In August 2018, Chris Watts made a televised request for the safe return of his missing wife, Shanann Watts, and their two daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste, after all three were reported missing by a family. . friend. “I hope he’s in a safe place now and with the kids,” Chris Denver7 said in an interview.
Sadly, just two days after the interview, police discovered the bodies that belonged to Shanann and the children at Chris’s former workplace, Anadarko Petroleum Company. Bella and Celeste’s remains were reportedly located in crude oil tanks, while Shanann, who was 15 weeks pregnant, was found in a shallow grave on the property. Chris was arrested a day before the remains were recovered, and confessed to killing Shannan in anger after allegedly witnessing her strangle her two children (via People ) In an affidavit, Chris claimed the killings occurred after telling him to Shanann who wanted a separation.
Prosecutors charged him with nine felonies, including three counts of first-degree murder, as reported by the Fort Collins Coloradoan . In a surprising twist, Chris pleaded guilty to all murder charges on November 6, 2018, just a few months after pointing the finger at Shanann. He was eventually sentenced to three consecutive terms of life for his horrible crimes. But just when you thought the case couldn’t be more tragic, in February 2019 the convicted murderer made a full confession detailing the horrific crimes. Brace yourself, as we explore the untold truth of the Chris Watts case.
Why did Chris Watts finally confess?
Many people were shocked when Chris Watts confessed to murdering his family on November 6, 2018, nearly three months after he pleaded not guilty to the charges.
So why did Chris finally admit his alleged involvement in the murders? His plan of action reportedly changed when prosecutors said they would not seek the death penalty if he confessed to the terrifying crimes. Shanann Watts’ mother approved of the idea and reportedly told Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke, according to El colorado, “He made the decision to take those lives, I don’t want to be in the position to take the decision to make yours.
Although Chris was “angry” about the plea deal, he knew the odds were against him if the case went to trial. “There was physical evidence and his own words that would condemn him,” said a People source . His story didn’t work out. He got angry. He didn’t want to plead guilty. But he really had no other choice, considering the evidence. It took him a bit of time to get back, but he did.
Rourke expressed his relief that Shanann’s name was erased in the Bella and Celeste Watts murders, stating, as reported by NBC News, ‘What I can tell you more affirmatively today, because of what happened in the courtroom, It is the center of attention that he tried to shine on Shanann falsely, incorrectly, and frankly, he corrected a blatant lie. He added: “The spotlight shines directly where it belongs: on him.”
Why were the autopsies of the Chris Watts murder victims sealed?
Shortly after the remains of Shanann Watts and her daughters were discovered, there was much speculation about how they died. Although the autopsy reports were completed, the public has not been able to learn of the findings because the documents are sealed. Prosecutors filed this motion in September 2018, a request granted by the presiding judge, to avoid “contaminating witnesses who have not yet been interviewed and impacting future jurors,” according to court documents.
“Shanann Watts, Bella Watts and Celeste Watts were killed and their bodies moved from the initial crime scene,” Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke wrote in his request to the judge, according to the Associated Press . “There is great interest in this case and at this time, the cause of the deaths has not been made public. Consequently, the observations and findings contained in the coroner’s autopsy report will be critical evidence at trial.
Nico Watts death in the eyes of the law
Considering that Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant at the time of her death, it is reasonable for people to wonder why Chris was not accused of killing his unborn child, who they were supposedly going to call Nico (via the Daily mail) The explanation? Colorado does not have fetal homicide laws in place, which means authorities were unable to include Nico on their list of victims. A total of 38 states recognize unborn children in murder cases, while eight states – Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon and Wyoming – have laws against harming pregnant women. Prosecutors in Colorado, where Shanann and her daughters were killed, charged Chris with illegally terminating a pregnancy in accordance with state law. Although not everyone may agree to the fetal homicide laws, the authorities in this case must prosecute by the book.
Also, some might argue that charging Chris with an additional death would not affect his punishment, as he is already serving three consecutive life sentences in prison, meaning there is no possibility of parole.
The timeline of the deaths of Bella and Celeste Watts
One of the devastating questions about this case is whether Bella and Celeste Watts were already dead when Shanann Watts came home from a business trip to Arizona. All we know for sure is this: On the night of August 13, 2018, Shanann was dropped off at her home around 2 a.m., by a friend, Nickole Atkinson , and prosecutors believe it is possible that she and her daughters died “between August 12, 2018 and inclusive August 13, 2018” (via AJC ) This timeline suggests that Chris Watts possibly harmed his daughters before Shanann got home. It is worth noting that the authorities charged him with two counts of “killing a child under the age of 12 while the accused was in a position of trust”.
We will probably never know exactly what happened that night, but Chris clarified the timeline when he spoke to jail investigators in February 2019. Chris claimed that, after arguing with Shanann about their marriage, he strangled her to death. Bella allegedly woke up during the shock and asked, “What’s wrong with mom?” According to the interview transcript from El coloradano . Chris said he then placed the girls and Shanann’s body in his truck, drove about 45 minutes to his workplace, and killed the girls one by one after burying his wife in a shallow grave. He claimed to have suffocated Cece first and then Bella, who supposedly begged for her life before she was killed.
Of course, there is always the possibility that Chris will fabricate these new details given his story with lies. But there is no denying that the scenario destroyed Shanann’s family, as Shanann’s brother Frank Rzueck Jr. Dr. Phil McGraw said in March 2019: “It’s worse than we thought.”
Pointing the finger at Shanann Watts
Before Chris Watts pleaded guilty to the murders, it appeared his defense team was preparing to blame Shanann Watts. Do you want proof? Chris ‘attorneys filed a motion for investigators to sample the girls’ necks and hands for possible DNA evidence (via The Washington Post ) Additionally, the defense requested that a DNA expert of their choice be present. present during the collection process, as reported by CNN . The defense was likely trying to back up Chris’s past claim that Shanann had strangled his daughters after a fight over their marriage.
But to Chris’s chagrin, the judge denied all of the defense’s requests. “The court cannot order the prosecution and / or coroner how to carry out its investigation,” the ruling stated, according to CNN.
After the release of Chris’s joint police interview in February 2019, during which he confessed to killing his daughters as well as his wife, Shanann’s loved ones expressed their relief that his name was finally erased. Speaking to Southern Colorado NBC affiliate KOAA News 5, Rzucek’s family attorney Stephen Lambert said: “These tapes put an end to any speculation, and Shanann’s memory can rest as a loving mother and wife. solidarity ».
What was Chris Watts’s motive for the murders?
Every time a murder occurs, many people search for answers, and this case is no different, as the public does not know why Chris Watts murdered Shanann Watts and her two daughters.
One of Chris’s possible motives involves financial struggles, a common source of tension between married couples. Chris and Shanann filed for bankruptcy in June 2015, after they bought their $ 400,000 home in Colorado, according to CNN . The two were reportedly in debt of $ 70,000, a total they accumulated thanks to student loans and credit card purchases. Their savings appeared to be a total of $ 9.51 in one account and $ 864 in a joint checking account.
Although Shanann was doing well financially (reportedly making $ 80,000 a year), Chris may have been concerned about the cost of another child. This alleged motive, however, has not been confirmed.
Another potential motive? Chris’s alleged affair. Denise Mowder, a former prosecutor and associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at MSU Denver, theorized that Chris allegedly murdered his family to live a carefree life with his rumored lover. “I think he had a vision of another life with this other woman: carefree, no responsibility,” said Mowder Denver7 .
Chris denied these theories, however, claiming he was furious after Shanann allegedly threatened to take his children. “I didn’t want to do this, but I did,” he clearly told investigators in February 2019, in audio transcribed by El coloradano .
Chris Watts lied from the start
There are some discrepancies in Chris Watts’ version of what happened on the night of August 13, 2018, something that the public already knows. But what a lot of people don’t know is that Chris allegedly lied about Shanann Watts’ whereabouts early on.
Nicole Atkinson, a friend who was reportedly the last to see Shanann alive, said she knew something was wrong when Chris was allegedly evasive about where his wife went the morning of her disappearance. Atkinson, who was concerned after Shanann missed an important pregnancy checkup, spoke about her strange exchange with Chris for Good Morning America on August 20.
“He kept saying he didn’t know where he was and that he was on a play date,” Atkinson said, referring to a phone conversation he had with Chris shortly after Shanann disappeared (via ABC News ). the friend’s name. I knew it had something to do with it the day I was at his house with him, but I didn’t want to think that.
The real deal with the alleged Chris Watts affairs
Chris Watts was allegedly having an affair with a co-worker when he murdered his family. The disturbing detail came to light in Chris’s arrest affidavit, in which police claimed they found evidence of his cheating after an investigation. Co-worker Chris allegedly had an affair, who reportedly cooperated with the investigation (via People ), later identifying himself as Nichol Kessinger.
In addition to Kessinger, an unnamed man brought C from HLN Frost and Justice with Ashleigh Banfield in August 2018 to claim that he was in a relationship with Chris for ten months (via People ) The alleged lover said he met Chris online , and that they parted ways in March or April 2018, as reported by Us weekly . But multiple media outlets were unable to confirm the man’s account, and it is unclear whether police have investigated his allegations. What is obvious? Many people weren’t happy that the show’s host, Ashleigh Banfield, continued with the interview given the lack of corroborating details.
Whether Shanann Watts knew about Chris’s alleged affairs or not, the answer is unclear. “There was speculation [about an affair], but I didn’t want to believe that either,” Shanann’s friend Nicole Atkinson said in an interview (via ABC News ). I wasn’t touching or hugging or doing things like that. And he wasn’t being as attentive to girls as he usually is.
Was it Shanann and Chris Watts’ relationship for the show?
One of the most disturbing aspects of the Watts murder case is Shanann Watts’ social media presence. Shanann’s Facebook account featured countless photos of the mother happily posing with Chris Watts and their two daughters, as well as photos of the couple enjoying a romantic vacation together. Translation: Shanann and Chris’s life seemed perfect.
Given the tragic events that occurred, it’s fair to wonder if Shanann and Chris were putting up a front for the outside world. A neighbor named Melinda Phillips suggested it in an interview with People , recalling an “argument” she witnessed between the two in early summer 2018. “Their body language was really angry, and they were just fighting back and forth,” she described. Phillips. “I was gesturing with my hands and they were shaking their heads, and it was definitely an argument.”
But things took a strange turn when Shanann and Chris reportedly caught Phillips’s attention mid-fight. “They caught my attention and all of a sudden everything changed,” he said. “They stopped being so angry and began to speak much more calmly. He even gave her a hug. Mind you, this was in the space of 30 seconds to a minute, “added Phillips.” From a full-blown fight to hugs in less than a minute, it was incredible. ”
Chris Watts’ old friends say he’s a good guy
On television and in film, murder suspects are often portrayed in an unflattering light. If they are lonely or emotionally upset or angry, there is usually something off about someone accused of a violent crime. But in the case of Chris Watts, this stereotype doesn’t seem to fit .
A friend from high school, for example, couldn’t believe that the Watts she knew had been charged with murder. “Most of our conversations that I remember were about music and things like that,” former classmate Brandi Smith told the Daily Beast . “He was a bit outcast and he seemed to understand me.”
“Everyone liked it,” added Smith. “It’s actually amazing how many people who knew him have turned completely against him and think he’s this monster when he hasn’t even been convicted.”
Then there is Lance Alfonso, who played soccer with Watts. “I had never seen him get angry with anyone, not even on the football field,” Alfonso revealed to the Beast daily .
Of course, a lot can change between high school and adulthood, and you can never know what’s really going on inside someone else’s head.
Did Chris Watts’ weight loss play a role in the murders?
Before the murders, Chris Watts developed a healthier diet and adopted more active lifestyle changes that led to him losing a decent amount of weight. Some speculated that Chris’s body transformation may have had something to do with the murders of his family, a sentiment that one journalist mentioned in an interview with the couple’s close friends. “When you lost weight, did you notice any change in your confidence levels?” a 9News reporter asked Chris’s ex-friend Nick Thayer.
As captured on video, Thayer responded: “The only kind of difference I saw a change in confidence was with his running ability. I’d been running a lot longer than him and was just getting into it. So, you know, I would text him, ‘Hey, I’m going to run seven miles,’ and then he would, after that, say, ‘Yeah, I only ran seven miles.’
As for Chris’s personality, Thayer said he didn’t notice anything about his former friend’s personality. “That part didn’t change,” he shared. “Chris was always shy.”
Did the police waste time in the investigation?
Shanann Watts ‘younger brother, Frank Rzucek Jr. (top right), took to Facebook shortly after Chris Watts’ arrest to express his anger and sadness over the situation. ” I just want to know why. My beautiful family, my only brother, my sister Shanann, 2 nieces adorable, Bella and Celeste, and soon find her unborn son Niko “he wrote, according to a screenshot obtained by the sun . I just want 30 seconds alone with that heartless psycho. May Satan have mercy on his soul.
But Chris wasn’t Frank’s only target. He also persecuted investigators for allegedly taking too long to arrest Shanann’s husband, writing: “The police officers drugged their feet. He was the only one with them and took his truck to the garage. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who was a suspect “My blood is boiling and the pain, anger and sadness I have in my heart.”
Frank ended his post with a message to Chris, saying, “Nothing absolutely nothing would get in the way of taking my life like it did mine and MY WHOLE FAMILY.” «
Regarding the timing of the investigation, police officers arrested Chris two days after Shanann was reported missing. Shanann’s brother was likely frustrated that authorities did not arrest Chris the same day his sister disappeared.
In addition to the jail investigators’ interview with Chris Watts in February 2019, the convicted murderer has not spoken. That is, until the author for the first time, Cherlyn Cadle, published a book in September 2019 detailing her written correspondence and prison visits with Chris, titled: Letters from Christopher : The Tragic Confessions of the Watts Family Murder. . Many shocking claims were made in the book, which Cadle reviewed during a November 2019 appearance on Dr. Oz,where she alleged that Chris confessed to suffocating his daughters before killing Shanann Watts. And then after Chris murdered Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts supposedly woke up. “Bella, the oldest, was crying,” Cadle told Dr. Oz about the girls who allegedly entered the crime scene. Besides, Cece was more, a little confused. She was awake, the youngest. This version of events contradicts Chris’s claim to police that the only time he harmed the girls was at the workplace where the bodies were found.
Also, Chris changed his story about acting on impulse. “On August 12, when I finished bed the girls, walked away and said, ‘That’s the last time I’m going to get my babies , ‘” he allegedly wrote in a letter to Cadle obtained by the Daily Mail , “I knew what what was going to happen the day before ».
Although the book is compelling, these revelations may be inaccurate. Cadle’s book – according to multiple reviews on Goodreads – was allegedly riddled with grammatical errors and misinformation. And what is more? Authorities have not confirmed their findings.
What tore the Watts murder case wide open
After Shanann Watts and her daughters were reported missing, Chris Watts’ secrets quickly began to unravel. And one of those secrets could have been what left the case open, at least according to Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke. “Nichol Kessinger turned out to have information that I can best describe as a bomb,” Rourke said in a statement. Research discoveryspecial about Chris’s mistress presenting details about her affair. Although this may seem obvious, it was not only revealing because it showed that Chris apparently intended to start a new life, it was great because it painted the picture of him as a habitual liar. And if Chris lied about Kessinger (at first he denied infidelity to investigators), what else could he be hiding?
It turns out that Chris was allegedly lying to Kessinger as well. “He informed me that he had two children, that he was currently in the process of separating from his wife,” Kessinger said in police recordings shown in the special. “As far as I knew, that was getting pretty finished.”
It was revealed that Chris had not been honest with Kessinger, as he was lying to her and Shanann to keep their cheating dishes spinning. It’s unsettling to think about, but who knows how quickly those lies would have been uncovered if Kessinger had not come forward or cooperated with the police. We suspect that justice would have been delayed, although it is impossible to say.
Shanann Watts’ mother says she still communicates with Shanann, Bella, and Celeste.
Shanann Watts’ family was under no obligation to speak out about their tragic losses, but they bravely decided to share their story with Dr. Phil McGraw in March 2019. Many revelations were made during the episode, including the story of Shanann’s mother, Sandy Rzucek on communicating with Shanann, Celeste and Bella after their deaths “I felt the spirit of my daughter the moment she died,” Sandy explained to Dr. Phil. “I knew it. I swear to God I knew… I woke up Frankie, woke up the whole house. I said, ‘Something is wrong with Shanann.’ Not only that, but the heartbroken mother said she spoke to Shanann. directly. “That night I was lying in bed and I felt a presence and I listened to my daughter. I felt her and heard her say, ‘I love you Mom and I’m sorry,’ “she said. “She told me she was at peace.”
Bella, as Sandy recalled, expressed her happiness at visiting Disney World “anytime” she wanted. “I said, it’s true, Bella,” Sandy shared.
Whether you believe Sandy’s account or not, it is clear that she loved her family very much. Our hearts go out to her and the rest of Shanann’s loved ones.
Chris Watts will never personally profit from the killings
Although Chris Watts is serving three consecutive life sentences for pleading guilty to murdering his family, that doesn’t mean the case is over. One fact that might have gone unnoticed is that Watts was ordered to pay $ 6 million to the Rzucek family for the deaths of his wife and two daughters. The ruling occurred in November 2019, a year after Shanann Watts’ parents Frank and Sandy Rzucek filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Chris, as The Denver Post reported. The amount “includes $ 1 million for each of the deaths and $ 3 million for emotional pain,” and “will grow at an annual interest rate of 8 percent,” according to court documents obtained by The Denver Post.. Watts reportedly did not fight the lawsuit and agreed to the terms on November 5, 2019.
To explain why a family can file a wrongful death lawsuit, it effectively ensures that the perpetrator can never profit from the death of his victims. This was the motivation for the Rzuceks, as his attorney, Steven Lambert, told him. The Denver Post “In case you decide to write a book in 20 years, we could come get that money.”
Even with this insurance, it does not provide peace of mind for Shanann Watts’ family. Frank Rzucek Sr., Shanann’s father, has not returned to work due to post-traumatic stress disorder, while Sandy Rzucek, Shanann’s mother, has described her life as “adrift in a lifeboat, surrounded by water and without a port in sight ‘, according to court documents. Everything is very heartbreaking.
The Watts murder case deeply affected everyone involved
In a case as disturbing as the Watts family murders, sometimes the gruesome details can overshadow the people who worked on the case. So it was powerful when Frederick Police Detective Dave Baumhover, the lead detective on the Watts case, spoke to The Denver Post in August 2019 about fighting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “It’s like when you’re a kid and you go on the wrong carnival ride and all you want to do is get off,” he told the outlet about his emotional struggles. “But you can not. You have no choice until the journey is interrupted.
As Baumhover told the store, he stopped working in March 2019 after interviewing Chris Watts in prison for his full confession. It is unclear if he has since returned to the police force, but he seemed unsure about his career future in the candid conversation. “I find it difficult to deal with the probability that my career will end, and not in the way I wanted,” he explained. “Some days you feel defeated.”
Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent Tammy Lee (pictured above) had a similar reaction, once breaking down sobs at a hair salon. “I felt like I knew them,” Lee The Denver Post said of their grief. “I’ve been to a lot of homicides of children. This was different.
Baumhover and Lee, along with others, spoke to draw attention to mental health services for law enforcement. And this just shows how many people were affected by the case.
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