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Shanann Watts and her two young children disappeared on Aug. 13, 2018, but while the young mom’s friends and investigators were trying to piece together what may have happened to the 34-year-old, a neighbor was already starting to suspect the threat to the missing women may have been closer to home than most realized.
In body cam footage shown on HLN’s “Killer Dad: Chris Watts Speaks,” neighbor Nate Trinastich can be seen the day of the disappearance showing police and Chris Watts surveillance footage he captured of Watts loading his truck just after 5 a.m. that morning.
Watts tries to nervously explain his behavior away that morning telling the officer that he had moved the truck from its usual spot because it had been “easier to lug everything with all the tools I had to bring in” and said he had been loading the truck early that morning to prepare for a busy work day.
But after Watts walks out of the neighbor’s house, Trinastich is already starting to question his neighbor’s unusual behavior.
“He is not acting right,” he can be heard telling the officer.
After the officer questions what he means, Trinastich goes on to explain that Watts seemed to be “fidgety” and “rocking back and forth.”
He even shows the officer the surveillance footage again.
“Watch,” he said. “You’ll see him get out and then he walks back and forth a couple of times.”
Trinastich later explained on an episode of “Dr. Oz” that Watts’ movements—unintentionally captured on the security footage Trinastich had set up for his own home—struck him as unusual for multiple reasons.
“He was loading tools, but I thought that was a little bit odd because I had never seen him really back the truck into the driveway ever. He always parked it out front, so I definitely thought it was kind of odd."
Trinastich also thought it was unusual that Watts appeared to be loading things into the cab of the truck rather than the back of the vehicle.
But, it was his behavior hours later in Trinastich’s home that heightened his suspicions even further. Watts was pacing back and forth, putting his hands on his head and appeared to be nervous.
“The other thing I thought that was definitely weird was he wasn’t watching the footage at all,” he told Dr. Oz. “He would look at it for a second then go back to his phone or look at it for a second and then look away and if my family was missing, I would be glued to that TV 100 percent to see if I could see absolutely anything.”
Trinastich’s suspicions would ultimately prove correct as Watts would later admit he had been loading his dead wife’s body into the truck after strangling her just hours after she had returned home from a business trip.
The couple’s two young children, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, were still alive and would accompany Watts to an oil site, where he buried his pregnant wife Shanann in a shallow grave before suffocating both his children and throwing their bodies into nearby oil tankers.
He was later pleaded guilty to the murders and was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences.
The horrific details of the crime came as a shock to Trinastich, who described the family as a “normal, everyday” American family.
“Shanann was always really friendly. She came over, welcomed us to the neighborhood. The girls were always running around laughing, having a great time,” he said.
But while Shanann was the more boisterous of the pair, Chris was “real quiet” and sometimes seemed a bit “standoffish,” Trinastich said.
“There were times where he just didn’t want to wave or didn’t want to say anything, but usually he was nice,” he said.
Trinastich admits, however, that he had heard the pair fighting in the past.
In the body cam footage of his talk with police, Trinastich tells the officer he “heard them full out screaming at each other at the top of their lungs” and that Chris “gets crazy,” according to Denver station KCNC-TV.
However, Trinastich later told Dr. Oz that the pair likely “didn’t fight any more than any other couple” but that he had just happened to overhear several of their arguments because of the proximity of their homes to one another.
“They had a couple confrontations that I happened to see, but it was never him being a big, huge monster and I’ve just noticed on social media they really focus on that and that’s not what I want to focus on,” he said.
Instead, Trinastich wants the focus to remain on Shanann and the girls and the “great life” they had before it was tragically cut short.
Now—as his former neighbor isexpected to live out the rest of his life in a jail cell—Trinastich said it's hard to reconcile the gruesome details of the crime with the man he once knew.
“Part of me thinks that he’s a monster, for you to be able to do that to your wife and especially your kids,” he said. “Like I love my son more than anything and I could never see myself hurting him at all. And the fact that he could go out of his way, to take her life and the kids’ lives and then act like nothing happened and try to cover it up just shows his character.”
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