Trigger Warning: Discussions about harm to children and violence against women. This is a truly horrific crime. I won’t go into any details about the crime itself because I don’t want to glorify it. However, I will touch on a basic background of the case. Viewer discretion is advised.
I have gotten more into True Crime after I discovered the podcast, Crime Junkie. Each episode is well researched and the co-hosts of the podcast support their local crime stoppers organization to help unsolved crimes in their geographic area. I was sent an email from a public relations person I subscribe to regarding the book My Daddy is a Hero: How Chris Watts Went From Family Man to Family Killer. I was graciously sent a review copy of this book to read. This is a heavy book to read, but I encourage everyone to read this if they can do so.
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions are my own.
I remember watching Chris Watts as he explained to TV reporters about wanting to find his missing family including his pregnant wife Shanann and two daughters Bella and CeCe. Turns out, Chris murdered them all and he’s now serving consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. Chris is a creepy guy as he doesn’t look like a “killer”. Detailed in Lena’s book, not one person who was interviewed in this case would have believed Chris would have killed his entire family, so why did he?
Lena does a great job detailing the background information leading up to their deaths. She goes to great length in painting a picture of Shanann. Shanann is a beautiful, loyal and happy mother who moved to Colorado from North Carolina to raise their daughters. She had a son on the way and it seemed Shanann and Chris had a perfect marriage. Chris was harboring demons within himself which allowed him to get violent with those he claimed to love.
Lena Derhally is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in relationship therapy. She is qualified to talk about this case in a way of describing the complexity of relationships. She mentions “red flags” in a relationship that should be a cause for concern. The sad part about reading these “red flags” is I have seen these flags in my friend’s relationships along with relationships I have had in the past. I want to list them out for you all:
- They exhibit no empathy for you or your perspective. – Empathy isn’t the same as sympathy. Empathy is seeing someone is sad and feeling sad too. Sympathy is offering condolences, but not trying to understand what that person is going through. I would say I’m a very empathetic person as if someone I care about is crying, all I want to do is hug them or make them feel better. Empathy is important.
- They’re ready to walk away or retreat emotionally. – This is seeing someone become a different person. Did they used to do romantic gestures and now will go days on end without talking to you? Sure, this might be a leap in predicting if someone can be violent, but it’s a cause for concern as well.
- They gaslight you. – For those who aren’t aware, gaslighting is where someone makes it seem like it’s your fault for something they have done. For example, if a partner is caught cheating. If their first reaction is to say that it’s your fault they strayed, run the fuck away. You have every right to feel the way you do and if someone says that’s your fault… this is incredibly abusive and manipulative. Everyone deserves better.
- Trust your gut. – Women especially are taught to be respectful and caring to everyone they meet. If you feel unsafe or if someone keeps trying to talk to you, be rude. This is difficult for me as I’m generally a nice person and feeling rude feels out of character for me. Our gut is usually right. Be rude and get out. This is easier said than done, but it’s worth noting.
This is a True Crime book that’s extremely well written. It gives a couple of gentle reminders about what can be signs of an abusive relationship. Unfortunately, this tragedy happened, but I don’t want to forget Shanann’s existence and how she was an exuberant person in the lives of many. How Bella and CeCe were bright and spirited girls who carried their dolls around with them everywhere. I hope they’re all at peace and their innocence will be cherished forever.