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Does the new Lifetime Original Movie 'Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer' do the case justice? Discover the details it leaves out here.

Still haunted by the Chris Watts case? All the details the movie left out

The Lifetime Original Movie Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer gets a lot of details scarily right. They recreated love letters between convicted murderer Chris Watts and the woman he had an affair with, down to an accurate pink birthday card. They portrayed his daughter’s haunting final words: “Daddy, no!” 

The filmmakers even replicated Chris Watts’ conversation with agent Tammy Lee (played by Brooke Smith in the movie) of the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, who conducted Watts’ polygraph and elicited a confession. 

“The coolest thing about this is that right now there’s only one person in this room that knows the truth and in about five minutes there’s going to be two of us,” Lee says in both the tape and the movie. 

Ripped from the headlines

It’s hard to pick out what the movie Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer gets wrong when it gets so many details right. It recreates video footage word for word, like Shannan Watts’ final pregnancy announcement a month before Chris Watts murdered her. 

Even throwaway details like how Chris Watts nervously looked around before driving away with his wife and kids’ bodies in his car were put in. Watts’ stance was picked up by security camera footage from a neighbor. Actor Sean Kleier recreated the nervous glance so well, it could’ve been a play-by-play. 

That said, there are a few things the movie changes. Whether to cover details that are too grizzly or to disassociate a company from the murders, Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer made a few small changes. 

Chris Watts never admitted to the affair

In the Lifetime movie, Chris Watts admitted to having an affair with his girlfriend Nichol Kessinger to his wife, Shannan. In real life, Watts claims he didn’t. The admission was most likely included for dramatic effect and for the closure Shannan Watts never got. 

Chris Watts’ motive for killing his wife & family can be traced to an affair he had with Nichol Kessinger. A coworker, Watts & Kessinger exchanged multiple emails and texts that blossomed into a full-blown affair. A 20/20 documentary Devil in Disguise revealed that Chris Watts & Kessinger had sex between three and four times a day. 

In prison, Watts admitted he still loves Kessinger. It’s unclear whether or not she still has feelings for him. She’s moved away and assumed a new identity. It was revealed that a lot of their relationship was based on lies, including Watts telling Kessinger that he and his wife were separating. 

Chris Watts strangled his wife “until her eyes bled”

A graphic detail left out of the movie was the carnage around Shannan’s death. Chris Watts told a pen pal that he strangled his wife, Shannan until she bled out of her eyes. “I knew she was gone when she relieved herself,” Watts also revealed. These graphic details were never shown in the Lifetime movie. 

Watts also tried to kill his children first before murdering Shannan. Watts tried smothering his daughters with a pillow before returning to his room. After the argument with Shannan where Watts strangled her, the girls woke back up. Watts recounted that they gave him scared looks as he wrapped their mother’s body up.

Small details

A few smaller details were changed. Thrive, a fitness product that Chris & Shannan Watts endorsed in real life had their name changed. This was presumably so the company wouldn’t be associated with the Chris Watts murders. However, the film shows Chris & Shannan wearing “Strive” patches similar to Thrive’s weight loss products. 

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  • I just saw a preview on Netflix and decided to watch. After reading the reviews I decided not to watch the movie, because what I read was so heartbreaking, I imagined the movie extremely tearful.

    October 6, 2020
  • I watched the Netflix documentary last weekend. I took some time to really think about this horrible mess before posting anything on it, so here is my first thoughts.

    The Netflix documentary is excellent, no narration, just excellent editing and all you see and hear is actual real footage and sound. No recreations which makes it that much more chilling.

    For me, I just had even more questions after viewing it than I had before. First off let me say that Chris Watts is right where he needs to be for the rest of his life. I’m glad he will never get parole or out. He will suffer inside that jail for the rest of his life.

    What makes a man, who by all accounts is a normal husband and father living a pretty sweet life in an upscale Colorado subdivision turn into a diabolical killer? Was he always this way deep inside, a maniac waiting for some kind of internal alarm to go off and BAM? I don’t think so, I think his mental illness (and he is mentally ill) was long brewing, he did not even know he was capable of murder, until he actually did it.

    I do believe it was all premeditated, but not by much. I think he only made the choice to kill them that very weekend, right before she got home. I think Chris waited for Shannan to get home that night from Arizona, fall asleep and then he strangled her to death. I don’t think either one of the kids woke up, I think he wrapped up Shannan’s body and put it in his truck, then later tricked the girls into the truck and then one by one killed them at the dump site.

    His stupidity is unbelievable, I think he was in some kind of manic state afterwards, making all those phone calls to the girls school and his girlfriend and a realtor, its freaking amazing this guy can tie his shoes. He doesn’t even stop the police interview, which he could have done at any time and ask for a lawyer, I mean WOW.

    I think Shannan had her share of emotional problems, but who doesn’t. I think she was painfully insecure and needed constant affirmation of her worth. Her obsession with filming every minute of her life does reveal a personality disorder. She was bossy and controlling but I think much of that may have been a need to be in control while dealing with a serious illness that she had no control over. Lupus gets worse as one gets older, I’m sure she knew that and was vastly overcompensating for that. But it does not matter what her issues were, she did not deserve what she got. As for the kids, its just unfathomable to me that anyone could kill any child let alone there own.

    This has to be one of the worst family tragedies I have ever studied.

    October 6, 2020
    • I watched the Netflix documentary and the only answer I can think of for his actions is white male priveledge. He had a beautiful wife , 2 loving daughters and a son on the way, good job, lovely home. He did not want to pay for a divorce, alimony, child support and ruin his spending money to be able to keep banging his new girlfriend. When you watch the video his pleas for his wife and children to come back home, look closely at his mouth and face it is just like Laci Peterson’s husband another one that murdered the pregnant wife so that he can move forward with an affair. Men just stop murdering your pregnant wives, you will get caught go to prison and only have man love for the rest of your pathetic lives.

      October 11, 2020
  • Chris Watts should be considered the most dumbest criminal of the century! Sick ass Him and Peterson should be in the same cell together. What’s wrong with some men? Not saying I’m bias but if you don’t want to be married grow up and get a divorce and leave the mother and kids alone. Simple To all you cheaters out there just wAlk away and nobody gets hurt!

    November 15, 2020

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