The Watts family murders stunned the small town of Frederick, Colorado, and the rest of the world. The tragedy is at the center of the new Netfilx documentary, American Murder: The Family Next Door, which is streaming now. Chris Watts, 35, strangled his 34-year-old wife Shanann Watts, who was 15 weeks pregnant with their son, at their home. He drove to his worksite and then smothered his daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. Chris buried Shanann in a shallow grave at the worksite and stuffed his daughters’ bodies into oil tanks.
Shanann was reported missing by a friend on Aug. 13. Nichol Kessinger, the woman Chris was having an affair with, said that Chris texted her on the day he killed his family and said they had “gone missing.” The next day, Chris went on local news pleading for the return of his family. Chris was arrested on Aug. 15. He failed a polygraph test and confessed to killing Shanann. He falsely claimed that he strangled her only after she killed their daughters.
On Aug. 21, Chris was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, plus two additional first-degree charges for victims being 12 or younger. He also faced another count for unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three additional counts of tampering with a body. He appeared in court in Nov. 2018 and pleaded guilty to all charges.
He was sentenced to five life sentences without the possibility of parole. He was also sentenced to additional 48 years for the unlawful termination of Shanann’s pregnancy and 36 years for disposing of the bodies of his family. Chris was initially serving his time in Colorado, but he was transferred to the Dodge Correctional Facility in Waupun, Wisconsin, in Dec. 2018 for “security concerns,” according to the Denver Post.
A couple of months later, Chris gave an interview and explained how he murdered Shanann and their daughters. He revealed that Bella walked into Chris and Shanann’s room after Chris killed her and asked what was wrong with her mom. After driving to his worksite and pulling Shanann’s body out of his car, he smothered his daughters with a Yankees blanket. He said that he has pictures of Shanann, Bella, and Celeste in his cell and talks to them every day. He also reads books to his daughters. Chris will spend the rest of his life in prison.