Everything American Murder: The Family Next Door on Netflix missed out about the case
Just hours after the murders, Chris Watts looked up song lyrics about killing your family
Right now, everyone is talking about true crime documentary American Murder: The Family Next Door – but the Netflix film actually missed out a fair bit from the chilling case.
The documentary looks at the case of Chris Watts, who in August 2018 killed his pregnant wife and two young daughters. The case shook the entire world – with people never knowing why he did what he did. Watts is currently serving five life sentences with no chance of parole.
Here is everything the Netflix documentary American Murder: The Family Next Door missed out about the case.
The American Murder documentary missed out some context of Shanann Watts’ first marriage
In American Murder: The Family Next Door, it is mentioned that Shanann Watts had been married before, but felt very insecure in that relationship. In social media footage, Shanann spoke about feeling like Chris had saved her from that relationship. Not a lot is known about Shanann’s first husband. According to Reddit sleuths they were married for three to four years and met when she was in high school and he was in law school. His name is reportedly Leonard King and his relationship with Shanann broke down and they got divorced.
The reason for Chris Watts’ weight loss and lifestyle changes
In the documentary, it is briefly mentioned that Chris Watts lost lots of weight after marrying Shanann and became a lot more fitness focused. It’s never really explored as to why he wanted to lose weight, but his wife helped him and was part of his motivation. Shanann worked selling “Thrive” – a nutritional supplement and weight loss patch. Chris Watts began using these products too.
But it looks as though Chris Watts may have began taking the patch in a less controlled way. In an interview, his other girlfriend Nichol Kessinger said he was rapidly losing weight, not getting any sleep and had doubled up on doses in the weeks before the killings. He also suggested she start using the patches too.
The American Murder documentary also missed out what happened to Chris Watts’ other girlfriend, Nichol Kessinger
At the time of the killings, Chris Watts was having an affair with Nichol Kessinger and it is thought he killed his family so he could be with her forever.
In the investigation into Chris Watts’ crimes, Nichol cooperated with the police. She took part in extensive interviews to share what she knew about Chris and his current situation, and gave over her phone to be inspected. Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said: “Nichol Kessinger turned out to have information that I can best describe as being a bombshell.”
It’s now said that due to the amount of information she provided police, Nichol is living under witness protection and has completely cut off all ties with Chris Watts.
Nichol and Chris went on lots of dates without Shanann knowing and used secret apps to stay in contact
In the documentary we find out about one occasion where Chris Watts took Nichol Kessinger to a sports bar and used his and Shanann’s shared account to pay the bill. But according to police documents, there are lots of other known occasions where the pair had been seeing each other and where they went and what they did.
On July 14th 2018 they went to a car museum together, and Shanann tried to phone her husband four times that day but he missed them all. Later in July the pair also visited Great Sand Dunes National Park and spent the night together camping nearby.
Chris also sent Kessinger a number of love letters before he joined his family on a holiday. He wrote things like: “When I’m around you I can feel peace in the atmosphere” and “you keep my engine roaring when you’re pushing the pedal”.
In the documentary we see semi-nude photos that Kessinger sent to Chris Watts. He was storing these on a secret calculator app on his phone. Police documents of her phone usage also showed that Kessinger on one occasion browsed wedding dresses online for over two hours.
What was Chris Watts’ childhood and relationship with his family actually like?
In the documentary, it is clear that Shanann had a rough relationship with Chris’ family. They’re shown having an argument over Shanann and Chris’ daughter’s allergies and Shanann says her in-laws are one of the reasons she feels separated from her husband. But one thing the American Murder documentary missed out was what Chris really felt about his family and what his upbringing was like.
In an interview, his mother Cindy Watts seems to suggest the family got on fine and Chris had a very normal childhood. She said: “He played sports. He played sports from the time he was five years old, up until he was seventeen. And he was in basketball, he was in baseball, he was in football. And uh…loved NASCAR. He and his dad went to the NASCAR races all the time. He was a good kid. [He] had two best friends and that’s who he grew up with and still are friends with them.”
Cindy Watts added that they could “never believe” he would be capable of what he did, and he never got into fights or anything like that at school. She also said she felt Shanann “wasn’t the kind of person Chris would date”.
Chris Watts looked up songs with disturbing lyrics after he had committed his crimes
According to police documents, at 10am on August 13th 2018, just hours after the murders had took place, Chris Watts looked up the lyrics to “Battery” by Metallica. The lyrics to this song include: “Pounding out aggression, turns into obsession, cannot kill the battery, cannot kill the family.”
In a later interview, he claims he was looking up this song because Nichol Kessinger liked it.
Chris Watts’ full polygraph interview last hours, and he failed it majorly
One of the key moments in the case was when investigators carried out a polygraph test with Chris Watts. In the Netflix documentary, it shows a very limited amount of the full interview. It showed him being asked basic questions about confirming who he is, and if he physically caused Shanann’s disappearance. He was also asked if he lied about the last time he saw Shanann and if he knew where she was.
The full interview with Tammy Lee and Chris Watts is said to have lasted around seven hours. The same questions were asked to Watts time and time again, to make sure the results were accurate. As well as this, he scored shockingly low. The normal score to indicate that someone is lying is around -4, and Watts scored -18.
Chris Watts’ court case lasted three months in total and it wasn’t until three months into his sentence that he actually admitted fully what he did
The Netflix documentary only briefly touched upon the court case of Chris Watts following the murders. He was arrested on August 15th 2018 on suspicion of murder and Shanann’s family first appeared in court on August 21st, as proceedings got underway. It wasn’t until November 6th that Watts pleaded guilty.
On February 18th 2019, three investigators spoke to Watts and it was marked as the first time he fully told the truth about what he had done. He reportedly said he “snapped” and “didn’t know what he was doing”.
Chris Watts also had to pay $6million to Shanann’s parents in a wrongful death lawsuit
On November 18th 2019, Weld County Judge Todd Taylor ordered Christopher to pay Shanann’s parents $6 million following a civil lawsuit.
The couple filed the lawsuit last year on the same day that Watts pleaded guilty to killing his family. The figure includes $1 million for each of the family member deaths and a further $3 million for emotional pain. The amount owed will grow at an eight per cent annual interest rate – but the family will most likely never see most of the money.
Chris Watts is now serving five life sentences and is ‘haunted’ by what he did
The documentary finished with Chris Watts being sentenced to five life sentences without any chance of parole. Watts, who is in 23-hour lockdown, can leave his cell to shower and exercise but that’s about it. He has said he’s turned to religion in prison, and has a bible in his cell. He also has pictures of his family next to his bed. A family friend told People: “He’s sad that everyone is hurting. He wishes he could go back in time. He wishes he had handled things differently.”
A prison source has also said he is “haunted” by what he has done and is “ashamed” of everyone knowing the truth. Chris Watts is jailed at a maximum-security prison in Wisconsin.
American Murder: The Family Next Door is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.
Related stories recommended by this writer:
• Chris Watts says he is ‘ashamed’ of Netflix doc which ‘brings up awful memories’
• What is life like for Chris Watts now? The latest on Netflix American Murder subject
• American Murder: Chris Watts’ polygraph interview lasted seven hours and he scored -18