Saturday, February 15, 2020

Book Review | My Daddy is a Hero: How Chris Watts Went From Family Man to Family Killer

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Rating: ⭐⭐

I struggled with this one a lot, and not only because of the horrific content.

For those who don't know the story or live outside the US, in 2018 Chris Watts murdered his pregnant wife Shanann and two young daughters Bella (4) and CeCe (3). He buried his wife in a shallow grave at one of his work sites, and dumped the bodies of his daughters into separate oil tanks also on the property. Even more horrifyingly, the girls were alive when he buried their mom. They rode in the truck with him as he drove to the site. Watts has given conflicting accounts, but stated that he then killed Cece, with Bella watching, and she begged him to stop when he went after her next. He also stated initially that he killed Shanann in a fit of rage after discovering she had smothered the girls in their sleep. Instead, it was he who had attempted to do so - he and Shanann were arguing, he left their room and smothered the girls with a pillow, then returned and killed Shanann. Watts stated the girls woke up and had only been unconscious, that both came into their parents' room with bruising, traumatized. He has also stated that he put them in the oil tanks so they wouldn't wake up again.

I don't understand it. I never will. This man is a monster. He wanted to be with his mistress, he even tried to somehow end Shanann's pregnancy (a boy, already named Nico) because he thought he could not divorce her if she was still pregnant. When that didn't work he resorted to murdering his whole family, just for a new piece of ass. This whole situation is disturbing and disgusting and I wish crimes involving the murder of children were automatic death sentences. (Actually, any crime involving children, especially rape and sexual abuse. There is no rehabilitating that.) I can't even look at pictures or videos of those sweet little girls, girls who loved their daddy so much, their bright happy faces, and knowing what he did to them. It is too much, too awful, too heartbreaking.

Aside from the content regarding the murders and everything leading up to that, the part that always makes me uncomfortable with books like this is when an attempt is made to diagnose a mental illness of some kind. Now, in this case the author would be qualified to do so, as she is a licensed psychotherapist. Her specialty practice is in relationships and is certified in Imago Relationship Therapy. I had no idea what that was and had to Google it. And even though she is certified and is a therapist, I do take issue with diagnosing those who are not one's patients. The author even stated she is not diagnosing, though that is in fact how it comes across.

Far less important, but something I will mention nonetheless, is that it bothers me when authors misuse literary references. At 85% the author writes: "For the entire eight years she had spent with Chris, he had acted one way with her and only up until six weeks before he killed her, did he turn from Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll. Shanann stated that she didn't know who he was anymore." So, either Chris was a murdering psychopath for eight years up until the six weeks before he murdered his family and he suddenly could control his impulses in those last six weeks, or the author mixed up who was who. Or I am misunderstanding her intent with that suggestion/quote? Either way, he obviously was NOT a raging psychopath for the first eight years, because literally everyone who ever knew him said they just could not believe he had done this, he was helpful and quiet and kind. Definitely NOT a Hyde.

I found the account of the crime itself to be decently-written and accurate based on what I had read elsewhere of the case, though obviously there was more here than what you would find in newspaper/online articles. For that portion of the book I would give it 3 or 4 stars. But I simply can not get behind diagnosing someone who is not your patient, that you have never had a conversation with. It is negligent at best, and flat out dangerous at worst. It is 100% true that anyone who reads Watts' own statements about feeling nothing for his family as he killed them can come to the conclusion that he is probably a psychopath/sociopath, but even so, doctors know better than to do so. Especially when it involves them making money from a book where such statements are written, no matter if they say they are not diagnosing.


  1. I don't know if I could have read this book... Reading your review was horrific enough! How could anybody do that?!

    1. The whole story is just so heartbreaking. You don't want to be with someone fine, don't be with them. But killing you entire family? It's beyond anything I could even begin to understand. I guess it is a good thing I don't understand though, because if I did, that would also make me a psychopath.

  2. You make important points here Sarah. I don't think I could read this book at all though.

    1. I wavered back and forth on it for a long time. I would add it and then delete it from my TBR. But in the end, I decided I had to read it, because those girls and their mother and brother deserve to be remembered and have their story told. They deserve to be able to rest knowing their murderer is behind bars and will never see freedom again.


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