Chris Watts is the subject of a new Netflix series called “American Murder: The Family Next Door.” It tells the story of the father of two with one on the way who was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife, Shanann, and their two daughters, stuffing the children in oil drums. The vast court file in the case, which you can read here, contains some of Shanann Watt’s last text messages, and they describe what she told friends about her disintegrating marriage.
It was a horrific crime.
Watts was convicted of strangling his pregnant wife and smothering their daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. It was later revealed that Watts was having an affair with a woman named Nichol Kessinger. The Netflix shows details the deteriorating relationship between Chris and Shanann, who began suspecting her husband was having an affair and felt he was suddenly pulling away from her.
Watts blamed Shanann, saying she murdered the girls and he murdered his wife in anger upon discovering that, but the jury didn’t buy it.
Where is Chris Watts today? In November 2018, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Here’s what you need to know:
Shanann Described How Chris Grew Distant & Felt They Weren’t Compatible Anymore
When police started investigating what happened to the mother and her two young girls, they began to learn of problems in the couple’s marriage. According to the police reports in the case:
A friend told police that Chris didn’t want the baby Shanann was pregnant with and wanted a separation. Shanann told another friend that Chris was “becoming distant and said they weren’t compatible anymore. . . Shanann was blindsided by this.”
Shanann revealed details about her crumbling marriage in a text exchange with a friend from August 8, 2018:
Taylor, “Nicki just told me you want to cancel the gender reveal. What’s going on? Is everything okay?”
Shanann, “Chris said we are not compatible anymore.”
Taylor, “I just landed in Chicago like still on the airplane. Oh my god what?”
Shanann: “He said we are not compatible anymore! He refused to hug me. Said he thought another baby would fix his feelings. Said, he refused couples counseling!”
Shanann, “Before I left he could get enough of each other.”
Taylor “What the hell changed in 6 weeks?”
Shanann, “He said he had a lot of time to think.”
Taylor, “I am so sorry. I don’t even know what to say.”
Shanann, “Girl me either.”
Taylor, “We will get together when I get home”
Shanann “I’ve cried myself to sleep over a week now. OK honey. Have a great time.”
Taylor, “I am here for you and whatever you need. I love you!”
They were making plans to go away for the weekend. But Chris was showing signs of change. Chris recently deleted his Facebook account. Chris used to post on Facebook how proud he was of Shanann and the kids.
Shanann was pregnant with a boy but cancelled the gender reveal party because the energy wasn’t right. Police also learned that Chris recently started to get more fit.
According to the police reports, friends told authorities that Shanann was a routine-oriented person and a “helicopter mom.” Chris was passive and calm. But Shannan was very distraught about her relationship Chris, and he was getting annoyed with her recently.
Another friend said she talked every day with Shanann and Shannan said Chris had become cold to her and wouldn’t touch or kiss her anymore. He didn’t want the baby and was happy only having the two girls. He told her they weren’t compatible anymore. Chris was willing to go into therapy with her, though, and they had planned to go to Aspen.
For his part, Chris was tired of not being able to hang a picture on the wall without her input and he wanted a say.
The marriage began to change when Shanann was in North Carolina for a visit with family, friends told police. Chris began to get aggravated with the kids around him. He began to not touch or ask Shanann about the baby. Chris came back to Shanann a different man, the friends said, although they added that Shanann was “a bit OCD.”
They struggled a bit financially. Shanann wanted the marriage to work out. The friends felt that Chris was attentive and caring to the girls.
Another woman said Shanann texted her that things were not good. She saw Shanann and Shanann went sad. Chris went to the Rockies game with a group of guys, and Shanann was upset he ate a $62 meal of salmon and beer.
In North Carolina, Chris’s mom exposed their daughter to a nut allergy through nuts in ice cream and Shanann and his parents had a falling out over it. The parents didn’t go to Cece’s birthday party because of the falling out, according to the police reports.
Chris told Shanann they didn’t communicate well anymore but wouldn’t really say what was wrong with the relationship, a friend told police.
The Police Reports Describe a Grisly Scene
On August 15, 2018, authorities excavated a potential dig site about 100 feet from an oil tank battery. Chris worked in the oil industry, and his work truck GPS alerted police that he had been to the site. The dirt was freshly dug. They located the body of an adult female. It was in a shallow grave. It was Shanann, the police reports say.
They also say:
Police entered the oil battery and found Celeste Watts wearing a diaper and completely covered in crude oil. Bella Marie was found in another oil battery.
The day before, police had conducted another search of the house. They smelled cleaning chemicals. The television was on a sports show. Chris had made the girls’ beds and done laundry.
The officer writing the report indicated that Chris showed no emotion and did not seem to respond appropriately to the situation. He did not ask questions or offer to help at any time. Chris’s facial expressions rarely changed, however when they did, he seemed to smile/smirk inappropriately, displaying a lack of empathy, specifically when speaking about his children, the officer alleged. His voice remained low and even toned. His non-verbal cues were very apparent. Chris had very erect and almost tense posture and his arms crossed a majority of the time, wrote the officer. Chris lacked eye contact and appeared to be nervous, looking around constantly.
While the officers were waiting at the dig site the next day, they received word that Chris confessed to killing Shanann, Celeste and Bella. He marked a picture where he disposed of the bodies and police found them there.
That wasn’t the picture that coworkers had of Watts. A coworker of Chris Watts said he was humble and quiet and he told the man about marital problems but they were trying to “talk things out” and loved their children. His boss said Watts was quiet and a great employee who never had issues about showing up to work or being on time. Since the disappearance of the family, he appeared on edge and flustered but said he had nothing to hide.
Watts talked about his daughters as if they were “his world.” He was hard working and easy going. His nickname was the silver fox and the rain man due to his extensive work knowledge.
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