This week marks the one year anniversary of the Watts family killings in Colorado, a horrific event that has changed the lives of many.
Chris Watts became one of the most publicized and sensationalized family murderers in American history after he confessed to killing his pregnant wife, Shanann Watts, and his two young daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.
Before he admitted to killing them, and while his family members were still missing, Chris gave multiple emotional interviews pleading for the safe return of his family. After giving teary interviews and telling myriad lies, on Aug. 16, three days after his family disappeared, police found the corpses of Shannan and her daughters hidden on an oil site owned by Watts’ former employer. Watts was charged for their deaths.
Watts pleaded guilty to killing his entire family in order to avoid the death penalty in November.
Further disgust and outrage came from the public after authorities released additional disturbing details earlier this year based on subsequent interviews conducted with Watts.
And those details has been haunting not only the public, but the people close to the investigation. Dave Baumhover, who was the lead detective for Frederick Police on the Watts case, recently admitted the case has truly traumatized him.
Baumhover told the Denver Post that he has been diagnosed with acute PTSD as a result of working on the case. He witnessed the hazmat crew pull the young girls’ bodies from the oil storage tanks. He listened as Chris explained how he smothered them after putting them into a car with their mother’s dead body, a pregnant woman he had murdered with his bare hands.
Now, Baumhover told the Denver Post, seeing little girls triggers him.
“It’s like when you’re a kid and you go on the wrong carnival ride and all you want to do is get off,” he said. “But you can’t. You have no choice until the ride shuts off.”
In fact, he’s been unable to work since his PTSD diagnosis because he says his symptoms are so severe.
He isn’t the only one suffering as a result from working on the case. Some of his peers have been experiencing nightmares about oil wells and other visuals related to the deaths, according to the Denver Post.
An unnamed source close to Chris made claims to PEOPLE that Chris himself is also haunted by his own murders.
“He has nothing to do but think,” the source said. “He thinks about what he did every day. He is tormented by his past and the mistakes he made.”
The publicity of the case has also made it hard for some investigators to heal and has negatively impacted the victims' family, according to The Denver Post.
Shannan's family has previously begged for the harassment and rumors they have endured to stop.
“I don't want to draw more attention to the vile material that has been posted online, and so I won’t go into specifics. But I will say that our family, including Shanann and our grandchildren, have been ridiculed, demeaned, slandered and mocked, in the most vicious ways you can imagine,” Shannan’s dad, Frank Rzucek, said in a statement released by attorney Steven Lambert to KUSA of Denver earlier this summer.
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