COULD Shan’ann have killed her children? What do the stats say?

The question of whether Shan’ann COULD have killed her own children will be at the center of the defense case in the Chris Watts trial. Whatever the merits of this case, and in spite of what appears likely, in court a case is only as strong as what can be proven in court.

As much as we’d like to believe a parent killing their child [born or unborn] is monstrous and complete anathema to society, the reality is it’s not only common, it’s an every day occurrence around the world.


About two decades ago, the stats from a UN census showed that in a single year approximately 90 million fetuses or small infants were aborted/murdered throughout Asia. This number isn’t pertinently about mother’s killing their offspring per se, but rather the pre-selection of female first-born children for killing.  The abortion-of-girls-scourge is so serious in South Korea, women have to be actively recruited to immigrate to the country because of the mismatch between male and female adults in that country.

What this proves is that cultural incentives [in this case in favor of male first borns] can completely dominate the psychology of adults in terms of their offspring. How the family appears is thus mercilessly enforced within certain cultural and/or socioecomomic constructs.

Child Murder by Mothers: Patterns and Prevention is a peer reviewed [if somewhat dated] research paper published in the US National Library of Medicine. This study pertinently focuses on the mother’s role in the murder of infants. The research paper’s conclusions read as follows:

A mother’s motive for filicide may be altruistic, acutely psychotic, or due to fatal maltreatment, unwanted child, or spouse revenge. In addition, many mothers who do not attempt filicide experience thoughts of harming their child. Maternal filicide motives provide a framework for approaching filicide prevention. Suicidality, psychosis and depression elevate risk, as does a history of child abuse. Mentally ill filicidal mothers have very different risk profiles than mothers who fatally batter their children. Prevention is difficult, because many risk factors, such as maternal depression and social disadvantage, are common among non-filicidal mothers.

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In Wikipedia’s introduction to the concept, the final sentences reads, troublingly:

In many past societies, certain forms of infanticide were considered permissible…

But further exploration on the topic reveals all-too-common economic and practical imperatives, both in humans and the animal kingdom. In many societies, including progressive Japan, having twins was considered bad luck, or a taboo, and one or both children were often killed to restore the fates.

Marvin Harris estimated that among Paleolithic hunters 23–50% of newborn children were killed. He argued that the goal was to preserve the 0.001% population growth of that time…A frequent method of infanticide in ancient Europe and Asia was simply to abandon the infant, leaving it to die by exposure (i.e. hypothermia, hunger, thirst, or animal attack).

In at least one island in Oceania, infanticide was carried out until the 20th century by suffocating the infant,while in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and in the Inca Empire it was carried out by sacrifice…In Kamchatka, babies were killed and thrown to the dogs. American explorer George Kennan noted that among the Koryaks, a Mongoloid people of north-eastern Siberia, infanticide was still common in the nineteenth century. One of a pair of twins was always sacrificed.

According to studies carried out by Kyoto University in non-human primates, including certain types of gorillas and chimpanzees, several conditions favor the tendency to infanticide in some species (to be performed only by males), among them are…the absence of nest construction…

In Eskimo societies, children born in winter were killed by smashing their heads with a rock, or a block of ice, stuffing grass into the baby’s mouth or tossing them into the sea. Research differs, but infanticide among the Inuit was believed to reach as high as 80% amongst some groups.

We can see that though the idea is taboo in Western society, the practice remains fairly common in some present societies too, including those referred to above.

There is a world of difference between killing an infant in a bad season, so to speak, and the wiping out of an entire family – unborn Niko, Celeste, Bella and the children’s mother Shan’ann. No matter how common the killing of a single child is, the annihilation of a family by the head of the household [as is being alleged here] is exceedingly exceedingly rare.


In terms of the particulars of the Watts case, we must also draw a distinction here between infanticide and filicide. I’m not sure that infanticide is the correct definition to use in the Watts case, from the defense case perspective. This is because, strictly speaking, the ages of Bella [4]  and Celeste [3] place them outside the strict definition. An infant is up to 1 year of age. But the statistics around filicide are nevertheless similar to those of infanticide, until a particular inflection point.


First the definition:

Filicide is the deliberate act of a parent killing their own child. The word filicide derives from the Latin words filius meaning “son” or filia meaning daughter, and the suffix -cide meaning to kill, murder, or cause death.

“Filicide” may refer both to the parent who killed his or her child, as well as to the criminal act that the parent committed.

Now the inflection point. At what age do the statistics show fathers to be the more likely killers of their children?

A 1999 United States Department of Justice study concluded that between 1976 and 1997 in the United States, mothers were responsible for a higher share of children killed during infancy, while fathers were more likely to have been responsible for the murders of children aged eight or older.

Furthermore, 52% of the children killed by their mothers (maternal filicide) were male, while 57% of the children killed by their fathers (paternal filicide) were male. Parents were responsible for 61% of child murders under the age of five. Sometimes, there is a combination of murder and suicide in filicide cases. On average, according to FBI statistics, 450 children are murdered by their parents each year in the United States.

Strangely, in America the trend is the reverse to that in Asia. Male children are slightly more likely to be killed by their mothers, and almost two thirds more likely to be killed by their fathers. Although the data is fairly stale, the preliminary evidence from a purely statistical approach is that fathers are significantly less likely to kill their own children than their mothers, especially when they’re female.

Just as in infanticide, spousal revenge is also a potential factor in filicide. Whether these numbers or trends are fielded in court by Chris Watts’ defense team or not, what remains clear is that the reverse is also true. If the case is made that one parent killed their children out of spousal revenge, the possibility exists that the other parent could just as easily be culpable of the same accusation. What really has to be shown is which spouse had the bigger bone to pick with the other, and ultimately, if it was revenge, revenge for what? 


39 thoughts on “COULD Shan’ann have killed her children? What do the stats say?

    • What if the initial cover-up story was the lie and the confession was the truth?
      What if the initial cover-up was to protect his hide, just as you say, but from culpability of killing his wife and unborn child? He was still going down for that, particularly as it would end up being revealed he was having an affair and wanted out. His credibility would be poor but I would be very reluctant to pronounce there’s nothing more to this case when all we have is some sketchy LE details and lies.


      • Except nobody who was SOOO enraged that someone harmed their child, would then proceed to desecrate their bodies by shoving them through 8″ wide holes in oil drums, like they’re used tissues.

        Furthermore, he was then talking about his children, and watching videos of them, and showing NO EMOTION. Someone who was so distraught and overcome with grief and fury and rage at someone for harming their children that they KILLED them for it… would be showing emotion at the thought of, and videos of their children, who were so coldy ripped away from them.

        Stop making excuses for a sick, twisted, soulless man.


  1. I believe any woman has the potential to murder just as so much as a man per say. The reasoning of motive is one. Such based upon emotion or need. Who had the emotion? Perhaps it would be a mother rejected by her husband for the love of another. There’s nothing like the power of a woman scorned.


  2. Okay, let’s take a revenge motive and jump inside her mind. According to Chris he tells her he wants to leave. So she thinks I’ll kill the children. That’ll fix you. How? Will it make him want to stay? He said he wanted to leave her, not the children. He would still leave wouldn’t he? Or go on living with a murderer. Makes 0 sense. His story makes 0 sense. So why didn’t he really just leave? Why didn’t Scott Peterson just leave. Because it wouldn’t look good, would it. And both of these men were all about looking good.

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    • In Chris’s case, it would not have only made him look bad to leave his family, it would have cost him a lot of money for a long time. He would have owed child support for three children and likely alimony for Shanann, who did not have a reliable income in Thrive despite their claims of imminent fortune. If they divorced, neither Shanann nor Chris would have been able to adequately support themselves or the children in the immediate future.


    • It’s obviously not logical. If he was being logical he wouldn’t kill them, but would instead come up with a solution that would extricate him from an undesirable situation in order to allow a more desirable situation. If he was going to kill them, but go about it logically (not be caught, but remove the problem as he saw it) he would minimize his risk of being suspected by being more strategic about killing them. This seems to have been impulsive, a half-baked (if that) plan, as he held it together for a day before he was blamed and admitted he did (at least some of) it.


      • I don’t see the reply button to reply to nickvdl’s reply to me, so I am putting it here. It might be semantics, but I agree with you in that he might have thought about it before he did it (if he actually did it at all- innocent until proven guilty, blah, blah, blah…), however I do think it was fantasy versus, having a real plan and just waiting for his opportunity. I don’t think it’s black and white, but a spectrum with pure fantasy on one end (that in itself provides some immediate emotional relief) and a well thought out plan on the other end that considers all the materials needed, timing of things, chronology of actions to conceal his involvement, the stance of will take (when interacting with family, law enforcement, media, etc.), the answers he will give, etc. I also think that the longer one fantasizes, the more likely it moves towards the more deliberate end of the spectrum, because inhibitions decrease as the psyche gets used to the idea and normalizes this “solution”, creating a blindspot so they can tune out their conscience and pulling off the perfect crime. Perhaps it had been brewing for him for several years, gaining steam with the 3rd pregnancy.


    • Also don’t forget, he would have been liable for child support to her for THREE children if they got divorced, and likely would have been ordered to pay alimony. It would be costly for him to get divorced.

      Furthermore, he’s narcissitic and truly thinks that people would believe his story. Scarily enough, some do, despite the lack of ANY logic whatsoever.


  3. I’m going to suggest something, just food for thought. I suggest that he may not have minded wearing the T shirts, being recorded and posing for pictures. He could hide who he really was and everyone would see it and believe it – the perfect husband, the perfect father, the perfect family. You can have no self-confidence and still be strong mentally. And those people are frightening because you don’t see it coming.

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    • Mittens Kittens – it’s not long since that Shan’ann’s family themselves filed for bankruptcy themselves. I bring this up because you’re commenting on her family being able to financially support them. This information has always been available from basic internet searches.


  4. Because, at this time, no evidence against SW has been available to the public, if there is any, it’s much easier to look at CW as the guilty one because he lied, changed his story and placed those precious little ones in an oil tank which of course makes him look more likely to have killed them all, family annilator, if you will.

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  5. So, in the video Sha’nann is making it’s very sad – but I also know it’s part of telling your “I” story when you join a MLM company, it has you be able to relate to others, and them to you. In any event she said she always felt like a failure, never completed college, and started in on a bad relationship. I think many women do this (and yes, men as well) substitute getting into a relationship for internal feelings of doubt and lack of self worth. But did she do it twice?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. She started to say she couldn’t complete college, but changed it to more of a didn’t finish and always regretted it. She also said “I was brought down for so many years” so it’s so very important to surround yourself with people in your life that will bring you up, make you feel better, etc., and then said it’s not that she needs other people to do that for her, but just having a group of people who look for the good in life, etc., and she thinks maybe she has found that with Thrive. But it seems like a very very sad lady at her core. Then at some point she hears a noise and picks up her baby monitor, which I see now is like a square screen with sound and says CeCe just woke up, so she turns it down to continue the video. She’s talking to other people on the computer, others that have joined the call.

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  7. I have to wonder if she had ever been or was currently being treated for depression. I don’t know if you can take anti-depressants while pregnant, but certainly if she was Chris could point to that in a defense.


  8. Her comment “I was brought down for so many years”. Who brought her down? Couldn’t have been just her first husband. Whatever relationship dynamic she had with the first husband and ultimately the second, was well established before she got married. Are her parents divorced? Did one parent put her down in the family dynamic or did she feel caught in the cross fire of a parental divorce? Doubtful it was Frankie Jr. putting her down – he’s her biggest champion. And why is he her biggest champion? Did he feel she needed strokes more than he did? Wherever “feeling brought down” came from had her select the first husband, and then Chris. And here’s a guess – she wasn’t getting the lifting up she hoped for when she married Chris – which made her turn to Thrive as they market themselves as do many MLM’s as providing you a magnificent support system of positive-thinkers.

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  9. Shan’ann was a “dreamer” she wanted the big life. I see her thinking at first MLM was a secondary income with a potential to let her be a stay at home mommy. She failed many times with these pyramid schemes launching her into debt further. But then came Thrive! Everyone she knew helped her gain her VIP status and signed up. She got to attend the big shows and galas. She found a hunger for the attention Le-Vel gave her. It was all about her for once. But these trips came with a hefty size bag of debt. She possibly could have hidden the amount she spent on them. When she found out about his new lover she would know her gig was up. The divorce would unravel not only her financial treachery but cost her to lose her grande casa. She would slink back into the lower middle class life she loathed. No one wants to do a Facebook live video from a trailer park. She blamed him for making her lose it all! So her revenge was to take those bambinos with her. He would pay by losing everything not her.


    • You’re a psychopath. First of all, THE TRIPS WERE PAID FOR BY LEVEL. Pay attention.

      Second, your ignorant and idiotic profiling of a murder victim is disgraceful, and you should be ashamed of yourself.


  10. We had some mice once. They bred like crazy as mice do. From just a few to over a hundred in one big glass aquarium. They were fun to watch, and how they tended to their babies. The babies grew and had babies of their own, some grew tumours and died off.
    One night we noticed yet another litter of baby mice were born…
    The next day we went to check on them and they were gone. Not a whisker or a tuft of fur to say that they had ever been there. We were even wondering if we had been seeing things the night before. Definitely 6 new baby mice.
    But the adult mice knew better . Another 6 mice had changed their dynamic.
    They ate their own babies. There had not been enough room in that glass prison. But to eat their own young? Its the only answer to what happened to them.
    Do parents kill to protect their own babies? Not human parents anyway. Surely?


  11. @ Buford – for some reason I can’t reply to you directly either. Agree, Chris Watts was living in a fantasy world too, remember he was also part of the Thrive thing himself. I think when you’re really living a lie, the idea of murdering someone – getting rid of them – can be like fantasy too. Some parts are real, but the very real parts like going to jail and having a court case, don’t seem to compute with these idiots. They are imaginative in how something might benefit them, but not quite able to see the full picture. That’s narcissism for you.


  12. I want to know if they checked under the mother’s fingernails for DNA from strangling her children ?
    If she did strangle them I am sure there would be some evidence there and basically would match with her killer’s initial story that he caught her killing the two.


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