“Why wasn’t Shan’ann’s body dumped into the oil tanks as well?”

Did Chris Watts feel differently about his pregnant wife compared to his children? Does the fact that he dumped his children into enclosed tanks but buried Shan’ann in a shallow grave reveal anything about his psychology?

The answer, at least in my view, is yes – and no. Dealing with the “yes” aspect would require an entire chapter. For that please refer to my book Two Face.

What I will say here is that it’s significant that in Chris Watts’ own version of events, he didn’t kill his children, Shan’ann did that. We may shake our heads dismissively at that claim, but if we do, we’re missing the point. In his own version of events he admits to being angry at Shan’ann, and he blames her for killing their children. What we have here isn’t necessarily a matter of fact, but symbolism.

In his mind Chris Watts may or may not have rationalized that Shan’ann’s behavior in a particular area/or areas doomed them as a family. That Shan’ann was killing him, in some particular way. In Two Face I go into some detail into how and where this psychology is rooted and what it means in this case.

Now let’s get back to the original question, but dealing with the flip side of it.

Does the fact that he dumped his children into enclosed tanks but buried Shan’ann in a shallow grave reveal anything about how his psychology differed towards her vis-à-vis the children?

No, and here’s why.

If he could have gotten away with it, Chris Watts would have dumped his wife’s body into these tanks. What he was trying to do was permanently erase all traces of all four of his flesh and blood family – Shan’ann, Niko, Bella and Celeste.

Scott Peterson also went to a huge amount of effort to permanently erase Laci and Conner from the world. In Peterson’s case he fashioned several concrete anchors from scratch, and attached these to all of Laci’s extremities. After several months, the anchors still held, but the body broke lose when the tissue underneath had been chewed or rotten away.

When Laci’s remains washed ashore and she was discovered by a couple walking their dog [the dog mde the discovery], it was a headless, handless, legless cauldron of ribs. Scott Peterson intended Laci to never rise from the bottom of San Francisco Bay. The same applied to his unborn child. If the murder is cruel, the burial is arguably just as callous.

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In Chris Watts’ case, the enormous interior of these fuel tanks, warmed by the sun and filled with corrosive, tissue eating chemicals, would theoretically have done the job of making all four of his family members vanish permanently much sooner than a body submerged in seawater, or dumped off the side of a road in a damp tropical forest.

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If Chris Watts could have fitted Shan’ann through the hole beneath the silver access hatch, he would have pushed her down into it.

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A cursory glance at the access hatch makes it appear about a third to twice the size it really is. Although the mushroom-shaped cover is roughly 40 centimeters wide, the inside of the hatch demonstrates how it contours inward to form a plug. The rubber housing on the upper and lower edges are of vastly different widths, indicative of the tapering interior of the tank’s access funnel.

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What this means is that the width of the outer “mushroom” isn’t the width of the interior access point, in fact the mushroom is about twice as wide.

I apologize if the examination below seems insensitive. Obviously what happened to Shan’ann and all the Watts children was heartless, grotesque and horrific. We do this analysis in order to understand what happened to Shan’ann, and why.

When we review images of Shan’ann taken in mid-July and late July, there’s simply no way she would fit through such a narrow opening.37368479_10155567194621935_4924269615061663744_n



When we examine the hatch and compare it to the human scale [see below], we see the width of the maintenance worker’s thighs. Although they’re reduced because of the angle turned to the camera – he’s still unlikely to fit through the hatch. His shoulders are even wider.

Although one could argue that the maintenance worker might be taller and larger than Shan’ann, what the image with the maintenance tech clearly shows is how very narrow the access pipe actually is. No adult is going to fit through there! That access point is roughly the width of an adult man’s hand opened like a star +- 25 cm. It’s barely wider than a human head.

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Perhaps a more pertinent question is this:

If Nickole Atkinson didn’t raise the alarm on August 13, could Chris Watts have gotten away with murder?

In other words, assuming the bodies were never tracked down to the CERVI 319 site, and if Chris Watts had more time to dispose of evidence [Shan’ann’s purse, cellphone, medication etc] after the murder, and if he was able to cover his tracks sufficiently so that the time of death became more and more stretched out and uncertain, and if the bodies were ultimately never recovered, could he – would he – have beaten a murder rap?

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17 thoughts on ““Why wasn’t Shan’ann’s body dumped into the oil tanks as well?”

  1. Thanks for all this info!!! I was wondering about the size of the oil tank hole and the reason for him burying her in a shallow grave. I read all the articles, but could find none on this issue. Highly appreciated.


  2. Thanks for this. I had always assumed( from what I’d read) that the hatch opening was too small, which meant he was either going to return and choose a better hiding place for Shan’ann’s body. However it could also mean that his cover-up after the killings, wasn’t as long-planned as many have speculated. As a contractor and someone with a practical mind he would have been well aware that her body would not fit through, if he’d been seeking & plotting the perfect crime cover-up.


  3. His problem is going to be that he didn’t take the time to better dispose of his wife. Since his first story was they had just vanished or were missing – that she was taking the children to a playdate and just hadn’t returned, had he disposed of Sha’nann somewhere else not in the same vicinity as the oil tanks they may have gone on searching while the girl’s tissues were dissolving. Or, he could have put her in the overflow tank which would have dissolved her tissue as well. Casey Anthony was alot smarter than Chris Watts. She just simply didn’t return home, she had the body hidden in the trunk of her car, then when the smell became intolerable – and noticeable – she disposed of her in a little forested area, where flooding did the rest and abandoned the car. And, she told no one, admitted to nothing, and had her story down unbelievable as it was. His attorneys are going to have to turn his blunders into a plausible defense.


  4. So here’s the thing. He’s not smart. He changed his story three times 1) They were asleep when he left for work (therefore they are missing and he doesn’t know where they went); 2) They were at a playdate at a friend’s house but couldn’t name the friend; 3) He strangled her in a fit of rage because she had killed the children. Then he identifies for the police where he took the bodies from an aerial site picture. To me this shows he did not pre-plan very effectively, and could very well get off by sticking to his last story.


    • I know all that. Clearly he *planned the cover-up*, clearly the cover-up was ineffective. From the information to date we can suspect that he’d long pre-planned the killings( by hours,days or weeks) but an incompetent cover-up doesn’t equate to evidence of guilty on all charges yet. We don’t know he’s not smart really do we? Could be simply that the killings and cover up were planned between 2am and 5.30 in a blind panic.


  5. Her flight being delayed 3 hours is the crucial element, in his hurried panic to dispose of the bodies and get to work as alibi – he may have long pre-planned the coverup as you say, but he didn’t plan on her flight being delayed. If it was truly a violent argument, and he flew into a rage, then there was no premeditation. But the manner in which he tried to cover it up and changed his story indicate to me that he is not a very smart individual or at the least not well educated (listen to his grammar).


  6. I believe he planned dismember Shan’Ann and put her in the tank too. The delayed flight caused him to run out of time.

    I believe he planned to go back out there, dismember Shan’Ann, and put her in the tank. But then Nickole showed up with the police on the way and he couldn’t risk another trip back out there because he was under suspicion.

    He might have gotten away with it but for Nickole.

    He doesn’t seem very bright. One of those Narcissists/Sociopaths who thinks he’s smarter than he is.


  7. I believe he intended too also put SW in the tank, my question is, was CW the one maintaining maintenance on the tanks? We all know he worked there, but, what was his job?


    • According to some articles, Chris was an operator, a field employee. I think this would involve maintaining the tanks, giving him access to them. I think, too, his plan was to better dispose of Shanann’s body, but because of her arriving home late and nikol’s aroused suspicions, he did not have time. Having said that, I don’t understand why he left Shanann’s shoes and bag at the front door and the sheets in the trash, other than he thought he’d have time to deal with these items after work. Why he thought no one would be suspicious, particularly when Shanaan was such a daily presence on Facebook, is beyond me. Moreover, Shanann’s not being on Facebook is tantamount to not showing up for work. This sloppiness leads me to believe that there may have been a fight between Shanaan and Chris in the early morning hours that led to the deaths of Shanann and the children, although the affidavit’s timeline allows for the possibility that the children were murdered prior to Shanann’s return. My other thought regarding Chris’s apparent sloppiness is he’s not very smart, and/or his arrogance manifested as laziness in not better considering the details.


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  10. I think he planned to bury shanann. When he was loading the bodies on the truck, he loaded the shovel. Why would he load a shovel if he didn’t plan on burying something?


  11. No matter what I think an innocent family is gone because of a very very selfish male children innocently lost their lives to a person they called hero he never cared nor had a deep love for his precious children nor wife he slaughtered them in their comfort zone their home where it is to be the safe place for children when a ,marriage crumbles just go for god sakes three people and a child who never took his first breath are gone as this narrsistic animal sits behind bars receiving love letters and munching down on goodies pathetic


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