#28 July 31st, 2018: When Chris Watts arrives at the airport in North Carolina, an alarm can be heard sounding in the background #1yearagotodayCW

Chris Watts had to be up early on July 31st, a Tuesday morning, to catch his 05:00 flight with Southwest Airlines [WN 656] from Denver International Airport to Raleigh, North Carolina. It wouldn’t be a direct flight either. He flew via Atlanta. Including the stopover, he’d be at airports, in transit and in the air for around five hours, plenty of time to get some shut eye, or to contemplate his lot in life.

Since Watts had the use of the Lexus [something he elected to do either out of ignorance or in spite of Shan’ann’s wishes], he spent the night at Kessinger’s, and close to 03:00 drove direct from her place to the airport.

Kessinger’s apartment was on the way to the airport anyway, five minutes closer than driving from Frederick. Once again, the dodgy garage sensor not going off that morning came in real handy. It provided him with yet another alibi.

Kessinger’s home was 15.7 miles south of the Watts residence.

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The fact that Watts took a photo of the parking sign suggests that Shan’ann did want Watts to take the car to the airport. They could all use it when they flew back. The setup at Denver parking is such that rates vary from $120 a day, to #33 a day, $25 a day, $16 a day and $8 a day.

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Watts chose the second cheapest option, which triggered a fuming response from Shan’ann. We’ll deal with that in more detail in a moment.

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We can clearly see Watts’ headspace even early on a Tuesday morning. While he’s trying to follow his wife’s orders, he’s also trying to hide away evidence of his mistress. At 04:08 he hurriedly transfers around 50 images to the Secret Calculator.

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Once done with that it’s back to keeping the peace with Shan’ann. At 04:46 he lets her know he’s boarding and tells her he loves her. This is Watts trying to manipulate her with terms of endearment. But it doesn’t work.

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The instructions Shan’ann sends to him at 04:53 for how to schedule a ride with Uber suggests Shan’ann didn’t authorize her husband to use the car, and didn’t want him to use airport parking whatsoever. We know even on her short trip to Arizona, Shan’ann caught a ride with Nickole, and possibly shared the parking fee.

Regardless whether Watts was in the wrong, or whether Shan’ann was justified in being stung by another unnecessary expense, Watts rendezvous with his wife was off to a pretty sobering start. Where he’d been footloose and fancy free surfing the sand dunes and romping with his girlfriend over the weekend, now he was reduced to photographing parking signs and being reprimanded for “not listening”.

If Watts took and sent the parking photo on his own initiative, then we see signs of a more  Machiavellian nature. Then the “cheap parking” image is a distraction from the real reason he wanted the car – so he could transit at Kessinger’s place for a final few hours before catching his flight.

Watts continued to give Shan’ann regular updates. This too was in stark contrast to his behavior over the weekend, and in fact over the past several weeks. Shan’ann continued to give orders.

When he arrives, she’s to let him know so she can record the girls’ reactions. [It doesn’t matter that he hates being in these videos, and that all of them end up being posted on social media].

But Watts tries to be as casual and forthcoming as he possibly can. He tells her:

Ok Boo.

He’s using the affectionate term often to imply that there’s absolutely nothing amiss from his side of the relationship, even though there are serious problems. Watts just doesn’t want a confrontation.

But there is a confrontation – of sorts. Watts has to face his children on camera, and sure enough, it doesn’t go well.

“When Chris Watts caught up to her, Bella was screaming at the top of her lungs…” [Discovery Documents, page 681]

If Shan’ann’s father’s account is accurate, then the reunion had to be filmed twice. Why would Bella be terrified of her father, or be acting in a strange way towards him? One possibility is that the little girl may have overheard her mother talking with her father on the phone, and possibly crying or appearing distressed afterwards. Another possibility is that Shan’ann may have implied to Bella that Watts’ mother had tried to kill her sister, or almost killed her. Either way, having spent 5 weeks [at this point] only in the care of her mother, it’s possible her emotional bond with her father had been refashioned into a kind of terror. Ironically, this “intuition” was correct, but it may also be that if Watts felt his girls had turned against them in some significant way, he may have seen their lives as “taken” by Shan’ann, and “lost” to him.

In any event it’s probably a mistake to ask whether Watts’ behavior caused his children to feel alienated, or the other way round. It was likely a bit of both.

If the video clip below is the second take of the reunion at the airport, we notice a few things weird about it.

  1. Neither of the children seem to have any kind of obvious limp or injury to their ankles of feet. [Shan’ann also says, “Don’t run” over the sound of an airport alarm.]
  2. Watts appears awkward, and despite his Boos and loves yous over text, makes little effort to even greet or acknowledge Shan’ann on camera. [If he does, and Shan’ann posts is, and Kessinger sees it, he’ll have to answer to her too].
  3. Sure enough, Shan’ann posts the fake reunion online, which is how and why we’re able to see it today.
  4. Shan’ann recording the reunion and sharing it online was her way of caging her husband, by continually portraying him against his will in the role of a loving father, and husband, but really, trying to coerce him into staying in the marriage. She knew as well as he did that things weren’t going well in their marriage, and with their family in general.
  5. Finally, Watts hugs and kisses Shan’ann [off-camera], but the way he does this sets off the alarm bells for Shan’ann. [A few days later she is still commenting on how she practically had to ask him for a kiss at the airport].Fullscreen capture 20190731 133033

Bear in mind, Watts’ official version [and apparently the accepted version] is that on the morning of the murders, he had sex with Shan’ann and then they had a conversation where they discussed getting rid of the house. Even then, even in this fictional spiel, Watts didn’t see himself admitting to the affair. He couldn’t.

It’s important to emphasize Watts’ use of terms of endearments to soothe his wife while his feelings for her and how he acts towards her aren’t affectionate either. It’s also worth noting that Shan’ann is also guilty of the same two-faced approach, scornful in her messages and instructions, but the perfect all-is-well mother on social media.

On July 31st he got into a shitload of trouble over a parking disagreement. Imagine what would have happened if he asked his pregnant wife for a divorce while he was having an affair, and while she was still in nuclear meltdown with his parents over nuts in ice cream.

This dilemma would be on his mind for the next week, while his wife and children milled around him, and while his mistress sent him regular images of herself in various states of undress.

 

#27 July 30th, 2018: Resetting Settings + Writing Love Letters #1yearagotodayCW

On Monday it was back to work for Watts. This day was arguably the last normal work day for Watts, because when he returned from North Carolina, the premeditation was likely locked in.

As was her usual habit, Shan’ann called Watts first thing in the morning before he left for work. She may have given him a brief list of instructions that included sorting out her car insurance and getting the damned defective Vivint sensor fixed.

At 09:18 Shan’ann sent Watts three images of a serious injury to one of their children. Watts observed that the ankle appeared dislocated. It’s possible the visual of this injury fed into the mental preparation that was psychologically primed and already in place. How did he feel about his family getting hurt? Bear in mind, what he did to his children’s bodies [stuffing them through thief hatches] wasn’t just an effort to hide their bodies, but to destroy their limbs, to dissolve them into nothing.

It’s unknown which child was injured but it would be no surprise to learn that it was Ceecee. This injury should also be seen in the context of Shan’ann’s earlier fear that Watts’ mother had tried to kill her child. Now we have a serious injury, the circumstances of which aren’t even mentioned. Who was supervising the child when the injury happened? Were they trying to kill the child? Obviously not, but doesn’t it reveal a double standard at best, hypocrisy at worst?

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At 16:44 Kessinger called and left her second voicemail with a creepy, schoolgirl-like giggle. Background noise suggests the call was made while driving. The couple were very much in love at this point, as evidenced by the effort Watts made into researching lovey-dovey lyrics and love letters.  [Five days earlier he’d researched “when to say I love you” online].

Watts likely called Kessinger back shortly after receiving her message, but this call is also deleted from Watts’ device.

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It’s noteworthy that the last order of business for Watts before he decamped from Colorado, was dealing with Vivint and crafting his love letters to Kessinger. On July 30th, his final day in Colorado without his wife and children, what’s he doing specifically?

1. VIVINT

Watts is working, “…resetting settings and sensitivity…and [monitoring]”of the home security system. This is necessary because he’ll be away all week, and also because the system needs to be programmed so that Deeter doesn’t set it off.

This also begs the question, when Watts was away on the camping trip, and sleeping over at Kessinger, where was Deeter? We know Nicolas Atkinson and Nickole were roped in to babysit the dog during the first week of August, and were briefed on the security system and front door code, but what happened before that? Did Watts leave the animal “caged” in the basement the entire time he was sleeping over at Kessinger’s? 

Did this control of the animal while he was getting his kicks also form part of him hardening his heart, and developing the necessary mental preparation to commit triple murder?

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And there’s something else. It may be that during the next week, while sulking, and pining away for Kessinger, he started plotting, and saw the loopholes in the home security system as the key to pulling off his scheme.

2. LOVE LETTERS

At 18:38, presumably while still at home, Watts Googled “love letters”. About an hour-and-a-half later he was likely done, and ready to leave him. Instead he told Shan’ann:

“Letting Dieter out and going to bed Boo. Love you.” 

But he no longer loved her.  He loved someone else, really loved her. That night he didn’t go to bed early, and didn’t sleep in his own bed. It’s likely he didn’t go to sleep at all.

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#25 July 28th, 2018: “So Damn Sexy!” #1yearagotodayCW

Based on the sheer amount of photos Chris Watts took during the two-day camping trip to the Great Sand Dunes, it’s clear the adventure with Nichol Kessinger meant a lot to him. It was exciting, fun, and he was intoxicated by her [and she by him].

They used Kessinger’s vehicle to travel to the Great Sand Dunes, and by 12:53 they’d already pitched a yellow tent [Kessinger’s].

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This song was playing in the background when the campsite was briefly recorded on video:

It looks like these images below [above cloud level] were taken with the campsite slightly in the background, to the left.

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Between 14:29 and 18:55 Watts took dozens of photos and video, of the landscape, but also of his mistress sandboarding, and several selfies of himself with her. Kessinger was dressed provocatively for the outing in a tight, sleeveless teal t-shirt, and very short shorts. Watts was more understated in a grey shirt, black shorts and black cap.

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Even without make-up, Kessinger was hitting the right buttons with Watts, causing him to voiceover a video of her skiing down to the bottom of a dune:

“So damn sexy!”

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She thought he was too.

We know that shortly after the trip ended, on July 30th, Watts wrote several love letters on colored paper.

Whatever he felt, it appeared to be mutual. In a self-recorded video that first afternoon, Kessinger breathlessly thanked Watts for coming out with her, and said she was glad he was having a blast.

View this post on Instagram

#ChrisWatts

A post shared by Nick van der Leek (@nickvdleek) on

Both Watts and his mistress knew they had to make this last weekend count. It was the last chance, at the end of their long, hot, summer romance, to punch the ticket and stay on the roller-coaster for one final series of giddy swoops and turns.  After that, it would be back to intermittent cuddles and random, stolen intimacies.

Kessinger still had the idea then that when Shan’ann and the kids returned, her access to her beau would be seriously reduced. Watts was even more painfully aware that once Shan’ann and the kids were back, the roller-coaster ride was going to be over, perhaps forever.

That night they made a campfire and then bedded down together under the whispering trees and twinkling stars.

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It’s also worth noting that on July 28th Shan’ann never got hold of Watts, and he never got hold of her. If they had spoken at any time that day, perhaps this would have interrupted the spell, broken “the leash” Kessinger was placing on her man.

This was the first day in weeks, perhaps years, that they had not spoken for a full day, and perhaps that was all that was needed to put his family completely out of his mind. On the 28th he was experiencing what it felt like not be be married, not to be a husband, not to be a father, not to be obligated to them. He didn’t need to think about them or do anything he didn’t want to do. And he liked loved it. This was the life he wanted.

The Great Sand Dunes made an indelible impression on Watts and, based on Kessinger’s texts to her friend Charlotte Nelson two weeks later, seemed to seal the deal for her too.

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#24 July 27th, 2018: Friday #1yearagotodayCW

July 27th was a Friday. Wine and romance seemed on the cards before leaving for their adventure in the dunes the next day. Watts told his wife he was going hiking. Plausible deniability. A small lie to hide a bigger lie. This way he could get away with not having reception on his phone for long periods.  This would be his same MO when lying to friends, family and cops. Watts may have imagined himself a good liar, but lying to a wife and mistress about minutiae is a different ball game to lying to the media and the FBI about triple murder. Fullscreen capture 20190726 102521

It’s likely a lot of data has been deleted from July 27th, including Watts’ bogus hiking bullshit to Shan’ann.

#23 July 26th, 2018: Money, Security and a “Good Mood” #1yearagotodayCW

Whose idea was it to go the Great Sand Dunes National Park that weekend? When did that idea come up?

July 26th, 2018, was the last Thursday leading up to Watts’ final weekend with Nichol Kessinger before flying down to North Carolina. They were going to need to make it count. But first, there was some admin to be done.

Unusually, the first call to Watts’ phone that morning was from Kessinger. Since he was up and running, Watts elected to call his wife afterwards. Shan’ann called him back, then again mid-morning. Their calls may have had something to do with Vivint, and the still broken garage sensor, or to do with cash, or both. Watts was going to need some if he was going to go on a camping trip with his mistress that weekend. [On July 30th we know for a fact that Shan’ann and Watts were still talking about the “sensitivity” of the Vivint settings].

After work, Watts called Chase Bank, which suggests the idea to go to Great Sand Dunes that weekend could have happened sometime that Thursday, possibly at work. Since Kessinger says in the video “thank you for coming here with me”, it appears to have been her idea.

A few minutes after calling the bank, Watts accessed Myprepaidcenter.com. It was by using this system that Watts was able to buy things for several weeks without alerting Shan’ann to his non-discretionary expenses.

After that Watts tried to sort things out with Vivint, calling Shan’ann afterwards to report  on any progress. Possibly he also took Kessinger out to the Lazy Dog restaurant near their home that evening and used his prepaid debit card to finance the meal.Fullscreen capture 20190726 102512

Meanwhile on Shan’ann’s Facebook, she and Bella were all smiles. Shan’ann gave herself a clean bill of health, as well as everyone around her.

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#21 July 24th 2018: “Man I’m having affair with says he will leave his wife” #1yearagotodayCW

July 24th was roughly halfway into Shan’ann’s 6 week adventure in North Carolina, three weeks prior to her murder and two weeks after Nut Gate. It’s clear by this milestone it wasn’t only the couple that were arguing, they seemed to be arguing with their respective in laws as well.

By July 24th Kessinger seemed to have confirmation from Watts that the man she said she loved [ she told him she loved him “a couple of times] also loved her, and planned to [somehow] make it official.

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On July 24th Shan’ann’s mother called Watts 12 different times, demonstrating that if Shan’ann could push and pressure him, so could Sandi. Sandi spoke to Watts for around 30 minutes over the course of those twelve calls [each call thus lasting roughly two to three minutes].

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We can also see how smoothly and easily Watts lies to Shan’ann about where he was, and what he was doing. Cheating in general, but conducting an affair in particular, requires planning, foresight, and knowing how to plausibly account for downtime. All of this was practice for the dark acts that were brewing in the back of his mind.

We can see that July 24th was also the first time Shan’ann truly saw beyond Nut Gate, and realized something was very wrong with him, and their marriage. She even mentions it to him “having another girl” which Watts craftily lets slide. But this was late, too late. It was already more than three weeks into his sexually active affair and he’d already committed himself to his mistress, and apparently, she to him.  Shan’ann’s suspicions at this point were a serious threat to his future now, and his future plans. What could he do about that?

In total, Shan’ann and her mother spoke to Watts for over an hour on July 24th, a new record. Visa-Exe.Black-Univ-rel

#20 July 23rd, 2018: An Average Monday #1yearagotodayCW

July 23rd, 2018, a Monday, started the same way most weekdays did during the 5 weeks Shan’ann and the kids were away. Shan’ann called him at the crack of dawn, catching him just before he went to work. Later, at work presumably, Watts transferred another image of Kessinger into his Secret Calculator app.

…it felt like she had a leash on him and she was able to tug him away from Shan’ann…[CBI Report, page 5

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Why did Watts call Nickole? Was it to do another Thrive promo, as he had with Cristina Meacham?

By the evening, it was back to wining and healthy dining with Kessinger, and sleeping over.

#19 July 22nd, 2018: Arguments #1yearagotodayCW

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.

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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].

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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.Fullscreen capture 20190722 114514

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:Fullscreen capture 20190722 120225

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.

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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.

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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. watts-home-1 (1)

#18 July 21st, 2018: 12 Weeks: A Thrive event in Moore County, or Drag Racing at Bandimere Speedway – which would be your poison? #1yearagotodayCW

On Saturday, July 21st, Shan’ann was 12 weeks pregnant. She put this image up on her Facebook page.

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Many have speculated whether Nichol Kessinger saw this image or others like it. In the noise of Thrive crap, they would be hard to spot, and it took me a long time to find this one. As it turned out, the day Shan’ann reached 12 weeks coincided with a Thrive local event. According to Shan’ann’s Thrive badge she was a 80K VIP promoter [and this was also part of Shan’ann’s bio on Facebook], which is the second highest ranking. Addy was at 200K.

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Meanwhile, back in Colorado, Watts was with Kessinger at the Bandimere Speedway. Compare in your mind the fun of promoters selling powders to, and recruiting each other on a Saturday, to this:

On July 21st we also have confirmation [not that it’s any big surprise] that Watts was deleting a lot of the content on his device.

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Based on what he said during his Second Confession, Watts was clearly having the time of his life with Kessinger, including on this day. Being with her, here, brought back fond childhood memories. He had to feel a bitter resentment rising when he compared this happy, vivid reminiscing to Shan’ann causing havoc with his folks in North Carolina.

At the same time he felt she was costing him a fairy tale, Kessinger seemed to be offering him another, and he was tempted. One year later, based on what’s still on Watts’ phone and what he deleted, it’s obvious which life he preferred, and what choice he was slowly gravitating towards.

#17 July 20th, 2018: Sexting on Snapchat? #1yearagotodayCW

July 20th was the first time Watts logged onto Snapchat, as far as we know. Snapchat started off as a sexting app; it’s primarily used to share photos and videos which disappear shortly after they’ve been seen. Given Nichol Kessinger’s numerous selfies, there’s reason to believe she used the app, and that’s why Watts was on it at 02:00 on a Friday morning.

More: Do YOU date on Snapchat? Singles prefer the social platform over Instagram for flirting – until they hit 35, study finds – Daily Mail

Snapchat Finally Acknowledges the Existence of Sexting With ‘Memories’ – Inc.com

The rise of Snapchat from a sexting app by Stanford frat bros to a $3 billion IPO – Business Insider

By Friday afternoon Watts was ready to start wining and dining his mistress, and started Googling healthy eateries, breweries, gyms, and tickets for Brandimere Speedway.

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At 18:12 Watts transferred a tranche of images of Kessinger into his Secret Calculator app. This gives some reinforcement to the notion that at 02:00 she may have been sharing private photos on Snapchat with him.

When Watts refers to being “addicted” to Kessinger, and her having a leash on him, it seems to be in the sexual area, above all.

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The lack of data between 02:00 and 17:00, including zero contact with or from Shan’ann, may indicate an argument, or that some critical data was removed on July 20th.

We know that Watts made contact with Cristina Meacham to do a Thrive spiel. It’s interesting that he did it with her and not with Shan’ann. But this spiel had to have been brokered by Shan’ann.

In any event, the next day Shan’ann would show the first obvious signs of networking with Thrivers in North Carolina, this after more than four weeks away from Colorado.

Note Frank Rzucek’s comment above:

I love her cute/evil laugh. Silly little shit lol.

1 year later, conspicuously absent from commenting on these images are Chris Watts and his parents. It’s unlikely any of the Watts family were involved in Shan’ann’s social media at this point, which shows the schism was already brewing on social media several weeks before the murders. It’s also abundantly clear Watts was looking at and even hoarding digital images throughout this period, just not of his wife and daughters.