Statement Analysis®

Did Chris Watts's words betray him in the disappearance of his family?

Chris Watts, from Frederick, CO, said he last saw his wife Shannan and his daughters 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste on August 13, 2018. Shannan had returned home around 2 a.m. on that Monday after returning from a work trip in Arizona. Watts, who is separated from Shannan, said he left the home around 5:15 a.m. Later that day, he reported his family missing.

Two days later, on August 15, Watts confessed that he killed his wife and two kids. Many people were surprised by his confession. This is because on the previous day, Watts was interviewed by a local television station in which he appeared to be a grieving husband and father who wanted his family back. We must remember that people usually will not lie in an open statement. Everything they say might be true. For example, Watts said, "I want my family back." "I wanted that knock on the door. I wanted to see those kids running, just barrel rush me and give me a hug." "I just want them home so bad." These are probably truthful statements. He probably regrets that he killed his family and would like to have them back.

Despite giving a truthful statement, it is difficult for a person to not reveal he is lying. In his interview, Watts said, "I have no inclination of where they're at right now...I have no idea like where they went." Rarely, can a person honestly say "I have no idea" or "I have no inclination." Most people have an idea on just about everything. They may not know what happened or they may not have all the details but most people do have an opinion or idea. Saying, "I don't know where they are" is an acceptable statement. However, that would be a lie. Since Watts does not want to lie, he used the phrase, "I have no idea." I wouldn't conclude that Watts is lying based on that one statement. However, I would conclude that it is an indication of deception and I would be asking a few more questions in an effort to determine if he was being truthful.

Statistics tell us that many missing person cases involve a family member or someone who knows the missing person. When that family member talks about the missing person in the past tense, he is telling us he knows something we don't know; he knows the missing person is dead. In talking about his oldest child starting school, Watts said, "Bella was going to start kindergarten next, next Monday." If Watts believed his daughter was still alive, he would have said, "Bella is going to start kindergarten next Monday."

Later on in the interview, Watts said, "I'm not sure if they're safe somewhere, just huddled up somewhere or if they're in trouble." Since Watts confessed to killing his family, we know this statement is a lie. If people do decide to lie, they usually will not tell a direct lie. The direct lie would have been to say, "I don't know if they are safe." That is a definitive statement. However, since Watts knows his family is not safe but is deceased, it caused him to use the phrase "not sure" instead of saying, "I don't know."

As I have always said, "People's words will betray them only if someone is listening."

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