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Shanann Watts' Brother Praises Netflix's 'American Murder' For Giving Her A Voice

Shanann Watts' Brother Praises Netflix's 'American Murder' For Giving Her A Voice

The brother of murder victim Shanann Watts has praised Netflix's documentary American Murder: The Family Next Door, saying that it "gives [his] sister a voice".

Frankie Rzucek, whose sister Shanann was murdered by her husband Chris Watts in 2018, along with their two young daughters, took to Facebook to applaud Jenny Popplewell's documentary on the harrowing case.

Shanann's brother confirmed that the family had met with the documentary crew "personally" and were a part of the "whole process", adding that his sister "speaks throughout".

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He wrote: "I highly recommend watching this [documentary]. It's on Netflix.

"The director made sure we were a part of the whole process and we met the whole team personally."

Frankie continued: "This documentary gives my sister a voice and she speaks throughout it.

"It also shows what her life was like before he came along and how happy she was with her beautiful family until he [Chris] cheated and turned into a different person and became that monster."

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Shanann was pregnant at the time of her death - Chris killed her by strangulation, causing the death of their unborn son, Nico.

Their daughters, Bella, four, and Celeste, three, died by asphyxiation due to smothering.

Chris Watts confessed to the murder of his wife Shanann and their two young daughters in 2018 (Credit: Netflix)
Chris Watts confessed to the murder of his wife Shanann and their two young daughters in 2018 (Credit: Netflix)

Chris initially pushed the story that his family has disappeared without his knowledge, but later confessed his crimes in November 2018, after failing a lie detector test. He received three consecutive life sentences and is not eligible for parole.

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Filmmaker Jenny Popplewell says that female victims of violent crimes like Shanann are often blamed for the actions of the perpetrators, and has used

American Murder as a vehicle to give a voice to Chris' victims.

The director doesn't delve into or sensationalise Chris' possible motives. In the footage presented, he appears either blandly emotionless or twitchy and agitated.

Shanann's brother took to Facebook to praise 'American Murder' (Credit: Facebook)
Shanann's brother took to Facebook to praise 'American Murder' (Credit: Facebook)
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Instead, the documentary weaves together social media posts, home video clips and phone camera footage, in a way that makes Shanann's voice a central thread throughout the documentary.

Talking about American Murder, Ruth Mason, Head of Change That Lasts at Women's Aid told Tyla how the culture of victim-blaming that surrounds cases like Shanann's serves to marginalise the victim while minimising the crimes of the perpetrator.

She said: "We welcome the filmmaker's intention to restore dignity to Shanann and her daughters by giving them voice.

"We know first-hand how deep-rooted victim-blaming is in our communities, institutions and with professionals.

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"Too many people still believe that in some way women are somehow to blame for men's violence against them. Victim-blaming is endemic, ingrained and institutionalised."

Filmmaker Jenny Popplewell says that female victims of violent crimes are often blamed for the actions of the perpetrators (Credit: Netflix)
Filmmaker Jenny Popplewell says that female victims of violent crimes are often blamed for the actions of the perpetrators (Credit: Netflix)

Ruth continued: "Victim-blaming holds women responsible for their abuse. It creates a story where some women are more deserving of help and compassion than others, and provides space to hide the actions of the perpetrator.

"Each of us has a role to play in building a society where survivors are believed and given the support they need. Listening to and valuing the voices of survivors are at the heart of this approach."

Anyone who is experiencing, or has experienced, physical, mental, sexual or domestic violence or abuse can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

Featured Image Credit: Netflix

Topics: TV and Film, TV Entertainment, Netflix

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Mary-Jane Wiltsher

Mary-Jane Wiltsher is a freelance lifestyle and culture journalist. Elsewhere she writes for Stylist, Euronews, PHOENIX and What We Seee.