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Chris Watts publicly pleaded for his family’s safe return and tried to paint himself as a concerned father—but investigators say he ultimately admitted to killing his pregnant wife and two young daughters after their bodies were discovered at a Colorado oil field.
“Once his family was found, he confessed to everything,” FBI Special Agent Grahm Coder said last week at the Northeast South Dakota Family Violence Prevention Conference, according to People. “He knew he had no other choice. He told us what he had done.”
Coder and Colorado Bureau of Investigation Field Agent Tammy Lee, who had also been a lead investigator on the case, spoke at the Aberdeen, South Dakota conference to help the social workers, educators, medical professionals and prosecutors in attendance be able to identify signs of domestic violence.
Watts had no known history of domestic violence when authorities said he strangled his pregnant wife Shannan to death in the couple’s bedroom in the early morning hours of Aug. 13, 2018, then drove his two young children, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste, to the oil field along with Shannan's body.
He buried his wife’s remains in a shallow grave before smothering both of his daughters and dumping their bodies in separate oil tanks. His daughter Bella was the last to die and had pleaded with him not to kill her, according to investigators, telling him “Daddy, no.”
During his confession, Watts said that the words still haunt him.
“It’s like every time I close my eyes I see, I hear ‘Daddy, no,’” he said, according to People.
Watts initially played the role of the grieving family man, pleading for his family’s safe return in multiple media interviews. However, investigators said he failed a polygraph test when questioned about his family's whereabouts, before eventually later confessing to killing his pregnant wife and children.
“This case shows that domestic violence can happen anywhere," Lee said last week. "It affects so many families — and sometimes, the results can be deadly."
It wasn’t the first time Lee has shared her feelings on the case.
“I just couldn’t believe a father could do something so horrible to his children and his wife,” she said in the special. “I was completely disgusted. I felt sick.”
Lee got emotional as she recalled how Watts had never shed a tear for his slain family.
“You know, he didn’t even cry for them,” she said. “Like, I’ve cried more for them than he has. Like, who does that?”
While investigators suspected Watts may have had a role in the family’s disappearance, Lee told “Criminal Confessions” the truth had been “more horrible than I even let my mind go to. We had not even fathomed how horrible he could have been, what a monster he was.”
Watts — who had been having an affair at the time of the murders — is currently serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole at a Wisconsin prison after pleading guilty to nine charges, including five counts of first-degree murder.
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