We know for a fact that Nut Gate soured relations between the couple, but that couldn’t have been all. We also know for a fact that Watts’ affair meant he was disinterested because he was distracted. If Nut Gate hadn’t happened, Shan’ann would have had a clearer idea that something else was brewing, something that was less her doing.
But besides these hypotheticals, it’s likely the couple argued about money. This aspect is sequestrated from all the correspondence, but because it isn’t there is hardly evidence that it wasn’t a serious issue. Perhaps Watts felt embarrassed and ashamed that he’d allowed himself, and her, to get them into such a desperate financial situation again.
This was also the one aspect he didn’t really discuss with Nichol Kessinger, even though he felt he could be himself and talk to her about anything. Well, not this. Not the first bankruptcy, and not the second.
There may have been a verbal and emotional feedback loop between Kessinger and Watts – and Shan’ann – specifically on the issue on the best way to resolve the financial trouble.
If Watts was blissfully unaware or woefully ignorant of the finances, his affair with Kessinger forced the issue on two fronts:
1) he would need an additional budget to woo her. This would reinforce the knowledge and urgency of just how cash-strapped he really was. And why was he cash-strapped? Whose fault was that? What could he – should he – do about it?
2) As Kessinger became more familiar with Watts’ untenable situation, she may have provided him with sensible advice on how to manage his finances. But if he applied her advice, that would mean “managing” or in some way manipulating or controlling Shan’ann. Regaining financial control meant – necessarily – exerting control over Shan’ann [or attempting to].
As most couples know when marriages break down, the wrestle for control over money becomes if not a life and death struggle, ugly, and filled with ploys, dirty tricks and shenanigans. It’s push and go, spite, nitpicking, backscratching, baiting, naming and shaming and taking what you can get away with. It’s possible that was the content of these back and forth phone calls on Sunday, July 22nd.
We have no idea whether Watts went to the Home Depot on July 22nd, and if he did, what he got there. Did it have anything to do with Shan’ann? Or Kessinger? The discovery case file lists 14 instances of Home Depot in its 1960 pages. On page 945 a USB drive from Home Depot is listed. This may indicate that Watts, or Shan’ann, wanted information on a shared computer in a safe place [probably the former].
In total, Watts and Shan’ann spoke for 65 minutes on July 22nd, a record.
Now, the trouble with reviewing the case file in hindsight, simply glancing backwards through the rearview mirror, is that the weight of our perception is just that – a lightweight glance.
When we go through the timeline systematically, pacing ourselves in real time, we can see how the weight of the finances wasn’t just a factor, it was a daily burden.
And Watts and Shan’ann were unequally yoked. He was the one saddled with the mortgage. The house was in his name this time, and they were almost certainly going to lose the house, regardless of the arrival of a third child.
We don’t know when Watts received word from Chase Manhattan bank regarding their home loan, but we know on June 30th [3 weeks earlier in the timeline] Watts may have forged Shan’ann’s signature on this documents.
It’s likely a forgery simply because Shan’ann was already in North Carolina on June 30th. Regardless, Watts was also listed as a defendant on the summons. The summons was received and filed by Weld Count on the morning of July 12th, and Watts was the one collecting mail while Shan’ann was away. Besides this aspect, if we look at the crime scene, what stood out in a relatively pristine, innocuous looking crime scene overall was this:
It may be that the children trashed Shan’ann’s office, or it could be that Watts went through it looking for bills, familiarizing himself with their true financial situation.
Watts discovery of the paper trail while Shan’ann was away was likely an intermittent process, but with each successive discovery was a more startling revelation of the seriousness and sheer scale of the debt tsunami advancing towards them.
With each discovery, it became necessary to call his co-accused to discuss their debt mess. This would be followed by an inevitable blame game, along with – perhaps – a hastily cobbled strategy to deal with [or postpone] the next large payment.
Their biggest financial millstone was the mortgage, $2 700,going off at the middle of each month – or supposed to. When was the family murdered? Just prior to the middle of the month. July was the second or third month they were behind in paying it. If it was the third, then June was the second, and May the first. This suggests the moment they could no longer pay their mortgage was around the time Shan’ann fell pregnant.
Shan’ann’s trip to North Carolina was possibly a last ditch effort to turn around, to refloat their shipwrecked finances. But by investing all her hope and efforts into the MLM maelstrom, she was giving herself [and her family] a 0.4% chance of success. So there was still a chance, right?
It’s possible, during July, Watts quietly evaluated not so much his own ability to turn around their finances, but whether Shan’ann was capable. By late July it was becoming clear that they weren’t, and worse, that they were losing control. If Shan’ann wanted everyone to think they lived a certain way, that was certainly about to end.