Tag Archives: true crime

American Murder: The Family Next Door

If you have an appetite for true crime, this documentary newly released on Netflix will certainly serve as a hearty appetizer.

It’s a story you may already be familiar with: in 2018, 38-year-old Shanann Watts and her two young daughters disappeared in Colorado and since they were a typical suburban (and need I say, white) family, it made nation-wide headlines. You and I are no dummies when it comes to this kind of disappearance; we all know in which direction to look, and neither the cops nor this documentary waste time on any other perpetrator theories. Director Jenny Popplewell pulls together an impressive amount of footage taken at the time of the investigation (and of the investigation itself), and synthesizes it down to a watchable, digestible narrative. The one thing Popplewell can’t do is make sense of it. Technically, we do know the “reason” by the film’s end, but we can never be satisfied by it. It defies logic that anyone would think this was a good idea and it is immensely painful to know how incredibly unnecessary it was.

And yet, to me, the most intriguing part of the entire documentary is its title.

***SPOILERS***

American Murder

This has become such a frequent M.O. that we have now dubbed this the typical American crime.

Chinese checkers

Dutch oven

French kiss

Canadian bacon

Panama hat

American murder

More than half the time an American woman is murdered, it’s by her former or current romantic partner. In a third of those cases, it was right after a big fight. 15% of these women were pregnant.

Shanann’s partner was by all accounts a devoted husband and father. He provided for his family and said all of the right things. But around 2am on August 13 2018, Shanann is dropped off at home by friend Nickole, returning from a business trip they’d taken together. Footage from Shanann’s own doorbell camera is the last time she’s seen alive. Husband Chris claims they fought about his infidelity and the end of their marriage so he strangled her to death in anger. Her family maintains if that were the case, she would have fought back. They suspect he did it in her sleep. In any case, he wrapped her body in a sheet and loaded daughters Bella, aged 4, and Cece, 3, into the back seat of his truck along with their mother’s body and drove off before the sun was up, just a few short hours later. He buried his wife’s body near his job site, and then quickly killed his daughters as well, dumping their little bodies in an oil well. He had recently met a woman and wanted to be unencumbered to start a new life with her. Shanann was a little over 4 months pregnant at the time of her death.

Considering divorce is also very much an American way of life, it’s impossible to understand why Chris went with any other option, let alone one so gruesome.

He will spend his life in prison for the murder of his wife, their 2 daughters, and their unborn child.

Also spending his life in prison: a homeless man who procured two dime bags ($10 each) of marijuana for an undercover police officer who promised him a $5 commission. Five bucks: the price of a cheap meal. Marijuana: a substance that is legal or decriminalized in many states, and is actually sold by the government in Canada and elsewhere.

Two life sentences, one white perp, the other black.

American justice.

Abducted in Plain Sight

OH MY GOD!

If you love true crime, you need to stop what you’re doing right now and run, don’t walk, run to your nearest Netflix portal.

Abducted In Plain Sight is about a pedophile who cozied up to a nice suburban family in order to have access to their young daughter, Jan. Lots of pedophiles know that you catch more flies with honey, and this guy was the whole damn hive. Apparently charming as hell, the “fun dad” from across the street, “B” would do mv5bnjk3njfjyzatmgizzi00ywnkltgymzatmmu2zdvlmjc5zdazxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndm3mtm2nza@._v1_sy1000_sx750_al_anything to get close to Jan, and Jan’s parents were naive and trusting and just plain dumb. I mean, dumb enough that they BOTH had their own sexual relationships with this man when all the while all he cared about was screwing their kid. Which they basically invited to happen as they allowed him to sleep beside her in her bed because he asked nicely.

He kidnaps her eventually, and I’m not sure why since he had such cushy, unfettered access to her even in her own home, but he clearly had this elaborate hoax ready and was intent on seeing in through. He gets aliens in on the scheme, and a winnebago in Mexico. It’s pretty sordid stuff. But eventually Jan is returned home, months later, and apparently married to this guy even though she’s all of 12, and the parents drop all charges. But they don’t understand how brain-washed Jan is, and how motivated B is to continue their relationship. It just goes on and on and on. I guarantee you you’ll scream at your TV. How could any parent be this stupid, this cavalier with their daughter’s body, her well-being?

This film is bananas. You can’t and don’t want to believe it’s true, and yet here is Jan, all grown up, very neatly and intelligently laying the story out for us. And even more amazing than her survival is her forgiveness of her parents who failed her on pretty much every level a parent can, and then when they ran out of ways to fuck her over, they went ahead and invented some more for good measure.  And the film goes out of its way to assure us that THESE ARE GOOD PEOPLE. Sure they are. But…but what the hell? How could this happen? Honestly, this story is so crazy you’ll need to hear it from Jan’s own lips to believe it, and then you’ll need to scrub your brains out with soap just to go on with your life because seriously dudes, WHAT THE HELL? You could make a legit drinking game out of just seeing how many times you mumble WHAT THE FUCK while watching this thing. It’s only 90 minutes long BUT YOU WILL DIE OF ALCOHOL POISONING FOR SURE.

I CAN’T EVEN with this review. It’s been a few days but I’m still reeling, and still really wanting to subject as many people as I can to this, because I shouldn’t have to experience this haunting on my own.