Colorado man says he killed wife for strangling daughters

Lester Mason
August 21, 2018

A Colorado man told police that he killed his pregnant wife in "a rage" when he discovered she had strangled their two daughters after he sought a separation, according to an arrest affidavit released on Monday.

But he also faces two counts of first-degree murder of a victim under 12 in a position of trust and one count of felony unlawful termination of a pregnancy.

Watts has been held without bail since his arrest last week for the murders of his family that has fixed national attention on the tiny former mining town of Frederick, now a bedroom community of 13,000 people.

Chris Watts' attorneys asked a court Friday to require pathologists conducting autopsies to swab the little girls' necks and hands for DNA, court filings show.

Chris Watts, 33, was arrested in connection with their deaths but has not been formally charged.

In subsequent interviews with police, however, Watts changed his story.

In an interview with a local news station Tuesday - after his family disappeared but before his arrest - Chris Watts also said his wife got home around 2 a.m.

A day later, one of Shanann's friends reported her and her two young daughters missing after they failed to return to their family home in the Colorado town of Frederick.

Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant at the time of her death.

He told police that Bella was "sprawled" out on her bed and appeared blue, and Shanann Watts was strangling Celeste, according to the affidavit. "She very much loved her family and wanted to be a family", Atkinson said.

Then the affidavit was made public just before 5 p.m. Monday - revealing, among other things, that detectives concluded that Chris Watts was "actively involved in an affair with a co-worker".

"Chris said he went into a rage and ultimately strangled Shannan to death", James wrote.

Investigators found Shanann Watts' body in a shallow grave Thursday on property owned by Anadarko petroleum, the company Chris Watts worked for until being fired following his arrest, according to court documents. He told police he then put the bodies of his wife and two daughters into his work truck and took them to an oil site. A Weld County judge, however, denied the request.

Atkinson said she called him before the bodies were found - and he allegedly revealed to her that he and Shanann were thinking about separating.

"She said she was going to a friend's house with the kids and that's the last thing I heard, and that was it", he said.

The girls' bodies were in an "oil well filled with crude oil for several days", Chris Watts' attorneys indicated in a court filing.

"We had an emotional conversation, I'll leave it at that", Watts told a reporter who asked whether they'd argued.

As stunned friends and neighbors ask how the story of a couple that seemed so picture ideal could end so tragically, bankruptcy filings reveal a family that had struggled financially. When he returned, he saw Shanann Watts through their baby monitor screen in their daughters' room. "He was just sitting there waiting for something to happen; it just didn't seem right to me", Atkinson told ABC.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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