The entire second part of the interview follows below, but I’ve provided links to relevant sections to make it easier to reference.
- Murdering Shanann
- Bella Walks In
- Leaving the House and Driving to the Site
- Arriving at the Site
- Murdering CeCe
- Murdering Bella
- Burying Shanann
- Bella Destroyed Her Frenulum
- About Metallica’s “Battery”
- What Chris Thinks of Himself Now
- Potential Motive
- About Nikki
- Financial Stresses
- Chris’s Emotionless Demeanor
Grahm/Dave: We didn’t want to take all day and we really do appreciate being able to sit down and talk with us. There’s a few things we want to kind of clear up, wrap up, and then if you have any questions for us, that’ll be fine too.
Fortunately/unfortunately, I don’t know how you want to look at it, we need to get a tiny bit more into the weeds and into the mechanics of the time you showed up at the house when Officer Coonrod was there until the time when we were all done talking. So, that includes at the house, that includes at the oil site and everything. And part of the reason we need to get into that is I mentioned before how we just really want to get into the mindset of what happened and you can imagine this is really important for us in the future when we’re talking to a guy that’s in your position to say, “You know, this isn’t really a monster, this is more like a Chris Watts and we remember with Chris, had we asked this or had we done this, we really could have been better.” That’s why we want to get into the mechanics of it a little bit more with you and that’s going to mean exactly how, exactly when, where were you, what was Shanann wearing or all of that? So, we really just need for you to take a deep breath and get into with us. Would it be all right if we asked you some specific questions? Okay.
One of the first things we want to talk about was when you came home – so this is after they had passed, and you came home and met with Officer Coonrod – one of the first things we see on the video is you walking into the garage and into Shanann’s car. Do you remember what that was about?
Chris: In her car?
Grahm: Yeah, I think you opened a door or something?
Dave: Yeah, you opened the passenger door and it looks like you’re looking for something or maybe pick something up. Do you recall what that was?
Chris: Not that I’m aware of, not looking for anything, but maybe just opening the car door to see if – because, I think, Nikki was saying, I think I see the car seats still in there, something like that. When I opened up the door, I looked in just to, just like a reaction, but everybody’s just waiting, pretty much waiting in the house. I wasn’t looking for anything as far as specific or anything, but it was a reaction going in there and I know everybody’s there; I don’t know what’s going to happen when I get in the house.
Dave: Just out of nervousness maybe?
Chris: Yeah, I think a lot of it was out of nervousness.
Grahm: And then backing up a tiny bit. She comes home at 2 in the morning. She gets into bed. When you guys had sex together, was that pretty quickly after she came home?
Chris: I think it was around like 2:30. Because I felt like she had been in bed for a little while.
Grahm: Forgive me, it’s not a pervy thing, but she woke you up?
Chris: Yeah, I could feel like a hand was on me, like rubbing my leg or my chest or something like that.
Grahm: And then that was a signal, it’s go-time type thing?
Chris: Pretty much. She was like – yeah.
Grahm: And then that was maybe a half an hour after. And then after that, is there any talking? Or was it just kind of a – quiet in the middle of the night?
Chris: Yeah. I just felt, I just felt around me, I’m just like, “What?”
Grahm: Time to go.
Grahm: A couple of hours asleep, alarm goes off. I guess what I don’t understand is, so then there was some talking? And then, how did you get on top of her? How did that happen?
Chris: It was like when I got in the bed because she was laying, when she was sleeping, she was laying like face-down, which she really never does, and I just got in the bed and I kind of nudged her and then she kind of rolled over and then I was just like, just right there on top of her.
Grahm: And that was after you’d gotten ready?
Grahm: So, you go down, you make your food.
Chris: Oh yeah, I got like cottage thing and a couple of things I made that day.
Grahm: We talked a little earlier today about there were all of these things playing in your mind where you just didn’t even want to go another second without having this conversation, without some sort of completion, right?
Grahm: You come back, she’s asleep and then you just kind of nudge her?
Chris: Yeah, I just kind of like, “Hey, wake up for a second.”
Grahm: And was there a nudge/talk for twenty minutes, or was it just nudge and then all of the sudden you’re on top of her?
Chris: No, I was just pretty much on top of her.
Grahm: Okay, so that happened pretty quickly.
Chris: Yeah. That’s how we kind of pretty much talked. I was just right there.
Grahm: And was there talking?
Grahm: A nudge, a talk. She’s laying down and you’re standing up?
Chris: I got on my side of the bed and I just like, nudged her like that.
Grahm: And then, you’re talking while you’re on top of her?
Grahm: That seems confusing to me. Is that actually what happened? Okay. And so —
Tammy: She was fine just laying there, when you were trying to talk to her while you’re on top of her?
Chris: Yeah, I think maybe she thought we were going to have sex again or something.
Grahm: Okay. And how long did you talk?
Chris: Like about fifteen/twenty minutes.
Grahm: Really? In that position? Okay. And was there any sex?
Chris: No. Maybe she – basically from the position we were in, she maybe thought maybe I’d try to go again. I don’t know.
Grahm: And I don’t want to harp on it too much, but I’m just trying to think if my wife’s four months pregnant and it’s 5:00 in the morning and I want to talk and I want to get on top of her, that’s just not going to fly. So, that’s why I’m confused. Is that really what happened?
Grahm: And then, talked for about fifteen minutes and then it’s heated and then your hands are on her neck? Okay.
Tammy: What did the talk consist of?
Chris: Basically, at first, it was more of selling the house type of thing or not going to Aspen or trying to maybe go at a different time and then it just switched all to the, “I don’t feel like I’m in love with you anymore. We’re not compatible.” And that’s when it got to the heated part of it.
Dave: Did she ever say at some point, “Get off of me?”
Chris: At the end. That’s when she said, “I don’t want you to –” If felt like, you know, because where I was, it was kind of like she didn’t want me to sit down or hurt the baby or anything like that.
Tammy: Did she accuse you of cheating at that point?
Tammy: She what’d she say?
Chris: She’s like, “I knew there was somebody else. I knew there was somebody else.” I didn’t come out and just say, you know, yeah, there is somebody else, but she obviously already knew.
Tammy: Your response to that was what? Did you say, “No, there’s not?” Did you deny it?
Chris: I just denied it, but at that point – because when she would accuse me on the beach, there was a lot, like, “There’s nobody else. There’s nobody else.” Or, whenever we got back home, she always said, “There’s got to be somebody else,” because she’d always talk to her friends like Christina or somebody on text messaging and they’d always say he’s gotten somebody else if he’s not wanting to sleep with you, like he’s getting it from somewhere else and there’s nowhere else, I mean, she couldn’t really say that I was getting it anywhere else because I was using those Anadarko gift cards, so it was kind like, just me getting distant. She knew and that’s mainly the reason why I talked to her because I knew after that night, it was just like, it felt like, I just felt guilty, more guilty than ever before.
Grahm: So, we know what happened and we can talk about it today openly and that’s what we need from you to just kind of say, I know it sounds bad, or I know this or I feel this way, but physically, this is exactly what happened. So, if you could tell us that, it seems then it would have had to been a pretty quick transition from two people talking to this. Is that what happened?
Chris: Yeah. It was like, I don’t want to, like, try to think of the last things we were talking about. But it was like, “I don’t love you anymore,” and then she was like, “You’re never going to see the kids.”
Grahm: That’s perfect, Chris, that’s exactly what we need to hear. And I know it’s hard to walk through that again, but that’s exactly what we need. So then, as soon as she started talking like that, then it was on. Okay.
Tammy: Was it you saying that you didn’t love her? Is that right? Okay.
Grahm: And her saying, you’re never going to see the kids?
Grahm: I can imagine how that made you feel.
Chris: It didn’t warrant what I did.
Grahm: And then the fact that she didn’t scratch at you or anything, is that because it was so powerful?
Chris: I don’t think, I mean, it didn’t feel like – I’ve never done that before, put my hands around anybody before, so, I don’t even know what kind of force I was putting on her neck. Like they said, two to four minutes, I don’t know if that was four minutes.
Tammy: Did you cover her face at all during that time?
Grahm: Both hands on the neck. Okay. And so, if it’s done right, I mean, that could be a matter of seconds before someone on their carotid loses oxygen to their brain, it’s out. Did it seem like it was that quick? Okay. Maybe a minute? Maybe two? Okay. Screaming? Okay. All right. Did you see eyes go bloodshot or anything like that? Okay.
Tammy: You kept talking about the mascara. Did you see mascara on her face?
Chris: It looked like it was like – that’s what I attributed it too?
Tammy: Was she crying, is that why? At what point did she start crying?
Chris: When I was talking about the relationship, I’m talking about not being compatible. And then when she was talking about there’s somebody else, that’s where she started crying. That’s why I thought, you know, mascara, I didn’t know. Was it?
Tammy: I don’t know. Was there a pillow or something?
Dave: Was there ever at any time a pillow or a sheet or anything involved in that, on her face specifically? No.
Chris: Like the sheet I kind of wrapped around her to help get her downstairs, that’s about it.
Dave: The one that was at the site? Okay. And then the other sheets, they were in the trash. At what point did you put those in there? Obviously, after I was in the house.
Chris: Yeah. I think it was probably the next day or so. I don’t know. I’m not sure what happened. This is hard to talk about, like, when you strangle somebody. Sometimes, I guess they use the bathroom, so it was like, I think that’s one of the main reasons why because it’s something that had happened.
Dave: You said she was sleeping face-down at one point? Was her face in the pillow or was it turned to the side?
Chris: Kind of like on the side. She’s kind of like a side sleeper, but she was more down than usual.
Tammy: But then she rolled completely onto her back when you started talking to her?
Bella walks in the room
Grahm: As hard as that was, we need to talk about the girls too, okay? All right. Thank you. So, with the girls, we talked about how they got into the truck with you and were alive. Are you 100% sure that’s true? Okay.
Tammy: Can we go back just a second? You talked about before that Bella walked in though, to the bedroom. Can you tell us about that before you left?
Chris: I was just there like getting the sheet off the bed and she walked in. And she had her little pink blanket with her. She was like, “What’s wrong? What’s wrong with mommy?”
Tammy: And where was Shanann at that point?
Chris: Just pretty much on the bed, but she was face-down.
Tammy: Wrapped in the sheet? What did you say?
Chris: I just said, “She doesn’t feel good.” That’s when I tried to carry her downstairs.
Tammy: Did you carry her like this? Did you drag her? How did you do it?
Chris: I attempted to pick her up and take her down, but I lost grip after a little while and just had to pull.
Tammy: Did Bella see you do that? What was Bella saying?
Chris: She started crying a little bit. She’s like, “What’s going on with mommy?”
Tammy: And what did you say that time?
Chris: I said she just doesn’t feel good. She’s a smart girl, but she didn’t know what was going on there.
Tammy: Did she ever touch Shanann, trying to wake her up or anything?
Leaving the House and Driving Everybody to the Site
Grahm/Dave: She didn’t want to see her or ask to see her or anything? So, that initial time, did she see you put Shanann in the truck? So, she was kind of following you? Okay. So, she followed you and you put Shanann in the truck. And then what?
Chris: CeCe wasn’t up yet, or I didn’t think she was. I think she was just in her room; she was getting ready to get out of her bed and then they were just walking around the house. I put my lunchbox and stuff in the truck and then grabbed the kids and put them in the bench seat in the back.
Grahm/Dave: So, Shanann, is she kind of on the floor in the back? And they’re just on the bench? Okay. Both alive at that point? Okay. Is there any reason you would feel uncomfortable to tell me that they were not alive at that point?
Chris: They were. Wasn’t there a video or anything?
Grahm/Dave: It’s hard to see. And I believe you, I’m trying to make sure that I’m giving you all the opportunities to be comfortable enough to tell me exactly.
Chris: They were alive. Because I mean, I hear that every day when Bella was talking to me at the site.
Grahm/Dave: Oh, really? What do you mean?
Chris: When she said, “Daddy, no.” When we were driving to the site, she said, “Daddy, it smells.”
Grahm/Dave: So, that goes back to maybe Shanann evacuating herself?
Chris: I don’t know if it was that. You know, that smell like a skunk maybe sometimes? I got some kind of smell that way, but I don’t know what that was from?
Grahm/Dave: Was that maybe outside the truck or is that in?
Chris: I don’t know.
Grahm/Dave: What did you guys talk about on the way out?
Chris: They were pretty quiet, just laid next to each other. Maybe Bella in her lap and CeCe in her lap, just back and forth.
Grahm/Dave: Just trading off like little ones do.
Grahm/Dave: Were they awake?
Chris: I think one would kind of fall asleep, the other one, CeCe would, and they would kind of trade off back and forth.
Grahm/Dave: Were they talking to you?
Chris: Just about, you know, just saying, “Daddy, it smells.” It was early in the morning, they shouldn’t have been up that early.
Tammy: You didn’t have to wake CeCe up?
Chris: There was noise from kind of getting Shanann down the stairs.
Tammy: Did she kind of fall down the stairs?
Chris: No, it was more like trying to get her down, like from the steps, maybe her foot hit the next step kind of thing. They’re light sleepers.
Arriving at the Site
Grahm: So then, once you get to the site, tell me what happens.
Chris: We get to that one site and I get Shanann out, put her over to the part right off the site there. And the girls are still in the truck.
Tammy: Did they ask you what you were doing? Taking mommy out?
Chris: Yeah, I can’t remember what I told them, but they did ask that.
Grahm: What’d they say specifically?
Chris: It was more of like, you know, “What are you doing to mommy?”
Grahm: Is that when you buried her?
Chris: No, I don’t remember if I dug the hole there first, they didn’t watch me do that.
Grahm/Dave: So, then you pull Shanann out and she’s maybe sitting there on top of the ground?
Chris: Yeah, like off to the side.
Grahm: Close to where she ended up?
Chris: Oh yeah, yes.
Grahm: And then the girls, right?
Grahm: You mentioned Bella was first.
Grahm: CeCe was first, okay. Where exactly was she when it happened?
Chris: In the backseat.
Grahm: Was she just right next to Bella?
Grahm: Once again, was it a hand over her face?
Chris: It was a blanket over and my hand.
Grahm: So, that just stopped her from breathing type thing? Okay. Did she struggle at all?
Chris: I don’t think so, but might have, I was blocking her face and my hand was right here.
Tammy: You hand here and one hand over her mouth.
Grahm: And were you just pushing her against the back of the seat type thing? Okay. What was Bella doing?
Chris: She was sitting there next to her. She didn’t know what was going on.
Grahm: Could she see you? Okay. And then, did that take a minute or two?
Chris: I didn’t have no like concept of time at this point.
Grahm: Tell me about what you were thinking.
Chris: I wasn’t. If I was thinking, this wouldn’t have happened. Or any partial hint of what I feel for those girls and what I feel for my wife, none of this would have happened; I wasn’t thinking.
Grahm: So, she’s in the backseat.
Grahm: And then once she’s gone, then is it Bella next, or did you pull CeCe out?
Chris: I pulled CeCe out.
Grahm: Okay, so once CeCe’s gone, Bella’s still there in the car alive and then you pulled CeCe out? What’d you do with her?
Chris: Put her in the oil tank.
Grahm: So, she went into the tank and Bella was still in the back of the truck alive? Okay. With regard to that tank, did you bring up CeCe, put her down, open the hatch?
Chris: I brought her up, opened the hatch.
Grahm: And then put her in? Okay. When we talked the very first time we met and we were talking about this, it was a matter of just lowering her down. Okay. And so, she went in feet first? Okay. Was she able to fit pretty well, was it snug?
Chris: I don’t think so.
Grahm: Did you have to move her around a little bit and get her in there?
Chris: I think so. I didn’t have to like hit her, you know, or anything like that.
Grahm: It’s not like you stomped her in.
Grahm: And then closed the hatch?
Grahm: And then went down to Bella. Tell me what happened there.
Chris: She said, “What happened to CeCe?” First she asked, “Is the same thing going to happen to me as Cece?”
Grahm: Did she ask you that? Okay. So, Bella’s pretty smart. How did she sound when she asked you that, Chris?
Chris: She had that, just that soft voice she always had.
Grahm: And what exactly did she say?
Chris: She said, “Is the same thing going to happen to me as CeCe?” and then I said – I don’t even remember what I said. [I do not believe him here, because he almost laughs here] I don’t know if I just said, “Yes,” like a horrible person or if I just put that blanket over her too and didn’t say anything.
Grahm: Same blanket, same way?
Chris: Mm-hmm. She said, “No, daddy.” And that’s the last thing she said.
Grahm: Did she say, “No, daddy,” like, please, no daddy, type thing? Is she saying, don’t do it?
Chris: She said, “No, daddy.”
Grahm: Same way, hand over mouth or hand over blanket which is over mouth? Okay. Did that take a couple of minutes?
Chris: It felt like it.
Grahm: And then what?
Chris: I just noticed she had a couple of spots like over her eye or something and I picked her up and the same thing.
Grahm: We talked a little bit earlier today about it. You don’t remember why a different tank? Okay. And there was no reason?
Chris: I mean, they’re both the same tanks, I mean, there’s just like, I don’t know why I did two different tanks.
Grahm: I never got up there. Does one catwalk lead to both?
Chris: Oil can go in either tank.
Grahm: But if you go up one set of ladders does that eventually get to both?
Chris: Yes, there’s just one catwalk.
Grahm: Now, Bella was a little bit bigger. Was she harder to get in?
Chris: It felt like it a little bit.
Grahm: And so, was it a matter of just kind of maneuvering her? All right. So then, they’re both in there. Is there any reason to think they were alive?
Chris: I go over to Shanann and I clear away some weeds and I dig a hole.
Grahm: Did you have a shovel?
Chris: Yeah, we have a shovel, a rake, and a weed whacker as part of our tools.
Grahm: With that rake, if I remember right –
Chris: There was part of it just sitting there because it was broken.
Grahm: Did it break as you were digging or something?
Chris: No, when I was smoothing the ground over.
Grahm: On this day? It broke when you were doing that? Okay. Was that after you were all done? And it’s seems as though maybe the first people that got there saw – was it stuck in the ground?
Chris: Not like standing up, but it was like laying down.
Grahm: Were you planning on coming back?
Chris: I mean, I don’t know, I don’t think so.
Grahm: At this point then, this is just before, in a couple of hours you would make it back home to see Officer Coonrod. Okay. Once, she’s buried, then what?
Chris: That’s when people start showing up.
Grahm: Did you notice, was she cut or broken or bleeding in any way?
Chris: No. I mean, I know like the bloodshot eyes you were talking about, I noticed that at that point. Other than that, no.
Grahm: Had she partially given birth? Do you remember?
Chris: No, she had a shirt and I think blue underwear on.
Grahm: Okay, so at that point, she was… okay.
Bella destroyed her frenulum from twisting her head back and forth
Tammy: Can you tell us about, you know, when the district attorney got up and talked about Bella’s injuries and stuff.
Chris: I didn’t want to hear about that.
Tammy: Can you tell us about that?
Chris: As far as like her biting her tongue?
Tammy: And breaking her frenulum, which is that connective skin from your lip to your gum? It was gone. Her gums had like, it looked like a hole in them and the pathologist said it was from her, obviously, struggling to get away.
Chris: I didn’t know what that meant.
Grahm: Could it be that that’s what happened?
Chris: So, like… I didn’t put my hand like over her, like that. Is that what you’re talking about?
Tammy: Well, it would have been just downward pressure on her, this area.
Chris: I didn’t see any of that when I picked her back up. Her lip was like missing or something?
Tammy: No, see the skin that connects there, that was ripped, like it was gone, so it kind of made like a hole in her gum.
Chris: I’m just thinking maybe it’s like, maybe like if her head was twisting back and forth, could that have done that? I had a blanket over her, so I don’t know.
Tammy: Yeah. Did you feel her doing that thrashing, like trying to get away?
Chris: I felt her head moving back and forth. I didn’t know that had happened.
Tammy: Could you tell if she was trying to yell or say anything?
Chris: The only thing I heard was, “Daddy, no.” And then like, I could hear a grunt here and there, kind of like, trying to breathe.
What he did afterwards before he showed up at the house
Grahm: During that time, do you remember getting phone calls from Nikole Atkinson?
Chris: After, I think, before she got to my house or after?
Grahm: Just any time during that morning?
Chris: I think I didn’t get one until I saw her on my Doorbell camera.
Grahm: And that was, what, 10:00?
Dave: Yeah, it was right around there.
Grahm: At that time, had everything been done out at 3319?
Chris: Yeah, I was at a different site, at a pumping unit.
Grahm: So, you went from there when it was all done, so the girls are in the oil. Shanann’s in the ground and maybe a little bit of cleanup? Were there any questions we had about the sheets or any garbage sacks?
Dave: No, he answered those already.
Grahm: You went from that site to another site to work?
Chris: At that [inaudible 00:56:44] 3319, there was a little spill, that’s why most everybody showed up there because of that spill that was there, we were trying to figure out what happened.
Chris being out in the field wasn’t a pre-alibi
Dave: While you are on that subject, let me back up a little. The night before, you had some text messaging about going out there?
Dave: Can you talk about that a little bit?
Chris: Yeah, that was Friday that we had figured out there was a spill out there – it’s an old site and it’s set up a little different. What had happened was there was a downcomer and then there’s a sidecomer going into those oil tanks and one of the downcomers is tied into a back-pressure line that’s split and every time it was dumping oil, it was split underground, and the oil was coming up. And we decided just to go out there on Monday because it was Friday and he had switched lines already, either he shut it in, or he switched lines, or he covered it up and see if it was going to come back or not.
Dave: More specifically, you text about how you would go out there and take care of it?
Chris: Yeah, I was going to take care of it for him because I’ve gone out there plenty of times. When another guy was out there as far as another foreman, he had showed me around out there like a year or so ago and I just got familiar with the place and I just wanted to help him out.
Dave: And so, that was a genuine, that wasn’t a pre-alibi.
Tammy: Because there were a lot of people that said you wouldn’t normally do that.
Chris: Normally help somebody?
Tammy: No, like a field in your position, not you specifically, but your position doesn’t do that kind of stuff.
Chris: Well, that’s the thing, like when I was a rover to a field coordinator, I still try to do everything I used to do. I wasn’t good at delegating stuff, I’m just used to doing stuff on my own or just like taking care of it for somebody else. I wasn’t good at the whole like, “Hey, you go do this, you go do that, while I sit over here.”
Tammy: Well, you see what it looks like to us when it came up. Making plans to be out there that day.
Chris: I was just going to help him.
Continued discussion about what he did afterward
Grahm: What time do you think you were done with the girls?
Chris: I couldn’t really tell. I think everybody started showing up there by around 7:45, 8:00.
Grahm: Did you say you went to a different site?
Chris: Yeah, I think it was either the 1029 or the 629.
Grahm: How long were you at that site?
Chris: The rest of the day until I got called away.
Grahm: You were there for at least a couple of hours until you heard Nickole Atkinson on the Doorbell.
Grahm: And then, I think there was even more time after that until you started coming home?
Grahm: And you got home at about 2-something?
Dave: No, it was closer to 1:30.
Grahm: So, somewhere around 9:00-ish all the way until 12:30 or 12 or 1 or something and then you came home.
Metallic song “Battery”
Grahm: There was a lot to do about coming home and listening to that Metallica song. Had you heard about that?
Chris: I’ve heard of a Metallica song, somebody sent me lyrics to “Battery.”
Grahm: Do you remember doing that?
Chris: That was Nikki Kessinger, she liked the song, or she just wanted to know what it meant.
Grahm: That’s why you looked it up?
Chris: Mm-hmm. I didn’t have the CD with me. I just kind of looked up the words.
Grahm: And was that on the way home?
Grahm: Oh, that was just a different time?
Chris: That was a different time.
Chris: That’s just coincidence because it says battery. It’s more about like a family coinciding as a battery, not like hitting somebody.
Tammy: Why did Nikki want to know what it meant?
Chris: I don’t know, it was kind of strange. I mean, she’s very into different types of music I never really thought I’d ever listen to. And like, she got me into a few things there as far as music-wise, but like “Battery” was a song that she asked me because I knew Metallica pretty well. She just wanted to know, “Hey, what’s these lyrics mean?” I just looked it up just to look at all the words together and just put it in my head again and that was it. They just made something out of nothing. That’s what was strange – I got those lyrics in a letter.
Grahm: So now, does that make sense?
Chris: Yeah. Somebody sent me the lyrics to it. That guy from California?
Tammy: The kid? The senior?
Discussion about books he read while incarcerated
Grahm: With regards to when you get home, you and the officers saw what they saw. You mentioned that you took the ring off her finger. And then the book – did you throw that out in the trash? Okay. There was another book, Body of Evidence. Does that sound familiar?
Tammy: That you had in your cell?
Chris: Patricia Cornwell?
Grahm: Maybe. Does that sound right?
Dave: Did you get that in [inaudible 01:01:52] County?
Tammy: What was that about?
Chris: That was just the one they gave me.
Tammy: Who gave it to you?
Chris: The deputies.
Tammy: Your attorneys?
Chris: Oh no, they couldn’t give me books. Any book that I had was given to me by their book cart that they had.
Tammy: So, you didn’t ask for that book.
Chris: No, they just kind of give me, I read some Brad Thore books, he’s the military guy, and Patricia Cornwell. My grandma always read her books and thought it was – she loved those books. I’m not sure if that was probably one of the first books, but probably the second book I read there. But it was like, here’s four books, choose.
Tammy: What other book did you read, do you remember?
Chris: The first book they gave me when I was suicide watch was, I don’t know why, but Murder at something. I was like, I looked at them and they said, “That’s the one we got.” I’m like, “Okay.”
Dave: They handed you that book by itself, no other choices?
Chris: No, the next book I got was another guy that was – I guess they’re overcrowded there and the guy was sleeping on a cot right outside my door – he was like, “Here, try this one.” It was one that was based in the 1800s, it was more of like a situational book, like a time period book, so that a little bit more calm. That was the first book they gave me.
Tammy: You don’t remember what it was called – Murder at something?
Chris: Murder at the Truman Center.
Tammy: Truman Center?
Chris: Yeah, I think it was… Murder at the Kennedy Center. Kennedy Center. I think it was written by Margaret Truman.
Tammy: Did you read it?
Tammy: Was it good?
Chris: I guess, it was decent. I hadn’t read a book in a long time, so it was different but like some of the books they gave you like when you were in the hold, I don’t think you’re allowed to have books in there beside the bible. But the counselors there let me have a couple of books and they’re just like, “Here’s the ones to choose from.” I told them mystery books or something like that.
Tammy: That’s kind of crazy they give them murder books or mystery books.
What Chris thinks of himself now
Grahm: You’d hope that it wasn’t some sort of insult or, you know. What do you think of yourself now?
Chris: Back when all this happened, when I was in [inaudible 01:04:26] County and everything, I definitely didn’t feel like myself anymore. Like when my attorneys were talking to me and I talked to some of my friends and some of the stuff they would say, like, they did say good things, but I’m just thinking to myself, “How can anybody even say those things about me now being what happened?” Because people I knew and that I never talked to again, that like maybe I was their roommate back in the day or went to school with or something like that, now they’re just going to say, “That’s that Chris Watts. That’s the guy I went to high school with, that’s the guy who did all this horrible stuff to his family.” I know I shouldn’t really take to heart what other people think about me so much, it’s just a matter of what God thinks about me and what he thinks, what his opinion is, not anybody else’s. Everybody is going to have their opinion about everybody. Before I got in trouble, I mean, I was always the guy, “Hey, look,” and judge somebody on TV, you know, like, “That guy,” [inaudible 01:05:31], like, “Oh, that guy’s horrible.” Now, I’m the… Now when we come out at 6:00 at night and there’s something on the news, I try not to even pay attention to it, it’s just like I don’t want to be in that position where I’m judging somebody else because that’s what people were doing to me. And I don’t want to be that person anymore. Yeah, but you’d probably rather be a judgmental person with your family here on earth, than a non-judgmental person and a murderer. I just hope that I can, you know, step back and look at everything that I’ve done in my life and then, up to that point, and I did some good things, but in the matter of the most important thing, I screwed up the worst. So, if I can at least help somebody with however much I have left.
Tammy: Was it your intent the whole time you were taking the girls out there that you were going to do that to them? Honestly?
Chris: It’s like when I got there, I didn’t think it was going to – like are you talking about the tanks or just –? My thought process in all this, none of this makes sense, that’s why I know you guys keep asking these questions because it doesn’t make sense to me.
Tammy: I guess I mean, you could have done it before you guys left.
Chris: I know.
Tammy: And not had them, you know, alive in the backseat, thinking of where’s Shanann in the backseat.
Chris: I didn’t think about anything, really, like as far as how everything was going to happen, I don’t know why it happened. Why I left everything out there in the field and why all this stuff, none of this makes sense at all.
Grahm: To Tammy’s point, did you think they might be coming back, or did you know they wouldn’t be coming back?
Chris: I don’t know. I mean, the whole trip out there, it was like I was on, like I wasn’t thinking. It was like… in my mind right now, I’m thinking back, I’m like I’m hoping that I wasn’t, that I wasn’t coherent enough to make that decision to where I knew I was going to kill my girls. I’m just hoping that no father would ever want to do anything to hurt his blood and flesh, but I did that, and I just don’t understand how it happened. I mean, I even read books that say, you know, no dad would ever do anything to hurt his children and this happened. Really? What book is that? I was thinking to myself, like was I even a dad at one point? I don’t know. It’s just going to take a long, long time to heal from everything to get —
Tammy: Have you asked for forgiveness from God?
Chris: Mm-hmm. It just takes a long time for me to forgive myself. And that’s one thing that’s gonna take… I just that one they can forgive me too.
Potential Motive for Murders
Tammy: I think you said earlier that you were so angry at Shanann or whatever that anyone in your path of destruction was going to get it, basically. Why were you so angry at Shanann?
I my opinion, this is the motive. I think he dissociated that morning and that pent-up rage took over. No excuse, but that’s likely what happened.
Chris: I don’t know if it was just because of separating me and my family, pretty much. Because, I mean, it happened at the wedding, that’s the reason they didn’t come to the wedding. I mean, I blew up at my family to a point where I said some horrible things to them back in 2012. I pretty much told my family that I don’t need them anymore. I cussed my mom out. I did all this kind of stuff. I never thought, I don’t know if it was just like Shanann coached me on to do it or if it was just like rage I had never seen before. And then, I don’t know if it was just everything that happened in July with, they can’t see my kids. I’m not sure if they’re ever going to get to see them again. I don’t know if that had something to do with it, that something inside me just triggered it and just like all that pent up from the wedding and everything just like, just like a long fuse that finally just had come to its end.
Grahm: What happened in 2012?
Chris: My mom and Shanann, from when I proposed to her – it was at the beach and from then on… she always went up to Shanann and was like, “I didn’t need a ring like that when I was your age. I didn’t need all these fancy things when I was your age,” and it just kind of kept boiling over and boiling over. They never agreed on anything. We didn’t really need their help to do anything, we were just like, we’ll just pay for it ourselves and all that kind of stuff. It was just back and forth. I think maybe my mom just thought she was good enough. She always thought she was hiding something from me.
Grahm: She always thought Shanann was hiding something? Like what?
Chris: Stuff from her past or like, you know.
Grahm: Oh, I see.
Dave: So, there was conflict at a barbecue when all the families got together? Maybe a barbecue Shanann put together for everybody to meet each other? The two families, do you recall that? Like when you first starting dating.
Chris: I remember we did have something like that, but I didn’t remember any kind of arguments. When I proposed to her, Shanann had her family come down to the beach too, they stayed at a separate house. But as far as like a barbecue or anything, I don’t remember one that was like that. I remember the time when I asked Frank if it was okay if I asked Shanann to marry her. I remember that little get together.
Chris’s immediate family were not at the wedding November 2012
Grahm: So then, what was the blowup at the wedding about?
Chris: It was just my mom and pretty much my sister, they didn’t like her. They just thought, you know, that Shanann had taken me away from them out to Colorado. Because we were in Colorado and we flew back to get married. Because we went to Colorado for Thanksgiving to visit some friends and we decided to move out there, like a couple of months later. So, that was like April. I moved out there April 2012 and we got married in November 2012 in North Carolina. So, they always thought I was just taken, that she took me away out there.
Tammy: Is there something with invitations or something? Your sister was supposed to send invitations?
Chris: Now, you’re bringing some memories back. There was something to do with that and then my sister wanted her kids as the ring bearer and something else. The ring bearer and the flower girl. And then Shanann, she told her no – or wait – either Shanann told her no or Jamie backed out because of something else and then it just all blew up.
Grahm: And was that pretty close to the wedding?
Chris: Yes. Within a couple of weeks.
Tammy: Did they go to the wedding, your family?
Chris: My grandma did.
Tammy: But your parents and your sister did not go.
Grahm: Ronnie wasn’t there either?
Chris: No. Nobody was there. My grandma was there and then the dance when the groom dances with his mom, I danced with Mark’s mom and my grandmother.
Grahm: It’s sad, isn’t it? It all comes from a place of love, them loving you and not wanting you to get stolen.
Chris: It was a great day, I mean, everybody was really happy. It always rang in the back of my head, they were never there and every time they look at pictures, it’s like, “Oh where’s? They’re not there.” I never knew if they were actually going to come anyways, but as far as like, sometimes they’ll be just like, “All right, we’re just going to go just to be there.” You never knew if that was the case.
Chris gets perspective on the state of his marriage a bit too late
Grahm: When Tammy was asking why were you so mad at Shanann, was part of it just this whole family strife?
Chris: That’s the only thing I can think of right now because, I mean, there’s no other reason, really to be mad at her. We took care of each other our whole, that whole four years, it was just like a good relationship. I mean, it’s just like, if I never met Nikki, would I ever had thought our relationship was bad? Probably not. That’s one thing I always thought about, like even Nikki asked me, she said, “I don’t want you to leave your wife just because of me.” I’m just like, “Like what do you mean?” She said, “If you hadn’t met me, would you have known?” I’m like, “No.” I never thought I would have strayed away from her at all. I’ve never followed, I’ve never tried to follow anybody, you know?
Tammy: Was Shanann checking your phone?
Chris: She always had my phone.
Tammy: She was always checking your phone?
Tammy: So, how did you get past that?
Chris: I used my work phone.
Tammy: To text? Didn’t you have some secret apps?
Chris: That was on my personal phone.
Tammy: Were you using anything else to have contact with her?
Chris: No, I’d just text her with my work phone. When Shanann and the kids went to North Carolina, I’d just use my personal phone and she just told me to put pictures in an app and I just found that calculator and I just put, you know, just searched on the app store, like “hidden pictures” and the calculator app was the first one that popped up.
Tammy: Like in your iCloud or your whatever isn’t linked together so she would know if you’re getting apps, you know, downloading apps and stuff like that.
Chris: They use to be a long time ago but when we got different phones or when our phone contact list would be synched up from the cloud, she had tons and tons and tons of phone contacts, I just couldn’t have all that, but it’s still kind of linked up at one point. But as far as like she asking to get my own iCloud account, just to kind of free that up a little bit.
Dave: How about your Facebook account? You deleted that at some point. When did you do that and why?
Chris: I think it was – we got back August 7th. I think it was probably August 8th. That’s when Nikki told me she told her friends about me and I just figured, they’re probably looking on Facebook to see that Shanann’s pregnant. Nikki probably knew it already. That’s the reason why I did that.
Tammy: Did you and Nikki ever fight?
Chris: We never fought, but, like I said, I had to calm her down a bunch of times.
Tammy: You started to mention that when we were talking to you before about her getting upset about some video or something about being bipolar. What are you talking about?
Chris: I think either my dad told me about that or John Walsh told me about like she made a couple of videos when she was just like talking to herself, saying that she was bipolar or something like that. But a lot of things, when she realized, that okay, she’s the other person in the relationship, that I’ll always put my wife first over her and that’s what kind of make her take a step back a few times and then I’d have to calm her down.
Tammy: Tell me about those times. What did that look like?
Chris: So, the first one was probably around July 4th when I had to leave her house. She wanted to kind of spend most of the day together before she went to a baseball game. And when I had to leave, it kind of just, made her take a step back and wonder what she was doing. I just told her, just because I had to leave doesn’t mean you have to just… I was comforting her at some point. I don’t even know why I was doing. Maybe I knew I was too far gone at that point.
Tammy: Is this the Shanann’s pissed, she’s called you 10 times, you were sleeping because you had your day off and then you go outside to talk to her on the phone and tell Nikki that you need to go home just in case she calls back and all that, right?
Tammy: So, what did she say to you, Nikki?
Chris: She was in the shower and she said, “Okay,” and when I talked about when I had to calm her down, “Who’s on the phone?”
Tammy: Was she like, “We’re breaking up. I can’t do this?”
Chris: No, she said like she didn’t want to – she didn’t think it was safe or it was good for us to see each other anymore that day, like the rest of that day just because of all that. And I’m like, “Okay, that’s fine.” And then she asked me to come over later on after she got back from her baseball game.
Tammy: And so, you did that?
Tammy: So, what was the second one like?
Nikki dating other people
Chris: It was basically about the same thing. I didn’t really know it, at one point, but I guess she had set up a couple of dates with the Harmony app or something. And they never showed up. And she had already made plans with me and —
Tammy: Wait, what do you mean? She set up dates when she had plans with you?
Tammy: Why would she do that?
Chris: I guess she kind of figured out they weren’t going to show up. I guess when she went to the baseball game, they never showed up and there was another one that never showed up either.
Tammy: So, she’s actively dating other people when you guys got together?
Chris: I didn’t know it until a couple of weeks later.
Tammy: And how did you find out?
Chris: She told me.
Tammy: What’d she say?
Chris: It was one conversation where I actually kind of fell asleep on the couch and then she’d tell me – I’m not sure why she even told me about it – but it was really random and she could tell it kind of took me back a little bit because I figured she would have told me that if she was actively still looking around. I mean, she didn’t have to tell me, but I figured she would have.
Tammy: Do you think she told you so that it would hurry you up and —
Chris: Make a decision.
Tammy: — in your making a decision?
Chris: It might have been but she never had anybody that actually tried to fix things as far as like, like where we’re at as far as a relationship goes and I did stuff for her around the house, around her little apartment and nobody had ever done that. She thought it was different.
Dave: What about her male friend? Where does he stand with her? What’s his name?
Chris: He worked in the oil field, North Dakota, I believe. I guess he’s been a friend of hers for a long time and it’s kind of like a shoulder to cry on, he’s somebody that’s always been around for her and I guess he’s had a couple of girlfriends and I guess he hasn’t had much luck, I guess in that department as far as keeping girlfriends. Him and Nikki have always been good friends.
Dave: Just platonic friends? As far as you know?
Chris: That’s as much as I knew. But I think they’ve just been friends for a long time, especially up in the oil fields in North Dakota or wherever he’s working now, either Wyoming – they go all over the place.
Sandy & Frank lived with Chris & Shanann for 15 months at one point
Dave: When Sandy and Frank lived in the house for 15 months. What was that like?
Chris: It was tough. You go from just me and Shanann and Bella and CeCe to, you know, two other people and then four dogs. Oynx is a terror, a hundred pounds of heat-seeking missile everywhere. It was cool having more people around, but it was stressful. For Shanann, having two dominant personalities in the house and with her mom there, what her mom would tell her kind of how to raise the kids sometimes, like, “Do this, do that,” you know, like whenever they were sick, she was like, “All right, rub peroxide on their feet and they’ll be fine.” She’s like, “What?” Like I wouldn’t do it. And Sandy would be like, “Just do that, Chris, it’s okay.” Little things like that. It was a clash every day. Every time I got home, I didn’t know if Shanann was pissed or if she was okay because when they first got there, they didn’t have a job yet and so, they were just around all the time, but then once they got jobs and stuff, it was a little better for Shanann because they weren’t around the house all day. It was definitely stressful, you know, vacuuming every other day. Cooking was great, that was awesome. They were down in the basement, so I was always really trying to keep the girls upstairs while they were sleeping, you know, they’re not running around downstairs, I didn’t want them to wake up. Because I know, Frank always told me that trying to wake up Sandy early is not good. Kind of walking on eggshells a lot.
Dave: Yeah, stressful.
Dave: Do you think that stressed your marriage at the time?
Chris: It was 16 months; it was a long time. It was great around the holiday times because they were already there and all that was great. We never really had much alone time. We always had to kind of plan it out.
Dave: What was the purpose for living out there?
Chris: They just wanted to be closer to the kids. Because we Facetimed a lot, but it’s not the same. With two kids, it’s hard to fly back and forth. I mean, when they went back to North Carolina this past time, it was the first time CeCe’s been there and she was three. It was the first time her brother ever met her.
Dave: Were they trying to move to Colorado permanently?
Chris: They were thinking about it at that point. Frank would have stayed; he didn’t want to leave. Sandy wanted to leave.
Dave: She wanted to go back?
Chris: Yeah. It was a matter of, they knew their house wasn’t being taken care of. The wanted to go back because they had put their house up for sale for a little while, but never bought.
Tammy: What about your financial stresses?
Chris: Bankruptcy was something I never thought was going to happen. That was back in 2015, 2016 – somewhere around there. I never thought that was going to happen. A lot of it was for the wedding, because we just put it all on credit cards. And then the doctor bills from endoscopies and just like the girls seemed like they were sick every month, it seemed like, with some type of ear infection, which we figured out, we just put the tubes in there and stuff. There were different operations here. A couple of overnight stays in the hospital for breathing and stuff like that. It all mounted up. I never thought it was that far gone.
Dave: Was any of that from Shanann’s neck surgery? Or were those bills pretty well paid up?
Chris: Well, I think the bankruptcy never touched the medical part of it. There’s medical bankruptcy and then there’s like regular bankruptcy. I don’t think bankruptcy ever touches student loans or medical stuff. They’re pretty specific with that. But I think it just took away a lot of furniture that we had bought and then a couple of other things out of the house. We had to make the house payment by phone every month and that was the bankruptcy’s deal, like every time and I didn’t know how long it was going to take. Once you’re in bankruptcy, pretty much you never get out of it.
Tammy: Were you guys behind on your mortgage even when I talked to you?
Chris: December 2017 and then January, February, March 2018 – that’s when we took the 401(k) out and the loan out to pay for that.
Grahm: How is it that you were spending so much money?
Chris: You know, kids and just other bills that we had. I knew the car was getting paid for my [inaudible 01:28:26]. I never really asked. I didn’t even have access to the bank account in my phone. I never really asked to see what it looked like, like how far, I just know she’d call me and tell me, “Hey can you pay the mortgage today?” I’m like, “Yeah, cool.” From my little four-wheeler incident where I sold it without actually paying it off yet and she thought like, “No, you’re never touching the account ever.” So, I’m like, “Okay, that’s cool with me.” I never saw the account or what was in there. When I worked at [inaudible 01:28:59] Ford, I got my check and I just brought it to her.
Dave: There was a hair care company, I think it’s called [Monat]. Does that ring a bell? You know anything about that? It could be hair dye, I don’t know. You know she did like an auto order through that company and had stuff delivered for her hair? Any kind of hair product or hair care dye?
Chris: I mean, she had like little – I remember there was something like a little gift pack she had delivered like once every month or once every two months. It had like a different array of different products in it.
Dave: You don’t remember where it’s from?
Chris: No. She had like Monet?
Chris: Mm-mm. Doesn’t ring a bell.
Dave: There was an order that was made like for $251, that’s why I asked if it was an auto-order type thing.
Chris: I know that Nikole Atkinson, she’s into all that stuff maybe. Maybe Shanann got her something or maybe it was something she recommended.
Dave: How about the HOA thing? What happened there?
Chris: She was mailing it out to the wrong address. They had changed the address and she mailed out to the wrong address for a year and we got a letter in the mail we’re getting sued over it, [inaudible 01:30:29] for a year. So, we had to pay double for either a whole year over a couple of months.
Dave: What happened to all the money that she sent to the wrong address?
Chris: I don’t know. They said they wouldn’t credit it or anything. I’m not even sure what the address was. She said it was just something that she didn’t see. I wasn’t harp her about it because she did so much, I was like, I’m not going to like say, “What the heck were you doing?” I know she felt bad enough.
What could detectives have done differently to get him to confess?
Tammy: So, Chris, what do you think we could have done better? What could have
made you tell us the truth that night? What did you need to hear from us that you
Chris: I’m not sure what really goes through people’s minds when they’re in an interrogation room. When I was in there with you and Grahm, that was, I mean, I was, you know, nervous, I mean, I knew I had done something wrong and I knew you probably already knew or were going to find out and it’s just like, I’ve watched enough TV shows to kind of see like what’s going to happen next – never knew it was actually right. The horror of knowing what you did and trying to tell somebody else what you did, that’s what kept me from doing it because I didn’t even want to admit it to myself that I had done anything. I knew what I had done, I knew how bad, horrific it was, I knew how bad it was going to hurt other people, I just couldn’t even admit to myself that I had done it. I couldn’t even tell my attorneys I did it until like two weeks later.
Tammy: Were you trying to save us from the horror of it.
Chris: No, it was just a matter of I couldn’t admit to myself, how could I admit it to you?
Tammy: Do you think any amount of us asking you things different ways would have helped? Do you think anything would have helped?
Chris: I think maybe if you didn’t ask about if Shanann hurt the kids. A different order of question, maybe it would have come out a different way. Because that’s the only reason I went with that story is because that was —
Tammy: Well, you weren’t giving us anything else, that was the problem. So, you think if we would have said, what, do you think?
Chris: If you would have said, if the video didn’t show them in the truck, you’d probably had to lie and just said, “We saw the kids in the truck.” I mean, I hate to say you would have had to lied to get me to say what you wanted me to say, but it might have been that.
Tammy: That we saw the kids in the truck.
Grahm: When we were talking, there was a point where you just said, “Can I talk to my dad?” Did you just want to tell him first?
Chris: I just wanted to tell him that I loved him and that this is probably the last time you’re going to see me again, as far as, you know, outside of a cell.
Grahm: You looking forward to him coming?
Chris: Yeah because just talking to him on the phone, it’s just totally different when you see them, see a face. It’s like when we got on that little video conference in [01:34:22] County, it was all I could do just to not just break down on the phone. It will be good to see them.
Tammy: What do you get to do when they’re here? Get in a room like this with a table?
Chris: If there’s a visiting center, down from my unit, and I don’t know what it looks like, but I know they said it was like tables and pretty much, they set up a time and you get a couple of hours. Just in that little center in that, I’m not sure what else is in there. I just know there’s tables. It will be good to see them. Unfortunately, they can’t bring their phones in or anything. I was hoping maybe they could show me a video or two, but that ain’t going to happen. Or a picture. But they pretty much only let you come in with your ID, that’s it.
Dave: Can they mail you still photos or anything like that?
Chris: Yup, they can do the still photos. Sometimes they try to play a video over the phone for me and just like, you know, it’s really fuzzy and crackles a lot, so you can’t really hear anything.
Grahm: Do you have any questions for us? Do you ever wonder – I wonder why they did this. Or I wonder why the investigation went this way?
Chris: I think the first time I was brought in, I think it was like the 14th, when I met you that night. You told me there were a bunch of other coming in for statements. Was that true?
Grahm: There were a couple of people.
Dave: There were a lot.
Tammy: There were a lot, actually. A whole board worth of people listed.
Grahm: They didn’t get the attention you got that night.
Chris: I just wish none of this would have ever happened, honestly. I wish you guys could have never had to meet me or anything like that. None of this ever felt real, especially like when they put me in that suicide watch cell and the last thing one of those guys said was, “Good luck” and slammed that door and I just kind of knew from then on, that was it.
Dave: A deputy said that?
Chris: One of the guys, they call them the SOG, Special Operations Group, in the [01:36:56]County Jail. That was it. The next morning, when I got up to take a shower, I saw a newspaper and there was this big piece cut out of it, I don’t know what that was about, I just kind of saw my last name.
Grahm: If we came back to talk to you some day, would you be inclined to talk to us again?
Chris: Mm-hmm. Today just took me off guard; I had no idea.
Tammy: We didn’t really want to tell you we were coming just because we didn’t want you to have anxiety about us coming.
Chris: I would have had anxiety.
Tammy: So, we figured the blitz attack was probably the best course today.
Chris: Just like the first time we met.
Tammy: You knew when you were meeting me.
Chris: You just didn’t have all your props here today.
Grahm: I don’t know that that’s going to happen. We might never see each other again.
Chris: I didn’t think we would, honestly.
Grahm: Your experience is definitely interesting. You, yourself, are definitely interesting. We see things in you that we didn’t expect to and we don’t see things in you that we expected to see, so it’s very interesting to us and I hope you can take to heart that today was a lot about us learning how to do better. How to talk to people better, how to do investigations better.
Chris: I mean, like, I had never talked to a police officer before, or like FBI, CBI, anything like that. So, that was all new to me, like I said, everything that I’d ever seen as far as the authorities – I didn’t know what to expect, especially when I got into that interrogation room and just felt like exactly what it looked like, just like, poke and prod and then leave. Come back in. It’s like, give me time to stew, give me time to think and it works. It really drills more questions into your own mind instead of just staying in the room and just asking questions all the time.
Tammy: You liked it when we took breaks? You think that worked on you?
Chris: I did.
Tammy: You were watching videos of the girls at one point. Do you remember that? Them giggling and laughing.
Chris: Like when I was in the interrogation room?
Chris: I don’t remember that.
Tammy: You don’t?
Chris: I thought you already had my phone at that point.
Tammy: No, we didn’t take your phone until towards the end. That was weird for me.
Chris: Like when you put that picture in front of me, that’s probably what made me do it. I didn’t have a signal in there, but videos I had on my phone, it was just like, I wish I had taken those videos out more often before all that had happened. It definitely got in my head a lot. I don’t know where that picture was from because I’d never seen that picture.
Tammy: The one we showed you?
Chris: Yeah, I had never seen CeCe in that dress before.
Grahm: Really? We talked a lot about that dress. Were you just making it up?
Tammy: Yeah and you were saying —
Chris: I never saw her in that dress.
Tammy: You were even telling us when she last wore the dress —
Grahm: About the boots.
Chris: Not that dress.
Tammy: Those are her favorite winter boots and she wears them all summer.
Chris: The winter boots, yeah, but that white dress was a little different; I’ve never seen that picture.
Tammy: No, because you talked about buttoning it up. You said, I remember, because she just wore it the other day and I had to button up the back.
Chris: It must have been a different dress, but not that one. Was that North Carolina or was that –?
Tammy: I don’t know where the picture came from.
Dave: Pulled it off of Facebook, Shanann’s Facebook.
Tammy: So, maybe it was while you weren’t there or something.
Dave: Might have been, yeah.
Tammy: But you don’t recall that, huh?
Chris: There’s a lot of pictures I guess I hadn’t seen when they were in North Carolina that my parents have. Especially like Fourth of July and stuff, like Fourth of July dresses on and stuff like that I never saw. Some I had in my phone but that white dress, I never, like she was going to church or something. I just never saw that white dress and Bella’s little dress that she had. Her little awkward smile there in the back. That definitely got in my head when you did that.
On his emotionless demeanor
Tammy: When we had the picture out there for you? To us, it didn’t seem like that because you didn’t elicit any emotion.
Chris: I don’t show emotion that much, just like my dad, we don’t show emotion.
Grahm: Were you fighting it down or you’re just not a guy to show it?
Chris: Like most of the time, I’m not a guy to show it. Like I hold it in as much as I can and, you know, in my cell, I cry a lot, obviously. Like I’m not really a guy to show it. I don’t like – I don’t know – I try to hold it in as much as I can.
Dave: You were a difficult guy to read, especially at the house that day. That makes total sense now.
Chris: I guess I was in shock or disbelief; some people said I looked like I was a heartless, no soul person, soulless person when they did the TV interviews; I’m just glad I never saw it. I don’t even want to know what I looked like, what I sounded like.
Dave: But you were obviously feeling it then, you just weren’t showing it.
Chris: Yeah, it’s like nothing registered at all. Everything was harbored deep down and then it was just one night when I was in my cell, it all hit me all at one point. Not the fact that I was in jail, but the fact that everybody was gone and none of it – I think like if something happens to your family in an accident, like a car accident or something horrible like that, it registers at one point, but if you did it, it just doesn’t register at one point. It’s like, in my head, it never registered.
Tammy: Does it seem real now?
Chris: It feels real every day. I see pictures, I know where they were at when they were doing that. When I first had some type of hearing over the phone, I heard Frank and Sandy and Frankie, they were on the phone, and I forgot what kind of hearing it was, something about like a probate hearing or something, I knew exactly where they were in the back – I heard the birds chirping and I knew they were out on the back deck and I just walked back to my cell and just bawled my eyes out because I knew exactly where they were. I don’t know how many times the girls were back out there; it’s just weird how emotions process differently for me than everybody else.Like you said, if you lost your kids in the grocery store for five seconds, you’d be a mess. For me, it’d be like, I’d be panicked, but I probably wouldn’t cry, I’d be looking around trying to find them, but it just processes different for me and I never knew why. I never know why. I don’t want to think I’m a cold-hearted person, I just don’t show it, don’t show the emotion as much as other people do. Even when the girls left North Carolina, Shanann’s brother and mom and dad were all crying when they left and I never really saw my parents get like that when they left. I don’t know if you’re born that way.
Tammy: Like your family doesn’t show emotion like that? Is that what you’re saying?
Chris: Yeah. My dad couldn’t really speak at the sentencing hearing because he said he was kind of like, he said he was going to lose it, like lose his emotions; that really hit me. I’ve never seen him like that.
Tammy: Like vulnerable?
Chris: Mm-hmm. Nobody’s ever really seen me that way either.
Tammy: Was it ever like, you’re a sissy if you’re like that? Or you just never did?
Chris: I just, no. I never saw my dad cry. So, maybe it’s just something that, you know, was imprinted in my brain that maybe I should never cry.
Tammy: Was your mom a loving mom? Like a doting mom and, you know, would give you affection and hugs and kisses?
Chris: Oh yeah, she always asked me what was going on. She said I was always hard to read; she never knew what was going on.
Tammy: But did she still try and give you affection even growing up?
Chris: Yeah. My sister was always a parent, always like what was going on. She was always open with me; I was always closed off. And she always wanted to know what was going on, like I how I felt. I was just like, “Oh, I’m good.” Even if something was wrong, like I would have probably never said anything because I would just deal with it myself. I don’t know if growing up that way just kept me that way, to deal with things on your own, but they build up so much that you can’t deal with them and then they take a hold of you, you never thought in a way it could take a hold of you.
Dave: Do you think it was a result of just bottling up for so long?
Grahm: What do you remember your dad saying at sentencing?
Chris: I remember there was a scripture, it was 1 John, 1-9, and then a lot of it, the other representative said for him. My mom spoke but everything my dad had written down, the person said. He was talking going to little league games and braces and stuff like that and being my coach and everything like that and was hoping I was experiencing the same type of joy doing that for my girls.
Grahm: I remember your mom saying she loves you and she always will.
Chris: I know.
Grahm: That was pretty important to hear.
Chris: And then she said, “I forgive you, son.”
Grahm: That was big, right?
Grahm: And your dad, when we came here today, we were just hoping and praying that you would take your dad’s advice. Do you remember what he said? I hope if you get a chance to talk, you can talk about it and I think that’s what today was, don’t you?
Chris: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I just didn’t expect it to be today.
Dave: The DA made some comments during that sentencing hearing about your emotions and having no emotions. Do you remember all that?
Chris: Yeah, “He lied to us from the start,” and a couple of other things – I believe that’s what he was saying.
Dave: Do you think he was anywhere close? Basically, what is your opinion of what he said?
Chris: I mean, it’s going to be, you know, taking all of his evidence and putting it into the story that he wanted to convey. If you don’t know me, that’s the way you’re going to portray – if you take everything from August 13th to now, that’s how people are going to – there’s no other way people are going to opinionate themselves about me just by what they see right there. They’re going to say, okay, they look at a guy that did the interviews on the 14th and they see that guy should be on his hands and knees crying his eyes out and what’s he doing? He’s just talking. I know they got some information maybe from her friends saying, “Well, he was cheating on her,” or something like that, he’s a cold person, he was trying to do this and that. They don’t know me – that’s always going to be what they think about me. There was one church service, the only one I’ve been able to go to in here and they said you’re not defined by one moment in your life and people are defining me by one moment in my life. They don’t know what happened before or what can happen later. So, I just hope that, hopefully one day people can stop judging everybody. I was just telling the people in here that, you know, I don’t even want to know what they did because I don’t want to judge them. Like, I’m not that person. They know what I did; I’m not going to ask them what they did.
Dave: You did show some emotion during that hearing. What part do you think you felt the most emotional?
Chris: When Frank was talking about – I didn’t know what to expect when he first started talking, but he said I was an evil monster – that rang in me – and he said I tossed them away like garbage and that hurt. And, you know, when Sandy was talking about that video, Bella was calling me her hero and that, that triggered it a lot there. Then, when was saying, you know, like, I’ll never be called uncle again, but you’ll never be called a dad again. That really stung. Then when my parents got up there, just hearing my mom and dad talk, you know, they’re just like, they really couldn’t look at me, but I just know, everything they said, saying they forgive me and that I’m still their son no matter what. Even my attorneys told me, you need to show a little more emotion because I guess, the first time I went into the court room, I didn’t know what to expect. I was new to everything, just in shock about what was going on and they said I was just a cold person, just looking at me. When I did the plea and at the sentencing hearing, it all felt just more real than anything.
Grahm: I remember growing up, my pastor used to tell me, it’s better to be one foot out of hell facing heaven, then one foot out of heaven facing hell. So, I think that’s you. Like you’ve been to hell and now you’re faced in the right direction.
Chris: Definitely. I definitely feel like its – I never knew I could have a relationship with God like I do know, it’s like the amazing grace with all of this but I just wish nobody had to pay any kind of price for this. I know there’s a purpose for everybody, I just that I can find mine.
Grahm: It’s giving you peace.
Chris: That’s the only thing I really can do right now is to seek peace and hope and pray that everybody can find it too. For everybody that was involved, for all of your and all your team and everybody. Friends, anybody that was involved.
Dave: What do you want to happen with this information?
Chris: I mean, I know you’re probably going to tell Frank and Sandy and Frankie, just to kind of give them a little closure, right?
Dave: Yeah, I don’t know how much I’m going to tell them. Obviously, you know Sandy better than I. She wants to know everything. I’m going to digest it a little bit before I talk to them about it, so I don’t think there’s any rush on that. But other than that, I have no intention of talking to anybody outside of law enforcement. What would you like to see happen with it?
Chris: I mean, I’d like to tell my parents, you know, when they get here instead of finding out anywhere else. Because I know they’ve been bombarded with information from the Amanda call to the Trent guy from people going on Inside Edition saying they knew me, went out with or had whatever else with me. I don’t want them to think it’s false information going out there because people are getting a hold of information, like where did they get this information from type deal?