Chris Watts had not been having an affair for very long when he killed his 34-year-old pregnant wife, Shanann Watts, and their two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. He’d met Nichol Kessinger where they both worked at The Anadarko Petroleum Corporation in Colorado and by late June 2018, the two began an affair.
By August 13, Shanann, Celeste and Bella would be reported missing by a friend of Shanann’s, and days later Watts would be arrested for their murders, ultimately pleading guilty to killing them and trying to hide their bodies in an oil field.
Police interviewed Kessinger multiple times, but she was never accused of being involved in the murders.
Kessinger Said Watts Told Her He Was Unhappy in His Marriage & Was Leaving His Wife, But He Never Told Her Shanann Was Pregnant
According to police interviews with Kessinger, which were posted on Reddit along with volumes of other documents related to the case, when she met Watts he told her he was already in the midst of a separation from his wife.
During their weeks together, Kessinger said she’d tried to help him find an apartment or house to rent for him and his daughters where they lived in Frederick Colorado, about 23 miles North of Denver. Watts maintained that the marriage had been failing for several years and Shanann was in agreement about the separation, Kessler told police.
But text messages between Shanann and a friend in the compiled evidence show that Shanann told her friend that summer, “He’s changed. I don’t know who he is,” because he’d become disinterested in her and the family. Shanann also told the friend Watts said he didn’t want the baby, which was going to be a boy.
According to an audio recording of one of Kessinger’s interviews with Weld County Detectives, Watts never told her his wife was pregnant. She said, “I know why he lied to me. He lied to me because if I’d have known that he had a child on the way, I would have never wasted my time with him in the first place. None of this would’ve even occurred.”
Kessinger said her impression from what Watts would tell her about his marriage was Shanann was “a really good mom” but she wanted to live beyond their means and the couple had drifted apart. He complained Shanann didn’t listen to him and was controlling, Kessinger told police.
Kessinger said she knew about Bella and Celeste from even before they were dating, but she said she had not met them, telling police that she thought it would be inappropriate. However, she did tell an investigator if she ever met the girls once he was separated from Shanann, she thought it could be fun to paint pottery with them.
Kessinger Told Police That She Wanted to Take Things Slow With Watts But That the Pair Were Very ‘Comfortable’ Together
While Watts’ desire for a new life and to be with Kessinger led him to do the unthinkable, Kessinger told police she wanted to take things slowly.
She told police, “I thought what we had…it was very comfortable for me. I enjoyed it. I think he did very much as well.”
She said they had told one another they loved each other, but Kessinger said she only told Watts that a couple of times, and while she admits she meant it, she told investigators, “He definitely felt the urge to say it to me a lot more than I did to him because it was just all very new to me and it was like, take your time with this and you don’t need to rush that, you know.”
When a detective asked Kessinger to describe the relationship Kessinger said, “I mean when he was with me I considered it to be fairly healthy. It was open communication and it was what I thought was honest, and it was very calm. It was respectful. We got along really well.”
Kessinger told police whenever she knew Watts was with his kids she respected that and would stay away.
Kessinger & Watts Were in Contact the Entire Time His Wife & Kids Were Missing
The weekend of the murders Kessinger and Watts were in touch often. On August 11, Kessinger told Weld County Detecitves they went to a bar called the Lazy Dog while Shanann was in Arizona on a business trip and Watts left the girls with a sitter.
According to Kessinger and police records, on August 12 Watts took his daughters to a children’s birthday party. Shanann was scheduled to be home that night at about 2 a.m. — technically August 13. Late that night Kessinger said she Facetimed with Watts who was lying on a mattress with no sheets on it. She told police that was unusual because he had a very particular way of contacting her from the basement since they were hiding an affair, and it was never from a bed.
Investigative documents from the Reddit file show that Kessinger said Watts told her there were no sheets on the bed because he was cleaning and washing the sheets to take his mind off of things. She thought he may still be awake waiting for Shanann to get home. Kessinger said Watts didn’t say much during the chat, but according to the document, “Chris was fixated on her and was staring at her during the video call.”
Later a sheet matching one found in Watts’ garbage would be found where he buried the bodies.
Kessinger said she spent the day with her family Sunday and did not see Watts, though as usual they texted throughout the day.
Sunday afternoon Watts texted Kessinger and asked her to call him. When she did he told her his family wasn’t there, according to her police interview. Shanann’s friend, Nikki, was the one who called police when Shanaan was unreachable on August 13 after Nikki had dropped her off from the airport the night before.
Kessinger told police:
I don’t know, he just started like giving me details about stuff and I don’t remember what order but he was saying like, Nikki was really upset, and the cops were there and that they were searching the house and I was just like, what? You know like what? Why? And he was telling me that they had had a disagreement or something like that and then he told me she was gonna go to a friend’s house. And I was like, Okay, well, maybe she left, you know maybe she’s just with friends and then I think he — I don’t remember but I think he was the one that told me that her cell phone and her purse were still there…
At that point, I thought, this woman was really trying to get out of this house. That’s what I thought. Because he said that they’d had a disagreement and I was just like okay well, I mean I leave my cell phone at home.
But Kessinger did tell the detective she thought it was weird that a woman would leave her purse.
Kessinger said she and Watts texted for a few hours after the phone call. She told police, “I’m just trying to figure out what role does this woman [Nikki] play in this situation. I didn’t know like, who she was. And so, I started asking him, I was like well, where do you think your wife is that and he’s like, I think she’ll be back tonight. I think she’s out with somebody.”
At one point Kessinger said she asked if he thought the kids were okay and he said yes because they’re with their mother.
Watts also told Kessinger he was going straight out to the oil fields the next day at work instead of popping into the office where he would normally see her in the mornings, which she said was not out of the ordinary.
Kessinger Told Police Watts’ Lies During the Affair Were ‘Unfair’ to Everyone & She Will Wake Up Every Day Thinking of Shanann, Her Unborn Child, Celeste & Bella
Kessinger broke down during her interview with police at one point when the gravity of the situation was sinking in. She said:
It’s not fair. It wasn’t fair to me in the first place. It wasn’t fair to her in the first place. It wasn’t fair to any of us in the first place. You know, it wasn’t fair to his family for him to have an affair. It wasn’t fair to me to have him lie to me and make me think that everything is going to plan and still to this day I don’t even know what’s a lie and what’s not. I don’t even know if they were filing for divorce. I don’t know if they were putting the house up for sale. I don’t even know. I don’t even know anymore, what is real and what is not.
Kessinger maintains that if Watts had been honest more she would have not been involved with him. She told detectives:
I wouldn’t have even engaged in any of this in the first place. That’s the part for me just like on my personal level outside of everything that is happening, that is going to affect me long term it’s like you know I’m going to wake up every day and know that this mom and her unborn child and these two little girls are not around anymore and it breaks my heart. And then I have to think about the consequences of his actions and how they affect everybody else like all of these families impacted.
My name is about to be slandered for probably a while, I don’t know how long that’s going to take to heal but I would not be surprised if it’s gonna be hard to go out in public sometimes for a couple of years and that really hurts me, I’m just like, this is a horrible horrible thing like, How dare you? You know? And people aren’t going to understand that, you know, they’re gonna say, Oh, you know, you’re the woman that had an affair with this man who took out his whole family, and I take a step back and it’s just like, I didn’t know. Like, It’s. He’s so disgusting I’m so ashamed of him and everything and I just …those little girls.