Man arrested for killing his pregnant wife and daughters, days after pleading for their return

Shanann, Bella and Celeste. (Photo: Instagram/@shanannwatts)
Shanann, Bella and Celeste. (Photo: Instagram/@shanannwatts)

Chris Watts, from Colorado in the US, made an emotional plea on television on Tuesday after his wife, who was 15 weeks pregnant, and their two children went missing.

According to the 33-year-old, his wife, Shanann (34), and their daughters, Bella (4) and Celeste (3), went missing from their home in Frederick. Shanann’s car was still in the driveway, and her personal items – handbag, keys and cellphone – were left in the house, as were the children’s medication and car seats, Daily Mail reports.

But on Wednesday morning Shanann’s family and other sources revealed Chris had been arrested after confessing to murdering his family. The police said in a statement the whereabouts of the bodies were known and they were being retrieved.

Jaclyn Allen of local TV news channel Denver 7 said Chris’ television plea had aroused suspicion with authorities.

Shanann returned home to Colorado in the early hours of Monday after a business trip to Arizona. According to Chris, bad weather had delayed her flight and she’d arrived home much later than originally planned. A friend and colleague, Nickole Utoft, gave her a lift from the airport.

“She got home at two in the morning from the airport. At about 5.15am I left the house to go to work. She was still here,” he told Denver 7 in an interview.

He told the channel he’d checked the baby monitor and Bella and Celeste were still sleeping.

At around 12.10pm Nickole went to the house after Shanann had failed to show up for a meeting and wasn’t responding to phone messages.

Chris said he’d sent his wife several text messages throughout the morning, but that she hadn’t responded. Apparently she also hadn’t responded to messages from other friends and family, he told Fox 8.

“It’s OK if she doesn’t have time to respond to my messages, but I got worried when she didn’t respond to her people,” he told the news channel.

Nickole was especially worried because Shanann had missed a doctor’s appointment that morning.

Chris told Fox 8 Nickole phoned him when she got to the house and found no one there. He rushed home.

Throughout the interview Chris seems calm and collected. He talks about arriving home on Monday and finding the house empty. Then he says – more than once – he hopes they’re safe, wherever they are, and that he’s struggling with the uncertainty of not knowing where they are.

Asked by the reporter whether he and Shanann had argued the night before, he says, “We had an emotional conversation. It wasn’t an argument, but that’s all I’ll say.”

Before making the plea for his family to return to him, he also says, “My children are my life . . . I miss them. I just want everyone to come home.”

Shanann had worked as a salesperson for a weight-loss and wellness company since 2016.

On 4 August she shared a picture of her and Celeste on Facebook, writing, “I’ll do everything in my power to teach her right and to protect her, advocate, stand up for her and defend her. I pray every day that she never feels any less than the rest of the world. I pray that she’s protected when I’m not around to protect her. Nothing or no one will stop me!”

Frankie Rzucek, Shanann’s brother, is enraged. On Thursday, after Chris’ arrest, he posted on Facebook: “I just want to know why. My precious family, my one and only sibling, my sister Shanann, two adorable nieces Bella and Celeste, and her soon to be found out unborn son Niko.”

Frankie continued: “I just want 30 seconds alone with that heartless psychopath. May Satan have mercy on his soul. The cops drag their feet. He was the only one with them and backed his truck into the garage. Doesn’t take a genius to know who was suspect. My blood is boiling and the pain and anger and sadness I have in my heart. Nothing absolutely nothing would get in my way of taking away his life like he did mine and my entire family.”

Though sources are tight-lipped, it’s speculated the couple experienced marital trouble, as Shanann and the children had visited family for six weeks before their return home to Colorado.

In 2015 Chris, who worked for petrol company Anadarko, and Shanann applied for bankruptcy. At the time they were about R6,4 million in debt.


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