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Why did murderer Chris Watts kill his pregnant wife?

Why did murderer Chris Watts kill his pregnant wife? Here's everything we know about Chris Watts and the tragic true crime story.

Why did murderer Chris Watts kill his pregnant wife?

The murder of the Watts family quickly received national attention. Chris Watts’s pregnant wife, Shanann Watts, and his two young girls four-year-old Bella and three-year-old Celeste were reported missing by a close friend on August 13th, 2018.

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Shanann had missed an OB-GYN appointment, failed to return text messages, and missed a meeting that day, all behaviors that were grossly out of character for the bubbly young mom.

Chris Watts’s behavior around his missing and pregnant wife raised red flags for those following the case instantly. While everyone grieves in their own way, Watts’s pleas for his family’s safe return felt hollow. It was only days later that the real story began to unfold.

A perfect surface

Chris Watts and Shanann Rzucek met in 2010. Both native to North Carolina, they married in Mecklenberg County, North Carolina in 2012. In 2013, the couple bought a large, five-bedroom home in Frederick, Colorado prior to the birth of their first daughter, Bella. The couple’s second daughter, Celeste, was born the same year they filed for bankruptcy, 2015. 

Chris Watts worked for Anadarko Petroleum, while Shanann sold products for the multi-level marketing company,  Le-vel. Shanann’s work had her extremely active and responsive on social media, constantly reaching out and connecting to friends, posting about her life, her family, and the products she sold. On the surface, Shanann’s life looked perfect.

A crumbling marriage

Prior to her August death, Chris Watts’s pregnant wife, Shanann packed up their two daughters and headed back to her parents’ home in North Carolina. Throughout her time away from the family’s home in Colorado, Shanann texted friends about her troubled marriage. 

According to Shanann’s texts, she felt like she barely knew who Chris was anymore. He was unhappy about her pregnancy, and she worried that he wouldn’t be able to handle a third child. Chris had reportedly told Shanann he didn’t believe that they were compatible anymore and had refused couples’ counseling. 

Meanwhile, with his pregnant wife and children across the country, Chris Watts began an affair with Nichol Kessinger, a contractor at his work. Watts told Nichol that he and his wife were in the process of divorcing (they were not), and that she frequently bad-mouthed him in front of their daughters (a claim that was never corroborated). 

By August, Watts was telling Kessinger that he loved her and that he was looking for a two-bedroom apartment, and planned to sell his current home.

Shanann, Bella, and Celeste disappear

On August 13th, Shanann Watts returned from a business trip to Arizona with her friend Nickole Atkinson, who dropped Shanann off at her home at around 1:45 am. The next day would be a full one for Shanann, with an OB-GYN appointment to check on her pregnancy with the couple’s first boy, a work meeting, and time catching up with her girls after her trip.

Nikole Atkinson called and texted Shanann that morning, looking for updates on the doctor’s appointment, and anticipating their meeting. Atkinson was instantly alarmed when Shanann never responded, and at around 12 noon, she went to the Watts house to look for her friend. 

Finding Shanann’s car in the garage with the girls’ car seats inside, but no one at home, Atkinson called Chris Watts and the Frederick Police Department to report her concerns. Chris Watts returned home from work and allowed officers to search his home. Inside were Shanann’s purse, car keys, wedding rings, and phone.

Authorities quickly looped in both the FBI and the CBI, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Chris Watts made multiple pleas to news outlets for the safe return of his pregnant wife and children. 

Chris Watts confesses 

Police quickly saw through Chris Watts’s claims that he had nothing to do with his family’s disappearance. He was arrested on August 15th, 2018, and confessed to killing Shanann almost immediately after failing a polygraph test.

Chris Watts’s first confession claimed that he was having an affair, and had asked Shanann for a separation. Chris Watts then claimed his pregnant wife strangled their children in response to his request for a separation, and he strangled Shanann after she killed their daughters. 

He admitted to taking their bodies to a remote oil storage site belonging to his former employer (Anadarko Petroleum fired Chis Watts when he was arrested). Police found the bodies of Bella and Celeste hidden in oil tanks, and Shanann was buried nearby in a shallow grave. Bella and Celeste had been smothered, and Shanann strangled by the person they loved the most. 

Chris Watts has changed his story around the murder of his pregnant wife and daughters multiple times, and now serving three life sentences for their brutal murders, he may be shifting the story again. 

In a disturbing letter that The Daily Mail received a copy of, Chris Watts claimed that he tried to murder his daughters before killing Shanann. 

For further details on Chris Watts’s horrendous acts against his family, check out Lifetime’s movie, Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer.

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Bridget is on an ongoing quest to channel Veronica Corningstone in all facets of life. As a lover of true crime documentaries and cheesy romance movies, Bridget's joy in the silver screen is only exceeded by her capacity to recall 90s hip hop lyrics.

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Comments
  • How did this guy think he was going to get away with murder he had it planned what a freaking jerk plus his mother how dare her blame his wife he will burn in hell his daughters loved him so much its a awful thing rest in peace all of u you didnt deserve this

    May 10, 2020
    • He didn’t plan it.
      Honestly seems he snapped and killed the wife first in the heat of the moment(and by that I mean the moment to him was dealing with this new affair, but being stuck in this boring marriage with a wife engaged in MLMs). Once that was done, he was fully in fight of flight mode to find a resolution to what he now did. He’s gotta make the wife’s body disappear, and then what about his daughters…well the immediate solution popped into his head to make it seem like they just up and left by making all of them disappear. So he killed the kids too and tried to hide them.

      His failure is that he did it all in the heat of the moment making tons of mistakes and running it on the fly so to say, let alone that trying to commit such an act around people you are connected to on the 1st degree is nearly impossible to get away with.

      May 18, 2020
      • While I kind of agree with you on this, in terms of Chris Watts’ inability to plan the attack on his family out well enough to get away with it (even for a few days)–I think he was completely out of touch with himself. He seems to have very little ability to think introspectively and such a low level of emotional maturity that a “good plan” for anything would probably be impossible for him.
        Sure, he didn’t want to deal with an angry wife. Well, it’s not as if he couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag, should someone have put one on his head. I mean he could have “left for a pack of cigarettes” and just stonewalled his way out of all of his responsibilities as a father and a husband. Kind of the way a man in the 1940’s or 50’s is said to have used for a default for such escapes into a “new life” with a mistress (in case you are unfamiliar with the running to the store and never returning bit).
        So not dealing with an angry wife is a pretty weak excuse. If he really, really didn’t want anyone to look at him poorly or deal with anger, then he wouldn’t have decided to start *banging* Nicole Kessinger. (Rando co-worker.)
        And if he was bored with their sex life, he could have found a better way to deal with that–if he had given it a second or two of thought. A sex worker, for example, would not have created the on-going complication of emotional connection. Any adult can figure that one out.
        I think he had no idea about who he was. What he did or didn’t want. Little insight and emotional maturity, but perhaps he also has an incredibly low level of intelligence overall. Just my .02.
        Long story short, he appears to be an idiot IMHO.

        June 8, 2020
      • He did plan it, fully – he sent letters from prison explaining how and why he planned it.

        Look up the book ‘Letters From Christopher’. Way worse than he let on at first even at confession.

        June 18, 2020
  • What a horrible monster! He Murdered his own children. He deserves to die!

    May 17, 2020
  • He claims he is now a Christian after taking the lives of three beautiful living family members plus an unborn son, he will surely root in HELL, the devil will like his companionship!

    May 21, 2020
  • Who’s Chelsea? I think the author meant Celeste.

    June 3, 2020
    • Whoops! Thanks for catching the typo.

      June 24, 2020

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