Chris Watts: The True Story Behind His Family’s Murders

| 31. December 2020 |

Chris Watts is a name that has rocked the media ever since the truth about him committing femicide came to light. To many people, August 13, 2018, was a normal day like any other day but that was never the case for the Watts family. Christopher Watts (33 years of age) admitted to committing the murders of his family that comprised of his wife Shanann Watts who was pregnant ( 34 years of age) and their two daughters. He killed his wife by strangulation and killed their two daughters; Bella a four-year-old and Celeste a three-year-old by smothering them. Not only were these crimes heartbreaking and senseless but also horrific in the sense that the once loving husband and father of two Chris Watts admitted to committing the murders.

Initially, Watts had denied having any involvement in the disappearance of his wife and two daughters but on November 6, 2018, he pleaded guilty to multiple counts of first-degree murder.


Background of the Watts family

Chris Watts was a resident of Spring Lake and Shanann Watts was a resident of Aberdeen. According to online records of the two, this couple met in 2010 and got married on November 3, 2012, in Mecklenburg County. A year down their marriage they had their first daughter Bella Watts (born December 17, 2013) and two years later their second daughter Celeste Watts was born on (July 17, 2015). They lived in Frederick Colorado in a five-bedroom house that they had purchased in 2015. Chris was an employee of Anadarko Petroleum whereas Shanann worked as an independent representative for a marketing company Le-Vel. At her death, Shanann was already 15 weeks pregnant with a boy who had they named Nico Lee Watts.



Chris’s wife and daughters disappearance

Around 1:48 a.m. on August 13, 2018, Nickole Atkinson her colleague and friend dropped her home from a business trip while Chris was at home with the girls typical of a loving husband and father. Few hours after dropping her friend Nickole tried getting in touch with Shanann but she couldn’t get ahold of her and it was not until when Shanann missed an appointment that she grew sick and worried. At about 12:10 p.m. Nickole went to Watt’s home and after ringing the doorbell which went unanswered she notified Chris by calling him and also the Frederick Police Department. At this time Chris was at work, at about 1.40 p.m. a police office came by, during the check Chris allowed the officer to look around the house but there were no signs of any of them. Shanann’s purse was found inside the house and it contained her belongings including her phone and car keys, her car was in the garage and her wedding room was found on their bed. According to Nickole, it was unusual for Shanann to leave her phone behind as it was her lifeline she told the officer and the police conducted their investigation and they found nothing.
On August 14, a joint investigation between the (CBI) Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the FBI released an Endangered Missing Person alert for the three family members. Chris told the police he did not know the whereabouts of Shanann and their two lovely daughters and that the last time that he saw his wife was 5.15 a.m. on the 13th of August when he departed for work. On this same day, the local media stations came to broadcast these events and Chris gave interviews to several local stations while he was outside their home pleading for their safe return.



The investigation

The following days Chris made appearances on TV stations pleading for the return of his wife and their two daughters, later on, his story changed drastically and he even appealed to his local community to help him find his missing family. The FBI and CBI thoroughly conducted their investigation and after going through Chris’s phone records they found out that he had an affair with a coworker from Anadarko Petroleum. Everything changed when Chris did not pass the polygraph test and he subsequently confessed to murdering his family. Before his confession, Chris asked to have a chat with his father and the investigators took their chances with him and allowed him to proceed. Chris confessed to his dad that he had killed Shanann, and after a while, the investigators found their bodies exactly where he had told them they would be: at an Anadarko Petroleum remote oil storage site, this was on August 16.



The unfolding of events

Initially, Chris said that Shanann strangled their daughters after he requested for their separation and in return, he strangled Shanann after he had watched her smother their girls, Bella and Celeste. He said she was upset because he had talked to her about their separation and she retaliated by smothering the girls. After strangling her, he took them to a remote oil storage site and buried them there, he said. On 21 of August, Chris Watts was charged in court with first-degree murder on five counts (including two counts for the girls because they were below the age of 12 years), unlawful termination of pregnancy and interfering with a deceased human body on three counts and at his first court appearance, he was denied bail. It was not until he was in prison that Chris opened up to investigators from prison in an interview, he revealed the truth: That fateful morning he fought with Shanann because he wished to separate but she told him he would never see the girls anymore and Chris mercilessly strangled her to death. As he was bringing her body downstairs the girls were woken up by the commotion and they came to ask what was wrong, he loaded his wife’s body and the girls into his work truck without their car seats and he drove them off to the oil site. Later he smothered the girls one after the other using a blanket before he disposed of the three bodies.



Plea deal and sentencing

On November 6, Chris Watts pleaded guilty and thanks to the efforts made by Shanann’s family they did not want to experience further deaths and thus they supported the plea deal. He received 48 years for the unlawful termination of an unborn child and 36 years for tampering with a deceased body on three counts. His $5 million bail was revoked after which he was remanded to custody.



Where is Chris Watts today

While incarcerated he found religion as he continues to serve his 84 years life sentence at a maximum prison in Wisconsin, he was transferred to this security prison due to security concerns in December 2018. Shanann’s family has not been supportive of Hollywood’s take of the acts. In January 2020 Lifetime produced and aired a movie by the name Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer and they said they were not consulted, they are not making a dime from it and that it further increases the online harassment which they were subject too Through their lawyer Steven Lambert they said it is a false narrative that did not depict who the victims were in real life.



How does the Watts case fit in family annihilation

In the simplest of terms, family annihilation can be also termed as familicide which refers to the killing of multiple family members usually in quick succession, in most cases the killer lastly kills themselves. While family annihilation cases are prompted by inciting incidents that were not the case for Chris Watts as he killed his wife and two daughters to make room for his affair. In the larger context of familicide cases, Watt’s case was unique in that he did not try to take his life after committing the murders which are typical of most family annihilators. Hours after their disappearance Watts appeared on local TV stations pleading for their safe return which explains more of his narcissistic and aggressive personality.
Watts did not have a history of abusive behavior or domestic violence which is very unlikely of many family annihilators, his desire to murder his family came from he wanted to start a new relationship with Nichol Kessinger without carrying the burden of his family. Though everything else does not align with Chris Watts being a family annihilator he squarely fits in the profile of antisocial personality disorder that makes up about twenty percent of family annihilators.



The take away it all

To be honest, research has proven that guys who commit familicide or other partner homicide cases have their secret lives, they plan, they fantasize and strategize about it. Bearing this in mind is important because they keep it to themselves which later comes to send shockwaves across the country that someone could commit such a heinous act to his loved ones.




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