At about 0:45 Chris Watts does a tongue flick. To the untrained eye, poking the tongue out of the mouth may seem like innocent licking of lips. But when a criminal is on camera, every movement is carefully controlled.
A tongue flick tends to happen between efforts at control. As I mentioned in this blog post, the important thing to look for is what elicits the tongue flick. It’s a very idiosyncratic motion – what is the context in which it happens?
In this case, Watts is talking about “what happens next”, meaning, what happens now that his wife and kids are gone. His actual words are:
I dunno where to go from here right now.
Amateurs might dismiss this and say, so what. We know he was having an affair, and he knew that when he gave this interview. Does he really not know where to go, or who to go to? The licking of the lips shows nervous relish at this next step. A lot of emotional and psychological investment has gone into this idea of what to do next.
At the end of his saying that hos heart’s racing a mile a minute, he’s also shaking his head. Is he nervous? He looks calm. He sounds calm.
At 72 seconds something else slips through, and it links up to the tongue flick highlighted above. He says:
I didn’t think last night was a good time to…stay with anybody else…
He’s trying to be forthright, but now he’s being too forthright, so he backtracks to verbally edit and explain what he means. When he does this, he digs the hole even deeper, which is why he stutters:
I mean I [shrugs] I-I-I’ve-I’ve wa-wanted friends here to be here with me because that just makes me feel better.
And right after that, he does another tongue flick.
The third tongue flick comes as he goes over how great the police investigation is going.
They’ve been on top of everything [shaking his head], missing person’s reports, everything’s been- [a barking dog cuts him off, and that’s when he does the tongue flick].
The critical information here seems to be “missing person’s reports”. That’s exactly what he wants. He wants the idea that his wife and two kids are missing.
Now the fourth tongue flick.
I have no inclination where she is [smiles]. Every friend that I’ve called that has – has a car seat, that has, I mean that could have come in, that could’ve come and got here…
Here he’s indirectly implicating his friends. Who could’ve come and got her? The tongue flick after this may have to do with visualising where she is and how she got there.
After confessing, he told the cops he loaded all three bodies in the rear seat of his truck. So that’s on his mind, that image. The idea of kids sprawled on a seat, rather than sitting. He’s now inverting this idea that someone else with a car seat may have done what he did, except it doesn’t make sense.
Why would it matter if there was a seat in a car? Because they’d need it for the kids? He’s overthinking it.
The fifth tongue flick happens when the reporter tells him about the search going on in his house, and the describes the line of police cars outside. Then he says:
I’m so happy that they’re here.
Maybe in a sense he is. The sixth tongue flick follows an appeal:
Shanann, Bella and Celeste, if you’re out there [chuckles], please come home.
At 2 minutes 50 he describes coming home and “walking into a ghost town”. This is also a peculiar description. Why is an empty house suddenly a town? What he’s trying to do is be honest about his real feelings, without being too honest. Unfortunately for him, his casual attitude to all this revelations means he is being too honest. The ghost town reference may be a visual of the dumping site, which has a Mad Max quality in terms of the towering drums and dust and dirt roads. At night, especially at dawn, it probably did have a ghostly atmosphere.
When the reporter asks him if he saw the kids in the morning too, he gives his seventh and final tongue flick:
Just in the monitor.
He did see the kids in the morning, just not in the monitor.
Below is some additional analysis that I thought was food for thought, from Janine Driver.