The #1 Clue That Proves Premeditation?

Since the trial is still pending, it requires the title to have a question mark rather than an exclamation mark.  There appears to be plenty of debate springing up now around whether Shan’ann could have committed a crime, but no matter who committed what, it seems the general consensus is that the crime happened spontaneously.

They had an argument – that night or early morning – because Chris Watts said they did.

There are many, many obvious reasons why this isn’t a signature case for a crime of passion  which is an act committed impulsively during an explosive venting of rage.  It happens when the perpetrator feels themselves pushed over an emotional cliff. Chris Watts classifies this crime as precisely that – that he killed Shan’ann in a rage as a reaction to her despicable crimes. That’s his excuse.

But is it true?

Well, this is what that passion looks, sounds and feels like.

So what’s the #1 clue that appears to show premeditation?

It’s Chris Watts’ stoicism on the morning of August 14. We now know that Shan’ann, Bella and Celeste were dead by then, but also that Chris Watts knew that then too. He didn’t look particularly bothered, in fact showed no signs of distress, grief or remorse. Part of his act was that he was innocently unmoved, even chuckling at times.

The defense will argue that all people process their grief differently. But actually that’s not true. When grief is genuine it can’t be held back. It creeps on you in its raw, unfiltered form and overwhelms you. When grief is absent, well, it’s difficult to fake and decent lie detectors and true crime buffs pick up on that immediately.

That’s why Chris Watts’ interview scorched the internet, and why this case remains so top of mind. People are still asking themselves:

Where’s the grief? Where’s the humanity? How can someone lie like that, to the whole world [and perhaps to themselves?]

Crimes of passion happen on impulse. The wave comes and just as quickly goes. When the perpetrator recovers himself, he’s quickly remorseful, regretful, reproachful and even apologetic.

When there’s premeditation there’s a much deeper sense of “plans have gone awry”. When there’s premeditation much more is happening in the head than in the heart, but that’s not to say the heart didn’t play a huge role in getting the ball rolling. And after the crime, the heart of a premeditator is still pulling the strings in his head, but from a distance and behind the scenes. Something in his heart is why he’s still continuing to kick the can down the road even though the game is up.

In his television interview is there a sense, perhaps, of disappointment following a momentary sense of triumphant, excitement and freedom?

What we fail to see in premeditated cases is that the murderer is turned on by the fantasy of getting rid of someone who they see as milestones around their necks. Casey Anthony’s partying during the first four weeks of Caylee’s death/disappearance is a classic example in true crime of the unadulterated joy in breaking free of one’s lot in life.

When it’s been a long, long time coming and he’s finally doing it,  strangling the life out of someone he despises, there’s satisfaction and relief in the deed. It’s not a question that he’s reluctant to commit murder, but irresistibly drawn to the idea, like a moth to flame.

The more interesting, sinister and terrifying question is the same one that haunts the Scott Peterson case:

When did he start day-dreaming about murdering his family, and what moment, what snide remark triggered the first impulsive homicidal thought? 

9 thoughts on “The #1 Clue That Proves Premeditation?

  1. I think once he had entertained the idea of ridding himself of his wife he mulled that over for a while and realized it wouldn’t work, they would all have to go, for whatever reasons. One reason could be that he didn’t want to be that single dad who suffered such a tragedy and is just an absolute saint with those girls. So then a new thought would emerge, that it would be really much better if he could completely start over and not have to explain anything ever to his girls or struggle to take care of them. But who is he? Does he know? Getting rid of everyone in his mind, would have been “expedient.” Hence, I don’t think it was a snide remark that triggered the plan since it involved wiping out everyone. When she blindsighted him with the announcement of a third child I think that is what started the thought I don’t just want this woman, I don’t want any of them(it). But I do think he doesn’t know who he is. There is something in his perhaps lonely upbringing that he never figured out who he was, what he wanted, and how to go about having it. He was living in Sha’nann’s vision of what she wanted. Like you said in the last line of your book Nick, which I won’t say here because there are still others who haven’t read it.

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  2. One more thought – he is what I called an “undeveloped human” (socially, his psyche, inner core). Look at the picture in his high school yearbook, and the picture of him hunkered over the car engine, standing by a car after winning his fourth place prize, a little sly, but alert and somewhere else in his head, then look at him as an adult, wearing the matching jersey as Sha’nann is giving her talk and he stands behind her, behind the chair, not saying anything, he’s part of the scenery. A few times he raises his hands, fidgets a little, offers up a comment which she acknowledges, then he’s back into being a part of the scenery. Look at the wedding picture – she’s fully engaged and beautiful and smiling in her white full-skirted wedding dress, and again, he’s just behind her, in the shadows, in his nice wedding clothes but not participating really, dancing because he’s supposed to. He just never knew who he was. That’s why his talk on relationships lacks any kind of conviction or umph, he’s just reading, he doesn’t know what those words mean. He made some decision early on that he has to take the backseat.

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  3. I agree that when he decided he was going to kill Shanann, he didnt want children to take care of. We probably will never know what actually triggered the event. He was tired of playing second fiddle. He had just had 6 weeks of glorious bliss, while Shanann and the children visited in North Carolina. He had probably daydreamed of living the single life before, but the recent separation from Shanann while she was on vacation sealed the deal! He wanted to be free! So, he planned to take his whole family out! When the opportunity presented itself, he took advantage of it! Problem is, when it was over, he realized it was no longer a daydream. It was real. He could not take it back! He should have practiced the grieving husband a little more! He is not very good at that role!

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  4. Really excellent points Susan. When he first met Sha’nann on facebook and she gave him a “like” or “friend” whatever they do, it would be interesting to know how he presented himself to her. Who was he being then? Did he think having a wife and children, a family, would help him into a role he could successfully play? Isn’t it also interesting that when she takes off for five weeks he TELLS HER he’s eating T bone steaks and shrimp. That’s not the food she planned on him eating while she was gone, when she did the shopping for him. That’s expensive food. But he tells her. It’s kind of like a dig at her, isn’t it?

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  5. Chris Watts has likely been a two face most of his life. And a victim. Like Scott who thought he SHOULD have been a pro-golfer, Chris wanted something other than what he had. And someone or something was preventing him from having it. Even in his car competition he comes in at fourth. Scott couldn’t accept that it was talent that preventing him from being a pro, and Chris couldn’t see that it was his own lack of ambition that prevented him from his Nascar pit crew dreams. So he gets married and transfers his feelings of resentment at being prevented from what he really wants onto her and the children. But they are all back at square one now aren’t they, even worse than square one. They’re at zero.

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  6. What I would like to know is how many girl friends did he have before he was with Shannan. I believe he was heavy and problem lacked self esteem. When he got together with Shannan he was probably feeling like finally someone wants me and she’s beautiful so he jumps at his chance to be with her. When Shannan finds the Trive program and he now loses all that weight and now he looks good he now finds they both men and women are looking at him they are interested in him. He now wants a different life and when he gets a taste of freedom because Shannan and kids are away for six weeks he then begins to think about getting rid of all of them. He probably wasn’t eating alone either.

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  7. That’s awesome Phyllis! There could be some jealousy directed at Sha’nann too – she’s building an exciting life for herself, gets to get out of town for seminars and trainings, colors and noise the way he hoped his life would be with the color and noise of Nascar and he gets stuck at home taking his girls to birthday parties and babysitting. And with a third child he would be even more stuck. I agree with you Phyllis – he goes from heavy to hunk, and he likes the attention.

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  8. His college roommate claimed he was very in shape when he knew him. The heaviness came after. So all the speculation about that as a reason may have no validity. I think he has a personality disorder. No normal person behaves in these ways.

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