5 Chilling Facts About Chris Watts, Who Murdered His Kids & Pregnant Wife
A look inside the mind of the man who coldly murdered his pregant wife and two toddler daughters in 2018.
Chris Watts, 34, is presently serving life without the possibility of parole for the August 2018 strangulation murders of his 34-year-old wife, Shannan Watts, and their two daughters, Bella, age 4; and Celeste, age 3.
The case of Chris Watts is horrifying, heartbreaking, and, in many ways, baffling. What happened on that dreadful morning? How could a husband and dad commit such heinous atrocities?
Here are five facts that detail Watts’ crimes and his chilling behavior both before and after the horror.
1. The Watts Family Murders: A Colorado Crime That Shocked the Nation
According to the records of multiple law-enforcement agencies and his own guilty plea, Chris Watts murdered his wife and two daughters on August 13, 2018.
During jailhouse interviews, Watts reportedly said that he first strangled Shannan to death in the bedroom of the family’s home in Frederick, Colorado. Police said he then wrapped Shannan in a bed sheet and loaded the body into his truck. At the time, police said, Shannan had been about 15 weeks pregnant with a son, to be named Niko.
From there, Watts allegedly told investigators, he put Bella and Celeste in the backseat of the vehicle and drove them to a site owned by Andarko Petroleum, a company for whom he had worked. Watts reportedly removed Shannan’s remains from the truck, buried them in a shallow grave, and then focused his homicidal rage on the toddlers.
Authorities said Watts admitted that he strangled three-year-old Celeste first and dumped her body in an oil tank, and then did the same to four-year-old Bella.
After returning home, Watts reported Shannan, Celeste, and Bella missing to the police. He then acted like a distraught husband and father for multiple media outlets over the next day.
Watts told Today he was trapped in “a nightmare, from which I can not wake up knowing that they might be in trouble, it’s earth shattering,”
The ruse lasted, authorities said, until Watts took a polygraph test at the Frederick Police Department on August 15 and failed.
Initially, police said, Watts claimed that Shannan had killed Bella and Celeste and that, upon witnessing her in the act on a baby monitor, he “flew into a rage” and strangled his wife.
On November 6, however, Watts is said to have avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to five life sentences without the possibility of parole, three to be served consecutively and two to be served concurrently. [CrimeFeed]
2. The Extramarital Affair That Preceded The Killings
A 2,000-page report issued by the Weld County District Attorney’s Office revealed the details of various family crises to which Chris Watts is said to have alluded while being interviewed by authorities.
Among them was an alleged romance Watts had undertaken in July 2018 with Nichol Kessinger, a 30-year-old woman he met through his work with Andarko Petroleum.
The discovery documents indicate that Watts made Kessinger believe he was about to divorce Shannan, and that he had fallen hard for his new girlfriend fast. According to the report, on July 25, Watts searched online for: “When to say I love you for the first time in a new relationship.”
From there, Watts reportedly told Kessinger how smitten he was with her in a multitude of texts, calls, and notes, all the while indicating he was on the way out of his marriage.
Kessinger told The Denver Post, “He made me believe that he was doing all of the things that a rational man and good father would do.”
The Post reported that in the wake of Shannan and the kids vanishing, Kessinger said, “It seemed off. It got to a point that he was telling me so many lies that I eventually told him that I did not want to speak to him again until his family was found.”
Unfortunately, Watts’ family was found shortly thereafter. [CrimeFeed]
3. While In Jail, Chris Watts Reportedly Received Love Letters, While His Girlfriend Got So Many Death Threats She Went Into Witness Protection
Even after Chris Watts was convicted for murdering his pregnant wife and young children, women reportedly sent love letters to him in prison.
According to Inside Edition, a writer named Candace sent a note reading, “In my heart, I know you’re a great guy. If you do write me back, I’d be the happiest girl alive, that’s for sure.” She also reportedly added the hashtags #TeamChris #ChrisIsInnocent #LoveHim and #SooooCute
A woman named Tatiana, Inside Edition reported, wrote to Watts, “I find myself thinking about you a lot,” and enclosed a photo of herself in a bikini. Another writer allegedly gushed, “I’m hoping to brighten your days,” while still another stated, “I feel this connection to you.”
In December 2018, Radar Online reported that Nichol Kessinger, the woman with whom Watts had been having an affair before committing triple homicide, received so many death threats that she went into the witness protection program.
The site quoted a source stating, “She has received several threats, public shaming, and could be considered one of the ‘most hated women’ in America. She plans to start fresh with a new name, new town, and ultimately a new identity.” [CrimeFeed]
4. In March 2019, Watts Finally Admitted On The Record That He Killed His Daughters
Although Chris Watts pleaded guilty to multiple homicides, it was reportedly part of a deal for him to avoid facing the death penalty if he went to trial. On the record, though, he was sticking to his original claim that Shannan murdered the two little girls, which caused him to, in turn, angrily murder her.
But that changed on March 7, 2019, when the Colorado Department of Safety released audio files and written transcripts of interviews conducted with Watts on February 8 by agents from the FBI, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and the Frederick Police Department.
During the talks, Watts reportedly came clean about killing Celeste and Bella, saying, “It’s like something else was controlling me that day. I had no control over [it], to fight back.”
He also reportedly expressed regret, stating “Right now, I’d have a five-year-old, a three-year-old and, more than likely, a one-month-old son, and a beautiful wife. And right now it’s just me.”
As for what happened with Shannan, Watts allegedly recalled that she came home from a business trip at about 2 A.M. and they had sex, which he experienced as a triggering incident, saying it was “like you push the button on a bomb and it just blows up.”
The transcripts indicate Watts said the couple argued about his infidelity, with Shannan threatening to take the kids away.
Watts reportedly said that’s what prompted him to attack his wife, stating, “Every time I think about it, I’m just like, ‘Did I know I was going to do that before I got on top of her?’... It just felt like there was already something in my mind that was implanted that I was gonna do it, and when I woke up that morning, it was gonna happen and I had no control over it.”
Regarding the children, Watts reportedly recounted driving them to the oil site, placing a blanket over Celeste’s head and choking her to death. After dropping her body in an oil tank, he allegedly said he returned to the truck where Bella asked, “What happened to Cece? Is the same thing gonna happen to me as Cece?” He then reportedly said he “did the same thing” to the young girl and that her last words were “Daddy, no!”
Reflecting on the murders, the transcripts quote Watts saying, “Those are my kids, those are my babies. I talked to them every night. I don’t see how this could happen. Every time I see pictures of them now, I don’t know how this could happen. Being a dad was the best part of my life. I took it all away.” [CrimeFeed]
5. Watts Has Reportedly Looked Into Appealing His Murder Convictions
In May 2019, People reported that Chris Watts was considering options in regard to appealing his multiple murder convictions.
The magazine quoted a source with “knowledge of Watts’ legal case” saying, “Obviously, it would be an uphill battle for him, because he pleaded guilty. And with a guilty plea, you forfeit some of your rights to appeal. But that’s not absolute, so there’s a small chance that it could work out in his favor.”
The source also reportedly said, “He’s not sure he was in the right mind to plead guilty like he did. For him, it’s not just about him getting out of jail — it’s also that he hasn’t been able to really have his day in court.”
People also reported that the source said Watts has spoken with lawyers, but that any potential appeal "would cost him money that he just doesn’t have." [CrimeFeed]
Watch the new special on the Chris Watts case, Family Man, Family Murderer: An ID Murder Mystery, June 2 at 10/9c, on Investigation Discovery!