The husband of a Colorado woman who vanished Monday with her two daughters has been charged with murder, and police have recovered a body they believe to be that of the missing mom, authorities said early Thursday morning.
Chris Watts, 33, faces three counts of murder and one charge of obstruction of justice for allegedly tampering with evidence after the disappearance of his wife Shanann Watts, 34, and their two daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste, police said.
The trio went missing Monday morning from their home in Frederick, Colo., a small town north of Denver.
Watts told police he last saw his family at about 5:15 a.m. on Monday, when he left for work.
He said he and his wife had an “emotional” conversation,” without going into details about what they discussed, according to NBC.
Police arrested Watts just before midnight Wednesday, and on Thursday announced the discovery of a body believed to be that of Shanann, according to Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke.
“At this point we have recovered a body that we are quite certain is Shanann,” Rourke told reporters at a press conference Thursday. “We have strong reason to believe we know where the children are, and recovery efforts are in process.”
As of Thursday afternoon Watts was in custody awaiting a bail hearing, and prosecutors have until Monday to formally charge him, Rourke added.
Police were cagey on what led them to the discovery of the bodies, or even when the mom and two girls were killed, but said they do not believe there is a danger to the community.
In an interview with Today, Watts said he had last seen his wife early Monday morning, when she was arriving home from a business trip and he was headed to work. At that point, he said, he saw his girls asleep on a baby monitor.
Watts told Today he became concerned around noon on Monday when, using a doorbell camera, he spied a friend knocking on the door to no answer from within the house. Shortly after that, he said he headed home, and found Shanann's car in the driveway but no trace of his wife and daughters.
Police were first notified of the disappearance Monday afternoon, when a friend of Shanann contacted them out of concern for her safety after not hearing from her, and requested a welfare check, according to Sgt. Ian Albert, a public information officer with the Frederick Police Department.
In the wake of the disappearance, Watts gave numerous interviews with local and national news outlets, wringing his hands at his fear over the welfare of his wife, who was 15 weeks pregnant at the time of her disappearance.
"My kids are my life," he told KMGH Channel 7, a local ABC affiliate. "I mean, those smiles light up my life."
But late on Wednesday evening, something in the investigation changed, and police arrested Watts, charging him with the murder of his wife and children, according to a brief statement posted to the town's website.
It was not immediately clear what led police to cuff Watts, or if the bodies of Shanann, Celeste, and Bella have been found, but police were expected to provide more information on the case Thursday morning.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
[Photo: Colorado Bureau of Investigation]