A window into the Watts home – that’s what we’re looking for. A way of seeing inside, seeing what happened to this picture-perfect family. A window is what teams of lawyers, armies of reporters, legions of trial watchers and a handful of true crime writers are desperately trying to find. A way of looking in, penetrating through the lies and absent evidence, to see the truth.
The autopsy report provides one way to see back in time. It’s a sort of biological window. Forensics and fingerprints sketch additional aspects of the scene. But what about the ACTUAL windows of the Watts home?
As part of ongoing targeted research into this case, I’ve made a detailed study of the house, the house plans and the neighborhood. I wanted to see what the neighbors could see looking in, but also which windows in the Watts home made certain areas of the home less private than others. In effect, I was trying to fathom where in the house the three murders were executed.
In other true crime narratives, I’ve found this technique, this process of orientation within the civic design of the suburb, vital. My deepest insights into the difficult Zahau case came largely from understanding precisely how the prominent Spreckels Mansion fitted into Coronado’s Ocean Boulevard. My work into that case suggested Rebecca Zahau could easily have been seen from her position on the balcony she was supposed have committed suicide from. That may not seem to be a big deal, except she was naked when she was supposedly killed herself. But if she was murdered, her murderer could have been seen too.
Much of my analysis into the Zahau case was based on the idea of a murderer who was using the balcony to stage a suicide, but didn’t want to be seen doing so…and did the crime scene bear this theory out?
I’ve approached the Watts crime scene in much the same way. If the murders were committed inside by two different people, were they all committed at night? Were they all committed upstairs, downstairs, in the same room or in different rooms? Were the lights on or off? Were the windows and blinds open or closed? Were any crimes committed in the basement? Did anything happen in the basement?
The Scott Peterson case also involves blinds that were opened on December 23rd by Margarita Lava, the Peterson’s maid, and yet remained closed throughout Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Not just the blinds facing the road, ALL the windows were covered.
Now, back to the Watts home.
What do we know for certain?
We know that the windows looking into the garage allowed Nickole Atkinson to confirm that Shan’ann’s car was there, and that the kids seats were in it too. This aspect alone may be the reason Chris Watts was confronted and caught as soon as he was. Had there been no windows into the garage, Nickole couldn’t have known anything was amiss, and critical time would have gone by in which more critical items of evidence could have been removed.
Interestingly, once the garage became part of the crime scene, the small square windows were covered up against prying media, revealing just how “transparent” the Watts home could be to prying eyes.
Looking closer, there are so many windows in the Watts house it’s almost a house of glass. This is the back view.
A view from the side with the Watts house on the right.
Notice the basement window below. Chris Watts’ man cave [as it’s marketed in the realty brochures] appears to be a kid’s cave, at least from the outside. Notice the Mickey Mouse window covering.
If the murders were premeditated, and if Chris Watts committed all of them, then he’d need to be very careful about windows wouldn’t he?
The subdivision is filled with other double story houses with excellent line of sight, and the houses alongside the Watts home are also RIGHT alongside.
An aspect that stood out from a cursory run through of the house was firstly how many windows had the blinds drawn, and secondly, the fact that three windows on the top floor facing the road that weren’t closed.
I also examined the blind issues by looking at other images of the house, before it became a crime scene. What were the Watts’ in the habit of doing regarding the blinds?
In Shan’ann’s long monologue LIVE video on a Saturday morning in May, the blinds above the couch and behind her are down.
When Chris was mowing the lawn in May, the blinds look similar to every other picture, don’t they? Also, in a tightly backed subdivision, wouldn’t most people have the blinds drawn not so they can commit murder in private, but just – ordinarily?
When Shan’ann told her children she had a baby in her belly, the blinds are drawn there too.
If all the blinds were always drawn, but the three windows on the upper floor were open, what if they’d been left open intentionally, so that neighbors could see Bella and Celeste moving inside. So that, until the last minute, Chris could show that they were still alive. It was potentially another version of taking them to a birthday party on Sunday. It gave Chris Watts plausible deniability.
It also suggested, if this line of inquiry was correct, that the one room where the children weren’t murdered was the upstairs room with the blinds open.
Neat theory, right?
The problem was those upstairs windows aren’t part of children’s bedrooms, or in fact ANY room. They’re lighting above the lounge. I wasn’t able to find clear pictures in the Watts home confirming these windows, but Shan’ann’s video in the lounge suggests a high ceiling like the one below.
This similar model home provides an idea where the three “upstairs” windows fit into the house as seen from the inside. We can also see why these blinds might be left open most of the time.
I also checked the moon stats for August 12th and 13th. I wondered whether, when Nickole dropped Shan’ann off, whether the lights inside the house were on. A bright Colorado moon might explain how many lights needed to be on, if moonlight was spooling through three open, upper windows.
Nickole will probably shed light [pun intended] on this question in due course. But for the time being, I wondered whether – if the lights inside were off – how the light of the new moon would shine through those three upper windows, and perhaps allow Shan’ann to go inside without turning lights on [and waking her family]. It also addressed whether Chris could be using moonlight through the top windows to illuminate his “kill scene”.
But that theory didn’t go anywhere either. The bright new moon set at around 21:00 on August 12th.
What the research does show, and I’ve taken this research a lot further in TWO FACE II, is where in the house the crime scene probably took place that assured some privacy. Privacy not only in terms of line of sight, but line of sound.
Strangling crimes can involve muffled sounds, and if the murderer isn’t careful, and hasn’t taken precautions, muffled screams that might be audible to nearby neighbors.
TWO FACE BENEATH THE OIL will be available soon.
15 thoughts on “Analysis of the blinds of Chris Watts’ Home”
Blinds will normally be closed in the flats to keep in the cool and keep the heat and hot sun out.
Those three windows above the inside of the front door had no blinds on them because they were close to the vaulted ceiling. See the last photo you posted above.
How would you close blinds for the three windows above the lounge area?
I have windows like this in my house, and the blinds have a remote to control opening them up and down along with twisting them open and closed.
Since a neighbor heard Deeter barking nonstop on the morning Sha’nann arrived home, why wasn’t Deeter heard barking if the girls were killed first? Like hours earlier. Guess we’ll have to wait for Book 2!
Interesting and thorough analysis. Thank you. Someone posted a video of the back of the house on YouTube. Up until that point, I did not realize the close proximity of the homes. Behind the Watts’s home there are even clusters of condos, so it’s ,overall, a high density neighborhood, although it doesn’t appear that way from the front. With this in mind, I had similar thoughts about sight and sound lines. I also thought if the crimes were premeditated, he may have chosen strangulation because it’s not audible and the least likely to be seen because,I would imagine, choking a targeted victim is usually initiated by ambush.
There seem to be a lot of blinds in this case—both literal and figurative. Discussing the physical blinds would be a great way to segue into a discussion of the psychological and emotional blinds, all of which enabled the Watts family masquerade.
Some key points to consider:
1. The arrest affidavit indicates she died AS A RESULT OF the terminated pregnancy – that means she wasn’t strangled, his story is bogus. Clearly they knew enough from the initial autopsy to know this fact because it was written in the arrest affidavit.
2. Her suitcase was left downstairs – every woman needs toiletries from their suitcase right away. Given she was held in airports a few hours on delays she probably wanted to take a shower and asked him to bring the suitcase upstairs while she went to take a shower. He may have even met her at the door and woo’ed her, carried her upstairs. The fact the suitcase stayed downstairs suggests this scene played out quickly after she returned home.
3. Cell phone found stuffed in the loveseat cushions of the upper level bonus room – this suggests this is where she arrived next. The fact there was no obvious foul play seen during the 1st police visit tells me whatever happened, happened “cleanly”. After all, he didn’t do much to conceal anything, this we know, one bed sheet was stuffed in the garbage can to be easily found and he left the bed covers on the floor. He made no attempts to hide anything.
4. The fact he took the fitted sheet and not the flat sheet from the master bed tells me that was her final destination and that she way laying dead on that sheet at some point. The fact no one heard anything and apparently there was no blood tells me whatever took place may have occurred somewhere OTHER THAN the bed, perhaps the shower or the loveseat, and then he laid her on the bed, cleanly, to figure out what to do.
5. I’m not convinced he intended to deliberately kill any of them. It’s possible he may have been trying to induce a spontaneous abortion in the “name of passion” or even more innocently, his weird sexual desires got out of hand. Whichever it was, she died as a result. He could have then panicked and smothered the kids in their sleep which is soundless and faceless, and then developed the story they all disappeared.
Some good key points raised here. The first is unfortunately due to both a lack of clarity from DA Michael Rourke and a lack of understanding from the media. Here’s where a reporter asks him about the meaning of the death as a result of terminated pregnancy and what it means:
If you look at the affidavit there are 9 charges, including Count 6, first-degree unlawful termination. So it shouldn’t be seen as instead of, but in addition to.
Click to access COMPLAINT%20AND%20INFORMATION.pdf
Agree with your second point, the scene played out quickly after she returned home. But not that he wooed her or carried her upstairs. As I discussed in TWO FACE, I doubt whether she ever went upstairs.
#3 is a point of conjecture. Laci Peterson’s phone was found with the battery run down in her vehicle. I don’t think where her phone is says anything about where she was. Did Shan’ann hide her own phone under cushions?
Without further forensic evidence it’s difficult to say one way or the other. The bedding seems to me to be used to transport her body and contain it, not necessarily where she died. If she died in bed, did he wait another hour, until 3am for her finish showering and to fall asleep?
If you have a Kindle you should consider reading Blood & Seawater and/or Treachery, my books on Scott Peterson and Casey Anthony. I’m not sure why people generally like the idea of a spontaneous murder. People – and criminals – like to believe someone “just snapped”. Typically there are many forces underlying whatever triggers this snapping. Without going into too much detail, in a case where there are multiple murders, and if you believe CW killed his wife and children, then the snapping lasts quite long. The length of time [some minutes] to strangle one person, then to do the same to the second, then to do the same some time later to a third. The fact that he showed no remorse, no grief and no emotion in front of the media, and later in court, clearly shows how he’s internalised these events long before they played out. It’s as if they’re no surprise to him. So I think there was substantial planning involved. But that’s not to say it was well thought out. Scott Peterson’s plan was better, and almost worked for him.
He was alone with his girls for quite some time after the birthday party and before Sha’nann came home. If he originally thought she would be home around 10 p.m. then his plan would have been to get rid of the girls first, before that hour.
But at some point she called or texted him that her flight was delayed. If he had already planned on killing before 10 he may have already done that, then had to wait however many hours more for his wife to come home. In that amount of time he could have already have done a little housekeeping from the area where he killed the girls, put them in plastic bags and placed them in the back of his truck. I’m of course still bothered by the phone lodged in between the cushions of the couch in the loft – especially if her purse was found in the kitchen or downstairs – and if she was “taken” immediately when she entered the house and after Nickole had pulled away. However, he could have removed her phone himself and taken it upstairs to hide it until he could do more clean up. As for her possibly taking a shower, the first thing she would do is check on the girls, or look at the baby monitor, and seeing them NOT there would cause a panic, make her a panicked target and harder to subdue.
I’ve tried to google search exactly what time a neighbor hear Deeter barking, can’t find it, but I think the onset of the dog barking was when he began killing.
One other conflict with my theory though is when the neighbor saw him pull his truck back into the garage. That suggests he only made one trip to the garage with the bodies. But they could have been wrapped previous to that time, and ready to go.
Why would the dog start barking when he started killing? Not following how they are related.
From what I read, the dog was locked in the garage. If that is true he was not used to it but may have been put there to keep him out of the way.
Those high windows above the deck are very high in the room, it has a very high ceiling. If you watch her videos you can see those windows and they don’t appear to have blinds. Why would you put blinds on those windows, no one can see into them and you’d need a ladder to open or close them
Don’t know if anyone has street viewed that address, 2825 Saratoga trail, but it appears on the view that it’s not the same house. The smaller garage door is on the other side,the windows are different but yet the neighbors houses seem to be the same as on the crime scene photos. Google view is a little outdated but if they built the house in 2013 so they could make changes, but changing the garage and windows are not something you’d change. If anyone else has noticed that but it’s puzzling me
The windows at the top don’t open. That’s a cheaply made home, I won’t get into it but ask someone whose an architect or builder, that’s basically a tract home. You can even see in the back that the windows are all the same size except two that were most likely left over from something else, the columns in the home are poorly done and incongruous… This is basically a home someone gets when they want to project wealth but aren’t wealthy.
Furthermore the windows at the top of the home are basically “picture” Windows that don’t open. The standard is that people have automatic retractable blinds but those aren’t cheap and I highly doubt this family could afford it. I’m talking a couple thousand for window treatments. Also they’re usually in place to display some kind of chandelier or similar grand decoration, another thing the Watts couldn’t afford. As others have pointed out they’re house poor. Look at the cheap furnishings, the house was practically empty, they had cheap pseudo vinyl couches, the archways were covered in a cheap grasslike decoration, the house had no flow or color scheme. The alcoves that are used to display art or high end vases and florals were left bare. Everything was done cheaply, and so many rooms just had the blinds the home came with because adding modern window treatments aren’t cheap.
I often wonder if that’s why Shan’ann was always trying to reaffirm everyone of her life. She knew it was a sham, so in order to convince herself and the outside world she would reiterate the same tired rhetoric. She surrounded herself with people like her who didn’t know any better and were dazzled by the cheap facade. I’m interested in why you never saw her with anybody higher up the MLM tree. She speaks of her downline often but you never see her with her uplinee and I believe it’s because they weren’t enticed by her facade. I wouldn’t be surprised if they visited once and never again because someone made an offhand comment about the cheapness of the home overall. Something like “You’re home is cute! When do you think you’ll be done decorating?” Shanann was already insecure but being around women with actual wealth and success would drive her crazy. It would be a reminder of what she wanted but instead got a cheap knock off version of. You constantly see her with the same people and I think this is one of the reasons why. She could fool people like NA, but anyone who was wealthy and truly successful would’ve blown her facade wide open and she was the type that preferred the lie over the truth, as the truth was something she couldn’t handle or face objectively.
Very insightful ! As someone with a lot of experience with ” old money” I couldn’t agree more. Her life was very sad, very stressful and just tragic.
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