Chris Watts Finally Admits To Killing His Daughters In Prison Interview

Watts said Bella asked, “What happened to Cece? Is the same thing gonna happen to me as Cece?”

March 08, 2019
Chris Watts [Colorado Department of Corrections]

Photo by: Chris Watts [Colorado Department of Corrections]

Chris Watts [Colorado Department of Corrections]

By: Mike McPadden

GREELEY, CO — In a newly released prison interview, convicted family murderer Chris Watts comes clean about killing his two young daughters after strangling their pregnant mother. On the just-released tapes, Watts details the crimes and states, “I didn’t want to do this, but I did it.”

Watts is serving multiple life sentences without the possibility of parole after he pleaded guilty to strangling his wife Shanann, 34, and their two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, on August 13, 2018.

The convicted killer had previously maintained that Shanann had killed the girls and that, in a rage, he killed Shanann in turn. The guilty pleas were presented as a means of getting the death penalty off the table. Now, however, Chris Watts is telling a different story.

Agents from the FBI, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and the Frederick Police Department interviewed Chris Watts on February 8 at the Dodge Correctional Facility in Wisconsin where he’s being held. Yesterday, the Colorado Department of Safety released audio and transcripts of those talks to the public.

The recordings begin with the agents easing Watts into conversation, asking about life behind bars, and encouraging him to unburden himself of his secrets.

Once he opened up, Watts admitted to killing Bella and Celeste while acting on the same rage that drove him to choke Shanann. As he put it, “It’s like something else was controlling me that day. I had no control over [it], to fight back.”

Switching to regret, Watts said, “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.”

Regarding an extramarital affair that preceded the murders, Watts said he met Nichol Kessinger in June 2018 through the Anadarko Petroleum Company, where they both worked. The following month, Watts claimed, he and Kessinger started dating.

Watts said he thinks the relationship “contributed” to his violent explosion, but that Kessinger in no way asked him to do anything or was otherwise involved.

In describing the day of the murder, Watts said that Shanann arrived home from a business trip at about 2 A.M., whereupon the couple had sex. Watts described the intercourse as a sort-of triggering incident, “like you push the button on a bomb and it just blows up.”

According to Watts, he and Shanann slept for a while, and then woke up to discuss their marriage troubles. Shanann told him she knew he was involved with someone else. Watts said he didn’t love Shanann anymore. Shanann responded by declaring that if they divorced, he’d never see the kids again. That’s when, Watts said, he reached out and strangled Shanann to death.

Shanann reportedly didn’t struggle, and Watts told investigators she might have been praying. He also added, “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.”

From there, Watts said he wrapped Shanan’s body in a bed sheet and loaded her into his truck. He then put Bella and Celeste in the back seat, each of them holding a blanket. Watts also brought along a full can of gasoline, thinking he might pour it on himself, light a match, and commit suicide.

After about a 45-minute drive, Watts pulled into an oil site, and removed Shanann’s body from the vehicle. He then turned his homicidal fury on his daughters.

“Cece was first,” Watts said, describing how he put the three-year-old’s blanket over her head and strangled her on the seat next to her four-year-old sister. Afterward, he carried Celeste’s body over to an oil tank and dropped her inside.

Upon returning to the truck, Watts said Bella asked, “What happened to Cece? Is the same thing gonna happen to me as Cece?”

Watts said that, yes, he “did the same thing” to Bella as he had done to her sister, and then dumped the older girl’s body in a separate oil tank. Watts recalled Bella’s last words being, “Daddy, no!”

Still talking in terms of disconnection, Watts said, “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.”

Once Watts got back home, he claimed his wife and daughters had gone missing and he pretended to be a distraught husband and father holding out hope for the media. On August 15, he submitted to a polygraph test at the Frederick Police Department and failed.

Watts said his brain turned “to mush, to Jell-O” during the lie detector exam, and added, “Walking in there that day, just walking into that room — I knew I wasn’t walking out.”

Heading toward a capital murder trial, Watts pleaded guilty to all three slayings, but he never publicly stated that he killed the two girls — until now.

The court sentenced Watts to three consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole; two more concurrent life terms for first-degree murder by a person of trust in the case of both Bella and Celeste; and three 12-year terms for tampering with the deceased remains of a human body.

Chris Watts said he has asked God for forgiveness.

Next Up

Inside The Tragic Hart Family Murder-Suicide Crash

Jennifer and Sarah Hart killed themselves and murdered their six adopted children in 2018 by driving their SUV off a cliff in California.

True Crime News Roundup: Elderly Man Missing For Months Found Dead In Trash Can Outside His Home

Plus: NYC sixth-grader struck and killed by stray bullet; New Hampshire police search for person of interest in double homicide; Fyre Festival fraudster released early from prison; and manhunt continues for escaped Texas prisoner.

Ava Baldwin Believed Abducted By Mom & 'Not In Good Hands'

Authorities believe Kathryn “Katie” Baldwin, Ava's mother, abducted the child in San Antonio in 2015; have you seen them?

UPDATE: Fugitive Leticia Smith from ‘In Pursuit With John Walsh’ Captured In Mexico

Authorities confirm former fugitive, Leticia Smith was extradited from Mexico to California. Smith will face charges for allegedly killing her husband, Antione Smith.

Laundrie Family Attorney Says Remains Found In Florida Belong To Brian Laundrie

Gabby Petito’s fiancé and person of interest in her fatal strangulation disappeared in mid-September after saying he was going for a hike.

Remembering The Victims Of The Buffalo Mass Shooting

On May 14, 2022, an 18-year-old gunman walked into the Tops Friendly Market and shot and killed ten people, injuring three others, in what authorities believe was a racially-motivated attack.

The 1993 Unsolved Murder Of Holly Piirainen

On Aug. 5, 1993, Holly Piirainen, 10, and her brother went to a neighbor's house to play with puppies. Her brother returned home but she never did.

Mother Who Claimed 7-Year-Old Daughter Was Sick Sentenced To Prison After Girl Dies

“This is a despicable crime,” prosecutor says of Kelly Renee Turner approving “surgery after surgery” for the child.

True Crime News Roundup: Alabama Corrections Officer Vanishes With Her Inmate Boyfriend

Plus: Dead Louisiana woman found fused to sofa; JonBenét Ramsey’s father seeks governor’s help with DNA testing; Australian man incarcerated for killing gay American in 1988; and Pennsylvania mother shoots her two boys in the head.

FedEx Driver Charged With Murder After 7-Year-Old Went Missing From Outside Her Texas Home

On Nov. 30, 2022, Athena Strand went missing from her front yard. Two days later, her body was found and 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner was charged with her murder.