Prior to the murders, was Chris Watts a good father?

Chris Watts appeared to be an attentive dad. We see him reading to his kids, horsing around with them, cutting their hair, blowing hot food to cool it down, even taking cake in the face while Shan’ann and and his mother-in-law looked on with a camera.

He also dressed up as Santa and took direction from Shan’ann in playing that role for them. So at face value, he seems to have a much closer bond with the children than with Shan’ann.

If he murdered his children, why did he?

Shan’ann Watts: “I refuse to let anyone take over my body, or my life”

To be a MLM promoter means to be a Pollyanna. A Pollyanna is an excessively cheerful or optimistic person, but it goes further than that. A Pollyanna is overly expressive, overly extroverted, excessively [often annoyingly] optimistic. Think about that and contrast it with the idea of an introvert, and a strong silent type.

Personality clash?

Since the Watts story is the story of a fairy tale that turns into a family holocaust, let’s do our due diligence and briefly examine the fairy tale classic Pollyanna. Once done, have a look at the three videos posted below. All three are set to kick off at compelling moments that show real cracks in the Pollyanna performance.

From Wikipedia:

The title character is Pollyanna Whittier, a young orphan who goes to live in the fictional town of Beldingsville, Vermont, with her wealthy but stern and cold spinster Aunt Polly, who does not want to take in Pollyanna but feels it is her duty to her late sister.

Pollyanna’s philosophy of life centers on what she calls “The Glad Game,” an optimistic and positive attitude she learned from her father. The game consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation, no matter how bleak it may be. 

With this philosophy, and her own sunny personality and sincere, sympathetic soul, Pollyanna brings so much gladness to her aunt’s dispirited New England town that she transforms it into a pleasant place to live. The Glad Game shields her from her aunt’s stern attitude: when Aunt Polly puts her in a stuffy attic room without carpets or pictures, she exults at the beautiful view from the high window; when she tries to “punish” her niece for being late to dinner by sentencing her to a meal of bread and milk in the kitchen with the servant Nancy, Pollyanna thanks her rapturously because she likes bread and milk, and she likes Nancy.

Soon Pollyanna teaches some of Beldingsville’s most troubled inhabitants to “play the game” as well… Aunt Polly, too—finding herself helpless before Pollyanna’s buoyant refusal to be downcast—gradually begins to thaw, although she resists the glad game longer than anyone else.

Eventually, however, even Pollyanna’s robust optimism is put to the test when she is struck by a car and loses the use of her legs. At first she doesn’t realize the seriousness of her situation, but her spirits plummet when she is told what happened to her. After that, she lies in bed, unable to find anything to be glad about. Then the townspeople begin calling at Aunt Polly’s house, eager to let Pollyanna know how much her encouragement has improved their lives; and Pollyanna decides she can still be glad that she at least has had her legs.

The novel ends with Aunt Polly marrying her former lover Dr. Chilton and Pollyanna being sent to a hospital where she learns to walk again and is able to appreciate the use of her legs far more as a result of being temporarily disabled and unable to walk well.

There’s so much there that fits like a symbolic blueprint over the Watts case, isn’t there?

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Now consider the import of the videos below, and Shan’ann’s attempt to Pollyanna-ize her self, her life and her family in the name of a MLM company and product.

Is Shan’ann a genuine Pollyanna? Is she genuinely optimistic? It’s too easy to simply dismiss the MLM aspect as fake. It’s too easy to dismiss Shan’ann’s personality, as the victim, as irrelevant.

What happens, what’s the emotional cost when someone in a marriage and a household isn’t happy but pretends to be, and more pertinently, how does it impact on someone else in the same household who has a different personality? What happens when the person you married becomes someone else, and even that someone isn’t real?

The irony is, if Shan’ann became that to him, a stranger in his own home, he also became that to her, with monstrous and devastating consequences.

Shan’ann Watts’ Facebook Profile is still Public – and what it could mean

45 days after her murder, Shan’ann’s Facebook page, which was completely open to the public, is still completely open. This is unprecedented in a high-profile true crime case. It means anyone who wants to poke around through her life, looking inside her home, looking at her family and friends, can still do so. And people have. One 31 minute video posted by Shan’ann has already been viewed over 140 000 times.

As part of my research into TWO FACE I started noticing comments alongside these videos, including from key figures in this case such as Nickole Atkinson, not from several weeks prior but posted in recent days.

Everything posted on Facebook, including photos and videos, are matters of public record. Anything you say alongside those photos and videos could be used in a court of law, especially accusations and allegations against Chris Watts.

There have already been suggestions [malicious and totally unfounded in my opinion] that he molested his children. Although it’s doubtful specific members of the public could be held liable, what could happen is Chris Watts’ defense may claim his rights to privacy have been violated continuously, indiscriminately and excessively. It’s an open legal question – have they?

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We may not care about the rights of a murderer, but we ought to care about the issue in a general sense. How would Shan’ann feel if she was still alive, knowing her life was on display post mortem? How do you feel about giving up access to our online identity? Would you? If she could speak from the grave, would Shan’ann still want her social media open and exposed to the world? What rights does a deceased individual have to their social media? Should all privacy and privileges be relinquished when we die?

It also begs the question, who has authorized her page to remain public and why?

I know more than a little about these issues, because as it happens, the very first true crime book I wrote was borne out of my exclusive access to the murder victim on Facebook. At the time I wrestled with the ethics involved, as well as the legal aspect.

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As time went by, Reeva Steenkamp’s story was simply not addressed, and so, I took it upon myself to counter that with Reeva in her own Words. It was an instant bestseller, and it’s even possible the momentum of that narrative carried over into the trial narrative and eventually overwhelmed Oscar Pistorius’ dubious narrative. That book not only took the narrative away from Reeva’s murderer, it did so in a way that was authentic, it allowed Reeva to speak for herself when virtually no one else did, would or could.

The Oscar Pistorius trial was extraordinary in terms of how the victim was reduced to a non-entity, so much so that officially today Oscar has been found guilty of murdering an unarmed intruder, not Reeva Steenkamp. In court, during the sentencing phase, her father Barry took the stand and begged the court to release photos of gunshot wounds to her head so people could see her again, see her wounds, see what had happened to her.

Barry went to far as to say he often agonized at night, driving sharp objects into his own flesh where Reeva had been shot, in order to feel her pain. This was because the media narrative, the court narrative and Oscar’s narrative had reduced her to nothing. A figment of the imagination.

Her Facebook narrative, and a few surviving WhatsApp messages, allowed her to have a voice. And after five years, Oscar was finally convicted of murder [albeit not of murdering her].

But Reeva’s Facebook profile was private, accessible only to those who were already her friends when she died. In hindsight, I believe that was one of my most important books, but not everyone on Facebook is going to do credit to your story. And not everyone’s lives online are – for the lack of a better word – innocent. Here’s an illustration from Moneyweb, an online investment magazine:

 …if someone consents to having their online assets retrieved by providing login details to heirs in their will, the heirs could be found guilty of hacking in terms of the service provider’s terms of service agreement.

Thus, in leaving digital assets to an heir, the first obstacle is access… A lot of service providers would inhibit a user from providing their login details and access to their accounts to other people. The second issue is the digital asset itself. There are various types of digital assets and the rights assigned to these assets differ…The rights assigned to an e-mail account varies greatly from the rights assigned to digital music for example. There may also be other difficulties: a user may not want their heirs to have access to all their digital data.

Booyens says she came across a case where a widow tried to access her husband’s e-mail accounts – purely to obtain records kept in the account. However, her late husband did not leave her any login details or consent to access the digital account. To overcome the issue, she hired someone to hack into the account and discovered that her husband was having an affair.

“Obviously her husband did not want her to get that much access.”

The same applies to this case.

But it also raises a much larger issue. Besides the public’s rights to their own online archive vis-a-vis Facebook’s almost automatic expropriation of it when we die, how does the law interrogate the labyrinth?

Back to  Moneyweb:

…what are users consenting to?

…Facebook and YouTube expressly state that the user remains the owner of the content that they post. Amazon and Apple on the other hand say that customers have a licence of use. This means that ownership does not vest in the user and therefore they do not have rights that can be transferred. Even where users own the content, service providers may still assign themselves a wide spectrum of rights to use the content royalty-free and worldwide or for sub-licensing and transfer.

But what happens to a user’s rights when they pass away?

Facebook gives users the option to decide whether they want their accounts to be memorialised, deleted upon death or whether they would like to appoint someone to administer their accounts. Similarly, Gmail (Google) offers an inactive account manager service which provides for the account to be deleted or for someone else to gain access. Users can specify how much access should be granted.

Where a user only has a licence of use of the digital asset, they don’t have the right to dispose of it, but what if they have ownership yet cannot access the digital asset?

Some authors argue that the Copyright Act has confirmed that the ownership of e-mails can be established, but access may still be a problem… In this regard, the definition of property may be wide enough to include digital assets in terms of the Administration of Estates Act, which means that the executor – which has temporary custody over the estate – can gain access to the digital assets.

But what about post-mortem privacy?

Booyens says that internationally, courts are having a really difficult time following one line of argument…legislation such as the Promotion of Access to Information Act could protect privacy after death and may deny heirs the right to access an account. However, the Protection of Personal Information Act only defines rights in terms of the personal information of a living person, suggesting that privacy shouldn’t be protected after death.

So here’s a prediction. The Chris Watts case when it comes to trial will likely set enormous precedents for how social media ought to be managed and maintained. It may well set the gold standard for how the law ought to treat the rights of victims online, when they are no longer around to defend their virtual lives.

Chris Watts: The crime scene at CERVI 319 just got a LOT more complicated

8 inches.  A petroleum engineer has told HLN that the access hatch in his expert opinion is too small to fit even the bodies of small children through. The crime scene at CERVI 319 just got a lot more complicated.

It makes an enormous difference whether the bodies of Bella and Celeste were dumped through the top of the drum or through the bottom. Much of that difference has to do with time, on the one hand, but if it required a lot of unfastening and fastening of bolts, and Chris Watts stepping inside the tanks, then the possibilities for getting his clothing covered in evidence [including oil] goes up significantly.

Was that why Chris Watts took off his shoes?

There’s also a remote possibility that one or both bodies of the children may have been altered in some way in order to force one or both of them through the narrow thief hatch at the top.

If the head could fit through, then a large amount of force and gruesome crunching of bones may have allowed him to dump the smaller child [Celeste] through the upper hatch.

What’s more, HLN‘s expert believes the opening of the manway hatches could have taken as long as an hour. That would be long, sweaty work that would have gone on until after sunrise. It may also account why Chris Watts effectively ran out of time when he was digging Shan’ann’s grave.

What’s also noticeable, and HLN didn’t comment on this aspect, are the clear residues of oil right outside the manway openings on the ground, especially below the tank on the far side.

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The other tank also shows what appears to be a smaller black stain.

These stains could have been made by Watts, or by the cops, when they drained the tanks into order to gain access to them.

The amount of oil found in the drums when investigators arrived on the scene could also indicate whether they were completely or partially drained at the time, based on the rate of filling up over the course of four days.

Since it took a substantially longer period of time to locate/retrieve the bodies of the two girls after Shan’ann’s remains were discovered, it may be that there was a lot of oil in one or both tanks that had to be drained before the tanks could be properly accessed. This could indicate that at least one body may have been dumped through the thief hatch.

On the other hand, the time lapse could have been due to sourcing the appropriate technical assistance at Anadarko, and the red tape involved in getting permission to access a controlled site and system.

The autopsy results could shed some light on the question of whether there was forcing, processing or even dismembering in order to make use of the thief hatch. The continued reluctance of the district attorney to release the autopsy results is making this case more mysterious, compelling and disturbing than it already is.

Was Shan’ann a *genuine* person?

She looks attractive here, even sexy. She’s showing more cleavage than usual and what’s more, she’s aware that she is. She’s flaunting herself.  And as she starts off, there’s a smoldering quality about what she’s saying. As she tucks in her recently coiffed hair, the tone of her voice initially feels like this is going to be quite a deep session. The subject is:

“What if…”

But it’s: “What if you tried Thrive?”

And: “I didn’t believe in…feeling better.”

And: “I’ve never had something change everything…about how I looked at things…how I felt…um…getting up [early in the morning].”

We all feel terribly for Shan’ann and her children. But the more we get to know her, the more we’re discomforted by her absence in many of these videos. She’s there alright, but she’s also not there. She’s selling. She’s become a drone for a MLM company and the real Shan’ann is missing.

It makes one wonder what she’s like as a person. Is she a genuine person. Is she nice to live with? Or is she annoying, her own worst enemy?

She’s clearly very attached to Thrive, happy to attach herself hook, line and sinker to it. It’s Thrive that makes her happy, just as Chris is the best husband she could ever wish for.

We’ve criticized Chris Watts for his lack of credibility, but should we believe everything she says? And if we don’t, where does that leave us?