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Criminologist on Chris Watts case: There are some secrets

Posted at 12:27 AM, Aug 24, 2018

DENVER, Colorado — Dr. Denise Mowder has some theories as to why a man who appeared to be a doting father and husband could do what Chris Watts is accused of doing.

The associate professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at MSU Denver and former prosecutor has worked with thousands of victims of family violence.

She said case studies of fathers killing their children show the motive is most often rage, but there are other reasons.

"Most were done — 60 percent were done — by rage, the other 10 percent they don't know the cause, and the other 30 percent were spousal revenge. I'm pretty surprised he didn't kill himself, too. Oftentimes, it goes in a pattern," said Mowder, who said in this case, there could be another reason for the murders.

"I think he had a vision of another life with this other woman — carefree, no responsibilities," she said. "Two children and another on the way, that's a big responsibility."

The fact that Chris Watts went in front of a KMGH television camera to plead for his family's lives after he knew they were dead indicates, to Mowder, that he planned to blame an intruder, play victim and eventually start a new life.

"This whole facade he put on right after they started looking for them -- that was very odd, and it makes me wonder if he wasn't trying to find an out to be with the girlfriend," said Mowder. "Somebody else did it. I'm the poor grieving father."

But the investigation quickly centered on him, as court records show he was having an affair with a co-worker.

"I think he thought he would just keep it up and it'd be a who-done-it," said Mowder. "Because where he put them, he had to think it through that no one would ever find them."

He eventually told police a new story, and Mowder said it is no surprise based on her experience with perpetrators of domestic violence that he is blaming his wife.

"When he said she was the one strangling the children, I knew right then he was the one who strangled the children because he can give all the details of what he said she did because he was doing it himself," she said. "It's going to be hard on the family to hear the lies. And there's some secrets there, I'm afraid. It's going to be hard for the jury. It's going to be hard for the public to really understand because there is no understanding it," Mowder said.