Netflix’s latest true crime documentary, American Murder: The Family Next Door tells the horrifying story of the Watts family murder at the hands of someone they trusted the most. Chris Watts murdered his pregnant wife, Shanann Watts, and their two daughters, Bella and Cece. And then he proceeded to lie to the police and the media for the next few days following his crime until he was eventually convicted.
American Murder is a compelling documentary of what possibly happened to the family in the weeks leading up to the murder. It was released on Sept. 30 and since then has climbed the Netflix Philippines’ most-watched chart. Should you watch it? Can you even survive watching it?
The hideous crime only happened two years ago
Do not watch American Murder the family next door omg I couldn’t even finish it .. how can someone be so evil.
— laura mellado (@lauramellado) October 4, 2020
On Aug. 13, 2018, Chris Watts strangled his pregnant wife, Shannan Watts in their own bed and at their own home. He later recounted that his four-year-old daughter Bella walked in and asked, “What happened to mommy?” Chris told her that Shanann was ill. He proceeded to wrap his wife’s body in a blanket and laid her on the floor of his truck. He also took Bella and their youngest daughter three-year-old Cece and proceeded to drive an hour to his remote workplace, Anadarko Petroleum.
American Murder: The Family Next Door does not skimp on the details. The world needed to know the horrible fate of the three Watts girls and Netflix gave us just that.
This was a man without remorse
I still get chills when I see the body cam footage of Chris Watts putting on his huge act— hours after he had murdered his wife, 2 daughters, and unborn baby. It doesn’t matter how many times I see it. Still freaks me the hell out. He is truly evil. Soulless. #AmericanMurder
— leebz (@wittywhiddy) September 30, 2020
“Cece was first,” Chris confessed.
Once the family arrived at the deserted Anadarko Petroleum, Chris took his youngest daughter and smothered her with her favorite blanket. He then came back for Bella who begged him “Daddy, no.” She suffered the same fate as her sister – both bodies stuffed in the oil tank. Their mother’s body was buried in a shallow ditch nearby. Chris had not only murdered his wife and two daughters but he also murdered his unborn son, Nico Watts.
Watching the documentary, it seemed like Chris did not have any sort of emotional attachment to his family. His interview with the media showed a man who wasn’t the least bit distraught that his family was missing or that he himself murdered them.
A well-presented documentary
Just watched ‘American Murder: The Family Next Door’ on Netflix. What a sad and frightening documentary. It’s scary how we can never really know what people are capable of. The violence so many women face at the hands of their partner is terrifying.
— TONI TONE (@t0nit0ne) October 3, 2020
True crime junkies would agree that American Murder is a great documentary. There was no narrator. A compilation of police bodycam footage, social media posts, surveillance footage, and home videos, told the entire story. It’s almost as if you yourself were there. The story went back and forth from the weeks leading up to the murder to the days after the murder, interspersed with interviews with close friends.
Imagine if the Central Park 5 could’ve been treated half as good as this pathetic man, This GROWN man begged for his DADDY who then questions him and the detective comes in rubbing on his back…AFTER FAILING THE POLYGRAPH #AmericanMurder #WhitePrivilege
— Krystal♋️ (@NatCurlii_12) September 30, 2020
#americanmurder the way Chris Watts was treated like a saint by police is insane. Can’t help but think how different it would’ve been if he wasn’t middle class and white.
— anna wilde (@annawilde19) October 2, 2020
One scene that stood out among the rest was when Chris had a polygraph test at the precinct. It was that moment that all the lies he fed the police and the media for the past couple of days crumbled. But what was disturbing was the fact that the police treated him kindly, even patting him on the back and consoling him after he confessed. Netizens argued that if it were a person of color, the method would be to “shoot first, interrogate later.”
Lesson: Surround yourself with great friends
— ali evans (@helloalievans) October 4, 2020
If it weren’t for Shanann’s friend, Nickole Atkinson, Chris might have gotten away with the murder for a little longer. Shanann wasn’t answering her calls which worried Nickole. She took action and went to the Watts’ home where we see Chris arrive, a mere few hours after the murder. All throughout the documentary, Nickole was there for Shannan, always comforting her through the last few days of the rocky Watts marriage.
Strangers will victim blame
I hope all the WOMEN that blamed Shanann for this #AmericanMurder
— (@iSasha) October 1, 2020
Netflix showed how women criticized Shanann saying she “drove Chris up the wall.” She has been described as a “bitch,” “bossy,” and a “narcissist.” In a way, they were saying her murder was justified, almost as if saying her family deserved to be annihilated because she “wanted too much.” Here is a strong reminder that victim-blaming remains to be a problem and that we should start eradicating it if we want to move forward as a society.
People are saying they never want to get married
Truth is stranger than fiction. American Murder is so damn sad and terrifying and makes me NEVER WANNA GET MARRIED.
Like how do you ever know for certain that a man won’t wake up one day and decide to murder you and your children???
— Horace Gold (@hisnameishorace) October 3, 2020
after watching American Murder I scoured thru youtube and saw this comment and ✔️✔️✔️ pic.twitter.com/N7gu0MEvAf
— (@noymisu) October 3, 2020
So what’s the guarantee that your boyfriend or your husband won’t one day decide to murder you in cold blood? Shanann met Chris in 2010 through Facebook. She mentioned in the documentary that she was going through a particularly rough time combating lupus but he was there for her. What happened along the way for their love to end in murder? The sad answer is we might never get the clear and honest truth about what went on in Chris’ head as he was murdering his family.
You might not be able to sleep afterward
I think it is ridiculous that there is enough body cam footage to make a whole fucking Movie for #AmericanMurder on @netflix but there was none available for breonna taylor! Fuck off! That’s the country we live in now. It hurts. #vote
— Mickey Smith Jr. (@MickeySmithJr) September 30, 2020
American Murder: The Family Next Door will tear a hole in your heart. You might cry for the little Bella and Cece who will never grow up to become beautiful women or their mother who only wanted a loving family and a little boy to raise. Your heart will shatter at Shanann’s distraught parents and brother who were utterly broken during the court proceedings. And yet, in the end, Chris Watts was sentenced to five live sentences without parole. We’ll take that as a win.
Have you seen the Netflix documentary?