Chris Watts was arrested and charged on Monday with the murder of his wife, Shanann, who was 15 weeks pregnant with their child, as well as the couple’s daughters, Celeste, 3, and Bella, 4. Watts denies murdering his children, saying he went into a rage and killed his wife when he saw her strangling them.
Shanann was reported missing on August 13, and her body was discovered the next day in a shallow grave. The bodies of Celeste and Bella were later recovered from oil tanks. A motion filed by the District Attorney said, “The body of Defendant’s wife was located earlier this morning after being recovered from a shallow grave near an oil tank. Law enforcement recovered the bodies of Defendant’s two daughters from inside oil tanks located near the grave of their mother.”
This tragedy brings another name into the picture: Scott Peterson. Does it ring a bell? If you remember, Peterson was arrested and charged with the 2002 murder of his wife, Laci Peterson, who was pregnant with their unborn son. Peterson is currently on Death Row in San Quentin State Prison in California.
But a forensic profiler says there are many similarities between Chris Watts and Scott Peterson, and they share a personality.
According to forensic profiler Dale Yeager of SERAPH, “There are very clear personality connections between Chris [Watts] and Scott Peterson, except for the fact that Chris seemed to be less outgoing and is not as dynamic as Scott.” Let's break down their similarities:
1. Both were stone-faced after their wives disappeared.
According to detectives, Peterson had a calm and cool demeanor and had a lack of questions for police about his missing wife. He also had a lack of urgency. But unlike Watts, he was reluctant to talk to the press from the start and even stormed out of a press conference after he was asked if he was a suspect.
In A&E’s six-part series The Murder of Laci Peterson, a local TV reporter named Ted Rowlands noted, “His overall demeanor was so off from what they had seen in their experience as investigators that they completely zeroed in on him.”
But Watts made public appearances, talking to the media and pleading for his wife and childrens’ return, though still emotionless and cold: “Shanann, Bella, Celeste, if you’re out there, just come back, like if somebody has her, just please bring her back, I need to see everybody, I need to see everybody; again, this house is not complete without anybody here. Please bring them back,” he said.
2. Both wives were pregnant.
Laci Peterson was eight months pregnant while she disappeared, and her husband was charged with second-degree murder for their unborn child. While Shanann was only 15 weeks along, one has to wonder whether Watts will be charged with the murder of his unborn child as well.
3. Both tried to cover up their murders.
When the decomposing body of Laci was found several months after her disappearance, she was decapitated, both of her forearms were missing, her right foot was severed, and her left leg below the knee was also missing.
Her unborn son was separated from her body and had nylon tape wrapped around him. According to Forensic anthropologist Dr. Alison Galloway, Laci’s torso was emptied of internal organs and the fetus slipped through her decomposing uterus. The fact that Laci’s limbs were purposely removed from her body can only mean that Peterson wanted to dispose of her.
Watts dumped his wife’s body in a shallow grave near an oil tank, and his daughters were found submerged in crude oil near Shanann’s body. Watts worked as an operator for Anadarko Petroleum, one of Colorado's largest oil and gas drillers. If he did indeed dump their bodies, we can only assume he did so because he thought they would eventually disintegrate from the oil.
4. Both lived a double life.
Peterson had multiple affairs with women, but Laci only knew about one. He met Shawn Sibley in October 2002 at a trade convention, but because she was already taken, she connected him to Amber Frey, a single mother from the Fresno area. They began an affair roughly one month before Laci disappeared. Frey later told police of their relationship and said that Peterson told her he was a widower.
Watts also had an affair with a mistress, who was also his coworker. He initially denied cheating on Shanann, but later revealed his affair. The coworker has not yet been identified.
Yeager noted, “For Chris to [allegedly] make the leap from adultery to murder [means] he had to be at a point where he could get to such a dark place, mentally, that he could justify very ugly, evil behavior.” He also added, “People who cheat don’t have a moral compass. If you commit adultery in a relationship, you are a vile person because you’re a liar and a con-artist. You don’t care about the people you hurt, including your own children. People make excuses for this bad behavior and they’re so narcissistic that they don’t care who it hurts.”
5. Both were considered “family men.”
Peterson was apparently very loving and doted on Laci throughout their marriage. Laci’s family even defended Peterson up until it was discovered he was having an affair.
A family friend of the Watts, Kris Landon, said, "His entire persona was as a family man, talking about his wife and his girls. I believed until the other day that his entire life was those girls, and that he would die for them.”
6. Both are skilled liars and narcissists.
Yeager went more in-depth with his analysis of Watts, but there’s no doubt the two share a similar personality in this sense. Of Watts, Yeager said, “He has an incredibly large ego. He really comes off as sociopathic. That doesn’t mean he is mentally ill; just that he has a personality defect.”
Just like Peterson, Watts probably also thought he could get away with the alleged murders and had a big ego: “His ability to lie is very clear. He is a manipulator and manipulators, their ego is so high, they see the people that are holding them back as objects they can dispose of. From that interview, you can tell he has convinced himself this is good for him and it’s very Machiavellian in that regard.”
“He’s Scott Peterson, just less charismatic,” Yeagar concluded.
— Vinnie Politan (@VinniePolitan) August 16, 2018
Samantha Maffucci is an associate editor for YourTango. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.