#40 Sunday August 12th, 2018: The 111 Missing Minutes that Change Everything #1yearagotodayCW

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.

These are the last known images of the Watts children, Chris Watts and Shan’ann prior to the murders [November 7th, 2018]

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.

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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. 0_thp_chpp_271118slug_2519jpg

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.

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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:

  1. 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.]
  2. Admit that Shan’ann killed the children.[First Confession]
  3. Admit that he killed Shan’ann because she killed the children [First Confession].
  4. Admit that his family are dead.[First Confession]
  5. Admit where his family are buried. [First Confession].
  6. Admit that he killed the children. [Second Confession].
  7. 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?

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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.]

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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.

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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? 

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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.

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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?

There’s a reason Chris Watts can’t remember Bella’s Last Words

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.

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27 thoughts on “#40 Sunday August 12th, 2018: The 111 Missing Minutes that Change Everything #1yearagotodayCW

  1. I really wish it had been Nick asking CW the questions in that so-called “second confession” interview. Not that I think CW would have honestly answered them, but at least he would have asked the remaining important questions.

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    • No kidding — it was as though Tami & Coder were almost feeding him with scenarios and he was just taking the bait and expanding a little and they never challenged him at all, even though I don’t think they believed him. Even Rourke said he felt there were elements of truth in CW’s confession, but never said gee, now we finally know what happened. I’m sure it was all to keep CW talking and possibly open to another interview at a later time, even though it doesn’t appear that will happen. And the mainstream media just bought into it, no questions at all. Very frustrating.

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  2. I am of the opinion that this case has stayed in the media for so long because no one has bought it. ABC 20/20 has run Devil in Disguise 3 times in 11 months.

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  3. I don’t think I can answer your question about what is missing in the text and phone logs but I did write out a timeline for myself based on Colorado mountain time – military time is confusing to me, I always have to consult a military timetable. Or I’m too lazy to do the math. At any rate it stacks up like so:

    5:00 pm. Frank calls Watts and talks to Bella and hears CeCe
    5:06 Watts texts Kodi
    5:07 Watts calls Sandi Rzucek
    5:23 Watts tells Kodi “I can go out there (to Cervi) though”
    6:09 Kodi confirms – ok for Watts to go
    6:44 Watts takes picture of refrigerator thermometer
    6:47 Watts takes pictures of chicken breasts on grill
    7:46 Watts texts Sha’nann he just got Bella back in bed (and can’t send picture of them at this time)
    Bedtime is usually 7 p.m.

    It occurred to me, since Watts likes to document “scenes” and scenarios in pictures (sunflowers, hailstorm on day he couldn’t make first ultrasound, kids at kitchen table, kids at birthday party) that he may not have been barbecuing at all that night. That would give him more time in the house to watch for sedation to take hold, and also smother – and then prepare the bodies for removal later. The neighbor (Bette Marcoux or her significant other said they saw him on his back porch but couldn’t they have assumed he was barbecuing? He was on the back porch earlier, depositing wet shoes. Maybe they had seen him barbecuing out there before and simply assumed he was doing so 8/12. Maybe TinyTech can explain how one can take a picture at any time but upload it into your phone with a current timestamp. So it might be far fetched, but might he not have barbecued at all that night? It seems odd to me to take a picture of chicken breasts, and since we haven’t seen the picture could they have been laid out in the kitchen on a stovetop grill and not necessarily on the barbecue grill – which means he could have actually cooked them at any time after he was finished with the business at hand inside the house.

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    • I know what you’re getting at but I think you’re overthinking it. Remember if they were sedated, it would take a while for the overdose to actually kill them. If he appeared in public during this time, it could only improve his case. A barbecue meets that criteria, and a barbecue is fairly difficult to miss, which is the point.

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      • I guess because Bella fought back? Wow, so you’re saying not only was there a confrontation, Watts actually fought with his daughter before murdering her? Does that sound like the sort of thing he would do, do you think?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kate, it’s horrible to think about but it’s possible the drugs didn’t quite kill Bella and he finished off the process. This would explain the difference in the findings on the children’s bodies. Even if unconscious from drugs she would have bruised and injured as a live person, and maybe even struggled from a survival reflex.

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      • Exif data can be manipulated, yes. Im unsure if Chris would know how to do it, but it’s not super hard. However, it has to be done prior to taking the photo in question in order for it to really work. EXIF and metadata if edited after the fact – well it would be relatively simple to figure out. Now, if I turn off location on my phone, remove permissions from my camera, turn on airplane mode to block it from pinging off satellites, and then change the date and time settings on my phone to whatever day/time i want that picture to reflect (setting it manually) then take the picture, the embedded data is going to reflect that. It can’t connect to any towers or satellites, plus I just changed the date and time, so it’ll imprint it with the false data I provided as that’s all it has to go by. I hope this makes sense, I tried to explain it as “non technical” as possible.

        Now, if his phone backs up to the iCloud every day, and say today is the 15th but my picture says Aug 6th because of the fake info I fed my phone, it would be weird that it wasn’t also uploaded to the cloud on the 6th, it’s only just appearing now on the 15th. Obviously there’s easy fixes for this but I’m sure you get what I’m saying.

        If detectives used an EXIF data and a picture had been exited improperly, they could tell if they knew what they were doing. However if they did it like how I described above, they’d really be none the wiser. Hope that helps!

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  4. What? You and sylvester are putting out the possibility (probability?) of death by overdose. I said if she died by overdose why the wounds that indicate a struggle. Then you say because she struggled. What do you mean? If you believe she died by OD there wouldn’t be a struggle.

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    • @Kate The injuries on Bella may have been sustained when she was shoved through the oil hatch. The only struggle was the struggle CW had getting her through the opening. Hard to think about, but sadly true.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Rourke put it out there that Bella fought back for her life. How? Why – it comforts the victim’s families sometimes to think that their beloved fought, even though completely overpowered. It also helped convince a judge that the perpetrator is a monster and deserves the maximum in sentencing. Bella’s autopsy said she suffered blunt force trauma of the frenulum. Blunt force. Does that sound like a blanket or a pillow caused blunt force trauma? It sounds more like to me something he used, maybe his foot in his boot or the handle of the rake to push, poke or kick a body down into a small 8″ hatch postmortem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG. That image is so disturbing. I see where you’re going, but wouldn’t the autopsy indicate injuries to the outside of her face. Her injuries were biting of the tongue multiple times and a torn frenulum. To inflict those injuries using a boot, for example, wouldn’t there be postmortem injuries to her face.

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      • We discussed on TCRS last year that the condition of the kids’ bodies, after being submerged in oil for days, would not be good and autopsy results were affected, perhaps educated guesses as to when/how injuries occurred.

        Chris wanted to ensure the kids bodies would not provide an accurate record of drugs in their system or cause of death if found at all, so he chose the oil wells. With more time and effort he could have later added his wife’s body. He had hours to carry out his plan with the kids but since his wife’s plane was delayed less time to get rid of her body before daylight.

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    • Here’s my question regarding that – wouldn’t it be easy to tell if it was done post or pre mortem due to bruising and lucidity? IIRC, lividity starts to occur in as little as 20 minutes post mortem and increases as time goes on, up until 12 hours post mortem. I’d think an experienced ME could tell if the bruising was post or pre mortem, depending on what state the bodies were in when recovered, of course.

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    • These are the same people who had no issue using their friend and family’s death to push Thrive products, almost immediately following the murder. Nicole Atkinson had a “Killer Sale on Thrive!” (her exact words, not mine) Right after the death of her friend which is not only insensitive but disgusting. Then Shananns immediately family had no issue hocking Thrive sales saying “This is what shanann would’ve wanted!!” which was probably the trashiest thing ive seen a victim’s family do, with the exception of Faye and others involved in the OJ Simpson Case. They’ve willingly put themselves in the media and took every paid opportunity to talk about Shanann and the kids, yet now they don’t want people asking them things? I bet they’d have no problem though if you contacted them and asked them where to purchase some Thrive crap, or asked them to do a paid interview or promotion. What’s worse, besides the fact that it’s absolutely a classless move is that they seem to forget how big a part Thrive played in their child’s demise. You can’t continually put yourself in the media an do interviews and SM posts, then request everyone keep their mouth shut and stop bringing it up. It was fine for the Rzuceks/Onoratis and NUAs family to exploit the murders for profit and talk about Chris and the Watts, but the minute the cash offers dry up and when they start looking at Shananns history of scamming, then it’s “too much”?

      I understand we aren’t dealing with rocket scientists with regards to that particular group of people, but this is common sense. If you keep starting the conversation, don’t be surprised when others join in. Thank you Kate for the link, and I very much agree with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, I do see your point. It could be something was used to sedate the children first, then smothering. If Bella moved her head back and forth under a firm grip, or a pillow pressed down forcefully it might have been enough to break the frenulum and cause her to bite down. In that respect she “fought back” or struggled.

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    • Use your own judgement. Which is more likely to tear the lip, a blanket pressed over the mouth, or being forced through an 8.5 inch hole, where the lip is impacting repeatedly against a hard metallic surface. Watts also said during his Second Confession:

      “When the prosecutor said Bella bit her tongue repeatedly, he wanted to bang his head up against the wall. ” – CBI Report, page 9.

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  7. NVLD, it’s not the soft blanket causing the damage, it the force of the brute’s hand smashed against her face causing the damage. It’s not the lip, it’s the frenulum. Frenulectomies are performed all the time in a clinic with the snip of a scissors. The frenulum is just that small piece of tissue above your teeth in the front inside the lip. If her mouth were repeatedly bounced off the 8 inch pipe, in my opinion there would be more damage to her face, inside and out.

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    • I know what a frenulum is. It’s supposed to be a very tough, very elastic piece of tissue. Besides appearing in the mouth, it also appears in the genitals, facilitating vigorous rubbing during coitus. It’s not easily torn. It’s not typically associated with manual smothering, and it’s the first time I’ve encountered it even though I’ve covered several smothering/strangling cases. I’d be interested to know how often boxers tear their frenulums.

      https://www.thephysiocompany.com/blog/most-common-boxing-injuries

      In the Amanda Knox case the pressure around Meredith’s mouth and cheeks was such that bruises were left in the shape of finger impressions. One of the early statements by prosecutors was that the finger marks were the size of woman’s fingers.

      http://themurderofmeredithkercher.com/Evidence_List#Wounds

      The point is, even fingers pressing very hard on a face don’t necessarily tear the skin, but they may bruise it. Also, the finger is an object surrounded by soft tissue. You’d have to exert incredible force not only against the flesh, but at the same time moving laterally to induce a tear. As an experiment, you can try pressing your own index finger hard against your upper lip, and then pull it sideways. It slips off pretty easily, and so does the moist skin underneath it.

      If you’re happy with a scenario that corresponds to Watts taking his children to the well site, and doing exactly what he said, then go with that. Let’s be clear then that your theory is basically taking Watts’ version as gospel, but then it’s not necessary for you to follow the analysis on this site. It should be case closed, everything that needed to be addressed was addressed on February 18th.

      But that’s not the position of this site, not just because it makes no sense, but because it contradicts a theory of premeditation. It also contradicts the psychology of Watts himself.

      In terms of the crime scene as a whole, how come Bella, a 4-year-old, has so-called defensive wounds but no one else does? Bella was able to fight back but 34-year-old Shan’ann wasn’t? And why does she have wounds to her lips but none to her neck or throat?

      From the CBI Report, Watts says:

      “He put his hand over BELLA’s nose and mouth (over the blanket) and his other hand around the front of her neck.”

      In terms of Ceecee:

      “He put his hand over CELESTE’s mouth and nose (over the blanket) and his other hand around the front of CELESTE’s neck.”

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  8. Yes, you are right. I haven’t heard of anyone being smothered that caused a laceration to their frenulum. It had to come from being forced into the thief hatch – the edges of that hatch look like a circular blade. It’s hard to even think about it, how she must have gotten stuck partway through and what he had to do to force her all the way down. And then he lies to the agents when they asked if it was hard getting them in there, “not really.” If he had said yes, it was hard with Bella since she was bigger than CeCe then it would have shown how very committed he was, and what measures he took to make sure they went down there and stayed down.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you imagine a face pushed against a smooth, concave surface, almost like the inside of a glass vase, and forced down, the lip is precisely what will be torn upwards. That’s how I visualize it. It’s also possible her mouth caught on the edge of the rim, but that would suggest irregular bruising, circular contusions and chipping of teeth. It’s difficult to be clear what the autopsy could find given the oil contamination, but it’s possible severe bruises would still be visible, and internal injuries even more so.

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  9. Is it possible the 111 minute phone call was meant to be something of an alibi between CW and NK? That there was a particular plan that went awry when SW’s flight was delayed and then CW couldn’t figure out the new passcode for SW’s phone in order to keep her digitally alive temporarily.

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    • Interesting thought. He might have thought of it like that. He was off the phone by the time he estimated Shan’ann had landed, with the television blaring loudly.

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  10. Funny how NK comments about hearing the TV in the background turned into television blaring loudly. Actually, not funny, an example of how a truth turns into fiction.

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