Chris Watts was an oil field worker in Frederick, Colorado, who killed his pregnant wife Shanann and their two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 2, in August 2018. On September 30, Netflix is releasing a documentary about the horrific crime called American Murder: The Family Next Door, which aims to “give a voice to the victims” through “archival footage that includes social media posts, law enforcement recordings, text messages, and never-before-seen home videos.”
Ahead of the documentary’s release, here’s what you need to know about Chris Watts today.
Watts Is Serving Five Life Sentences
During the trial, Watts agreed to a plea deal in order to keep the death penalty off the table. On November 6, 2018, he pleaded guilty to multiple counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to five life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole. Three of those life sentences are being served consecutively (in a row) and two are being served concurrently (at the same time as the others).
On the two-year anniversary of the murders, a jailhouse source told People that Watts has resigned himself to spending the rest of his life in prison.
“He knows exactly what he did. He’s haunted by what he did. He says he can’t shake the memories of his family, and they haunt him. He is in his own psychological torment, every day of his life,” said the source, adding, “He knows he deserves it. He knows that he made many mistakes in his life, and this is his punishment.”
People also reported that Watts is on lockdown for 23 hours a day. He leaves his cell for one hour to shower or exercise. Inside the cell, he is allowed to have a Bible and some family photos, which he keeps next to his bed.
A source previously told People that Watts found religion in jail and that “a day doesn’t go by … where he doesn’t think about his family. He’s in a hell of his own making.”
Watts Initially Said Shanann Killed Their Daughters
Shanann and the girls were reported missing by Shanann’s colleague and friend Nichole Atkinson after SHanann missed a meeting at work. An officer came to check the home and found only Watts home and no sign of his wife or daughters. Watts initially told police he had no idea where they were. He even appeared on the local news pleading for their safe return.
According to KDVR, when police started looking for Shanann and his daughters, Watts said in an interview, “In my heart, I believe that she is somewhere and I hope that she is safe. I don’t know what to do right now. I just feel so alone in this house right now. I don’t know where to go from here.”
But he was arrested two days later for the crimes, charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of tampering with a human body, plus one count of unlawful termination of his wife’s pregnancy. In his initial statement, according to ABC 13, he said that he found Shanann in the process of strangling his daughters and he strangled Shanann in a fit of rage, then took the bodies to the oil site where he used to work.
But later, the lawyer for Shanann’s family told Dr. Phil that Watts confessed to killing Shanann during a fight about divorcing because he had been having an affair with a woman named Nichol Kessinger. He then loaded up his daughters into his truck with his wife’s body, buried her in a shallow grave on the oil site, and then smothered both girls with a blanket and left them in the oil tanks onsite.
American Murder: The Family Next Door drops on Netflix on Wednesday, September 30.