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.
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.