Chris Watts’ Confession to Killing His Wife & Kids: The Motive

Chris Watts

Getty Christopher Watts is in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse on August 21, 2018 in Greeley, Colorado. Watts faces nine charges, including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters.

Chris Watts said he murdered his wife and two young daughters in a fit of anger. When he confessed that he strangled his pregnant wife Shanaan Watts in the couple’s bed in the early morning hours of August 13, 2018, Watt told police he was in a rage and “snapped,” according to confession notes by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations that were published on Law and Crime. 

He told CBI detectives he’d never been angry much in his life, “and this was like the epitome of being angry,” according to the confession. “He had rage and lost his mind,” the CBI report said.

His anger was toward Shanaann, he told police, not at his 3 and 4-year-old daughters, Celeste and Bella, respectively, yet he killed them.

Watts told police he “felt like taking Celeste and Bella’s lives was caused by an anger with Shannan that he took out on everyone in front of him that morning.”


Watts Was Having an Affair & Wanted Out of the Marriage

About six weeks before Watts killed his family and disposed of their bodies at an oil field where he worked, he started an affair with a co-worker named  Nichol Kessinger.

Watts said that in the conversation he had with Shanaan the morning he killed her, she told him she thought he was having an affair, but he denied it.

According to copious records into the investigation, the marriage had been rocky for some time before the affair started, and once it did, Watts wanted to start a new life with Kessinger, but he always planned to keep his kids in his life and hoped for partial custody, according to one of Kessinger’s interviews with Weld County Detectives.

In texts between Shanaan and a friend that can be seen in the investigation records, Shanaan told her friend Chris said he did not want the new baby. He had yet to tell his wife he wanted a separation, though, even as he told his mistress repeatedly that he and Shanaan both agreed they should split, according to Kessinger’s interview with police.

In the morning Watts killed his family, he and Shanaan had sex. Watts said he felt weird about it since he was now sleeping with Kessinger, and he questioned who he was. He told investigators, “Having sex with Shannan may have been a “trigger point…or like you hit the push button on a bomb and it just blows up.”

The confession notes and interviews with Kessinger show several resentments Watts harbored toward his wife, including feeling like she put a wedge between him and his family. Kessinger got the impression from Watts that Shanaan wanted to live more lavishly than they could afford and they were struggling financially, according to the BCI notes. Kessinger said Watts also complained she did not listen to him and was dismissive of his opinions.

Yet he told investigators that even though Shanaan took the dominant role in the marriage, he didn’t mind because he was an introvert. He said she never belittled him and that there was never any domestic violence between them, according to the confession.

He told BCI Detectives, “I just felt guilty…more guilty than ever before.”

It was a couple of hours after the sex that Watts told his wife he wanted out of the marriage. He said he got on top of her and straddled her as they had an emotional conversation.

According to Watts, he told her didn’t love her. He claims she said, “You’re never gonna see the kids again…you’re never gonna see them again…get off me…don’t hurt the baby.”

The BCI report says, “He immediately put both of his hands around Shanaan’s neck and strangled her.” Watts said Shannann did not fight back or try to scream. He said he thought she was praying.

He told detectives:

Every time I think about it, I’m just like, did I know I was going to do that? Like, the whole—everything that happened that morning I just don’t—I don’t know, like…like, I try to go back in my head…I’m just like, I didn’t want to do this, but I did it…everything just kinda like…it just felt like it was…I don’t even want to say it felt like I had to, it just felt like there was already something in my mind that was implanted that I was gonna do it and when I woke up that morning it was gonna happen and I had no control over it.”


Watts Said He Didn’t Have a Plan When He Killed His Daughters at the Oil Site

According to the CBI, Watts said he never planned to kill Bella and Celeste. Rather, he had no plan at all. He took them with him to the Cervi Oil Fields which he knew because the land was leased by the company he worked for, The Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. Shanann’s body laid on the floorboard with her head and feet covered in garbage bags. He assured the girls Shanann would be okay.

Watts told police that he brought gasoline in a gas can thinking he would kill himself at the oil field, but he thought the fire might be a danger to others. Watts did not own any weapons according to the report.

After he pulled Shanann’s body out of the car and laid her on the ground, he said he smothered both of his daughters in the car, one at a time, by putting a blanket over their head and covering their nose and mouth with his hand. Then he dropped their bodies into two different oil tanks.

According to the CBI, Watts said he doesn’t understand why he did it. The confession report says, “Being a dad was the best part of his life and he took it all away,” and “He felt like someone else had control over him that day and he wasn’t able to fight back.”

He told investigators he didn’t know what was going to happen when he got to to the well site, but he was nervous and shaking. He said he wasn’t thinking during the drive, as the girls dozed in the backseat, according to the confession notes.

Watts said he’d always wanted to be a father so his actions didn’t make sense and in the aftermath, he told investigators that he’d “read books about how dads could never hurt their children and he has wondered, “Was I even a dad at one point? I don’t know.”

Watts told BCI Detectives he confessed so that his attorneys wouldn’t have to lie for him after he changed his story twice. First, he denied knowing the whereabouts of his wife and daughters after Shanann’s friend reported her missing. Then he admitted he killed Shanaan, but claimed it was only after she strangled their daughters after he told her he wanted to split.

Finally, he admitted to killing them all, saying he didn’t want to try to uphold the lies.

He said, “I didn’t want anybody else — I didn’t want them to go through this for two or four years…I didn’t want my attorneys to lie for me for two to four years…they would’ve done anything I told them to do… I don’t see how they can do that…like, you know, that’s what attorneys do…you know, like, they take their defendant and they say hey, like, what happened, okay we’ll go with that story.”

READ NEXT: What Chris Watts’ Mistress Nichol Kessinger Revealed to Police


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