#32 August 4th, 2018: For Over Two Hours, Nichol Kessinger searches for Wedding Dresses in the Wee Hours of Saturday Morning #1yearagotodayCW

August 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Phone Data Review [Chris Watts’ first three days in North Carolina with his family] stand out as islands of nothingness. They’re an anomaly. For the entire month of July, there’s not a single instance of just one entry on a particular day. Now, in August, at a time when a lot was happening emotionally, the Data Review goes blank. Not only for one day, but for three consecutive days. Was that because nothing was happening? Was there a kind of emotional doldrum going on?

Far from it.

Before we get to August 4th, I want to emphasize this point some more.

To appreciate the unusualness of the skeletal entries on August 1st, 2nd and 3rd, one has to glance forward in time as well. Starting on August 4th, and ending two days after the murders [when the Phone Review concludes], each individual date is thick with entries. A lot was happening.

So why is nothing happening on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd?

The data on the dates just preceding Watts trip to North Carolina is also packed with information. The Phone Data Review for July 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st are approximately one page each.

So why is nothing happening on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd?

The absence of evidence is evidence.

We would expect to see a lot of interaction between Watts and Shan’ann, and for that matter, Watts and Kessinger, in those first three days in North Carolina.

On August 4th, we’re provided with a sizable window into what’s been brewing, and what’s come out the night before, August 3rd. Let’s take a look.

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So, a couple of things. The fact that Kessinger was Googling wedding dresses for two hours in the wee hours of the morning, suggests that things with Watts were ticking up a gear. Things were getting serious. It’s possible Kessinger was simply fantasizing, since her friend Charlotte Nelson was engaged at the time, and so perhaps Kessinger was looking at dresses with her, or to advise her. Since this occurred early on a Saturday morning, it stands to reason Kessinger was either out with her friends, or on her own. But in terms of the greater scheme of things, the broader timing is also significant.

Kessinger is looking at wedding dresses halfway through Watts trip to North Carolina. It’s as if she’s gotten the message that not only does he love her [and she’s told him she loves him], but he wants to marry her [and he is leaving his wife]. Isn’t that why he was looking at jewelry?

This news, if true, would be both thrilling but also disconcerting for Kessinger. It’s disconcerting because her beau – despite his love – is somewhere else, day by day, with his family. So she is going need reassurance, and he is probably going to provide it. Perhaps bold declarations of making a life together with her helps to settle the situation.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Shan’ann’s not happy. He’d like nothing more than to get away and avoid a confrontation. Maybe if he can go and see his family [it’s okay if she doesn’t come along].

If Watts hadn’t thought of killing his family until this point, and it’s possible he hadn’t, then it’s almost inconceivable that after reading Shan’ann’s rant on August 4th, he wasn’t triggered several times in several ways. Just look at the language and psychology:

I won’t change a thing.

My daughter’s life is way more important…

I wanted to say more than I did., but I was being the bigger person and protecting Bella. 

Consider the import of these messages from Watts’ perspective, and in lieu of his mistress:

I won’t change a thing.

My daughter’s mistresses’ life [or my life with my mistress] is way more important…

I wanted to say more than I did., but I was being the bigger person and protecting Bella my mistress.

There’s also shifting blame.

I didn’t block your family on FB.

Myself and your kids have nothing to say to them.

They owe your kids their life.

Your parent’s home isn’t a safe zone.

Your mom isn’t safe.

Shan’ann neglects to mention that it was her venting on Facebook about them that caused them to shut her out online. It’s incredible how Shan’ann appropriates the children’s lives, saying not only on behalf of herself, but on behalf of a 3 and 4-year-old, they have nothing to say to his parents. This reduces Watts to a negligible entity, a sideshow in the drama. Shan’ann and the kids are a unit, his parents are a unit and he…well, he’s in a secret alliance with someone else, and – he must be thinking – it’s just as well given how the family was blowing up.

Consider these statements from Shan’ann from the perspective of Watts’ psychology:

They owe [me/my mistress] their life [lives].

Your parent’s home isn’t a safe zone. [The idea of a parent’s home not being safe, in fact being mortally dangerous for children].

Your mom Shan’ann isn’t safe. [Shan’ann is dangerous to your “safety”].

When we take the transactional tone of these statements, it’s all about a kind of social assassination of other people. Because someone did X, one is warranted to do Y to protect oneself.

The terms that might trigger certain thoughts in Watts’ mind are numerous:

I’m sorry I killed your kid because I was stupid.

That would kill me.

I shouldn’t have to protect…evil family.

We can lose this baby…

I’m not going to worry about family. I will just remove it.

This long, dramatic, emotionally charged diatribe from Shan’ann comes through at 03:36, meaning she’s not sleeping in the middle of the night, and more than likely, neither is he. Both are in separate rooms, she’s crying and gritting her teeth, he’s trying to avoid the situation and trying to calm her down. All this, he must be thinking, just because I want to see my folks. How the hell do I deal with the real issues?

Shan’ann goes on, justifying her position, entrenching it:

There’s nothing wrong with me and I’m not crazy. I just love my kids way too much. 

Bear in mind, this flouting intransigence is before Shan’ann has any inkling about Watts feelings towards her, or the baby. Shan’ann is used to being in control, and calling the shots. She’s used to disregarding him and refusing to budge on her own position. She’s in control, she has the power and they both know it.

A week from now, of course, her tone will be decidedly different; unsure, tearful. She’ll also be wondering what it is she’s done wrong to make her husband fall out of love with her. Well, it’s this.

No matter whose side one is on, and regardless of who is right or wrong, imagine if Shan’ann had simply made peace about Nut Gate for just the last few days of their vacation, just so it would be a happy time for the rest of the family? In other words, imagine if the Thrive Shan’ann had stepped forward and chosen to be strong, and happy, and emotionally resilient.

They’d be returning to Colorado anyway, and it would mean a lot to her husband. In theory, a portrait of his whole family happy together may have made him feel his affair with Kessinger was untenable. Or, he may have felt obligated to his family to take care of them, even if the marriage was over.

Someone at CrimeRocket.com recently left a comment describing Shan’ann as a loving mother and upbeat. Maybe she was. Maybe that’s who she really was. But she was also this person: capricious,  controlling, neurotic, dogmatic.

In Shan’ann’s defense, she was worn out by a few things. She was pregnant, working, battling her in-laws [she elected to do so, but it was nevertheless in play] and not getting emotional support from her husband.

In the middle of lambasting his parents, and declaring that she’s right and won’t change, Shan’ann then turns her finger of accusation at him.

From the day I left you never said ‘I missed you’ before I said it. Something changed when I left. 

Shan’ann’s right here, and her insight serves her well. But how does she handle her sixth sense? With contempt:

You may be happier alone and that’s fine. You can be alone! 

This is Shan’ann giving notice that if he intends to leave her, he should. She’s daring him. Taunting him. She couches it to sound like it will be water off a ducks back [and presumably the kids’ backs too].

Then she bristles about his attitude to the pregnancy.

This pregnancy you’ve failed to acknowledge it, or to acknowledge how I’m feeling…

She’s right, but Shan’ann’s been pretty clear all along how she’s feeling. It may seem unfair to say, but Shan’ann’s also not acknowledging what he’s feeling. Not only does she have no idea, she doesn’t seem to care. It doesn’t seem to matter, as long as she gets what she wants.

His feelings in terms of his parents are totally expendable to her. This is, unfortunately, something of a double standard from Shan’ann. As a pregnant woman her needs do trump whatever dalliances her husband was engaged in, but when a husband and father no longer wishes to play these roles, then pushing him out of them is a decision a woman must also take responsibility for. It may be a case of pushing the father out of the family, expelling him, but at the same time also taking his home and demanding half his income – and calling that fair. Maybe it is fair. But how many fathers in that situation think it’s fair? How many fathers would want to avoid this scenario if they could?

I’m not going to be treated this way for having the balls to protect our family and kids. I should get a gold fucking medal for handling it the way I did, because I had a lot of choice words I wanted to say to her and your dad for his stupidity. 

Here Shan’ann’s also confirming what’s already abundantly clear. If Watts admits his affair, there will be a scorched earth policy from Shan’ann. There will be a lot of “choice words” posted online, no doubt.

At 05:13 Shan’ann seems to reflect a little on what he’s said to her, and bristles at the idea that she’s controlling.

I also don’t control what you do. If you want to hang out with your parents today, by all means do so, but without us [her and the girls]. Don’t put on me where you can’t go. You are your own person.

This is a cynical explanation from Shan’ann. She is controlling the situation, telling her husband she will not let their children go to see his parents. Shan’ann’s holding a grudge with them, wanting to punish them for a slight against her, but she’s playing it like Watts has no reason to feel impinged by this.

Indirectly, Shan’ann is reading him the riot act; she’s letting him know in no uncertain terms if he leaves her, he will lose everything. This drama is about ice cream. Imagine the drama over an affair [and Watts is right, the triple murder was an extremely dramatic way of dealing with the issue, but the idea was to minimize inevitable drama with Shan’ann, drama that could damage his social and economic standing, and damage his relationship with Kessinger].

At 07:26 Watts responds. It’s shocking not for how reactionary he is, but for his craven, no balls response.

Yes, my mom truly screwed up in a huge way, more than a huge way…I’m sorry for the way I’ve been acting, it’s just been in my head and I haven’t been right at all.

What we see here is Chris Watts refusing to engage Shan’ann directly. he’s not going to joust with her – he’ll lose. He’s not going to confront her. He says what he thinks will soothe Shan’ann, as he’s always done [and even though it’s lies]:

I don’t know what I would’ve done if something happened to Ceecee.

But he did know. He’d be able to live happily ever after.

Despite Watts’ conciliatory message, Shan’ann remains on the warpath.

I protected our daughter from their stupidity. They created that and you belong with them thinking otherwise.

Shan’ann seems to be twisting in the dagger here. She’s right, everybody’s wrong, including her husband. She’s expecting alot. She’s expecting her husband to turn his back on his own parents. But this expectation isn’t so far, or so alien, from murdering your own family. The one is extermination in a social sense, the other is a physical killing.

At 07:48 Watts is still trying to build bridges.

Yes you protected our daughter and I thank you for that a million times a million. They should have swallowed what they needed to and [come] to Ceecee’s Birthday party.

This is another wildly ironic statement. Shan’ann could also swallow what she needs to and go with her husband and the kids to see Ronnie and Cindy. Watts is extremely accommodating to Shan’ann, but then he says this:

I’m not [used] to not having a relationship with my dad. I should’ve just called him before it got to this point where it got in my head. I didn’t and that’s my fault. 

What makes this so bizarre is Watts [the man 9 days away from committing triple murder] seems genuinely contrite. He’s upset about losing touch with his father, and blames himself. But what he’s also acknowledging here, and touched on a moment earlier, is that something has gotten into his head. The seed of that something is Kessinger, but the vegetative mass coming out of it in his mind is an idea how to fix his problem. Including, how to fix Shan’ann.

At 08:03 Shan’ann provides another trigger:

Why should you beg them to be in their life.

And then:

You are just like them…I had more balls [than you]…my bad for thinking you deserved better.

This is an incredible statement under the circumstances. Because that’s precisely what Watts is thinking, imagining, hoping for – that he deserves someone better than Shan’ann, better than this situation with the kids…

In effect, in these texts, Shan’ann is handing him all the psychological tools to commit the murder. If someone doesn’t suit you, if you’re in a raw deal that doesn’t work for you, you’re completely justified in removing it. Just get rid of it. It’s right if you’re doing it to protect someone you love.

At 11:53 the meltdown continues:

I will never trust your parents alone with our kids. EVER! They ruin everything special. I won’t forgive you, or them, for that. I’m tired of it. 

Watts is being instructed that because of Nut Gate, his wife’s relationship with his parents is permanently scarred. It’s also permanently distorted his relationship with his own children.

I won’t forgive you for that.


I’m not asking you to choose who to be with…You are not happy, then you know where to go…Worst summer ever.

Shan’ann lets him go to see his parents alone. In this moment, symbolically at least, she murders herself and the children. She severs herself from the equation, and severs the children.

You are not happy, then you know where to go…

Watts must have communicated to Kessinger that it was World War III in Myrtle Beach. At 14:10, just two hours after these highly-charged messages between the couple, Kessinger jumped online and searched for Watts’ and Shan’ann’s Facebook accounts. Their unstable relationship could get out of hand, and what if that effected her. What if they reconciled? What if they didn’t? What was happening? Kessinger knew where to go to find out.

For the remainder of the afternoon, Watts and his wife chaperoned the kids jumping on the trampolines at The Pavilion Park.

You are not happy, then you know where to go…

Meanwhile, Shan’ann shot another warning shot over the social media bow in case her feelings weren’t known far and wide by now.

The older she gets the more scared I am to let her out into the real world. The world of evil, the world of hate, the world of bullying! [This is a reference to her grandparents]

I was reading a post the other day where a kid was being bullied at school because of his nut allergies and a kid put a peanut in his drink as a joke! He could of died! [This is a reference to her grandparents]

The world is a scary place. I will do everything in my power to teach her right and to protect her, advocate, stand up for her and defend her! I pray everyday that she never feels any less than the rest of the world. I pray that she’s protected when I’m not around to protect her! Nothing or no one will stop me! 

This posting would also be a reminder that when Shan’ann was on the warpath, the world got to hear about it. Watch out – she was more than happy justifying herself in public, on social media. Who knows, since we know Kessinger Googled Shan’ann’s Facebook that day, maybe Kessinger saw this particular post on August 4th and asked Watts about it, and then the alarm bells really went off in his head.

We can only wonder what thoughts went through Watts’ mind on his drive – alone – to see his parents and grandmother. Although he wanted to go that day it appears he didn’t. Nor did he go to visit them the next day, Sunday, August 5th. He was a mechanic presented with serious engine trouble in his marriage. Meanwhile, a brand new car was waiting in the wings. But what to do about his broken marriage?

15 thoughts on “#32 August 4th, 2018: For Over Two Hours, Nichol Kessinger searches for Wedding Dresses in the Wee Hours of Saturday Morning #1yearagotodayCW

  1. Very insightful. Shan’nan comes across as unbalanced here – going way overboard with everything, including how much she loves her daughters, as if she deserves a prize for that. Verbal arguments can sort of lend themselves to over reactions, however the time between texts affords more time to calm down a little. Not so here, her stream of consciousness was in overdrive. Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones? Her comment about ‘worst summer ever’ is definitely in conflict with being super excited about August – and with poor Bella and CeCe, who seemed to be having the best summer ever, up to that point, anyway.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Agreed. The righteous indignation is ridiculous considering the circumstance. She just always had to be right. Nevermind that it was vanilla ice cream, it was made in a factory with nuts and the kids could die! Yet the kids gag approved ice cream in fridge, but if Shananns kids couldn’t have it, it shouldn’t be there! Don’t you know the world revolves around her and her children! And how dare cindy not buy $200 worth of groceries for Shanann, now’s she’s going to have to purchase food for the trip and not lob off someone else! Don’t you know Shan’ann (oh and her kids) come first!??! How dare cindy not oblige and do what she says, she could’ve killed the kids!

      Her diatribe is not only ridiculous, it’s transparent as hell. It’s obvious that she’s using the kids to make herself look like the martyr, Shanann liked that role almost as much as she liked to play the sick card. If this was the kind of manipulative and unnecessarily aggressive tactics she used because Cindy didn’t bend to her will, can you imagine what was going through Chris’s head? He’s her SO, and when she gets wind that he wants a divorce, he knows how terrible she’ll be and how she’ll use the kids to manipulate the scenario as she holds onto them as bargaining chips.

      For the life of me I’ll never understand why shanann thought it was a good idea to keep the last pregnancy. It seemed that was a catalyst in all this, and even though she claims Chris wanted the child, you never see him act like it or say it. Had the murders not occurred, that poor child would’ve been born to parents who didn’t want it and couldn’t afford it. What kind of life is that for anybody? Aside from “trapping” him, which didn’t work, there really wasn’t any other reason to add to this impending disaster. Sometimes it’s not easy to be honest with ourselves, but introspection is necessary. In situations such as this, hindsight is 20/20, however there’s some things that were staring them right in the face that they chose to blatantly ignore.


  2. Wow – Aug 1,2, and 3 were really the calm before the storm! There. Is. So. Much. To. Unpack. Here.
    On a personal note, I want to start off by saying I’m so glad Nick is on the other side of the world so that when I wake up in the Eastern US Time Zone, my #1YearAgo Watts fix is ready and waiting for me. I am an educator, so I’m still off for the summer, so I’m still very much wrapped up in this case.

    Question first. I was shocked to think Shan’ann was ranting and texting like this at 3:00am, but then remembered the timestamps are still on Mountain Time, correct? So it still wasn’t great, but a bit better than 3:00am. Shan’ann reminds me of how I used to act in my early 20’s. I would really fly off the handle and didn’t really know how to handle issues yet. For all of CW’s flaws with communication, she’s equally to blame. Because ranting through texts and ranting on social media, etc, is not an effective way to communicate. It actually makes things worse. But maybe that’s because I’m a good 12 years older than them as well. Younger people like to do everything through texts and social media.

    This argument could have been (a whole other) Dr. Phil episode. One of those “Can this family be saved?” things. The level of dysfunction, animosity, estrangement, (the list goes on), is so severe. There are three sides to the story of Nutgate: Shan’ann’s version, Cindy’s version, and the truth. We’ll never really know exactly what happened. But it seems like Shan’ann was on the road to having a very difficult life. Not because her child had these allergies, but because of her reaction to her child having these allergies. Every future playdate, every get-together, every sports activity, every school function, etc was going to be an anxiety-riddled endeavor with the potential for a really huge blow-up. I just don’t think she knew how to handle situations. We’ve discussed how emotionally “stunted” CW is, and in some ways, Shan’ann was a bit stunted, too. Like when she said, “worst summer ever”. Unless you’re an educator, or still in school, most adults just wouldn’t say that.

    I know this went on and on, and I’m not sure I even got out all the points I originally intended to make. But today’s entry was huge. I was like, “gotta drag out the laptop to comment on this one”.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. When an argument spins out of control the argument becomes about something else. With Shan’ann the nut incident became about telling Chris what she thinks about his parents and what she thinks about him – that he’s a coward, stupid, has no balls, can’t stand up to his parents and has been neglecting her needs. She feels put upon, carrying the burden of the whole family (even though it’s what she chose to do). It’s what she likely thought of him from the moment they got married and his parents boycotted the wedding. I think with her overblown reaction and needless badgering he may have chuckled secretly to himself that she just proved his point. It was pointless ever trying to work anything out with her, he didn’t want to, and it reinforced his love for NK.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely. Even with the wedding being her second and his first, it still had to be all about her. When that angle didn’t work, she fell right back into playing the victim as she usually did because she knew she could garner attention that way. “They didn’t send out the invites” (or perhaps nobody wanted to come, let’s be honest) “They contaminated the food with gluten and tried to kill her!!” (Meanwhile only two flavors of pro bars are gluten free and she imbibed in all flavors)

      Im not sure how he dealt with this for so long, I know I couldn’t. I once had a boyfriend that was like this, he had a frail and damaged ego and would go off constantly over little things. Then he’d say things like “you’re not seeing the big picture!” and feign righteous indignation much like Shan’Ann. These types usually are good at creating their own problems but terrible at taking responsibility for them or fixing them.


  4. New to commenting but a longtime reader of this site and half of Nick’s books.
    This post is everything.
    Nick, your insight is astonishing.
    So great to come here for provocative and challenging information.
    Sincere thanks to Nick and to those that comment. My whole way of thinking had shifted. But in a good way – meaning, to become a more critical thinker.I
    New books and posts are an high point of my day.


  5. Wow. I feel like my understanding of the escalation towards the murders is making sense in a way it hadn’t fully before. There’s so much in this day I’m going to have to go back over it, but first reading alone has slotted quite a few things into place for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nick,
    I think this is one of my favorite posts you’ve written! I’ve read it five times at least. I especially like how you compare her aggressive confrontational texts to how they register to him it gives me goosebumps to see these details of the disintegration of their marriage like a ticking time bomb every day more fuel added to the fire.

    Love all your books love the posts and all the commentary. Thank you for taking the time in between writing all your books to maintain such a fascinating website!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: What are your thoughts on YouTuber Mary Marlowe reading Post #32 Verbatim? - CrimeStopNews.Com

  8. SW was definitely the bigger person in that marriage. Imagine CW was not able to defend his wife to his family. When you marry someone that person will now be your first priority not your mom or dad. Clearly CW was not man enough to lead his family. If you can’t prioritize your wife then the marriage don’t have a chance. CW is weak and that is why he is in prison now.


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