Trigger warning: This documentary contains content that involves murder and extramarital relationships. If you are sensitive to this type of content, this may not be the documentary for you
American Murder: The Family Next Door (Netflix documentary)
I think it is safe to assume we have all heard about Chris Watts, family annihilator. If you are not familiar with this case, you can get a synopsis here.
This documentary is heavy. I was familiar with this case before I watched this specific documentary on Netflix. I remember when this happened, but I also watched Family Man, Family Murderer: An ID Murder Mystery (available on Hulu). But watching this doc, and seeing so many home videos, photos and reading text messages that Shanann sent to Chris, and others in her life, was absolutely devastating. Chris agreed to take a polygraph test, and he failed. The officer told him prior to starting the polygraph that he would be very stupid to take this test if he had anything to do with the disappearance of his wife and daughters. He agreed, and took the test. He failed. Even during the test, the examiner told him she needed him to regulate his breathing because his vitals were all over the place. He failed. When the examiner and another officer came into the room to let him know he failed, he still maintained and promised he had nothing to do with the disappearance of his wife and kids. He swore up and down he was innocent. The officers weren’t having it, and kept pushing him to tell the truth. Chris asked if he could talk to his dad, finally getting emotional. His dad is brought into the room, and they start talking. Mind you, this room is under full surveillance (video and audio). His dad asks what is going on, and Chris mentions that he failed the polygraph. His dad says something about it being because he is too upset, and Chris just says “they know”. After a brief silence, Chris says Shanann killed the girls, smothered them, so he did the same to her. That he just lost control after seeing what she did to their children. Chris then changes his story from he had nothing to do with their disappearance, to Shanann smothered the children, and he killed her after seeing what she had done.
This doc shows a lot of conversations Shanann had with a friend, regarding concerns she had about her marriage. She expressed concern that things were tense between her and Chris, that he was being weird and rejecting her when it came to having sexual relations. She said several times that the only reason she could think of as to why he wouldn’t want to have sex with her, is if he was getting it somewhere else. She said “…even if he hated me… sex is sex.” She confronted Chris about having an affair, and he adamantly denied it. Chris told the detectives the same thing, that he never cheated on his wife. Turns out, Chris was in a relationship with a co-worker, Nichol Kessinger. She (Nichol) claims she knew he had children, but that he (Chris) had told her he was in the process of separating from his wife. The documentary moves fairly quickly from the interrogation, to his arrest, to his trial and sentencing.
Chris took a plea deal, pleading guilty to the first degree murder of his wife, Shanann, daughters Bella and CeCe, and unborn son, Niko (Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant when she was murdered) in exchange for the death penalty being off the table. Chris Watts was convicted of all murders, and was sentenced to five life sentences – three consecutive and two concurrent – without the possibility of parole. He received an additional 48 years for the unlawful termination of his wife’s pregnancy and 36 years for three charges of tampering with a deceased body.
So the truth finally came out. Chris Watts murdered his family, because he wanted a fresh start. He wanted to build a life with his girlfriend (Nichol Kessinger). He brutally murdered his pregnant wife and two daughters in cold blood. The man is an absolute monster.
This documentary was heartbreaking. Watching home videos of Bella and CeCe, smiling, laughing, clearly adoring their daddy… knowing he smothered them and attempted to dispose of their little bodies in an oil well. He shoved their bodies in an 8″ opening at the top of an oil well located at one of his job sites. This is a hard documentary to watch, even knowing what happened before watching the doc. Seeing this man acting like he had no idea where his family had gone, and his pathetic pleading on the news… his interrogation video. We see so much of this case, right out in the open. It is so hard to watch, so hard to hear… so hard knowing this happened for absolutely no reason. My heart broke watching these sweet babies sing a song about how daddy is a hero… knowing what he did to them. This is a hard documentary to watch. It is a lot of brutal details to swallow. This is the absolute worst part of humanity. No matter how prepared you think you are for this case… I promise you, it will absolutely break your heart.
I also learned today, that Chris Watts had been corresponding with someone, and he has given her permission to compile a book using the letters. I have ordered the book, because supposedly he tells the entire truth about what he did that night. I want to read what he writes, though honestly, I will never believe a word that comes out of that monster’s mouth.
If you are going to watch this documentary, please be forewarned that is is absolutely devastating.