Shanann Watts was an American businesswoman. She was a victim of the Watts Family Murders that occurred on August 13, 2018, in Frederick, Colorado.
Shanann Watts was born on Tuesday, January 10, 1984 (age 34 years at the time of death), in Passaic County, New Jersey, United States, as Shan’ann Cathryn Rzucek. She was brought up in the Moore County of North Carolina. She did her schooling from Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines.
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown
Family & Ethnicity
Parents & Siblings
Shanann was born to Frank Rzucek and Sandra Rzucek. She had a brother named Frankie Rzucek.
Husband, Children & Relationships
Shanann was married to a man named Leonard Kim and they got divorced in 2009. In 2010, she met Chriss Lee Watts, who was an employee of the Anadarko Petroleum, Woodlands, Texas. On November 3, 2012, Chris and Shanann got married in the Mecklenberg County of 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.
At the time of her death, she was fifteen weeks pregnant with a son who she had named Nico Lee Watts; her date of delivery was January 31, 2019.
She started working as a human resource specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora in 2013. She worked at the hospital till 2016, and then, joined as an independent representative for ‘Le-vel,’ a company that markets ‘Thrive’ health and wellness products.
Shanann & her Children’s Disappearance
Shanann went on a business trip to Arizona and returned on August 13, 2018, at about 1:48 in the morning; her friend and colleague Nickole Utoft Atkinson had offered to drop her to her home from the airport.
Later that day, Nickole went to her house around 12:10 pm after Shanann had failed to attend her OB-GYN appointment and business meeting; she didn’t even respond to any of Nickole’s messages. When nobody answered the doorbell, Nickole notified Chris who was at work, and also called the Frederick Police Department. An officer arrived at about 1:40 pm to conduct a welfare check and had a discussion with Chris regarding the ways to locate his missing family. During the welfare check, the police officer inspected the house but there were no signs of Shanann and her daughters. During the investigation, Shanann’s purse containing her phone and keys, her car in the garage, and her wedding ring on the couple’s bed were found. The following day, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the FBI joined the investigation. At first, Christ had told the police that he did not know where his wife and two daughters were and he hadn’t seen his wife since he left for the work at 5:15 am on August 13. He was interviewed by many news channels where he pleaded for the return of his family.
The Mystery of Murder
Chris was arrested by Frederick Police on August 15, 2018, after he had failed a polygraph test, and subsequently, confessed to murdering his wife, Shanann. He stated that he was having an affair with a woman named Nichol Kessinger and wanted to divorce Shanann, but Shanann did not want a separation, and she strangled their daughters in response to that.
In a fit of rage, Chris strangulated Shanann and took the three dead bodies to a remote oil-storage site, Anadarko Petroleum, where he was employed before. On the day of his arrest, Chris was fired from his job. On August 16, the authorities discovered Shanann’s body buried in a shallow grave nearby, and the children’s bodies were found hidden in the oil tanks. The case became one of the most publicized murders in American history. Later, Chris confessed to murdering Shanann and his daughters. In an interview with Dr.Phil, Chris’ lawyer told how Chris killed his daughters. According to the lawyer, after an argument over divorce, Chris strangled Shanann to death. Hearing their parents’ noises, Bella came in and Chris told her that her mother was sick. Later, Chris took Shanann’s body into the back of his work truck and also took his two daughters to the oil-storage site, where he first buried Shanann and then strangled both his daughters with a blanket and disposed of them in the oil tanks.
On August 21, Chris was charged with five counts of first-degree murder, an additional 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,” three counts of tampering with a deceased human body, and unlawful termination of a pregnancy. He was denied bail at his first court appearance. At a later hearing, the bail was set at $5 million, and Chris was required to put down 15% to be released. Chris was released with pending legal proceedings after he posted $750,000 on December 1. He pleaded guilty on November 9, and his death penalty was not put forward on Shanann’s family’s request as a part of the plea deal. November 19 saw Chris getting five life sentences: three consecutive and two concurrent, without the possibility of parole; an additional 48 years for the unlawful termination of his wife’s pregnancy; 36 years for three charges of tampering with a deceased body. Chris had his $5 million bails revoked after this and was remanded to custody immediately. Chris was moved to an out-of-station location due to security concerns on December 3, 2018; he arrived at the maximum-security prison called Dodge Correctional Institution, Waupun, Wisconsin on December 5, 2018.
In April 2013, Shanann and Chris moved with her family to Frederic, Colorado, and bought a five-bedroom, four-bathroom house at 2825 Saratoga Trail on a loan of $392,709. At present, the house is valued $583,500 (as of 2020). The Denver Post
- She loved dogs and had a dachshund named ‘Dieter.’ After Shanann’s death and Chris’ arrest, Dieter was kept at a friend’s house and later went to live with her brother, Frankie.
- Shanann and Chris jointly filed for a chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado Federal Court in June 2015. Chris was working for Anadarko Petroleum Corp at that time and the couple had to pay a debt of $44800. The bankruptcy case was closed in October 2015. The Denver Post
- Due to financial reasons, Wyndham Hill Master Association Inc., Shanann and Chris’ homeowner’s association filed a suit against them for a fee of $1,533 in July 2018. Patch
- The Watts Family Murders became a talk of many talks and news shows; episodes of ABC News television news magazine 20/20, American talk show Dr. Phil, and The Dr. Oz Show featured the story of the massacre.
- The American cable channel Lifetime released a film called ‘Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer’ on January 26, 2020. The film features the story of the case and stars Sean Kleier and Ashley Williams as Chris Watts and Shan’ann Watts, respectively. After the film was released, Shanann’s family condemned the film and said that the filmmakers were only making money off the case. According to Shanann’s family, they weren’t consulted about the film and only came to know about the film when it was already in production. They added that they feared that the release of the film will only increase the harassment that they had already been receiving.
- A Netflix documentary titled ‘American Murder: The Family Next Door’ directed by Jenny Popplewell was released in September 2020. Reportedly, the documentary consists of the archival footage of the case with no narration or enactment; it also includes social media posts, law enforcement recordings, text messages, and home videos.