Colorado man Christopher Watts has admitted to killing his pregnant wife and their two daughters in a case that has grabbed national attention, in part because of how tragic it is — but also because of how extensive and outrageous his lies were.
His admittance of guilt didn’t come right away. In fact, he went from playing a distraught husband back in August to a man who was trembling while saying the word "guilty” in court on Tuesday when he admitted to killing Shanann Watts, 34, and their children, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. Shanann, who was 15 weeks pregnant, and the couple's two daughters seemingly vanished from their home in Frederick, Colorado, a small town north of Denver in August. What started off as an apparent search for a missing mother and little girls soon turned into a search for their remains, and within days Chris Watts started being eyed as the main suspect.
Here are four of the lies and contradictions that Chris made along his gruesome journey from worried husband to an admitted murderer.
1. When he claimed to believe they were just missing
Shanann, who was pregnant, and her two young daughters went missing from their home in Frederick, Colo., a small town north of Denver on Aug. 13. At first, Chris made several emotional media appearances in which he appeared concerned about his missing family. He pleaded to whoever took them to return them safely.
In an interview with Denver7, he said, “If somebody has her, just bring her back. I need to see everybody, I need to see everybody again. This house is not complete without anybody here.”
He told police he last saw his family at about 5:15 a.m. the morning they vanished, when he left for work. In an interview with Today at the time, he said he saw his daughters peacefully sleeping on a baby monitor. He claimed he grew worried a few hours later after he spotted a friend knocking on the door through a doorbell camera. His wife didn’t answer the friend’s knocks and Chris claimed he came home to find her car in the driveway but no trace of his wife and young daughters.
2. When he lied about his affair
Initially, Chris denied having an affair. According to that arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com, he only admitted cheating on Shanann with a coworker during his third interview with police. Before that, he only disclosed that he had an “emotional” conversation with her, but he didn’t go into details, according to PEOPLE.
3. When he lied about his wife killing the kids
Chris changed his tune from not knowing what happened to his family to admitting that he killed his wife only. But, he said he did it because she murdered their children. He claimed he killed her immediately after she killed their two daughters inside their home, according to an affidavit released obtained by Oxygen.com. He claimed Shanann became distressed after he told her about his affair with his coworker. Chris claimed he strangled her in a fit of rage after he spotted her killing their daughters on the baby monitor.
Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke confirmed Tuesday that Watts’ attempt to blame his wife was completely false.
“What I can tell you most affirmatively today, by what happened in the courtroom, is the spotlight that he tried to shine on Shanann falsely, incorrectly and, frankly, a flat-out lie has been corrected,” Rourke said. “The spotlight shines directly where it belongs: on him.”
4. When he posed as a happy family online
On social media, it looked like the Watts family had it all: a rock solid marriage and a loving family life. Shannan would often refer to Chris as “my ROCK!” and “the best dad us girls could ask for.” In many, many videos that Shanann posted to her Facebook page, there is footage of Chris being a loving father to his children and teaching his daughters how to read. He expresses excitement when he learns that Shanann is pregnant for a third time and in one clip, his daughter Bella sings about her “hero dad.”
Meanwhile, Chris seemed to be preoccupied by the concept of “relationship deterioration.” Back in 2012, Chris conducted a class presentation about that very topic. He posted a video on YouTube as part of a class project for Central Piedmont Community College, a college in Charlotte, North Carolina where he studied.
Its title: “Communication Speech, Relationship Deterioration and Repair.”
"The first phase of deterioration is interpersonal dissatisfaction, which is when you become unhappy with all the everyday interactions with you and your partner," Chris says in the video. "You also begin to see your future with your partner as a negative future.”
[Photo: Associated Press]
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxgen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.