Something seemed slightly off about Chris Watts on Aug. 13, a co-worker told police, but he couldn't imagine the reason why - that Watts had earlier that morning dumped the bodies of his pregnant wife and two daughters, whom he'd killed just hours earlier.
Days after Shanann Watts, 34, and daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, were reported missing - but before their bodies were discovered - police quizzed several of Watts' co-workers at Anadarko Petroleum, including well operator Kodi Roberts, who was able to help police fill in a timeline of Watts' plans and movements in the hours surrounding his family's presumed disappearance.
On Sunday, Aug. 12 at a little after 5 pm, Watts called and then texted Roberts to let him know that he had plans to check out a specific oil well site the next morning, according to documents released by the Weld County District Attorney's Office. The communication came hours before Shanann returned home from a trip to Arizona. He strangled her to death in the early morning hours of Monday, after smothering the girls.
Roberts, speaking to investigators Aug. 15, said the fact that Watts called him on a Sunday wasn't "shocking" but agreed with the investigator that it was "unusual."
Roberts also told authorities that Watts was out at a well site at 6:30 a.m. Monday pressure-testing a line and that he would have been completely alone at that time. That's where police would later find the bodies of his daughters stuffed into oil wells, submerged in crude oil, while Shanann and her unborn child were found later in a shallow grave nearby.
Roberts said he saw Watts later that day and that overall his demeanor appeared normal but “he seemed like something may have been bothering him. He was at his truck a lot, probably trying to get a hold of Shanann but he didn’t bring it up or anything.”
In fact, Roberts said Watts never even told him, or anyone else at work to his knowledge, that Shanann was pregnant.
“Nobody [knew] actually,” he said. “I honestly had no idea.”
However, Roberts maintained that Watts loved his family and as for Shanann, he said Watts “absolutely loves her. His girls are his world.”
Roberts called Watts quiet, even socially awkward, but didn’t find anything peculiar or suspicious about him.
“I never once thought, 'This guy is sketchy,'” he told the investigator. “This is Chris Watts. He’s a good guy.”
Roberts said Watts would talk about his wife often and gave no indication of any trouble in the relationship.
“I never got the vibe that they had any issues, not to say they don’t.”
He also had no inkling that there was any cheating going on, though Watts was carrying on an affair with one of their co-workers, Nichol Kessinger, who actually did tell police she thought there was something strange about her lover’s decision to go to an oil site that Monday morning.
“Nichol was suspicious as to why Chris would be checking on a release as he was not part of the environmental team,” police wrote in other records released earlier by the Weld County District Attorney's Office. “She explained usually if a release is reported a team of environmental specialists respond to deal with the release. Chris occasionally deals with a release and may be responsible for closing valves and or shutting off tanks to stop the release.”
At the time of his interview, Roberts said he wanted “to do anything possible to help clear [Watts'] name because I’ve seen the nasty comments on Facebook.”
He added though, that the “biggest thing” was making sure that Shanann and the kids were located.
Within days, their bodies would be discovered and Watts charged with murder. In November, Watts confessed to the killings and was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
[Photo Credits: Associated Press, Weld County District Attorney's Office]
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