The crucial aspect to look out for in the timeline below is when the activity of the two girls definitively exits the timeline.
In early September 2018, when I wrote the first of the TWO FACE books, I wrongly assumed the children were killed on Saturday, or even Friday afternoon. This thinking was based on the idea that if Watts wanted to be with his mistress so badly, and wanted to be with her that weekend, why would he go through the motions babysitting them on Friday, Saturday and Sunday?
This was before we got to know Chris Watts. It took a while to get a handle on his introverted, non-confrontational, craven personality. Once the discovery was released, we saw the last images of Bella and Ceecee, confirming that the children went with him to Target earlier in the day [to buy a birthday card], and attended Kaden Lindstrom’s birthday party on Sunday afternoon, from approximately 13:00 to about 16:30/17:00. This was the last time the children were seen alive outside the house.
A final conversation occurred with Frank Rzucek in the afternoon [or early evening]. The exact timing for this conversation is unknown, but would have had to have been before bedtime [19:00]. Frank claimed he spoke to Bella and heard Ceecee in the background, but didn’t see her.
We now know the bedtime schedule was strictly enforced by Shan’ann, so much so that when McKenna babysat, Shan’ann called at 19:20 to ask if the girls were in bed yet. [They weren’t]. If anyone was aware of the bedtime schedule, besides Shan’ann and her father, it was Watts himself. And how did he conceal the crime, the movement of the bodies and the disposal – all within plausible deniability. All within him just getting up and going about his average work day, same ol’ same ol’. Was he loading bodies into his truck? No, he was loading tools etc.
A critical detail appears at this point in the timeline that clearly points to the children already being deceased. Do you see it? [Those who’ve read the books, let’s allow the others a chance to figure this out].
If we treat the discovery as gospel, then it provides a time of death for the children as T-plus 18 hours, or 10:32 + 18 = +- 4:30am. This would mean the discovery assumes the children were killed in the home close to the time Shan’ann was murdered [approximately 04:30].
TCRS differs on both scores, and so did Watts himself; he claimed the children were killed after 06:30 at the well site. TCRS nevertheless agrees with the general thrust of the discovery, which is that all three victims were dead by the time Watts appeared for the first time in the driveway at 05:18 that morning.
Now, in terms of the timeline below, I won’t be drilling down into this in the sort of detail it deserves. I won’t do an analysis for this most crucial day like I have in previous posts, or in the books. I will highlight a few aspects, however.
A. “DRINKING A SHAKE”
What is worth noting is Watts volunteering to Shan’ann that the girls were drinking a shake early in the morning. If you don’t know him, this seems like a detail that’s neither here nor there. But Watts and his wife have been arguing for weeks, he’s withdrawn and he’s also about to murder her. He doesn’t volunteer information unless it’s for a reason. He’s not revealing this detail for nothing. He already knows what he’s going to do later that evening, how and when. And it probably involved the girls drinking a shake.
It’s the TCRS position that the girls were sedated before being smothered, or that the sedative itself was used to kill them in a way that would be painless, not only for them, but also for him. No matter how you cut it, murder is violent and confrontational. But there is a way to do so gratuitously [think Patrick Frazee] and a way to do so with minimum violence [think Caylee Anthony].
Although the autopsy shows no signs of sedatives, one has to balance this with the chemicals in which they were disposed, and ask whether – if a sedative or overdose was use -, whether any traces could be found? The other aspect is a lack of injuries to the neck area, especially the hyoid bone. So there’s no evidence of smothering either. The fact is, we can’t be sure from a forensic evidence perspective how the children were murdered, which is why we’re left with Chris Watts’ version.
The question is, which is worse from the perspective of his family and society: a version where he smothers them [a version already accepted during his sentencing hearing], or a version where he poisoned them in their sleep in a cold, calculated, premeditated fashion?
In broader strokes, the murder of the children conforms to the psychology of someone who leaves an unpleasant confrontation until the very last moment, and then minimizes it.
We’ve seen that with Watts leaving the issue of confronting his wife about the mortgage debt/pregnancy/separation until the last moment, and in this series of posts, especially those dealing with their time in North Carolina, we can see why he was afraid to confront her with it.
Watts also waited until the last moment to tell his mistress about the pregnancy, or to move out of his home [which, realistically, he never actually did]. We see the same psychology repeating during both confessions, where, even when faced with the FBI and CBI, he waits until the last possible moment to:
- Admit to the affair, but even then, won’t reveal his mistresses’ name. [First Confession, second day, at 16:07, approximately five hours into the second interrogation following the polygraph test.]
- Admit that Shan’ann killed the children.[First Confession]
- Admit that he killed Shan’ann because she killed the children [First Confession].
- Admit that his family are dead.[First Confession]
- Admit where his family are buried. [First Confession].
- Admit that he killed the children. [Second Confession].
- Admit that he killed the children after killing Shan’ann. [Second Confession].
One might argue that killing the children after Shan’ann would be leaving things to the last moment, but that’s a frivolous and fallacious argument. The same could be argued vice versa, endlessly. What can’t be argued, is that the deadline for Watts fixing his conundrum with his mistress, was Sunday night, not Monday morning. Sunday night was when Shan’ann was originally scheduled to arrive home, at approximately 23:30. Sunday night was when he [in his own mind] had to finally choose one life over another, and thus [as he interpreted it], one life over their lives.
Since the girls weren’t going to school the next day, from their murderer’s perspective, there was no reason for them to be seen in public the next day. But it was necessary for him to be seen, hence he was outside on the porch, barbecuing. Where were they?
Had the Chris Watts case gone to trial, and had Watts stuck to the lie that Shan’ann had killed the children, District Attorney Michael Rourke could have used the highlighted text above to raise doubt. Shan’ann asked Watts to pack the children’s backpacks and get them ready for school. Watts said he would. Did he? And if he didn’t then [on Sunday morning], wasn’t that because he’d already decided they weren’t going to school on Monday?
[Listen to FBI Agent Coder highlight Watts’ habit of packing his children’s backpacks during the lead up to his First Confession at this link.]
The Google search at 10:45 for Mount Colima was obviously related to Kessinger. We see more of this as the day continued, Watts thinking about her. Watts and Kessinger also exchanged texts while he was at the birthday party, another aspect covered in the narratives.
At 14:46 we see another message from Ronnie Watts in the Phone Data Review, the second in two consecutive days. But what about their correspondence before that?
At 16:56 Watts is still trying to sound like he knows something about geology to his new girlfriend. Again, this is where his head’s at.
During Watts’ 12 minute conversation with Sandi at 17:07, what was discussed? Why did he call her? Why didn’t Sandi mention this conversation anywhere in her lengthy typed statement?
B. EVIDENCE CRATER IN THE PHONE DATA REVIEW?
Shan’ann’s final call to Watts isn’t answered, and Watts takes almost 90 minutes to respond to her text. If we take the Phone Data Review at face value, it’s a little anomaly for which their might be a few explanations. Perhaps he did pass out on the couch?
Actually, no. Missing from the Phone Data Review are Kessinger’s calls, including arguably the most material phone call of the entire case, this one, lasting 111 minutes at 21:21. Bear in mind Watts calls Kessinger, not the the other way round.
While the discovery has a lot of useful information, it’s meaningless unless it can be interpreted and integrated holistically. That means assembling all the statements, evidence and artifacts, and knowing what to filter in and filter out in order to put together a whole that holds together. That requires skill, experience with this sort of thing, and a Sherlock Holmes-like gut feel [AKA True Crime Rocket Science].
What does the 111 minute phone call mean, aside from the fact that that’s what Watts was doing at that time Sunday night? Does it speak to the timeline of the murders of his children? If so, how?
If Watts murdered his wife immediately after her arrival at 01:48, then the phone call highlighted above becomes elevated as a crucial piece of evidence. Why? What was said during 111 minutes of conversation? It’s the last interaction Watts has, of any significance, before committing murder [or triple murder].
Those who have read the book series will have more answers to these questions, but here’s a hint where this is going: Watts’ message back to his wife immediately followed the conclusion of this call, when he still anticipated her arrival on schedule that night.
His text back was pointless, however, because Shan’ann was already in the air when he sent it. But it wasn’t pointless in terms of what he was purposefully volunteering, and how that misinformation covered up what he was really doing, what he’d already done, and what he was about to do.
Finally, his text also implied to Shan’ann that when she finally arrived home that night she should expect to find the house in darkness, and him in bed, asleep. He would tell investigators the same thing during both confessions. Shan’ann believed him. His mistress believed him. Do you?
Buy the TWO FACE book series at this link.