Sandra Onorati Rzucek [Shan’ann’s mother]: “Shan’ann and Chris Watts definitely planned to separate”

This is what we know:

  1. He was actively engaged in an affair with a co-worker
  2. Shan’ann was pregnant at the same time
  3. Shan’ann was telling her Facebook flock what a great husband and partner Chris was as late as May 2018
  4. Shan’ann was communicating to her mother about their intention to separate
  5. The six-week period Shan’ann spent in North Carolina – wasn’t that the separation?
  6. If the six-week period wasn’t the separation, then when was it supposed to kick in and what would that involve? Selling the house, moving, taking the kids…?

What we don’t know is after the trial separation exactly what was decided?

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  1. Shan’ann was going to have a gender reveal party on the weekend after her death
  2. Shan’ann continued to sell Thrive and was on a Thrive business trip on the weekend just before her murder
  3. Shan’ann’s best friends seemed to know about Chris Watts’ infidelity but didn’t take them seriously

This suggests Shan’ann didn’t take Chris Watts intentions to leave her seriously as well. But that’s too kind. It wasn’t just a return to the default setting of business as usual. If he wanted to separate and she was striving and contriving to keep them together, then what contrivances were being used to lock him in, besides the pregnancy?

If they were negotiating for them to no longer be together, and Shan’ann was resisting, then wasn’t the murder a way of breaking the deadlock? Chris Watts got his separation, minus alimony and child support.

During Chris Watt’s  infamous sermon on the porch, he appeared to let on that he and Shan’ann had argued prior to her trip to Phoenix on Friday August 10th. According to the Washington Post:

“This might be a tough question,” the reporter asked, “but did you guys get into, like, an argument before she left?”

“It wasn’t an argument,” Watts said quickly. “We got into a conversation, but I’ll leave it at that.” And then he talked some more about how much he missed them.

A conversation about what?

And those words I’ll leave it at that – it seems like he did, doesn’t it. He’d made up his mind.

Besides the semantics surrounding mid-August, there’s also the eye witness statement of Melinda Phillips published in People On August 31st, 18 days after the murder.

“I think they were always putting on a show,” says Melinda Phillips, who recalls seeing Chris and Shan’ann “clearly having an argument” in their driveway one day earlier this summer.

“Their body language was really angry, and they were just fighting back and forth,” Phillips, 34, says. “He was gesturing his hands and they were shaking their heads, and it was definitely an argument.”

“I didn’t really think much of it, because Lord knows that I’ve had the same arguments with my husband,” she continues. “They caught my eye and suddenly, everything changed. They stopped being so angry, and they started talking a lot more calmly. He even gave her a hug. Mind you, this was in the space of 30 seconds to a minute.”

“From a full-blown fight to hugs in less than a minute, it was incredible,” she says.

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We know in his affidavit that he claims they argued that morning too, and that he wanted to initiate the separation.

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Our overall impression of the dynamic between Shan’ann and Chris Watts was that she wore the pants, was somewhat pushy and controlling, but here it was him stepping forward, and it’s a big step. He’s saying he wants out. Didn’t Shan’ann push back by dismissing him and delaying the idea, and by trying to control the outcome. Perhaps she’d been doing that for several months.

Returning to what the neighbor Melinda Phillips saw, and her reaction, she seems to be suggesting that the “making up here” was mutual, initiated by both of them. At the same time she implies that in this instance Chris especially was fake, but that it was also part of what they were doing generally, putting on a show.  They. Both of them.

It’s also Chris who first gestures wildly then hugs Shan’ann, as if she’s the more aggrieved party and he’s trying to justify himself, but then fashions a hasty peace in the name of neighborly optics. And of course, Shan’ann also wants good optics, for her Thrive business and perhaps privately and personally too.

Although she doesn’t say it specifically, when Phillips saw them, isn’t it likely Chris Watts saw her, and changed faces?

49 thoughts on “Sandra Onorati Rzucek [Shan’ann’s mother]: “Shan’ann and Chris Watts definitely planned to separate”

  1. Okay, thank you for putting some order into the chaos. So now I’m mulling over your question “what contrivances were being used to lock him in besides the pregnancy.” Imagine the horror of all of this – Chris wants to leave, 0 for 2 now (with the first marriage) and now she has a passel of kids and a stay at home mom business that’s going nowhere, a house she knows she can’t keep and isn’t her whole Thrive spiel and recruitment tool based on actually “thriving” and making it? She couldn’t try a little love now, too late for that, he’s resolute. So whatever contrivances were being used they weren’t going to work. My mind wants to let it in that to him he had to take them all out, not just her, and that made absolutely the most sense to him but as soon as I see it my own mind doesn’t want to see it. As you said in your book to him she killed them, (and she almost killed him figuratively). Anyone else having a war with your own mind?That’s why I made that comment “it doesn’t justify murder”, because I hated that if I were in his mind, it did. Make sense?


    • I COMPLETELY understand where you are coming from, as I too have been having a war go on in my mind, because you don’t want to “get” why he did what he did. When you look at it from his mind, though a very sick mind, you kind of see why he thought it was the only option. He felt incredibly trapped. That’s why the affair even started in the first place. So, don’t feel bad….you’re just looking at it from both sides.


  2. Intertextuality. Oscar and Reeva’s argument, taking her cell phone into the dark closet of the toilet. Who she may have called had she been able to, what that would have done to Oscar and his reputation and his pocketbook, how the world saw Oscar and why she needed to be stopped. Might Sha’nann have threatened to do one of her videos telling everyone about her extreme disappointment in Chris, expose his “game” (as in he has no game/affair) all of it in a Thrive post, on facebook – could that be her final contrivance if he did leave? Is that why her phone ended up squeezed between two cushions in the couch of the loft – after. I’m spent now. I don’t see how you do this Nick with book after book. It must be emotionally draining. And yet you do. I think it’s a calling, and a gift.


  3. It was easy to see a separation was possibly in the works. She posted pics of homes for sale in the Mrytle Beach area while she was visiting family for 6 weeks. Right before leaving she posted it was too humid, she prefers CO. Also just because she was an $80k sales producer doesn’t mean she had an $80k salary as some media outlets reported. I imagine there would have been a hefty alimoney and child support involved.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Along the same lines, at least one witness with her over the weekend reported she wasn’t feeling well. As she noted many times previously, he was a huge support system with her lupus. I’m not implying she wasn’t actually sick in Arizona (actually, it’s equally plausible the imminent separation was making her physically ill), but it might have been one more thing to try to get him to reconsider/delay the immediate separation, “I’m sick. How can you do this while I’m sick and pregnant?”
    Eh. I feel so weird even typing this because I don’t believe she killed the children. I believe he’s guilty of all three murders. But, I’m open to analyzing the dynamics of the relationship and how they pushed him into the final act.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I did and it’s the same clip that’s been posted many times. It’s a co-worker that said shananns mom said the plan was to separate but not of her mom directly saying on video that was the plan. She has said basically nothing since it happened


      • Did you read or listen to my comment? Lol. That’s a co-worker, not sharon. The title of this blog has Sharon quoted with a specific statement. It’s misleading . You’re a fantastic writer with thought provoking analysis but the title is a stretch.


      • @ invisiblesheepblog You’re right, the title of this blog is very misleading. Sandra Onorati Rzucek [Shan’ann’s mother]: “Shan’ann and Chris Watts definitely planned to separate” is wrong. How it should read, if I was being completely honest is:

        “Shan’ann’s mother told several of her colleagues off camera that they were planning to separate. She definitely said that.”

        I’m just wondering if you have several people in the same room all saying the same thing to the media on camera, and they’re pretty sure about what they heard, are they all misleading us? And then we have the facts of this case, that Shan’ann and her kids are dead, and her husband is the suspect.

        Then you say, hmmmm, well I don’t think her mother said they were separating. They spent 5 weeks apart, and during that time Shan’ann’s with her mother…but I don’t think her mother said they were separating.


        Liked by 1 person

  5. I find it eerily similar how Laci Peterson’s sister cut Scott’s hair on the day she was supposedly murdered and now there’s a picture of Chris getting his cut by his mother-in-law a few weeks before he wiped out his beautiful family.

    This case has really bothered me along with Laci Peterson’s. I remember back in April 2003, her brave mother, Sharon, went on TV after they finally found Laci & Conner. I balled my eyes out watching her mother’s speak at that conference. Laci and I were the same age, and we were both married. Laci had such a warm, radiant smile – good daughter & sister, loyal friend and wife. I remember thinking why did Scott cheat on her? Laci was way prettier than Amber Fry.

    I’m sure we’ll also see that Shan’ann was way prettier than Chris’ mistresses and maybe even a Mr or two as well. I can’t begin to imagine the pain her father, mother, brother and all her close friends are dealing with right now.

    I’ve studied everything on Cluster B personality disordered including sociopathy, Narcissism, Dark Triad, Histrionic, Borderline. My quest for answers came from my own chilling interactions with the Cluster B – the pathological lying, gas lighting, baiting arguments, emotional exploitation, manipulation. I learned the only thing one can do is go no contact and stay no contact, absolutely. Also about going “gray rock” when you can’t go no contact i.e., work situation, co-parenting.

    I would bet anything Shan’ann had a sixth sense something was not right at home while she was on route back to Colorado. Call it mother’s intuition. Women, especially mothers, are powerful when it comes to intuition. Some women have the gift more than others. If Chris killed Bella and CeCe before Shan’ann, then she would feel something was wrong with her babies before walking in that door. That’s how powerful a mother’s love is.

    I can see her running past him to go check on her girls, if Chris had greeted her at the door.

    If it comes out in trial that he killed Bella & Cece prior to Shan’ann coming home, and waited to see her devastated reaction before he attacked her, then the whole thing was planned, beginning to end. He did not snapped as some have speculated.

    That’s what the NYC nanny did as well. She waited for the mother to walk in the bathroom before she started stabbing herself. She wanted to see that poor mother’s reaction, her suffering. Only a narco-psychopath thinks like that. It’s the lowest vibration frequency on par with the demonic. Chaos theory.

    I think he begun to hate Shan’ann with a passion. He resented her success with Thrive, the friendships she was making, her confidence.

    These were planned murders.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think they had discussed separation, but Shan’ann did not know about the affair and thought a romantic weekend away (she had posted asking for local recommendations) might help convince him to try to make things work. After all, she was pregnant and they had two young daughters. She ruled the roost and was always able to get him to do what she wanted—why should this be any different?
    However, I think she was blindsided by the resolve he put forth. His mind was made up. He was leaving. He was in love with someone else. He was going to leave her. The Thrive façade would be over. She was going to be left alone, exposed, and he was going off to start a new life with another woman.
    I think she couldn’t sleep. She sat enraged on the couch between the master bedroom, where Chris slept soundly, the weight of the world off his shoulders, and the girls’ rooms. She impulsively made the decision to take way the things Chris lived most. She wouldn’t let him win.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG it is scary some people have bought Chris’s story. You suckers are a defense lawyers dream world. This is why people like OJ Simpson and Casie Anthony walked free – suckers that believe unbelievable shit! Common sense folks. Fricking common sense. Chris killed all three of them. Shanann could have easily moved back to her parents – she wouldnt have worried about anything leaving that loser.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ahh, Metis, sounds like you believe Chris’s story that they had an emotional argument, she killed Bella, was “actively” strangling CeCe and he flew into a rage and killed her. By his own accounts he went downstairs, went back up to continue the argument and saw her on the monitor.

    It’s hard to see this but I think he had made up his mind prior to May 10. He just needed an opportunity and it presented itself May 10 weekend.

    It took me a long long time to get to “why the girls.” Now I don’t see Christopher any longer seeing 3 separate individuals. He saw ONE problem for which there had to be one final solution. It’s cold isn’t it?


  8. I saw a post where her old boss from dirty south planned on opening a dispensary in Colorado. I found that interesting


  9. I believe the reporters question of “did you have an argument before she left” does not refer to before she left for Phoenix, it was before she left that morning. At that time Chris was saying she was there when he left for work then she was gone….that’s what the reporter was referring to from the way I understand the interview


    • Good point. The reporter had no way of knowing then that the mother and daughters hadn’t gone anywhere in the terms that were sketched, they were dead, but Chris did know. So I wonder whether that’s how Chris Watts understood and answered the question.

      Consider the reverse psychology aspect. They didn’t have an argument before she left for Phoenix…and the moment she returned she was murdered.


  10. Metis, I think the tipping point was in some argument they would have had previous to May 10, or May 13. And that it all revolves around the house. So I don’t think now she would have locked him in by spreading ugliness on social media. She was already doing that, by relegating him to a prop, calling him a “little brain” and saying “Chris does what I tell him to do.” I think she could have told him if he wants to leave, leave, but she’s keeping the house and he can just continue to pay the mortgage. His house! Considering where he came from, a poor background (which we’ll learn more about in Book Two), from Oklahoma to some truck stop area in North Carolina (looks like) all the way to his mansion in Colorado, he loved that house and he was not going to give it up.

    She says in one video she and Chris were going to get to work fixing up the basement. Do you think she was going to fix it up so that he could have a man cave? Not likely. She also says her dad was going to build shelves for her product in one of the upstairs rooms presumably but with a new baby coming it’s more likely it would be turned into a nursery and the basement would have been…a Thrive room, a place to display product inventory. He gets no part of the house he’s paying a mortgage for. And a house I believe he dearly loved. More than anyone in it. When he tells a neighbor “I think we’re going to have to sell the house” that was the two face Chris.


  11. Chris was not born in Oklahoma nor was he poor or living in a trailer park.
    In actuality, Shan’Ann grew up in circumstances more similar to those you describe.
    Note: Shan’Ann was actually born in NJ. Chris was born in NC.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think the walls were closing in on Chris and in his mind there was only one way out if he was going to get to keep anything. He got to see what life would be like when they were in NC and he liked it. I think that’s when he starting making his decisions to get rid of them, When he had the girls while she was in Phoenix, I think he was so fed up with it all that he strangled them Sunday night and then waited for his wife to come home to complete his mission. He and Scott Peterson have a lot of similarities.

    BUT!!! Divorce would have been a better option. He thought he wouldn’t get caught. It makes me so mad.


    • This is true Carlotta. I think your statement is quite right on, that he was going to be left with nothing if he left. And she may have threatened him with that. He’d have to pay child support for 3 children until they reached age 17, at the very least he’d have to sell the house and buy her out, and his paycheck would be whittled down to nothing. But it’s just mystifying to me that she just keeps blabbering on about Thrive in the midst of all that unhappiness. Surely he expressed his discontent before May? What about June, July? And yet she’s planning a gender reveal party where he would be called upon to act happy and excited in front of the relatives or whoever else was going to be invited.


    • I think you are right on. Poor poor Daddy even though he’d been a Dad for 4 years couldn’t do it alone for a weekend. It was too much work and he realized if she left him he would get ‘stuck’ with the kids half time. Another pathetic piece of shit that should have been sterile!!


  13. Spring Lake was a quaint little town when Chris Watts was growing up. A small military town. Unfortunately, in more recent years, renters have destroyed some of the nice houses in that area, small businesses are now defunct, and it’s much different.


  14. Pauline, I agree. Maybe San’ann was trying so hard to sell products to save them from drowning? Thus the portrayal of success on Facebook. It did die down in July – and if her mom had talked to employees about their plans to separate, maybe Chris knew the time had come to get rid of his family. Why do it when he did? Why not wait till Sept? Because they were going to lose the house? Because she was going to leave him?

    I think when someone decides to do something like he did, evil enters them and their hearts grow cold. How else could you strangle your little daughters? It’s so sad to see this happen and it happens across this world everyday. What advice would you give Chris in his situation? Don’t kill them of course, but then what? He’s screwed.


  15. I agree with you Carlotta, once he had essentially given in to his murderous thoughts he may have thought there was no turning back. It must start out as a little fantasy, then gets fine tuned into a full-fledged scenario. Yep, he’s screwed.


  16. I was reading that a Colorado jury in the James “The Joker” Holmes mass shooting that occurred in Aurora CO could not come to a death penalty decision on some of the victims. So if the DA uses the death penalty here for Chris Watts, that may elicit a confession from him in order to take it off the table and the state and the families won’t have to see this taken to trial. Then I believe he would be sentenced in a pretrial. Any attorneys out there?


  17. I just hope Chris enjoys his new prison life. Going to make being a husband and father look like a piece of cake. Enjoy your new love affairs in Prison creep! I hope the big boys give him a ‘warm’ welcome


  18. Pingback: “Dad, I could not put the girls with her after what she did — I could not put [them] with her” – Chris Watts | True Crime Rocket Science / #tcrs

  19. Pingback: 7 Surprisingly Serious Inconsistencies in the Chris Watts Case that have little or nothing to do with Chris Watts | True Crime Rocket Science / #tcrs

  20. I know that many have spoken about the similarities to the Laci Peterson, and baby Conner, murders, but to me, more so than anything else, I see this as eerily similar to Sheri, Garret, and Gavin Coleman’s being murdered by their husband/father, Chris Coleman. While reading through all of the publicly available documents I continually find myself thinking of the Coleman family murders, and just how many of the same dynamics, and details of the murders of Shanann, Bella, and Celeste, keep coming up.. like I said, eerily similar in many ways.


  21. It’s all jst one big horrible mess. Chris watts thought getting rid of his family will set him free. But he is locked up forever now


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