It’s my job to shed new light and to wrest new insights, and original lines of inquiry into this case. Many who are familiar with the Watts case know the events that follow all too well, at least, we think we do, don’t we?
But most of the time we’re only looking at this case from one perspective, our own. What we’re going to do on #42 is going to feel a little strange at first, but trust me, it puts the whole case [and Watts in particular], in a whole new light.
What we’re going to do as we review Tuesday is think about the events not through our eyes, or even Chris Watts’ eyes, but through the heart of Nichole Kessinger, and through the eyes of Shan’ann’s mother.
Those who demonize Nichole Kessinger also dehumanize her, and by doing that they miss a vital opportunity to understand the emotional dynamics running through this case. She was in love with him, and had her hopes set on him, to a point. And so did he. It’s easy to be dismissive of this, or to imagine knowing this in the back of our minds is intellectually sufficient. It’s not. In order to intuit what really happened, we have to step into the hearts and minds of these people, even if for just an evening here, or a telephone call there.
So let’s do that.
When we do a cursory read-through of the Phone Data Review, every interaction refers to some dynamic between two people. Understandably, Nichol Kessinger is Googling Shan’ann Watts late at night. If something has happened to her, Kessinger knows something is wrong with him. She really hopes and wishes that’s not the case. She’s hoping what Watts has told her is true; that they’ve been arguing, and Shan’ann’s no longer interested in staying in the marriage. If this is true, it’s good news for her, good news for them. But is it true?
When the discovery refers to a conversation on the night of August 13th, it was actually a series of conversations that went on from about 21:00 until 02:00 the next morning. During this time Watts also FaceTimed with Kessinger.
One of the things that came up in the conversation was Watts telling his mistress that Shan’ann had removed her ring [he had removed it from her dead finger] and left it on her bedside table. What did this mean? Of course, Watts was manipulating her and manipulating the scene, trying to send a message, appropriating her ring in order to create the contrivance of a scorned wife. Of course, Watts also needed and wanted the ring, because he needed cash. We shouldn’t judge Kessinger too harshly for suggesting that Watts pawn it. She didn’t know then what the true state of affairs was. It does reveal what a sly, sneaky bastard Watts was.
On Monday night/Tuesday morning, Kessinger is starting to pick up mixed feelings and red flags. Some of what Watts is saying is okay, but some of it doesn’t gibe. Now he’s saying he wants the separation, when all along he’d said Shan’ann wanted to leave the marriage. Perhaps the biggest red flag – for her – was Watts saying Shan’ann was okay with the divorce. Under the circumstances, her storming off without a word, taking the kids, to decompress somewhere [without telling her], well, it just didn’t jibe.
Of course, from Watts’ point of view, it made complete sense to feel that Shan’ann was huffy under the circumstances and had left to decompress. It felt like the right thing to express. And in terms of what he said to Kessinger it felt like the right thing to say that she was okay with the new status quo. That was the point of the murder, to make things okay. To force Shan’ann to be okay with him seeing Kessinger, and to facilitate her being okay with him. Does that make sense?
For both Watts and Kessinger, the week of August 13th was supposed to be about the two of them looking for a new apartment for him. She’d apparently found one, and told him so in the week prior after he returned from North Carolina. It seems he postponed looking for apartments with her perhaps because he had the kids to look after, and also because the urgency arose in him to get rid of his family permanently.
To Watts, Kessinger’s willingness and initiative to help him find a new place to live must have felt like a tremendous vote of confidence. As if she was truly communicating the potential for a long term commitment. And he wanted that. He wanted to accept that and give her that. All of this was in the offing leading up to the weekend, and then going into Monday. Wasn’t it fortuitous that just when they were supposed to find a place, Shan’ann and the kids conveniently stepped out of the picture. Just as they returned to Colorado [to fuck things up] they vanished again.
It also didn’t make sense that Shan’ann would call a realtor just like that. Watts had dragged his feet, she said. Why the the slow pace and then, a sudden haste?
We know that during his drive back to the crime scene on Monday midday, Watts seemed to be thinking bigger than “an apartment”. He was thinking a three-car garage. Watts wasn’t just getting greedy about getting Kessinger and getting rid of his family, he wanted it all, didn’t he?
There is obviously a lot more to unpack, especially in terms of the crime scene, and what Watts might have been trying to do by telling Kessinger there were “smelly sheets” in the house. We know there were, were know some sheets had feces on them. We also know that by Tuesday, Watts had basically cleaned or contaminated the entire house, including making all upstairs beds.
We also see Watts seemingly dodging the calls of the cops [at 01:58] while he’s trying to chat to his girlfriend. This alone should show to what extent his head was in the clouds.
Now let’s dead with Shan’ann’s mother’s reaction to the unfolding tragedy.
Sandi and Shan’ann are similar. Similar domineering, strong, emotional personalities. Sandi’s near absence from the timeline on August 13th should be borne in mind. Sandi knew about the separation, so much so she told her colleagues at Hair Jazz. Sandi knew Watts had been cold, distant and standoffish. Sandi knew Shan’ann was pregant, and that the gender reveal was about to happen. So why wasn’t Sandi more involved on Monday? Why was Nickole the hero of the day and not Sandi?
To her credit, Sandi did call Primrose school to find out if the kids were there, and she was in constant contact with Nickole, including while she and her son were traipsing through the crime scene.
But the fact remains that by the end of Monday, Watts had basically led everyone to believe Shan’ann and the kids were out there somewhere, and probably would return home that evening, or the next morning. This was classic delaying tactics by Watts. We’ve seen it time and time again from him. The best way to avoid a confrontation is to delay it again and again and again. He did that with Shan’ann, the pregnancy, with Kessinger [in terms of the divorce and apartment hunting] and now he was doing it with the cops.
Officer Ed Goodman was working the late shift that night. He was the one trying to get hold on Watts. He’d actually been to the the Wyndham Hill Estate searching late at night through the empty homes still under construction. Goodman had some difficulty contacting Watts, possibly because Watts was FaceTiming at the time. Watts eventually called Goodman back [at 02:05] from his work phone.
I don’t want to deal with this aspect in any more detail, because I want to get to Sandi’s involvement, but perhaps due to the lateness of the hour, or because he’d just been talking casually and fairly openly with Kessinger moments earlier, Watts is very casual as he runs through the vital statistics of his family. As a result Goodman notes:
It should be mentioned that once I had made contact with Christopher, he did not ask me if I had been calling because I had any information concerning his missing wife and daughters, or if I was calling because they had been found.
About two-and-a-half hours later, Sandi calls Officer Goodman. If Watts sounds casual, Sandi sounds distraught. She’s convinced [rightly] that Watts is involved, believes there’s been foul play [correctly] and suspects Watts is “going to pour oil on the bodies to dispose of them” [100% right].
According to the Phone Data Review Sandi called the cops first [at 04:38] and then called Watts at 04:58. This might be an error, because Sandi reported to the police that Watts didn’t sound emotional [just as he didn’t sound at all concerned to Officer Goodman].
In any event, it’s unfortunate Sandi didn’t communicate her concerns/intuitions earlier. The remains might have been found much earlier. In a situation like this emotions and confusion tend to muddle everything. It’s important for those involved to simply stick to the facts. What behavior specifically adds up to a particular potentiality? Also, what are the key dynamics going on that others might not be aware of, that are pulling the individuals in particular direction? It’s easy to say in hindsight, but the finances, Shan’ann’s concern about an affair, the pregnancy, the extended time apart, the expressed intention to separate, Shan’ann’s feelings on the matter, the imminent gender reveal and Watts newfound vanity all formed part of a lethal and toxic mix. Unfortunately it took everyone weeks, if not months to tie all of these threads together [and we’re still doing so].
I won’t be dealing with the remainder of the entries here. We know that by mid-morning Watts gave his now infamous Sermon on the Porch, and once that happened, his goose was cooked.
What I want you to do now is watch the interview again, but watch it as Nichol Kessinger, who is in love with Watts, and wants to believe him. Instead she finds, like the rest of us, that she can’t. What she sees is another face, a second face, to Chris Watts. In essence, a TWO FACE.
During the entire seven minutes of the interview, Watts carefully avoids saying one word, the most important word: pregnant. This really cuts to the heart of the reason why he killed her, and in typical Watts’ fashion, he avoids telling the media this. It’s unfortunate they didn’t bring it up.
In any event, it’s also the Sermon on the Porch that led to Kessinger finally making up her mind about Watts. She tells her father and they resolve to go to the police, but judging from what we know, not the same day. Like Sandi, they seemed to need the rest of the day to sleep on it.