A Colorado man, Chris Watts, has confessed to killing his wife and two young daughters who had been missing since August 13, Denver 7’s Jace Larson reports. Shanann Watts, 34, and her daughters, Bella, 3, and Celeste, 4, had been considered endangered missing persons, the Frederick Police Department said.
Shanann Watts, who was 15 weeks pregnant, had recently returned home from a work trip to Arizona before she disappeared. She was last seen by a friend on Monday, August 13, who dropped her off at her home about 1:45 a.m. Her husband had told reporters he left for work at 5:15 a.m., and then did not hear from her again. Friends also grew worried after she didn’t respond calls and messages and didn’t show up for a doctor’s appointment and a planned outing. Shanann Watts was reported missing that afternoon by her friend, not by her husband.
Details about how, where and when Shanann Watts and her daughters were killed have not been released by police. Frederick Police have not commented about the report. The FBI and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation were also involved in the investigation. Reports about the confession come just hours after police held a press conference asking the public for help finding the woman and her daughters, but said that they did not believe the public was at risk.
According to Larson’s police sources, investigators believe they know where the bodies of Shanann and her daughters are. Chris and Shanann Watts had gone through financial issues in recent years, court records show.
Here’s what you need to know::
1. Chris Watts Said He Had an ‘Emotional Conversation’ With His Wife When She Returned Home From Her Trip
Chris Watts told the “Today” show that he had an “emotional conversation,” with his wife after she returned home from her work trip Monday morning. He did not provide any other details about the conversation, but said it was not a fight.
Chris Watts said when he left for work about 5:15 a.m., Shanann Watts was home and he saw his daughters sleeping on their baby monitor, NBC News reports. While he was at work, “I texted her a few times, called her, but I didn’t get a response,” Chris Watts told the news network. “That was a little off.” He said he checked his doorbell camera and saw that a friend had come to the home about noon and no one answered, which concerned him.
He said he went back to his house and found Shanann’s car in the driveway, but she was not in the home. He said daughters, Bella and Celeste, who is called CeCe, were also not there and the home appeared to be locked. A friend told NBC News that Shanann’s keys, purse and phone were at the house, along with the kids’ car seats and their medication. At 1:40 p.m., Shanann was reported missing by her friend.
It is now not clear what actually happened between the time Shanann returned home from her trip and when she was reported missing.
Chris Watts is in custody, but it is not clear if he has been charged, according to Denver 7. Police have not released any information about when, where or how Shanann Watts and her daughters were killed. According to CBS Denver, Watts agreed to bring police to his wife and daughters’ bodies so that they can be recovered.
Police were at the Watts’ home in Frederick Wednesday night removing evidence:
Public records show that Watts does not have any previous criminal record except for traffic offenses.
Chris and Shanann Watts jointly filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy in June 2015 in Colorado federal court, court records obtained by show. Chris Watts was working at the time for an oil and gas company, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., but it is not clear if he is still employed there. The couple was about $448,000 in debt at the time. The bankruptcy case was closed in October 2015.
Online court records also show Chris and Shanann Watts were sued for financial reasons by their homeowners association, Wyndham Hill Master Association Inc., on July 12, 2018. Details about that case were not immediately available. They were due in court on August 24. An attorney was not listed in court records for the Watts.
2. Her Husband, Chris Watts, Gave Multiple News Interviews & Said He Was ‘Living a Nightmare’
Chris Watts told the “Today” show on Wednesday, “I don’t feel like this is even real right now. It’s like a nightmare I can’t wake up from. Knowing they could be in trouble, it’s earth-shattering.”
He told KMGH-TV, “When I came home and then walked in the house, nothing. Vanished. Nothing was here. My kids are my life. I mean, those smiles light up my life.”
You can watch Watts’ interview with the local news station here:
Nickole Utoft, Shanann Watts’ close friend who had dropped her off at her home early Monday morning, told Fox 31 News, “I called her and texted her several times,” on Monday. “I knew she had a doctor’s appointment that morning because she’s pregnant. She didn’t show up for it … and I was even more concerned.” She said they also had plans to meet up later in the day, but Shanann never showed up to meet her either.
“I don’t know where she’s at. This is completely unlike her,” Utoft told the news station.
Chris Watts told Fox News, “It’s not something I could ever, ever fathom would happen in my lifetime, and I have no inclination of where she is. She said she was going to a friend’s house with the kids and that’s the last thing I heard, and that was it. It was very vague.”
3. Watts, Who Calls Herself a ‘Momtrepreneur,’ Was a Brand Promoter for Le-Vel, Which Sells ‘Thrive’ Health & Wellness Products
Shanann Watts worked for Le-Vel, a company that sells Thrive health and wellness products, according to her Linkedin profile. She had worked for the company since January 2016 and had been a highly successful brand promoter, rising to the 80K level. She previously worked as a human resources specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora from 2013 to 2016.
According to her Facebook page, Shanann Watts had been with her children visiting family for six weeks before her work trip. She then returned home on August 7 and left again for Arizona on August 10, leaving her daughters at home with her husband.
On July 31, Watts wrote enthusiastically on Facebook about her August plans.
“I’m so excited about August! Girls and I Fly home August 7th! I fly to Scottsdale Aug 10-12 for an amazing weekend with my Le-Vel family! Gender Reveal for Baby Watts #3! Our team is having lots of success, growth both personally and business, several new friends starting their Thrive Experience and lots of new Promoters who decided to change their life! Lots of excitement, Lots to be Thankful for!” she wrote. “You know what I love about waking up everyday…It’s a brand new day to have a fresh start, to be better than I was yesterday, To help someone feel better and happier, to make someone smile and laugh! I am just truly blessed and love waking up thankful and happy! If you are not happy, it’s up to you to change that!”
On her Instagram page, Watts wrote that she was a “Momtrepreneur, wife and 80K VIP LeVel Promoter of the #1 Health and Wellness Movement in US, The Thrive Experience!”
Many friends and other promoters of the Thrive brand have been posting about the search for Shanann on their social media pages.
On Instagram, Shanann wrote about what working with Le-Vel has meant to her:
I’ve been unfriended ?
Ive been blocked ?
I’ve been criticized ?
I’ve been rejected ?
I’ve been the expense of negative DS comments?
I’ve been laughed at ?
I’ve been eye rolled ?
I’ve been told “you’re crazy” ?
BUT …. I’ve also been befriended, accepted, praised, recognized for my success, cried on, shared laughs, gained allies, been an inspiration to many and changed my life forever. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ There will always be someone waiting in the corner to hate on what you do. Don’t pay them attention. Be confident in what you do, put yourself out there and live a life of service. Seek to bless not impress. With the right mindset, you will see your business change for the better. .
She tagged the May 7, 2018, post #mystoryisonlybeginning. The comment was posted alongside a photo of an article in Strive, a magazine for Thrive brand promoters.
In the magazine article, Watts talked about how she had previously been a “caretaker for everyone else,” but had never been happier after starting her work with Thrive. She said she had previously been working two jobs, including overnight at the hospital, and raising her young daughters. “My role was as a caretaker and to make people feel better, yet I was wiped out.” She said she watched a friend work with Thrive for 14 months and decided to get involved herself.
“By day 5 my husband noticed I was in a better mood,” she said. Watts also talked about the hard work it took to make the new job work, saying “I was working 65 hours a week and was also taking care of my kids. I rarely got any sleep, but my passion for wanting more for my kids was stronger than anything else.”
She added, “I wake up happy, and for me to function on a level where I can get two kids ready without a fight is huge. I just enjoy the pure happiness of being with my family. I have the patience to be that cheerful, stay-at-home mom my kids deserve.”
4. She Was Born in New Jersey & Went to High School in North Carolina
Shanann Watts was born in Passaic, New Jersey, according to her Facebook page. She also had ties to North Carolina, where her family still lives. She lived in Moore County, North Carolina, and attended Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines, WTVD-TV reports.
Her high school friend Lauren Arnold, who moved to Colorado around the same time as Shanann, told the North Carolina news station, “Shanann has a schedule and she goes by that schedule and she does not deviate. The girls are on a schedule. She has things that she does every day. A dead cell phone is not an option for her. She always has her communication with her. There’s so many questions that have not been answered. So many what-ifs and things like that. It’s really frustrating.”
A Facebook page has been set up to raise money to help bring Shanann’s North Carolina family members to Colorado to help in the search.
“We need everyone here helping, especially Shanann’s family. I cant imagine being so far away in this situation. Help me ease the financial burdens they may face and get them to Colorado to look for their beloved girls!” Arnold, who started the page, wrote. “I don’t know how much they need or how much they will lose having to travel out here, for who knows how long. Even if we reach a goal, keep donating. Everything helps. Travel, food, lodging, bills, etc….. ♡ Thank you all and lets find them!!!”
Watts and her family had lived in Frederick, Colorado, since 2013, according to the Longmont Times-Call.
Prior to his confession, Chris Watts told 9News the situation has been traumatizing. “I’m just hoping right now that she’s somewhere safe…” he told the news station. “Like, this house is not the same. Last night was traumatic. Last night was – I can’t really stay in this house again with nobody here.”
He spoke glowingly about his daughters, telling the news station, “Celeste. She’s just a bottle of energy. She’s – I call her rampage because she’s got two speeds: go or she’s sleeping. Bella. She’s the more calm, cautious, mothering type and she’s more like me – she’s more calm.”
5. Neighbors Said the Watts Often Took Their Kids to the Pool & Said Shanann Seemed ‘Happy, Successful’
The Watts lived in the Wyndam Hill subdivision and police said they had been canvassing the area and talking to neighbors. Missing persons flyers were also being passed out there.
Neighbor Mike Hendrickson told 9News he has seen the family around, “She would take the kids to the pool and [Chris Watts] would always take them in a little wagon,” he said. “We were always impressed by his doting over them and how much he appeared to love them.”
Another neighbor, Ann Watt, told 9News, “If anything, she just gave off vibes of being happy, successful – she’s beautiful – nothing looked wrong.”
Hendrickson added, “It just doesn’t smell right to me. That’s just my opinion… something doesn’t add up and that’s concerning to me. My goodness, I want to see this family put back together… [for] it to be resolved and it’s just a bad dream for this poor family.”
Frederick is about 30 miles north of Denver. Police, news vans and family and friends swarmed the neighborhood on Wednesday, according to the Times-Call newspaper.