Unsettling details that Netflix didn’t show you
I have watched and read several true crime stories. By now, I thought I would be too desensitized to have extreme reactions to murder cases.
But, this case shook me to my core. And it left an impact on me like no other.
Unlike a lot of people, the first time I heard about this was not when the Netflix documentary was released. I came across a random post about Shanann?s (and the kids?) disappearance on my timeline way back in August 2018.
And for some reason, this case intrigued me more than the usual news reports. As the twisted details began to unfold, I followed every YouTube video, news article, Facebook post, and Tweet about them.
Not to mention that I scoured Shanann?s social media posts, to see if I could find something odd. For three months, I checked the information releases every single day. Right until the day of Chris Watts?s sentencing, which I watched live.
The Netflix documentary American Murder: The Family Next Door refreshed my memory and brought to mind all the details I read in the 2000-page discovery document released by the Weld County District Attorney?s Office.
1. Nobody truly knew who Chris Watts was
If you had watched the footage of Chris and Shanann?s wedding prior to the slaughter, you would think ?Aw, what a cute couple?.
In the wedding videos, you can see the couple blissfully locked in a warm embrace, swaying to soft tunes while whispering sweet nothings in each other?s ears.
You can see the widest smiles lighting up their faces, almost as if they?re floating on the clouds in euphoria. And now as you watch the same footage, all you can think is ?HOW??.
How did this man, who was lauded as Shanann?s ideal partner by all their family and friends, cause this carnage? In their speeches, you see Shanann?s father and brother hold back tears of joy as they lovingly welcome Chris into their family, saying there could be nobody better for her.
People who are familiar with the standard set of serial killer traits would know that it is indeed possible to wear a mask when you face the world, hiding a monster behind it.
Despite this knowledge, the fact that Chris could kill the family he seemingly loved, adored, and protected, is a piercing shock.
2. The murders were premeditated
The evidence against Chris and his own actions strongly indicate that these cruel murders were not done in a sudden fit of rage. There is no question of whether he suddenly snapped and made a terrible mistake in the heat of the moment.
Chris Watts knew exactly what he was doing.
The last day that he spent with his two little daughters was no different from a normal fun Sunday. They watched cartoons and went to Target to pick up a gift for a birthday party. They ate cold pizza for lunch and then went to the party, where the girls had an ?epic time?.
At 5 P.M, he told a coworker that he would go out to the oil field(the location where the bodies would be found eventually) the next morning, instead of the office.
?All the weeks of me thinking about killing her(Shanann), and now I was faced with it.?
?August 12th when I finished putting the girls to bed, I walked away and said, ?That?s the last time I?m going to be tucking my babies in.? I knew what was going to happen the day before and I did nothing to stop it!?
? Chris Watts, in letters to Cherlyn Cadle
3. Chris tried to pin the crimes on Shanann
This man killed his entire family in cold blood. And we don’t know if he had an ounce of remorse while or after he did it. But we do know he did his best to try and cover it up.
His nervous rambling, unusual behavior and fidgeting gave him away to some extent. But think about the efforts he made even in this state.
He gave police interviews. He urged his family to ?come back to him? on national television. He called and texted Shanann multiple times as if she could answer.
All that time, he knew she would never see or hear him again.
What appalls me is how when he failed a polygraph test, he crafted a story to publically absolve himself of a fair share of the blame.
He was ready to kill his pregnant wife a second time, this time by wanting people to believe that she murdered their children.
4. Nichol Kessinger lied and got away with it
According to Chris Watts?s mistress Nichol Kessinger, she and Chris struck up a friendship and began dating only in June. And she initially said that she had no idea that Chris was married and had a family.
However, the recovered search history (Yes, Nichol had cleared her searches) on her phone paint a different picture.
Nichol had googled the names Shanann Watts and Chris Watts as early as September 1st, 2017. And she did so on multiple occasions well before June, which is when she and Chris told the police they got together.
According to Michael Rourke, Weld County District Attorney:
?The dates to which you are referring ? in 2017 where it appears she Googled or otherwise searched Shanann ? was data that came off her phone.?
?It?s not a typographical error in the report. [The detectives] are reporting what was contained in the data from her phone. I don?t know the answer to the question of why or how those dates ended up in her phone.?
Nichol claimed that Chris was more serious about their relationship than she was. But according to her phone data, on August 4, 2018, she browsed wedding dresses online for over two hours. On August 8, she did a Google search on ?marrying your mistress?.
Police reports revealed a few more internet searches she had done after the murders. One of them was ?can cops trace text messages?. I?m guessing she found alarming answers because she deleted her messages, photos, and search history before contacting the police.
Nichol also googled ?Amber Frey? and her book deal multiple times. Yes, she looked up the mistress of Scott Peterson, a man convicted for murdering his wife Laci.
We may not know exactly how much Nichol knew, but the revelations of her phone data do not hint at absolute innocence.
5. Chris had a second chance to let the girls live, and he didn’t
What follows is devastating and crushing, to say the least. In the early hours of August 13th, Chris carried out his first attempt to end the lives of Bella and Cece.
??August 13th, the morning of, I went to the girls? room first, before Shanann and I had our argument. I went to Bella?s room, then Cece?s room and used a pillow from their bed (to kill them). That?s why the cause of death was smothering.?
? Christ Watts, in letters to Cheryln Cadle
He revealed disturbing details of how he strangled his wife, saying
?I knew if I took my hands off of her, she would still keep me from Nikki (Nichol Kessinger). They asked me why she couldn?t fight back, it?s because she couldn?t fight back?
He then went on to write about how his daughters woke up and ?looked like they had been through trauma.?
The girls were just kind of running around the house, and watching me with scared looks on their faces. Bella started to cry and when she did Celeste started whimpering. What a nightmare this was?I realize now the girls getting up and walking around may have been God?s third attempt to stop what I was doing.?
? Christ Watts, in letters to Cheryln Cadle
But he did not stop. He killed them at the oil field where he later disposed of their bodies. In fact, he was quite surprised that Bella fought back.
?Little quiet Bella had a will to live. Out of all three, Bella is the only one that put up a fight. I will hear her soft little voice for the rest of my life, saying, ?Daddy, NO!!!?
? Christ Watts, in letters to Cherlyn Cadle
These horrendous tragedies have pained me from the day I got to know of them. I cannot begin to imagine the sheer terror those poor little children would have gone through.
For the sake of Shanann, Bella, Cece, and Nico, I fervently hope that Shanann?s mother, Sandra Rzucek was right when she said in court, ?I know God and His mighty angels were there at that moment to bring them home to paradise.?
Writing this piece was difficult. The heartbreaking details described in the discovery document left me dumbfounded. But I write this to fathom my feelings about how overwhelmingly dreadful it is that such a thing happened.
About how wildly scary it is that we don’t know a Chris in our real lives until it is too late.