The story of Chris Watts' murder of his pregnant wife and two young daughters has gripped the nation, not simply because of how heinous the killings were, but also because of Watts' deceit, initially portraying himself as a distraught husband and father, then, once he was arrested, blaming his wife Shanann for strangling their girls, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.
He ultimately confessed, of course, and was sentenced to to life in prison without parole for each of the murders, as well as an additional 48 years for snuffing out the life of the unborn child that Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant with.
In the days after the sentencing, the Weld County District Attorney released approximately 2,000 pages worth of documents detailing the case. Among the thousands of pages obtained by Oxygen.com are dozens of unsettling revelations about the case. Here are seven of the most shocking:
1. Shanann’s desperate attempts to save the marriage
It was clear that Shanann felt her husband distancing himself from her and suspected something was seriously wrong with their relationship. Messages between the couple reveal how she repeatedly pleaded with her husband to tell her what was wrong, with no success. Text after text shows Shanann pouring her heart out to Watts in an attempt to fix the relationship. In one text, she told him how much she missed all the ways they used to be intimate, including how he used to touched her while she was cooking.
On July 10, Shanann texted Chris, "You OK? It's like you don't want to talk l kept trying to talk and I had to dig it out of you?"
Chris responded: "l'm fine baby. The last few days at work have put a lot of responsibility on me with new people. I didn't mean to seem short Boo. I love you to the moon and back."
He didn't admit what was really going on: yes, something was up at work, but it was the fact that he was having an affair with one of his coworkers.
“It’s not hard texting love you and miss you,” Shanann wrote him at one point. “If you don’t mean it then I get it, but we need to talk. I keep looking at my phone all night and no response from you. Like seriously! We didn’t just start dating yesterday! We’ve been together 8 years and have 2.5 kids together.”
According to the documents, Shanann told a friend she was planning for a getaway weekend for her and Chris for August 18-19, days after she was killed.
The documents also outlined that she was looking into marriage counseling.
2. He lied to his mistress about his marriage
While Shanann was desperately pleading with him to work on their marriage, and reportedly buying self-help books for him, he was telling his mistress that it was Shanann who had no interest in fixing their relationship.
Nichol Kessinger, a coworker with whom Watts had struck up a romantic relationship, told police that Watts told her Shanann didn't have any interest in working on their marriage.
He described his wife to Kessinger as someone who “had bad spending habits” and was "bossy."
Kessinger later told police that she “thought he was saying his voice is not heard when he voices his opinion. He said Shanann never acknowledged him. He said he addressed it and it seems like she [Shanann] is not interested anymore.”
Moreover, he even hinted that she may have been cheating on him and that she may have confessed as much on the day she supposedly disappeared.
“He [Chris Watts] said she woke up [on the morning that Shanann and the kids went missing] and they got into an argument and she [Shanann Watts] was being pretty mean,” investigators wrote of a conversation Kessinger recounted having with Watts. “She [Shanann] told Chris that she is pregnant and said the kid was not his. Nichol said he was playing like he did not know Shanann was pregnant, even though she was 15 weeks pregnant.”
While Shanann was trying to plan a romantic getaway to save the couple’s crumbling relationship, Watts was busy apartment-hunting for his new life with the help of Kessinger.
“Nichol found an apartment that was really nice for him,” the documents read, explaining how Kessinger took the time to search for a new place for him. “They had planned on looking at apartments the week of August 13th.”
According to the documents, the apartment was for Watts once he officially separated from Shanann, though Kessinger said she didn’t have plans to move in with him.
3. Chris took his kids to a birthday party before killing them
Just hours before he killed daughters Bella and Celeste, he spent the afternoon with them at a 4-year-old boy's birthday party, complete with water balloons and a mini-pool. All the while, the father was already setting the stage to visit the site where their bodies would eventually be found.
At 5:05 p.m. Sunday afternoon, Watts texted a coworker telling him he planned to "go straight out" to an oil well the next morning to check on a small leak that needed to be repaired, according to the documents.
It was the same site where the bodies of his family would be found days later.
He'd later tell investigators they had an "epic time” at the birthday party, which he and his daughters attended for about four hours.
4. His mother-in-law suspected him immediately
The day after the children were reported missing, Shanann's mother Sandra Rzucek called police to let them know that she suspected that Watts may have been involved in the family’s disappearance.
“She stated that Christopher is acting, ‘Weird,’ and out of the ordinary. She said that Christopher is telling people, ‘He has to go to work,’ and that just doesn’t seem right. She felt that he is going out to pour oil on the bodies to dispose of them somewhere,” a Frederick Police Department supplemental report stated. She also told police that they should check out the GPS on his truck to see if he went to the oil site.
Chris Watts, an Anadarko Petroleum employee, had, in fact, driven his family’s bodies to an oil work site where they were later found. And the GPS data on Watts' was key to investigators establishing that.
5. His mistress had her suspicions, too
Kessinger also became suspicious of him. In fact, pretty much immediately after his family's supposed disappearance.
“Nichol does not believe Chris ever went to look for his family,” police wrote. “Nichol recalled speaking with Chris on Monday night and he was sleeping. She thought this was strange due to the situation with his family.”
She also told police that she and Watts discussed daughter Celeste’s epipen, which had strangely been left at the house. Watts had previously told Kessinger that the toddler was allergic to nuts and that she needed an epipen for the allergy, which is described as “extreme” in the documents.
Kessinger “said she questioned Chris about this as it seemed odd,” police wrote. “Chris responded saying they had a stash of epipens and maybe Shanann took one of those. Nichol said she knew this was a lie as the epipens are very expensive.”
She also told police she thought “it was ‘ironic’ his wife was missing and he did not come to the office that day so she questioned him,” investigators wrote.
6. Chris Watts giggled during police interview
Chris Watts actually giggled during one of his police interviews, after an investigator asked him to think of all the ways someone could make another person disappear.
“At that point, Chris giggled and told me it was a hard question to answer because he had nothing to do with the disappearance,” the agent wrote. “Chris said he didn’t like to think about it.”
The agent then asked Watts to list all the physical ways a person could cause someone else’s disappearance through murder.
Watts replied, “Stab someone, shoot someone, hit 'em with a blunt object, um, what else is there, I mean, use a weapon of like a gun or a knife.”
What Chris Watts didn't mention strangling, which was how he killed his family.
Days after the police interview, the bodies of Shanann, Bella and Celeste were found buried at an oil site Watts had recently worked at. After his arrest on suspicion of murder, Watts claimed that his wife killed their daughters after he admitted to her that he was having an affair and wanted to "go through with a separation," so in a fit of rage strangled her.
Later, of course, he would admit to murdering them all.
7. How he told his dad and police that Shanann killed the kids
Police brought Watts’ dad Ronnie Watts in so that he could tell his father what happened, or what he claimed to have happened at the time - that Shanann killed the girls after Watts told her that he wanted a separation, then he responded by strangling her in a fit of rage.
The chat between father and son was recorded by police. Ronnie was wearing a polo shirt that had “Papa Ronnie” embroidered on the chest, the document notes.
Watts whispered to his father, referencing his wife, “She ... she smothered them ... they were smothered.”
“When I was downstairs, I came back up and they were gone. I don't know, like, me tal- talta- talkin' to her about that … tal- talkin' to her about the separation and everything … about, like … I don't know, like, what else to say. Like, 'cause I freaked out and I did the same thing to fuckin’ her. Those were my kids.”
He said he heard a “little commotion” upstairs and went up to find his wife on top of their daughter Celeste, choking her.
“They—they were blue,” he said. His father asked “Both of them?” and Watts said yes. Ronnie then asked if Shanann choked both girls to death and his son replied, “I freaked out and did the same thing to f___ing her.”
Ronnie then asked, “So then what’d you do … haul the bodies off or somethin’?”
When talking about choking Shanann to death, Watts said, “Mm hm ... that’s just … it’s rage.”
Watts also admitted to his dad that Shanann “knew in her heart about his affair, but she was waiting for him to admit it.”
He repeated the same story to police, telling them: "The evil that I saw when I walked behind Shanann when she was behind [Celeste]. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to f---ing do. None of this made sense!"
The investigators then pressed him on why he didn’t call 911 if his claims were true, suggesting that the girls could've been revived with emergency medical attention.
Finally, when police asked why he concealed the bodies at an oil site, he claimed he “was scared. I just felt such anger that ... I didn't feel anything.”
[Photo: Associated Press]
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