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?