‘ American Murder: The Family Next Door ‘director Jenny Popplewell says women victims of violent crime, like Shanann Watts, are often blamed for the perpetrators’ actions
New documentary on Watts family murders aims to give voice to Shanann Watts, the pregnant mum who lost her life to her husband and family annihilator Chris Watts
In a now notorious case, Chris murdered his entire family in August 2018 He first strangled Shanann, who was 15 weeks pregnant with their son, at their home in Frederick, Colo., before suffocating their young girls, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3 After arranging their bodies at an oil drilling site where he worked, he attempted to play the part of a worried husband and father But that facade quickly collapsed: it became apparent that he had been having an affair and, after the bodies were discovered, he was arrested before finally pleading guilty to their murders; he was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole
Despite Chris’ heinous crimes, however, some have focused on Shanann, examining her Facebook profile and criticizing her as a bossy wife
« This is something that happens to women victims of violent crime », director Jenny Popplewell told Oxygencom « They are always ashamed They are always blamed for the actions of the abuser »
Popplewell is the director of « American Murder: The Family Next Door », a documentary about the Watts family murders which debuts Wednesday on Netflix
The director sees a double standard in the way Chris was treated after his confession: some took pity on him, to the point that he even received letters from fans and admiration from women, while he serves life behind bars
« We try so hard in the media to find reducing qualities in Chris and we don’t have to look very hard before we start to shame Shanann and I think that’s something we need to address very quickly. because it is really detrimental to women ”declared the director to Oxygencom
« She could be bossy, » Shanann’s closest friend in Colorado, Nichole Atkinson, told investigators early in the case « But in a good way »
Popplewell told Oxygencom that she doesn’t like the term and notes that it is generally reserved for women
« She was not a bossy woman, » Popplewell said « She was the dominant personality in the relationship but he was a passive. He was completely submissive »
As the documentary shows, Shanann was flexible and introspective The film includes texts in the days leading up to the murders in which Shanann criticizes her own treatment of Chris as she fights to mend their marriage She is proactive and desperate as he continues to lie to her about her cheating
The filmmaker described Shanann as a high achiever who bought a mansion at 25 after a divorce.She was also a loving mother
Popplewell said Shanann’s family, whom she worked closely with on the documentary, are aware that people will continue to talk about this matter
« What they don’t like  is for people to look for clues as to why she may have caused this on herself, » she said
Shanann’s family in North Carolina gave Popplewell access to Shanann’s laptop, readers and phone Popplewell pulled files, images and video of key moments she used to piece together the story in a way that requires no narrator She said she would like to leave a lot of interpretation for the viewer, while pushing for Shanann’s authentic self to show through.
« I’m not going to convince everyone that she was not bossy and deserved it and we hope these people stay silent online or talk about it with each other, » she told Oxygencom “You are not going to fix this problem, but what I would like to do is point out that we should change the way we talk about victims in the media and online and I hope that is something that Shanann’s legacy may bring »
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Shanann Watts, Chris Watts
World News – UA – New documentary aims to give Shanann Watts a voice and fight victim blame
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