Family Man, Family Murder: An ID Murder Mystery On Investigation Discovery takes a closer look at the case of Shanann Watts, who was murdered by her husband, Christopher “Chris” Watts.
At around 1:48 am on August 13, 2018, Shanann’s home surveillance camera captured the pregnant mother of two returning to her home in Frederick, Colorado, from a business trip in Arizona. She was seen walking to her front door with her luggage in one hand and her purse in the other, after exiting her friend Nickole Atkinson’s vehicle.
Before Atkinson drove off, she waited by the road until Shanann, who was 15-weeks pregnant with her third child (a boy named Nico), entered the house safely, not knowing that it would be the last time she would see her alive.
When Atkinson tried to contact Shanann later that day and got no response, she went back to her home and found Shanann’s shoes at the front door and her vehicle in the garage, but Shanann was nowhere to be found. That’s when Atkinson called Chris, who told her that Shanann was on a playdate with a friend, but she had a hard time believing that since the children’s car seats were still inside Shanann’s car.
Atkinson had an inkling that something was wrong so she called 911 and reported Shanann missing. When a Frederick police officer arrived and searched the home, they found Shanann’s purse, medication, cell phone, and other items.
In the ensuing days, Chris made several emotional media appearances and pleaded for his wife and daughters to come home. In one interview, he said: “If somebody has her, just bring her back. I need to see everybody, I need to see everybody again. This house is not complete without anybody here.”
On August 16, 2018, Chris was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence, after police discovered Shannan’s body buried in a shallow grave at his job site.
Just hours later, police discovered the bodies of Bella and Celeste inside oil and gas tanks, not far from where Shanann was found.
An autopsy revealed that Shanann, Bella, and Celeste died from asphyxiation. Shanann was strangled to death while her daughters were smothered.
While in police custody, Chris admitted that he hid his family’s bodies, but he said he did not kill his children. He claimed to have only killed his wife after she murdered their daughters, added that she became angry after he told her he was having an affair and wanted to separate.
An investigation revealed that Chris was having an affair with his co-worker, Nichol Kessinger, who claimed she didn’t know he was married. However, detectives uncovered that she searched topics related to marrying your mistress and wedding dresses, just days before Shanann’s murder.
To avoid the death penalty, Chris pled guilty to murdering his pregnant wife and their two daughters. On November 19, 2018, he was sentenced to three consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Three months later, on February 18, 2019, Chris admitted to killing his daughters in a five-hour jailhouse interview and gave grisly details of how it happened.
Chris stated that when he told Shanann he wanted to end their relationship, she told him he would never see their children again. That’s when he became angry and strangled her to death with his hands in their bedroom.
As he was dragging her body downstairs, Bella cried and asked what was wrong with her mother. He proceeded to put Shanann’s body on the floorboard of his truck, and he put Bella and Celeste in the backseat with their mother’s body before driving 45 minutes to the oil field.
When he arrived, he said he smothered Celeste with a blanket and threw her body in an oil tank. Before Chris murdered Bella, she asked: “Is the same thing gonna happen to me as Cece?”
Family Man, Family Murder: An ID Murder Mystery airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.