The murders of Shanann Watts and her two young daughters, Bella and Celeste, by her husband, Chris Watts, is featured in the latest episode of 20/20 On ID on Investigation Discovery.
When Shanann’s friend, Nicole Atkinson, was unable to reach her via cell phone, on August 13, 2018, after dropping her off around 2 am, she went to her home in Frederick, Colorado, where she found her vehicle parked in the garage, but there was no sign of Shanann and her girls — that’s when she began to worry.
Atkinson contacted Chris, who told her that Shanann, who was 15 weeks pregnant with a baby boy name Niko, went on a playdate with one of her friends, but she found it strange that she would leave the girls’ car seats behind.
She had an inkling something was amiss, so she called 911. When police arrived at Shanann and Chris’ home, they knocked on the door and called out her name to see if she was inside, but there was no answer.
Atkinson called Chris again and asked for the code to get in the house because they thought Shanann may have been inside suffering from a medical emergency, but he said he was nearby and would be there soon — something he kept saying for 45 minutes.
When Chris finally arrived at his home, he told police that when he left for work around 5:15 am, his wife and daughters were still at home. He added that he and Shanann separated that morning, hinting that she may have taken off because she was angry that he wanted to end their marriage.
Chris even pleaded for his family’s safe return in a recorded interview with Denver 7. He said, “I just want them back. I just want them to come back. And if, if they’re not safe right now, that’s what’s tearing me apart, because if they are safe, they’re coming back, but if they’re not, this has got to stop, like, somebody has to come forward.”
During a police investigation, Chris admitted to murdering his wife, after he said he found out she had strangled their daughters. He stuck with that story for months until March 2019.
In a jailhouse interview, Chris confessed to killing his daughters as well. He said on the day of the murders, he admitted to Shanann that he was having an affair with Nichol Kessinger, a co-worker he fell in love with, and wanted a divorce.
An argument ensued, and Chris claimed that Shanann told him that he wasn’t going to see their children anymore. That’s when he strangled her to death on their bed, and he later transported her lifeless body to his truck. Bella and Celeste were still alive at this point.
He put the girls in his vehicle and drove to his job, Anadarko Petroleum, where he strangled both girls before throwing their bodies in an oil tank. Chris buried Shanann’s body in a shallow grave on the property.
On November 6, 2018, Chris pled guilty to four counts of first-degree murder, and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
20/20 On ID — The Devil In Disguise, airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.