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In the months leading up to the murder of his family, Chris Watts went from being a seemingly content family man to an irritable and unhappy oil field operator looking for ways to avoid going home, according to one coworker.
"Things changed; he changed," Brian Spence, a contractor who worked with Watts told People. "I watched him get more and more unhappy with his life. He went from being a friendly guy to being withdrawn and angry."
Spence had worked with Watts — who served as an oil field operator at Andarko Petroleum — for years and remembered Watts initially seemed like a proud father, who carried photos of his two young daughters on his phone.
But by the summer of 2018, Watts seemed to be unhappy in life.
"I saw him lose his temper over little workplace annoyances," Spence told the outlet. "He had an irritable side with the contractors. He could be combative."
Watts also seemed to want to avoid going home and was a more frequent attendee of work-related happy hours.
“After work we’d go get beers and he’d come and have one with us, and he was always one of the last ones to leave,” Spence recalled. “We’re all family men and had to get home to our kids, so we’d drink from 6 to 7 and then go. He’d want to stay past 8, if anyone was willing to stay.”
Spence also noticed something else dodgy about his coworker. Although Spence was unaware that Watts was having an affair with coworker Nichol Kessinger, he did notice that Watts began to talk about other women.
“He didn’t talk about his affair,” Spence said. “But he was always like ‘this or that chick wants to bang me.’ But I didn’t know it was actually happening. I thought it was just talk.”
Watt’s pregnant wife Shanann had also begun to suspect her husband had found someone else and confronted him in numerous texts about missing her phone calls.
"I didn't see those FaceTimes and I'm sorry I missed those calls. I'm very very very sorry,” Watts texted her in one series of exchanges featured in the Netflix documentary “American Murder: The Family Next Door,” according to previous reporting by Oxygen.com. “The FaceTime went thru on my work phone."
Shanann and the couple’s two young daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, had been staying in North Carolina visiting family at the time of the exchange.
"'Not' getting my calls. You f--king call your kids when you wake up. You have not called one time since we’ve been here on your own,” she had texted him back.
Watts told her he was “extremely sorry” and had felt like a “jackass” for not being more communicative with his family.
“You’d think you missed us,” she texted him. "But guess not.”
She also reached out to friends to talk about the couple’s lack of a sex life and worried whether “he was getting it somewhere else.”
Despite her concerns, she had remained committed to trying to mend their relationship, even texting him from a business trip she was on the day before her death to thank him for watching their children.
"Thank you for taking good care of the kids this weekend so I can learn and work, I appreciate it!" she texted.
Just hours after she returned from her trip, Watts strangled his pregnant wife to death in their bedroom in the early morning hours of Aug. 13, 2018. He then drove the body to an oil field, with his two young daughters in tow.
After burying Shanann’s body in a shallow grave, Watts smothered both his daughters and dumped their bodies into separate oil tanks.
Watt’s coworker said although he knew Watts was unhappy, he had no idea he would kill his family.
"He was obviously in pain," he says. "But I didn't know it was going to end that way. If I had any idea, I would've pulled him aside and said something. But he hid it. No one knew."
Watts pleaded guilty to several charges, including first-degree murder, and is currently serving life without the possibility of parole.
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