not like this. Not one against two, for hours, and with the disadvantage of others providing crucial intel on him there and then.

At 6:42, after Coder hits Watts with the Two Chris’ speech, he finally confronts Watts as on the chin as he dares, about Watts “lying about something else”. But instead of denying it, Watts admits it.

Watts couldn’t admit to the cops he was having an affair. He couldn’t face Shan’ann on the same issue either.

2nd Breakthrough

The second breakthrough starts happening at about 16:34,  about 24 minutes after the first. It involves Watts talking to his father, but it’s not just that. First of all, Watts was so worn down by the interrogation he was close to saying, “Please stop”. Instead, the interrogators skillfully offered Watts the opportunity to talk to his father as an exit.

Even after this idea was mentioned, the cops spoke to Watts for a further ten minutes, holding the offer of talking to his dad – a friendly face – as a psychological carrot.

Even so, this strategy was an enormous risk. They’d been piling on the pressure, and so, if they stepped out of the room, they ran the real risk of Watts catching a breather, getting a second wind, and worse, shutting down or putting a stop to the interrogation. There was also an arguably even bigger risk that Ronnie might talk some sense into his son, and as we’re about to see, that’s exactly what happened.


The second breakthrough has two layers, the first is Watts talking to his father, and the second, the real breakthrough, is that Watts elects to confess to his father right out the gate. Coder and Lee did such a great mindjob on Wwatts, that they framed Watts talking to his dad as a conversation about what happened. And then, that’s precisely what he did. He didn’t have to.

At about 16:38 the agents leave the room, and as they do, Watts removes his glaves and digs his face into the left shoulder of his shirt, wiping away tears. These are real tears. This is real emotion. Watts doesn’t want his father to see it.

Five long minutes tick by. Watts’ father doesn’t enter the room immediately. Watts is given five long minutes to stew under the intense ticking of the clock, still stuck inside the claustrophobic cubicle. Clearly, during this 5 minute interval Watts’ father is also being given instructions. Ronnie is also being told what to talk about, and expressly that his son is ready to tell him, wants to tell him what happened.

They may also tell Ronnie that he can only talk to his son on condition that they talk about what happened. It’s late in the day, it’s urgent, it’s important they find out what happened to the girls, to Shan’ann, and so Watts needs to tell him.

It’s not surprising then that Ronnie’s first words to his son are:

“Do you want to tell me what’s going on…or?”


The style of the “interrogation” between father and son is quite different. Both speak in low tones, almost conspirationally, perhaps hoping what they say won’t be recorded. Ronnie is quite much of the time, making short, simple, leading type statements and often simply repeating what his son says. What the agents hadn’t been able to achieve in over five hours, Watts’ father achieved in five minutes.

Curiously, and this has been overlooked by many speculating over the case, when Watts tells his father – volunteers – about the affair, his father isn’t surprised. It’s as if Ronnie already knew about it. Watts also tells his father:

“I told her about the separating…and everything about that…”

He’s implying he told Shan’ann about the affair, and that this is why Shan’ann freaked out. And then when she freaked out, he freaked out.

What’s incredible about this moment, this second breakthrough, besides the contents of it, is that, in effect Watts defaulted from the enterprising Romeo to a zombie simpleton who did as he was told. He was used to taking orders, and in this instance, he did just that. He confessed to his father that all three of them – Shan’ann, Bella and Ceecee were dead, and what’s more, all three had been murdered.

Breakdown/3rd Breakthrough – The Critical Moment

The first breakthrough – Watts voluntarily  admitting to the affair – took place at about 16:07. The second –  Watts admitting to his father that he killed Shan’ann, and that his children were both dead – took place 36 minutes later, from 16:43 onwards. But the real breakthrough was the third, when, after confessing over a span of eleven minutes, the agents worst fears were realized, and Ronnie started advising his son to get a lawyer.

The agents scrambled. Within about ten seconds of Ronnie telling Watts-

“Well, you gotta get a lawyer…see…what we can do…I could arrange [garbled]…”

-the agents were back in the room. In fact as Ronnie uttered the word “arrange”, Watts lifted his head slightly and made eye contact with his father.

Lee barged in first, but was also careful to ask permission. Ronnie reluctantly accepted the intrusion, saying, “Come on in. ” This was a fatal mistake made by Watts father. He could have said, “Give us a minute.” Instead, Lee advanced, and reached out to Watts. At this time Ronnie had his hand on Watts left arm, or shoulder, while Lee placed her hand on his right shoulder.

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By doing this, Lee immediately broke the connection between father and son. For the first time during the entire interrogation, she leaned over Watts and rubbed his back just as she’d seen his father doing.

This may not seem a big deal, but consider the facts. Watts has just admitted murdering his wife. Lee then enters, and comforts a man she is likely repulsed by, and perhaps even afraid of. But she can’t show it. She has to hold her nerve, and keep Watts in the game, and on their side.

The part that’s easy to miss is this.:

If Watts had called it; if the interrogation had stopped at this point, his confession would likely not be admissible in court, simply because most of it is barely audible. Also, since no law enforcement officer was in the room, even if the audio was admitted as evidence, Watts and his father could agree between themselves that certain words captured on audio weren’t what they had actually said to one another.

In short, Watts’ confession was a giant leap forward in terms of the investigation, because he’d just admitted firsthand knowledge that three members of his family were dead. But the confession itself, at this point, was legally worthless. What Lee and Coder needed to do was get Watts on the record. They needed him to forget about getting a lawyer, and get back to talking to him, while playing the delicate game with Watts’ father still in the room. So they had to reassure him as well.

When Lee sits down, she sits directly beside Watts, her elbow almost touching his. Coder sneaks in and sits down silently in the corner. And then immediately, Lee asks Watts the vital question:

“Will you tell us what you told your dad?”

This is the critical moment. If they’d asked Ronnie to step out of the room, perhaps Watts would have had a moment to regain his composure. Perhaps without his father in the room he may have felt the wall return, and balked. But with his father’s hand on his shoulder, and Lee staring in, and Coder in the room, Watts probably felt like he had no choice.

He did have a choice. Had he said no, at this point, the defense could have had a field day with this case. Incredibly, just because Lee asked him nicely, and treated him – now a self-confessed murderer, with warmth – he did what he thought was reasonable. He lied about Shan’ann killing the children, but admitted the “lesser” evil in his mind – killing Shan’ann. What he was describing was a kind of involuntary, justifiable homicide. If, in his story, he’d claimed he’d tried to rescue the children, tried to perform CPR, this too could have saved him. It certainly helped Oscar Pistorius when he claimed the same thing.

Oscar Pistorius ‘carried dying Reeva Steenkamp downstairs and tried to resuscitate her’ – The Telegraph

Oscar Pistorius Tried To Resuscitate Reeva Steenkamp After He Shot Her – Jezebel

In a recent episode of Homicide Hunter, a guilty suspect sitting in a lounge, while the cops searched his home, explained his reluctance to ask for a lawyer. He said he preferred to let the cops search, because the other options was worse:

If you hire a lawyer you look guilty.

Appearances can be deceiving.


Of course, in a situation like this, if you don’t hire a lawyer – and you’re guilty – you can get yourself into a world of trouble, and end up looking even worse.

We know now that Watts had also lied to his father here, telling him he’d “only” killed Shan’ann. So at this stage he thought he had the upper hand, and when agent Lee soothed him, it reinforced this notion. He decided to stick to his game plan, because pinning the crime on Shan’ann seemed like a better idea than getting a lawyer. Watts’ brain was so scrambled by now, he forgot that whatever the details, he’d just admitted to committing murder, to his father, and now he was about to do the same with the two agents, on the record. He may have figured admitting to Shan’ann’s murder wasn’t a big deal, after all, when he admitted it, everyone understood, and hell, he understood why he’d done it.

But he’d made a very crucial error. If he could fool them with appearances, they could do the same to him, and they did.

We will review the crucial third breakthrough here. Listen out for Watts and his father mentioning the affair and Watts repeating that Shan’ann knew about it anyway…

Watts couldn’t admit to the cops he was having an affair. 

He couldn’t face Shan’ann on the same issue either. 

Just as he couldn’t face the truth in this moment about what he’d done [killing the children], he couldn’t face Shan’ann with the truth either. And so, in the same way he sneakily blamed the deaths of the children on Shan’ann, when he confronted Shan’ann after she arrived home from the airport, he did it in the same sneaky, underhanded manner.


TCRS Assessment of Chris Watts’ Affect – AUDIO ANALYSIS #1


Hello, and welcome to True Crime Rocket Science.

For most people, their first introduction to 33-year-old Chris Watts was on Tuesday, August 14th, 2018, during his seven-minute Sermon on the Porch. We watched as a well-groomed man, a Silver Fox, stood in charcoal shorts and a t-shirt, and spoke casually about his missing family.

Where were they? He wasn’t sure – he was concerned – but he also seemed unperturbed. Maybe they were safe, maybe they weren’t. The game of psychological cat and mouse was underway.

Over the course of these first few minutes we saw Watts for the first time, but most of us missed the first wave of telltale micro expressions. It didn’t really matter, because overall, what we did see was loud and clear. We could all see that his affect just wasn’t right. While many of us didn’t know what it meant, we suspected something bad had happened, and most of us were right about that.

Since then, dozens of experts have analyzed the footage recorded by media, media that incidentally Detective Baumhover made sure were there when Shan’ann and the children didn’t turn up over night, nor early the next morning. At around 07:00 in the morning the media were contacted, and by around 10:00 they were gathered around Watts’ porch – on 2825 Saratoga Trail, in Frederick Colorado.

From Dr. Phil to the District Attorney, from YouTubers to the millions around the world who started following this case , we all saw the same thing. We saw – before any forensic evidence was located, before any bodies were found – that Watts simply didn’t appear as we expected him to appear. As strangers, and even the reporters only met the Anadarko field worker for the first time that day, we knew something was off, we just didn’t know how off.

But someone did. The neighbor knew. And Shan’ann’s best friend knew. The detective and police knew. And then, once Watts was interrogated, and his interrogators got to know him, they realized just how oddly he was behaving, and the alarm bells started clanging.

This getting to know a suspect takes time. And we never really finish the job of assembling an identity that the perpetrator is doing his damnedest to conceal from us.

In this episode, True Crime Rocket Science will take you through the audio of these actual conversations, and deal with his affect in a new way.  Firstly, we have to bear in mind what we don’t know, and what True Crime Rocket Science says about that. Secondly, we have to take our cues from those on the ground who knew Watts, but bearing in mind their context is limited too. Thirdly, we have to break into Watts’ mind and see why he was playing his cards the way he was playing them.

Finally, we want to take all of this, and apply it where it hasn’t been before, which is to ask whether – after a year and countless hours studying this particular killer – whether we’ve become effective not just at lie spotting, but putting together a personal profile. In other words, do we know who Watts is one year later?

Worth playing for?

Let’s begin at the beginning, with the Sermon on the Porch.

  1. The Sermon on the Porch

What we didn’t know when we saw Watts was how he really felt about Shan’ann. This really lay at the cruz of it. How did he really feel about his family? We know now that Watts would have wanted to conceal this, and also to minimize it when he dealt with it. Why? Because his enmity with his wife went directly to motive. The state of his finances, went directly to motive. The pregnancy, went directly to motive. The new love of his life, went directly to motive. So, if you were Watts, you wouldn’t want to draw attention to any of those things.

Meanwhile, you’d want the media and everyone watching, including and especially Nichol Kessinger, to think Watts cared about his family, but [given his schema], not that much.


He couldn’t be too traumatized, you see, or that might put his mistress off. After all, she needed to believe most of all that Shan’ann had just had enough of everything, taken the children, and left, and as it happened, initially at least she did believe this.

Fullscreen capture 20190913 115241


If we were encountering Watts for the first time during the Sermon on the Porch, we may have already seen photos of Shan’ann, and of the children, including on Facebook. That sketched a picture of harmony, even perfect harmony, but we couldn’t be sure how they were really getting along.

It was only when I researched the first book on the case, when I studied the transcript of the Sermon on the Porch in detail, that I realized what had been left out. Watts never mentions that Shan’ann was pregnant. He never mentioned the word divorce or a mistress. He never mentioned Shan’ann’s doctor’s important. He doesn’t mention Shan’ann’s plans for a gender reveal and why her disappearing then, given that context, was weird.  Instead he spoke lightheartedly about his children throwing him with chicken nuggets, and how he missed them not getting their dessert after dinner.

When he was asked about the emotional conversation he had with Shan’ann Monday morning, he said it wasn’t very emotional. When he spoke to Coder and Lee about it, he said it was, and that they were both crying. Why the different statements in front of the camera and in the interrogation cubicle? Because when he was on camera Kessinger could listen in, when in the cubicle, she was essentially out of the game.

While the symbolism of many of his statements, and other colorful language was [and still is] a minefield of information, Watts’ affect was what stood out loud and clear. This raised the question – didn’t he know to act more concerned than he was? Didn’t he know that by acting more concerned Watts would be more convincing as someone who was innocent? Was Watts stupid? Because he didn’t show emotion and seemed to be enjoying being interviewed, was he a psychopath, or a narcissist?

But despite what the pundits said, Watts wasn’t a psychopath, or a narcissist, and neither was he being as stupid as he seemed to be. The critical thing was he wasn’t being himself, his affect showed a man portraying an appearance – a lie – and this clearly indicated he was hiding something.

This was an open question, and members of the public had their ideas, some on track, and some way off. Like these:

it was very obvious that this man committed this horrific crime from viewing this interview the first time I saw it.How anybody can do this to their own family, is beyond my comprehension.

I think you have completely misread what I have written. It is beyond my emotional and moral comprehension as to why someone could commit a heinous crime against their own family. 

His affect is flat, he keeps grinning where a distressed person’s mouth would be downturned — if you didn’t know the subject matter and turned off the sound he would look like a guy talking about his preferred yard service.

HE is gay,he does not have another woman.I told my friend the first time I saw him”he is queer as a two dollar bill

2. Am I my Neighbor’s Keeper?


It probably bears repeating that Nate Trinastich is very aware that Watts isn’t acting right. He tells the police, with Nickole Atkinson and her son Nicolas present, and both appear to be in consensus with the neighbor’s take on Watts. Trinastich role plays Watts rocking back and forth, something we noticed but perhaps not immediately. Trinastich pertinently says:

“He doesn’t look worried…He looks like he’s trying to cover his tracks.”

This is an excellent, and effective assessment for so early on. Then he provides reinforcing information.

“He’s normally quiet, more subdued.”

So for those of us who didn’t know Watts at this point, we couldn’t tell if he was being more talkative or less reserved than usual, but his neighbor could. Nickole Atkinson could. And giving out extraneous information, just being a lot more talkative than usual, is a classic symptom of lying.

Coming from a guy who didn’t talk much, this was difficult to see. When he was being interrogated by the FBI, and during his polygraph, Watts was trying very hard to appear like a regular guy. Open, talkative, transparent, not himself. He was doing this to hide the fact that there was an awful lot he was hiding. And it took a while for his interrogators to latch on this.

Let’s move on to the cubicle.

3. Interrogation Room

This is the late afternoon of August 15th, at around 16:15.


Is affect important? How important is affect? Right here, we hear how forcefully Watts was confronted by both agents here, on his affect. And then, what happened after this?  This confrontation took place about a minute before he asked to see his father. When that happened [20 minutes later] the game was over; that’s when Watts admitted to him for the first time, in a very low tone, that all three of his family members were dead. The ruse that he was hoping they were still alive was finally over.

We can see how, in an interrogation scenario, telling a suspect how his affect is raising suspicion, is a clear way of riling him up, but also potentially shutting him down. We know shortly after the agents told Watts his emotions weren’t right, he wanted to shut down the questioning and talk to his father. He knew he’d failed in his game, and needed an exit. He felt panic and wanted to fix his situation.

But coming back to this notion of hoping his family are safe, he’s not hoping. He knows they’re dead. What he’s doing is pretending to hope, pretending to not know what happened, pretending to be unaware of his own actions. And through this lack of caring, what he’s trying to do is fool them into believing he’s innocent. Ironically there is some truth in his ability to pretend not to care – he didn’t care, that’s why he killed them.

I hope it’s clear from this that by acting unemotional, Watts wasn’t stupid. It did initially lead many to think maybe Shan’ann had run off, and maybe she’d be back the next morning. Let’s face it, even Shan’ann’s mother gave him the benefit of the doubt until the next morning. So did Kessinger, and Nickole Atkinson [who went to work], as well as law enforcement. While law enforcement bided their time on Monday night, Watts cleaned and vacuumed the crime scene. Why, because he had succeeded in infecting them with false hope.

4. True Crime Rocket Science Assessment

If Watts’s affect was unemotional, that isn’t to say actually committing the murder wasn’t emotional for him, or traumatic, or difficult. He likely felt a range of emotions, from reluctance, to resistance to relief, and even joy when it was over.  Perhaps, as the knowledge flushed through his veins that his family were “taken care of”, perhaps he felt exhilaration…because now nothing – hopefully – stood between him and his happily ever after with his mistress.

So, what’s the takeout from all this?

It’s very difficult for any person to be objective about their own subjectivity. So when Watts is confronted about his affect, he instinctively and immediately ratchets his affect up a notch. He sniffles. They want to see it [otherwise they’re suspicious], and he quickly obliges.

When he talks to his father his demeanor and his voice changes. When he lies about Shan’ann killing the kids, Watts also makes his voice sound strained and anguished, but this is all an act too. What this shows is the scale and scope of not only Watts’ deceit, but his capacity towards sadism. It’s one thing to lie, it’s another to implicate on something he did, while pretending to care.

Affect is a primary giveaway in true crime, but it’s difficult to interpret. One might say it’s the best tool of True Crime Rocket Science, but it’s also the one that we can almost never use because it’s so difficult to use correctly. This is why it’s seldom used in court, and when it is, the flip side of the coin can just as easily be used to argue innocence.

In the Madeleine McCann case, the insistence from Madeleine’s parents has also been that they remain hopeful. Why? In the alternative, if it turns out Madeleine didn’t disappear, but died, then suspicion turns to someone. This is why pretending to hope is a red flag. In the McCann case, as in the Watts case [early on] the question was always: is the pretense to hide what he did, or is it simply human weakness?

A year later, many people feel they are experts on Watts, but I’m not so sure we are. A year later, many people feel they are experts on Kessinger, but I’m not so sure we are. A good True Crime Rocket Scientist never knows all there is to know – instead he always suspects that there is more, perhaps a lot more, he doesn’t know.

A year after we studied his body language, counted his tells, figured out his psychology, and became experts at lie spotting, the followers of this case are split into two camps.

1. Children murdered first, at home; premeditated murder. There are those who believe Watts killed his children at home before Shan’ann arrived home in a cold, callous, calculated fashion – a premeditated crime and an introverted criminal who defaults to premeditation.

2. Children murdered last, at the well site; Watts “just snapped”. And those who believe Watts. Who believe him when he said he didn’t know what to do, he snapped, and he killed one or both of his children at the well site.

If Watts fully intended to get away with murder, and he did, he would never have taken the enormous risk to take his children – alive – to the well site and murder them there. True Crime Rocket Science allows us to use the psychology and identity of a person to see what they won’t allow us to see, and to see their shadowy intentions for what they really are, rather than what they want us to believe. The shadows on the driveway that some see as a child brought back to life, is the same hopefulness blinding us to the truth.

When we get to know Watts inside out, we can see he tried to leave nothing to chance, and in the next episode, we’ll see just how close he actually may have gotten, to getting away with triple murder.