General Facts and Figures
- Name: Chris Watts
- Full Name: Christopher Lee Watts
- Net Worth: $255 000
- Date of Birth: 16th May 1985
- Place of Birth: Fayetteville, North Carolina
- Nationality: American
- Spouse: Shan’ann Cathryn Watts
- Children: Bella, Celeste and Niko (unborn)
- Status: Incarcerated at the Dodge Correctional Facility
- Instagram: NA
- Facebook: NA
- Twitter: NA
Chris Watts is infamous for killing his entire family. On 13th August 2018, the Watts family homicides occurred in Frederick, Colorado. Chris Watts admitted that he murdered Shan’ann Cathryn Watts, his wife, who was pregnant by strangling her, which also caused the death of Niko, their unborn son. He also admitted to killing their daughters, Bella, who was 4 years old and Celeste who was 3, by smothering them. Chris then buried Shan’ann Watts on his worksite located on the outskirts of Fredrick city in a shallow grave and disposed of the bodies of his daughters in oil tanks.
On 6th November 2018, Watts pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on multiple counts when the death penalty was taken away from the sentencing. The court sentenced Watts to 5 life sentences without parole. Watts has to serve 2 of the sentences simultaneously, while he has to serve 3 sentences consecutively.
Chris Lee Watts was born on 16th May 1985 and is from Colorado. Chris Watts is a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina and his wife, Shan’ann Cathryn Watts (formerly Rzucek), belonged to Aberdeen, North Carolina. Shan’ann studied in Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines and she met Watts in 2010. They got married on 3rd November 2012 in Mecklenburg County in North Carolina and settled down in Colorado.
Watts worked with Anadarko Petroleum, where his annual salary was around $61,500. In 2013, Shan’ann started working at the Colorado Children’s Hospital as an HR specialist. She also worked with Le-Vel, a multilevel marketing company as an independent rep for a nutritional supplement called Thrive, where she started working since January 2016.
The couple had two daughters, Bella Marie Watts, who was born on 17th December 2013, and Celeste Cathryn Watts (CeCe), who was born on 17th July 2015. The family of four lived in a 5-bedroom home in Fredrick, Colorado, which was purchased in 2013; however, in 2015, they were in around $70,000 debt and declared bankruptcy. There was also a civil suit against the couple that they owed around $1,500 to the homeowner’s association.
When she died, Shan’ann was 15 weeks pregnant, and her due date was 31st January 2019. They had planned to name the baby Niko Lee Watts.
Shan’ann Watt’s Disappearance
On 13th August 2018, Shan’ann came back home from Scottsdale, Arizona, where she had gone to attend a Le-Vel leadership seminar. She reached home at around 1.48 am with a colleague and friend, Nickole Utoft Atkinson. Watts was with the children at home. Later in the day, Atkinson reported that Shan’ann and the two girls were missing. She got concerned when Shan’ann missed her Ob-gyn appointment and also did not return her text messages. At 12.10 pm, Atkinson went to Shan’ann’s home, when Shan’ann did not turn up for a business meeting.
At around 1.40 pm, police officers arrived at the Watts’ home for a welfare check, and Watts, who had also come home from work, spoke with the officers and discussed how they could locate the missing family. Watts claimed that Shan’ann and his children had gone for a playdate and did not return. The police searched Watts’ home but were unable to find any of the family members. During the search, Shan’ann’s phone, purse, keys and wedding ring were found in the house and they also found her car along with the kids’ car seats at the house.
The next day, on 14th August, both the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the FBI also joined the investigation. Watts was interviewed by the KMGH-TV Denver station, where he pleaded for his family to return. During the interview, the property was searched by the police with the aid of search and cadaver dogs.
Watts’ Arrest and Charges
Initially, Watts claimed that he didn’t know where his wife was and also stated that they were having marital problems. When he was questioned during the investigation, Watts claimed that Shan’ann had strangled their daughters when he asked her for a divorce and he then strangled Shan’ann in a fit of rage.
On 15th August 2018, Watts was arrested and as per the affidavit, Watts undertook a polygraph test, which he failed and later, he confessed to murdering Shan’ann. Before making his confession, Watts asked to speak to Ronnie Watts, his father, and confessed to him that he had murdered Shan’ann. Watts said that he and Shan’ann got into an argument when he told her that their marriage was not going to work and that he wanted a divorce. And, when he said Shan’ann that he did not love her, she told him that he would never see his kids again.
Watts’ lawyer stated in an interview with Dr. Phil that Watts had killed Shan’ann after an argument about divorce when their elder daughter Bella walked in and Watts told her that Shan’ann was sick and had to be taken to the hospital. Watts then said that he wrapped Shan’ann in a bedsheet and put her body in the back of his truck after dragging her body down the stairs. The bedsheet that he wrapped the body in was recovered at the worksite. Bella followed Watts down the stairs crying.
Watts then put both the girls, Bella and Celeste in the backseat of his truck and drove all of them to the petroleum site. He then strangled Celeste using her blanket and put her into the oil tank. He also strangled Bella using a blanket and put her into another oil tank. Bella who had seen Watts killing her younger sister, pleaded with Watts asking him if the same thing was going to happen to her that had happened to CeCe and asked him not to do the same thing that he had just done to CeCe.
On 16th August, the bodies of the Watts’ family were located by the authorities on the Anadarko Petroleum property, where Watts worked. On 15th August, when Watts was arrested by the police, he was fired from his job from Anadarko Petroleum. Shan’ann’s body was found buried in a shallow grave on the premises, and the bodies of the children were found in the oil tanks.
A drone was used to survey the oil site and a sheet was spotted on the site near the oil tanks, where Watts had disposed of the bodies of his wife and children. There was also matching pillowcases and a sheet that was found in Watts’ trash can.
On 21st August, Watts was charged with first-degree murder on 5 counts and additionally 1 count per child citing the reason that the death involved a child who was not 12 years old yet and the offender was in a position of trust, 3 counts of meddling with a dead body and unlawful termination of pregnancy.
Watts’ co-workers at the oil field said that his behavior was quite normal the next day. And, it is reported that on the day of the murders on 13th August, Watts pulled his daughters out of school. Watts called the Primrose school and told the administrator that the girls would not be attending school any longer. He also called Ann Meadows, a real estate agent to sell his family home and said that he wanted to downgrade to something smaller. When Meadows suggested an option for Watts to check out, he said that he would look at it that day on his way home from work.
Plea and Sentencing
On 6th November, Watt pleaded guilty to the murders of Shan’ann and his children. However, Shan’ann’s family did not want Watts to get a death sentence, and hence they requested the district attorney not to award Watts the death penalty. The court was supportive of the family’s decision and accepted a plea deal. On 19th November, Watts was sentenced, and he received 5 life sentences, 2 concurrent and 3 consecutive, without parole.
He also got an additional 48 years for the illegal termination of Shan’ann’s pregnancy and 36 years for 3 charges for illegal tampering of a dead body. On 3rd December 2018, because of security concerns, Watts was moved to a location out of the state. On 5th December, he was sent to the Dodge Correctional Institution, Waupun, Wisconsin, which is a maximum-security prison to serve his sentences.
In June 2010, Watts met 30-year old Nicole Kessinger at work, and he claimed that she was the only person that he had an affair with. Watts claimed that Kessinger was aware that he was married but lied that she did not know about it. He said that he did not wear his wedding ring while at work because it was too large and it kept falling off after he had lost weight and he was getting the ring sized.
Watts said that he had an affair with Kessinger and he stayed at her home when Shan’ann and the children were away visiting Shan’ann’s family in North Carolina.
In November 2018, Kessinger spoke about her brief affair with Watts. Kessinger said that she thought that Watts was attractive and was a good listener and was very soft-spoken. She said that they had met recently in July and had become physical and they were seeing each other around 4 to 5 times a week.
She claimed that Watts had told her that he was in the midst of a divorce and that he was finalizing the details with his wife. She stated that he did not mention his kids, and then one day, he told her that he had two kids, which she found very cute. And, in fact, Watts had told her that his divorce was complete and also asked her to help him in finding an apartment for him and the children.
But once the news was out that Watts’ wife and daughters were missing, Kessinger began questioning Watts via texts and phone calls. He then changed his story about his divorce, and she said that he did not show much emotion about the disappearance of his family and also tried changing the subject. When she felt that he was lying to her, she went to the local police and cooperated with them fully in their investigations.
In an interview with the Denver Post, Kessinger said that at a point, she felt that Watts was telling so many lies that she said to him that until his family is found, she did not wish to speak to him. She said that she wanted to help in any way possible, and she would do anything to find a pregnant woman and the 2 children who were missing.
Shan’ann, Bella and CeCe’s Funeral
Shan’ann’s family with her father, mother and brother held a funeral service for Shan’ann, Bella and Celeste on 1st September 2018 at a Catholic church in Pinehurst, North Carolina. The ceremony was attended by hundreds of people who came to pay their respects. Thousands of people watched the live streaming of the 90-minute service on Facebook. Chris Watts was not mentioned during the entire service.
Media Interviews and Other Details
Shan’ann’s parents, Sandra and Frank Rzucek, were interviewed by ABC News television in the News Magazine 20/20 in December 2018 about the murders of their daughter and granddaughters. Shan’ann seemed to be quite thrilled about visiting her family and relatives in North Carolina in the summer with her daughters and in fact, shared this on her Facebook page too.
Shan’ann’s dad said that they had a lot of fun going to the beach, to the zoo and playing in puddles with their granddaughters. And, although Watts had stayed back in Colorado, Shan’ann was able to sense a change in him. Sandra, Shan’ann’s mother, said that Shan’ann had told her that this change had occurred over a few weeks or a month.
Shan’ann’s friend Nickole Atkinson stated that Shan’ann did not know what was wrong with Watts and that Watts had told her that he was not happy anymore.
Watts kept assuring Shan’ann that all was fine; however, when he joined his family at North Carolina in the final week, Shan’ann and Watts did not get along. As per the court documents, an alert for a charge of $60 on the credit card for a salmon dinner at a sports bar alerted Shan’ann, who started suspecting that Watts could be having an affair.
In December 2018, HLN also aired a special report called, Family Massacre: Chris Watts Exposed, where the interviews recorded with Watts using police body cams and also the interview videos recorded by the police were shown.
A video interview with Watts’ mistress was released by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, where she stated that Watts showed behavioral changes in the days just before the murders. In an episode in December of the talk show, Dr. Phil, the American talk show host interviewed 4 crime experts, Candice Long, an ex-FBI profiler, Nancy Grace, ex-prosecutor and TV journalist, Susan Constantine, a body language expert and Steve Kardian, a law enforcement consultant who analyzed the profiling, motivation and secret life of Chris Watts on the show.
In January 2019, there was an interview about Watts’ case by a neighbor of the Watts family, who helped to build the case against him, which was aired on The Dr. Oz Show. In fact, the surveillance camera of Watts’ neighbor showed Watts leaving his house at 5.30 am. He was first seen loading gas into the pickup truck and then backing the truck into his garage.
After Watts’ Arrest
In February 2019, in an interview, Chris said that he was very sorry and repentant for the murder and that he had found God. All through the interview, he admitted that he was feeling guilt and regret. He said that he has pictures of Shan’ann and his daughters, Bella and Celeste in his prison cell and that every night, he reads to them. Watts said that he did not want to see any crime scene photographs and that he prayed for the Hazmat workers and all the people who had to see the after effects of the crime.
Since Watts has been in prison, he has been receiving a lot of fan mail and also hate mail. The authorities said that the mail consisted of letters from people asking Watts to be their pen pal and he has received media requests too.