Chris Watts is a Colorado man who is the perpetrator of the Watts Family Murders that occurred on August 13, 2018, in Frederick, Colorado.
Chris Watts was born on Thursday, May 16, 1985 (age 35 years; as in 2020), in Spring Lake, North Carolina, US, as ‘Christopher Lee Watts.’ He studied at Pine Forest High School, North Carolina.
Height (approx.): 5’ 10”
Hair Color: Salt & pepper
Eye Color: Brown
Family & Ethnicity
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name is Cindy Watts and his mother’s name is Ronnie Watts.
He has a sister named Jamie Lynn Williams.
Wife, Children & Relationships
Chris met Shanann Watts in 2010; she was an independent representative for a multilevel marketing company called ‘Le-vel,’ which is focused on selling the wellness product called ‘Thrive.’ On November 3, 2012, they got married in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
The couple was blessed with two daughters: Bella Marie Watts who was born on December 17, 2013, and Celeste Cathryn “Cece” Watts who was born on July 17, 2015.
Shanann was fifteen weeks pregnant with a son (whom the couple had named Nico Lee Watts) at the time of her death; her date of delivery was January 31, 2019. Chris started dating Nichol Kessinger, a co-worker, two months before he killed his family.
At about 1:48 am on August 13, 2018, Shanann returned home from a business trip to Arizona. At that time, Chris was at home with his children. Later, in the morning, Chris and Shanann fought over the divorce. According to the interview he gave to investigators, he strangled Shanann following the fight at their home in Frederick. When Shanann was dead, he dragged her body down the stairs and was noticed by his elder daughter, Bella, who cried,
What is wrong with mommy?”
He then stuffed Shanann on the floorboard and his two daughters on the back seat of his work truck. Chris transported them about 45-minutes to an oil site, which was a property of Anadarko Petroleum where he worked. Upon getting there, he first smothered Cece, his younger daughter, using a blanket and threw her in an oil tank. He returned and did the same to Bella. According to the account provided by Chris, before Bella died, she asked him,
Is the same thing gonna happen to me as Cece?”
After Chris cast both of his daughters in the oil tanks, he buried his wife in a shallow grave nearby.
The Report of Disappearance
Shanann received a lift from Nickole Utoft Atkinson, a former friend and colleague, who dropped her home from the Airport on August 13, 2018.
Later that day, Nickole went to Shanann’s home at 12:10 pm, after she missed her business meeting and OB-GYN appointment, and failed to reply to her text messages. Upon reaching her home, she rang the doorbell, but nobody responded. Nickole then contacted Chris (who had gone to work) and called the Frederick Police Department next. At about 1:40 pm on the same day, an officer arrived for a welfare check at his home. Chris also arrived and permitted the police to search his home. However, there was no sign of Shanann and his daughters. Later, the searchers discovered Shanann’s purse (containing her phone and keys), her car (in the garage), and her wedding ring (found on the couple’s bed). The next day, the investigation was joined by the FBI and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. At first, Chris had told the police that he had no idea of the whereabouts of his daughters and wife; he also claimed to not have seen his wife since he left for work on the 13th at 5:15 am. Later, he gave interviews to many TV and newspaper platforms and pleaded for the safe return of his family. In the interviews, Chris said,
Shanann, Bella, Celeste, if you’re out there, just come back. If somebody has her, just bring her back. I need to see everybody.”
Arrest of Chris
After Chris showed little to no emotions on the disappearance of his family, the police started having their suspicion on him. On August 15, 2018, he was arrested after he failed a polygraph test and confessed to murdering Shanann.
Before confessing to his crimes, he requested the police to let him speak to his father. In an investigation that followed, he claimed that he killed Shanann in anger after she killed their daughters in response to the divorce that Chris had asked her. He also told the investigators that he hid the three bodies at a remote oil-storage site.
On the day of his arrest, he was fired from his job. The next day, authorities discovered the bodies. Later, in an interview, he gave to the police, he confessed that he killed his pregnant wife and two daughters. After Chris’ arrest, Nichol Kessinger, his mistress, gave her testimony to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and told them that she believed that Chris was about to divorce his wife. She also added,
Chris would often pay for dates with gift cards — possibly so his wife couldn’t track his spending. He always paid with those. Always. But during their last date together the night of August 11, something changed. Instead of paying with his usual gift cards, Watts paid with a personal credit card. It was like he had nothing to hide. Or nothing to lose”
Charges & Sentencing
On August 21, Chris Watts was charged with:
- five counts of first-degree murder of his wife and two daughters
- one count per child cited as “death of a child who had not yet attained 12 years of age and the defendant was in a position of trust”
- one count for unlawful termination of a pregnancy
- three counts of tampering with a deceased human body
On his first court appearance, Chris was denied bail; his bail was set at $5 million on the later hearing, with Chris required to put down 15% for his release.
On September 1, Chris was released with pending legal proceedings after he posted $750,000. On November 6, Chris pleaded guilty to the murders. As a part of the plea deal, his death penalty was not put forward by the district attorney at the request of Shanann’s family. On November 19, Chris was sentenced to five life terms: three consecutive and two concurrent without the possibility of parole; he also received an additional 48 years for the unlawful termination of his wife’s pregnancy, and 36 years for three charges of tampering with a deceased body. Later, Chris was immediately taken to custody after he revoked his $5 million bail. On December 3, 2018, due to security concerns, Chris was moved to an out-of-state location, and on December 5, 2018, he arrived at the maximum-security prison Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin.
Chris and his wife, Shanann, bought a five-bedroom, four-bathroom house at 2825 Saratoga Trail in Frederick, Colorado, in April 2013 on a loan of $392,709. As of 2020, the house is valued at $583,500. The Denver Post
- He is a huge fan of the band Metallica. According to the investigative records on the case, he googled the lyrics of the song ‘Battery’ by Metallica, after he murdered his wife and daughters. People
- Chris was a bright student in his high school days and wished to become a National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) crew chief technician.
- Chris won third place in an N.C. Automobile Dealers Association competition, which was held in Winston-Salem in 2003. After winning the competition, he received a $1,000 scholarship to Universal Technical Institute and NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville.
- In June 2015, Chris and Shanann filed for a joint chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Colorado Federal Court. Chris was an employee of Anadarko Petroleum at that time, and both had to pay a debt of $44800. In October 2015, the bankruptcy case was closed. The Denver Post
- Shanann and Chris’ were sued by their homeowner’s association ‘Wyndham Hill Master Association Inc.’ for a fee of $1,533 due to some financial reasons in July 2018. Patch
- The Watts Family Murders’ case has been the topic of discussion of many news channels and talk shows including ABC News television news magazine 20/20, Dr. Phil Show, and The Dr. Oz Show.
- On January 26, 2020, the American cable channel called Lifetime, released a film titled ‘Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer.’ In the film, Sean Kleier and Ashley Williams portrayed Chris Watts and Shan’ann Watts, respectively. However, Shanann’s family was outraged about the release of the film as they were not consulted or aware of the making of the film.
- In September 2020, a Netflix documentary titled ‘American Murder: The Family Next Door’ directed by Jenny Popplewell was released. The documentary features the Watts Family Murders case and consists of the archival footage of the case, social media posts, law enforcement recordings, text messages, and home videos, with no narration or enactments.
- Watts Family Murders inspired many authors to chronicle its story; some of the books are: Letters from Christopher: The Tragic Confessions of the Watts Family Murders (2019) by Cheryln Cadle and Christopher Watts; My Daddy is a Hero: How Chris Watts Went from Family Man to Family Killer (2019) by Lena Derhally; Two Face: The Mysterious Mistress and the Confession (2019) by Nick Van Der Leek,; Two Face: Oblivion (2019) by Nick Van Der Leek; Two Face: Drilling Through Discovery (2019) by Nick Van Der Leek; The Perfect Father: The True Story of Chris Watts, His All-American Family, and a Shocking Murder (2020) by John Glatt; Two Face: Beneath the Oil (2020) by Nick Van Der Leek; Chris Watts Mistress: Final Interview of Nichol Kessinger on August 23, 2018 ‑ The … (2020) by Cindy George.
- In January 2020, the fiction book ‘No Inclination: Inspired by the Chris Watts Case’ by Tania Hagan was published and was inspired by the Watts Family Murders.
- He has five tattoos on his body; he has the band Metallica tattoo on his back; a sun symbol and barbed wire on his left arm; a snake’s head and diamond tattooed on his right arm.