We all have those friends on Facebook that present their lives as picture-perfect paradises where nothing goes wrong and everyone is always smiling. This act of representing yourself positively is somewhat admirable in that negativity is less easily shared, but in the case of Shanann Watts, it was only meant to cover up a poorly functioning home (1).
The Facebook Facade
Based on Shanann’s Facebook page, the Watt family enjoyed a pure and full life (1). Shanann had a wonderful career that allowed for many travel opportunities, two beautiful daughters to love and adore, a generous and kind husband, and a third baby on the way. It seemed as though she had built the perfect life – at least, that’s how she boasted on Facebook. This 34-year-old mother posted regularly about her life in Frederick, Colorado, often updating her friends about her increasingly healthy lifestyle, consistently gushing about her perfectly picturesque little family (1).
Back in May, Shanann posted on her social media about her husband, Christopher Watts, “I love this man! He’s my ROCK!” The mother apparently named her unborn son Nico Lee, only for this 15-week pregnant mother to go missing in the middle of August, along with her two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3 (1).
Christopher was interviewed by the local news station, during which he admitted that his wife had an “emotional conversation” with him before her disappearance (2, 3). During the interview, he pleaded for Shanann and his daughters to come home (2).
The Tragic Truth
It was a short two days later that a body was found on the property of Christopher’s employer, Anadarko Petroleum, as well as remains of what were believed to belong to the two Watt daughters nearby (4). Christopher currently faces six chargers, including three for first-degree murder and three for tampering with crime evidence (1). Shanann’s family admitted that Christopher openly confessed to having killed his wife and three children, but the law enforcement holding Christopher have not yet publicly confirmed the statement (1).
While the actual truth is somewhat shielded due to a lack of information from authorities, an arrest affidavit suggested that Christopher was having an affair with one of his coworkers, something he initially denied during interviews with the police (3). Additionally, Christopher made a claim that Shanann had killed both of his daughters after learning of Christopher’s faithlessness and he asked for a separation, after which Christopher “went into a rage and ultimately strangled Shanann to death” (5).
On the social media surface, Shanann raved about her perfect life with its perfect job, perfect children, and perfect husband, when in reality she constantly feared that she was being cheated on (5). The sad contrast between the life Shanann painted for the public eye and the miserable reality of her daily life has utterly stunned the public and attracted a good deal of media attention (1). No matter how much shock one feels, experts in domestic violence cases explain that it can be impossible to fully know what goes on behind closed doors, and social media accounts serve as perfect tools to disguise actual turmoil inside a home (1).
According to Kim Gandy, president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, “It’s 2018, but in many families there is still shame associated with being a victim of domestic violence, and survivors often try to ‘put a good face’ on the relationship. We don’t know whether there had been violence during their marriage, but it would not be surprising that Shannan tried to project a positive image to her friends and colleagues, both on and off of social media” (1).
Shanann Watts was an expert at disguising her dysfunctional home, writing on Facebook, “Chris, we are so incredibly blessed to have you!” and “You do so much every day for us and take such great care of us. You are the reason I was brave enough to agree to number 3!”
Statistically, most murders of American women are committed by intimate partners and not strangers, and most mass shootings in America are domestic violence related. If you need help, call 1-899-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline (6).
Written by Abbey Elder-Ryan