Shanann Watts, 34, and her two young daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 2, were murdered by Shanann’s husband and the girls’ father Chris Watts in August 2018. Ahead of the Netflix documentary about the crimes, American Murder: The Family Next Door, which drops on Wednesday, September 30, here’s what you need to know about the funerals for the slain family and how their deaths impacted the local community of Frederick, Colorado.
The Funerals Were Held September 1, 2018 at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church
According to the KDVR obituary, the funerals were held about two weeks after Shanann was found in a shallow grave in an oil field and her daughters’ bodies were recovered from nearby oil tanks. The obituary read:
Shan’ann Cathryn Watts, 34 and daughters Bella Marie Watts, 4, and Celeste Cathryn Watts, 3 and unborn son Nico Lee of Frederick, Colorado, died on Thursday, August 16, 2018.
A Funeral Mass will be held 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 1st 2018 at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Pinehurst with Rev. John Forbes officiating.
Shan’ann was born January 10, 1984, in New Jersey to Frank Rzucek and Sandra Onorati Rzucek. She was our pride and joy, a true gift from God. We were so blessed to have such a joyful and wonderful daughter whose beauty was that of a doll.
Bella was born December 17, 2013, in Colorado. Shan’ann was so excited to have her first baby girl. She spent every minute thanking God and taking care of her precious gift that the Lord had blessed her with. How she loved and cherished her.
Celeste was born July 17, 2015, in Colorado. Oh how Shan’ann was so excited to be able to have another child because of her battle with Lupus. She was determined to stay healthy and with her love for her Celeste, every moment with her was a blessing.
Shan’ann wanted one more child praying for a baby boy. She named him Nico Lee. With the anticipation of her son to join them, she knew he would be loved by his sisters and family.
The family is survived by Shan’ann’s father, Frank Rzucek; Mother, Sandra Onorati Rzucek; Brother, Frankie Rzucek whom were inseparable and best friends; Uncle, Rocky Onorati; Aunt, Sharyn Onorati; Aunt, Robynn Odom; Uncle, Steve Onorati; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and close friends.
In lieu of flowers memorial donations can be made in memory honoring Shan’ann to:
The Lupus Foundation of America at 2121 K Street NW, Suite 200 Washington, DC 20037-1830
Frederick Colorado Police Dept.- Missing Persons Division at PO Box 435 Frederick, CO 80530
St.Judes Children’s Hospital at 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105
Teddy Bears and Purple Ribbons Were Posted All Around Town As a Memorial to Shanann and Her Daughters
Following the murders, a memorial filled with teddy bears and candles filled the Watts’ front yard. But they did not go to waste. Local resident T.J. John told KDVR that he collected them so that the smaller teddy bears could be donated to police departments to help children in crisis and the larger ones could be made into blankets to comfort people in trouble. John said he had Shanann’s father’s blessing in collecting the mementos, and he said the response to wanting to coordinate the donations and make the blankets was overwhelming.
Additionally, the citizens of Frederick began placing purple ribbons around town in memory of the slain family.
As an update to the teddy bear donations, in March 2019, Judy Maxfield and Mel Casper told KDVR that they finally managed to get through the hundreds of teddy bears, turning every one of them into a blanket for kids in need.
“I’m a grandmother and I can’t imagine anything like that happening to my grandchildren, so it makes you feel like you have to do something,” Maxfield said. “When I first got them and emptied them out of the bag, I had them out here and opened the bag up and dumped them out, and I was in tears. It’s just very… it’s emotional.”
A lot of them, kids donated,” Casper said. “Neighborhood children took something out of their room, off their bed and donated. So that’s kind of cool that kids can understand that [the animals] are moving to someone else’s house.”
American Murder: The Family Next Door drops on Netflix on Wednesday, September 30.