Parents have the vital job of protecting their children from harm no matter what the cost, which is why it’s so disgusting when a parent turns out to be the one to harm their innocent child.
In 2018, a Colorado husband and father made headlines when his pregnant wife and daughters were found dead. Before long, police figured out he was responsible for the tragedy and the 33-year-old accepted a plea deal. Until recently, however, so many parts of the case remained a mystery because there was no trial. But now the convicted murderer has revealed his family’s chilling final moments in an interview…
The 911 Call
At around noon on Monday, August 13, 2018, Nikole Atkinson called the Frederick Police Department in Frederick, Maryland to report Shanann Watts, a close friend and colleague, as missing. According to Atkinson, she last had contact with Watts the night before.
Atkinson had dropped Shannan off at home from a business trip they had taken together at around 2 in the morning on August 13. The following morning Atkinson called and texted Shannan, but never heard a response and started to worry about her friend as she was 15 weeks pregnant with her third child.
Soon after, Atkinson found out that Shanann missed an important doctors appointment to hear her baby’s heartbeat and became increasingly worried. So Atkinson went to Watts’ home to check on her but the house was empty despite the mother-of-three’s car being in the garage.
No Reason To Worry
At that point, Atkinson called Shanann’s husband Chris Watts, who told her not to worry and that his wife had just taken their two daughters to a playdate. “He just kept saying that he didn’t know where she was and that she was on a playdate. But he couldn’t give us the name of the friend,” Atkinson told ABC News.
An Empty House
Instead of listening to Watts, Atkinson told him she was going to call the police for a welfare check so Watts left work and joined her at his home. When police arrived, they found the house completely empty. Yet they did find Shanann’s purse, keys, wedding ring, and car at the home.
After giving police permission to search the home, Watts spoke to officers about ways to locate his missing family. The following day, the FBI and Colorado Bureau of Investigation joined the search efforts. Watts also spoke to KMGH-TV, a local news station, outside his home.
A Worried Dad
In the interview, Watts begged for Shanann and his daughter to return home and explained that he didn’t see them since he left for work the day before at around 5:15 a.m. “If you’re out there, just come back. If somebody has her, just please bring her back,” Watts told KMGH-TV.
“I need to see everybody. I need to see everybody again. This house is not complete without anybody here,” Watts added in the interview. Yet the following day on August 15, 2018, Watts was arrested after failing a lie detector test and then confessing to murdering Shanann.
The Frederick Police Department charged Watts with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of tampering with evidence. Police also told local news stations that they had discovered Shanann’s body on the property of Watts’ former employer, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation.
Investigators also found the bodies of Shanann and Watts’ young daughters, Bella and Celeste, on the property. According to the arrest affidavit, Watts confessed to murdering his wife of six years. However, he denied that he was the one who killed his daughters.
A Painful Request
In the arrest affidavit, Watts explained that he was having an affair and asked Shanann for a separation when she came home from her business trip. Watts told the police that Shanann didn’t react well to his request and she proceeded to strangle their children.
A Violent Scene
At the time, Watts said that he saw Shanann harming the girls on a baby monitor and went into a ‘rage’. He ran into the girls’ room, but it was too late so he started strangling Shanann. After killing Shanann, Watts loaded all three bodies into his work truck and hid their bodies.
On August 21, additional charges were brought against Watts. In total, he faced three counts of first-degree murder, two separate counts of first-degree murder for killing children under the age of 12, three counts of tampering with a body, and one count of first-degree unlawful termination of a pregnancy.
In November of 2018, Watts accepted a plea deal to the felony charges relating to his wife and daughters’ murders. At the sentencing hearing, Watts was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. “I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them. Prison is too good for you,” Shanann’s father told Watts in court.
An Appropriate Sentence
“This is perhaps the most inhumane and vicious crime that I have handled out of the thousands of cases I have seen,” judge Marcelo Kopcow said in a statement to the courtroom at the hearing. “Nothing less than a maximum sentence would be appropriate.”
Inmates in Colorado had heard about what Watts did to his family and officials were forced to move him to a maximum security prison in Waupun, Wisconsin as numerous threats to his life by inmates. He has been serving his life sentence in Wisconsin ever since.
A Follow-Up Interview
In February of 2019, investigators visited Watts in prison to speak to him about what really happened to his family and the interview was released on March 7, 2019. During the interview, Watts admitted that he strangled Shanann in bed after he told her he wanted to separate and she told him he’d never see his children.
Watts explained that he was having an affair with a co-worker and that Shanann suspected the affair but he never told her before killing her. The 33-year-old also explained that Shanann never hurt the girls like he told investigators. He didn’t plan on blaming Shanann but went with the idea when he was being interviewed and detectives asked if Shanann killed her children.
Chilling Final Moments
While Watts was moving Shanann’s body into his truck, Bella and Celeste woke up and started asking questions. So Watts loaded them into the truck with their mother’s body and drove to the worksite. When they arrived, Watts used Celeste’s blanket to smother her in front of Bella and then dumped her body in an oil tank.
“Is the same thing gonna happen to me as Cece?” Bella asked before Watts smothered her as she struggled and fought to survive. “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,” Watts said. “If I was thinking, this wouldn’t have happened.” Watts now keeps a photo of the family he murdered in his cell and talks to them every morning and night.