Shanann Watts, 34, and daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, went missing Monday from their home in Frederick, Colorado. Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant. Her husband Chris Watts 33, now faces nine felony counts, including first degree murder, in connection with their deaths.
Here are 6 key details to know about the case.
1.Chris claims Shanann strangled the girls before he killed her
Watts told police that he strangled his pregnant wife Shanann in a fit of rage last week immediately after she killed their two daughters inside their home, according to an affidavit released late Monday. According to the arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com, Watts, told police he was having an affair with a coworker. He previously denied the affair to police. He said he told his wife he wanted to “go through with a separation" at 4 a.m. last Monday the 13th, about two hours after Shanann arrived home from a businss trip. After the discussion, which Watts characterized as “emotional,” he claimed he walked downstairs for a moment and then returned to the couple’s bedroom to talk further.
"While in the bedroom, via baby monitor located on Shanann's right stand, he observed Bella 'sprawled' out on her bed and blue and Shanann actively strangling Celeste,” the affidavit states. “Chris said he went into a rage and ultimately strangled Shanann to death."
From there, he told police that he put all three bodies in the back of his truck, and drove them to an oil work site.
2.The girls were reportedly hidden inside gas and oil tanks
Several high-ranking sources have told Denver TV station KMGH that the two girls were found inside oil and gas tanks that "were mostly full." Those sources reportedly said they believe Watts placed the bodies of his daughters in the tanks in order to conceal the smell of their decomposing corpses. On Thursday, Shanann’s body was found on a property owned by Anadarko Petroleum. It’s one of Colorado’s largest oil and gas drillers. It’s also where Chris worked, the Associated Press reported. The bodies of the Watts children were found nearby, hours after their mom’s remains were located.
3.Chris made emotional pleas on television for the safe return of his family
Before their bodies were found, and before he was arrested, Chris made several emotional media appearances in which he appeared concerned about his missing family. In an interview with Today, Watts claimed he had last seen his wife early Monday morning, when she was arriving home from a business trip. He claimed he saw his girls asleep on a baby monitor. In one media interview, he was wringing his hands at his fear over the welfare of his wife.
"My kids are my life," he told KMGH in Denver, a local ABC affiliate. "I mean, those smiles light up my life.”
In another portion of the same interview, he pleaded, “'I just want them back.”
Watts also spoke directly to his family through KMGH, stating, “Shanann, Bella, Celeste: If you’re out there, just come back. Like if somebody has her, just bring her back. I need to see everybody. […] This house is not complete without anybody here. Please bring ‘em back.”
4.The couple previously filed for bankruptcy
The Watts filed for bankruptcy in 2015, claiming $70,000 in debt, according to documents obtained by KDVR-TV in Denver. Their debt was mostly the result of unpaid student loans and retail purchases, the station reported. Their friend Amanda Thayer told KMGH that on Monday Chris “mentioned putting the house up for sale; him and Shanann had spoke about doing that.”
5.Shanann may have suspected infidelity recently
A week before she went missing, Thayer told KMGH that Shanann confided in her that she was worried that Chris may have been unfaithful.
“She said that it came to her mind that possibly he could be cheating but at the same time, she was like, you know, he has no game,” Thayer said, adding that Shanann didn’t think that it was something her husband would ever do.
Chris did allegedly tell police that before his family went missing, he and his wife had an “emotional” conversation, but he didn’t go into details, according to KUSA in Denver.
A family friend previously told PEOPLE that Shanann was getting ready to leave the relationship.
6.Shanann painted a pretty picture of her marriage online
She would often refer to Chris as “my ROCK!” and “the best dad us girls could ask for.” On Valetine's Day, she posted on Instagram: “I love this man more than words can say! He’s my Rock, my love, my biggest fan, supporter and my husband! I couldn’t of hand picked a better man to call my husband and father to our girls!”
They often posed for photos together, smiling while attending events. One photo album shows the couple vacationing in San Diego with friends in June. In one photo, the couple are in a restaurant. In another, Chris is rubbing Shanann’s back, by the pool. In another photo album, also taken in June in San Diego, the couple embraces while on a boat.
[Photos: Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Facebook]