Sex, Lies and Triple Murder: Inside the Chris Watts Case and All the Chilling Details

From his affair with a co-worker to the chilling video of the murderer allegedly loading the bodies of his wife and two children into his truck, the details will horrify you

By Tierney Bricker Dec 01, 2018 11:00 AMTags
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Just when you think the horrifying story of Chris Watts' triple murder couldn't get any more horrifying, another detail comes out proving just why this case has gripped the nation. 

Earlier this month, Chris was sentenced to life in prison after he pled guilty to killing his pregnant 34-year-old wife Shan'ann Watts, and their daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, in August. 

From the beginning, the story had captivated the public's interest, given that the 33-year-old had gone on national television and asked for the safe return of his family, calling it "a nightmare that I just can't wake up from," and lamenting "I have no inclination of where they're at." Really, he knew where they were all along as he had taken their lifeless bodies to a remote mine field belonging to his former employer. 

And now that chilling televised plea has been made even more chilling given most recent development in the triple murder's coverage: There is video of Chris leaving his home on August 13 to dispose of the bodies. 

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Captured by Chris' Colorado neighbor's surveillance cameras and released by the Weld County District Attorney on Thursday, the video shows Chris exiting his home around 5:30 a.m., hours after murdering his wife and two daughters. He was seen loading gas into the bed of his pick-up truck before backing the vehicle into his garage.

Prosecutors and investigators believe Chris likely placed the bodies into the bed of the truck after doing so before going on to dispose of their bodies at the oil site, where Shann'ann would be found in a a shallow grave, while her daughters were located submerged in drums containing crude oil. 

The footage is just the latest piece of information to come out about the triple murder, but is far from the first detail to seem almost too crazy to believe. 

On November 29, the Weld County District Attorney's office releases over 2,000 pages of documents about the case, following Chris' five-time life sentencing, including shocking text messages exchanges between Chris and Shann'ann, who was 15-weeks-pregnant, that reveal how strained their marriage had become after six years, as well as surprising new information about Nichol Kessinger, Chris' co-worker he was revealed to be having an affair with.

RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Soon after Chris' public (and, in the end, phony) plea for the safe return of his wife and children, investigators found out about his secret relationship with Nichol, who was working in the environmental department with an Anadarko Petroleum contractor when she first connected with Chris in June. By July, their relationship had become physical, with two seeing each other as often as four to five times a week. 

And Nichol revealed a lot of information about her romance with the Chris in her first interview with The Denver Post.

"He's a liar," Nichol said. "He lied about everything." The lies included that he was in the late stages of divorce proceedings.

However, Nichol didn't learn the full extent of Chris' deception until he texted her on August 13, saying his family was "gone," explaining his wife had taken his children out on a playdate, only to learn via the media that Shann'ann's purse was still in the house and her family and friends hadn't heard from her. And that she was pregnant. 

"When I read the news, I found out he was still married and his wife was 15 weeks pregnant," she said. "I thought, 'If he was able to lie to me and hide something that big, what else was he lying about?'" 

RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Nichol didn't wait long before going to the police; the next day, she went to the Weld County Sheriff's Office and told them about her relationship with Chris. 

However, in the newly released documents, Nichol's Google search history has some questioning her potential motive for speaking out. 

"Did people hate Amber Frey?" she asked the Internet search engine, referencing the mistress of Scott Peterson, who murdered his wife, Laci, and their unborn child in 2002. Nichol's search was conducted on August 19, four days after Chris was arrested. 

Her other searches? How much Frey made for her book deal after writing about the affair in 2004, Frey's net worth, and "can cops trace text messages," following Chris' arrest.

The documents also show that Nichol had deleted information tying her to Chris from her phone before meeting with the police. 

Before the murders, Nichol had Googled "Man I'm having affair with says he will leave his wife," as well as  topics like "marrying your mistress," per the documents. And she had also spent hours searching Shann'ann, and had been looking at wedding dresses just one week prior to the murders. 

Chris' own personal search history also came up in the documents, and the details were haunting. 

Hours after strangling Shann'ann with his bare hands and then smothering his daughters, he searched for the lyrics to Metallica's "Battery."

Some of the lyrics of the song include, "Smashing through the boundaries, lunacy has found me" and "Pounding out aggression, turns into obsession/Cannot kill the battery/Cannot kill the family."


Even more chilling? There is video of Chris actually confessing to his father, Ronnie Watts, that he had murdered his wife, according to the documents, after failing a polygraph test when he was brought in by the police two days after the murders. 

According to the video obtained by multiple outlets, including The Denver Post, Watt told his father he murdered Shann'ann because he saw her smothering their children after they had discussed separating.

"I freaked out and had to do the same…thing to her," he said, later claiming he killed her out of "rage." Ronnie replied, "God almighty, son."


"I don't want to protect her," he tells his father, saying Shann'ann "freaked out" when he told her he wanted a separation. "She hurt 'em...and then I killed her."

This version of events presented by Chris was shot down by law enforcement. 

"There is absolutely no evidence that she killed her children," a source close to the investigation told People. "None at all. And there is physical evidence to tie him to their murders. Strangulation is a very personal way to kill someone, with a lot of physical contact. Just based on the preliminary evidence, everything is consistent with him killing them all."

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As previously reported, Shann'ann had confronted her husband over her belief he was having an affair, with District Attorney Michael Rourke during a press conference explaining she had Shan'ann picked up on "a lot of suspicious behavior."

While Shan'ann texted the defendant over and over again in the days and weeks leading up to her death attempting to save her marriage," Rourke then said in court. "the defendant secreted pictures of his girlfriend into his phone and searched and texted her at all hours of the night."

And the documents include text message Shann'ann sent to Chris as well as a friend that highlight the anguish she was having over their crumbling marriage. 

During a short work trip, Shann'ann sent the following message to her husband after a summer of marital woes. 

"l realized during this trip what's missing in our relationship! lt's only one way emotions and feelings. I can't come back like this. I need you to meet me halfway. You don't consider others at all, nor think about others feelings."

Another text sent by the expecting mother said,  "l try to give you space, but while you are working and living the bachelor life l'm carrying our 3rd and fighting with our two kids daily and trying to work and make money."


During a short work trip, Shann'ann sent the following message to her husband, who

"l realized during this trip what's missing in our relationship! lt's only one way emotions and feelings. I can't come back like this. I need you to meet me halfway. You don't consider others at all, nor think about others feelings."

Another text sent by the expecting mother said,  "l try to give you space, but while you are working and living the bachelor life l'm carrying our 3rd and fighting with our two kids daily and trying to work and make money."

Shann'ann had originally planned to have a gender reveal party on August 19, but canceled the party just days before her death. 

"Chris said we are not compatible anymore," she wrote to a friend, explaining why the party was called off.  She also revealed that, "He refused to hug me. Said he thought another baby would fix his feelings...he refused couples counseling!"

The text messages also show how devastated Shann'ann was over the state of her marriage, admitting to her friend, "I've cried myself to sleep over a week now."

She then wondered if was having an affair, texting, "Only thing I can think of even though I don't think he has it in him is another girl."

In an exchange with another friend, Shann'ann revealed he no longer wanted a third child. 

"He told me he doesn't want this baby and he's happy with just Bella and Celeste," she wrote to a friend on Aug. 8. "He thought he wanted another one. l'm so sick to my stomach. Tried to have sex with him last night just to see if that would help him and he rejected me."

And one day prior, she admitted to another friend she didn't feel "safe" around Chris following his remarks about their unborn child. 

RJ Sangosti - Pool/Getty Images

"I don't feel safe with him after what he said about the baby and if he loves me he would hold me and tell me it will be ok," she said. "Give me something and he did nothing, but go to bed."

She added, "He has changed. I don't know who he is. ... He hasn't touched me all week, kissed me, talked to me except for when l'm trying to figure out what is wrong."

 Another message showed how surprised Shann'ann was by Chris' recent change of heart, saying, "We've never had a problem in our relationship like this. No joke. NEVER. THIS IS TOTAL LEFT FIELD."

Still, Shann'ann seemed to express some hope for the couple's future, sending this update to am inquiring friend on Aug. 9: "Omg much better. We talked. He told me he loved me back. Still cold, but not as cold. He even kissed me before going to sleep in basement, which is second kiss since picking him up from airport."


 Of course, we now know Shann'ann's suspicions about Chris having an affair were correct, and the documents also reveal he Face-Timed Nichol on the day he committed the murders, and his mistress recalled details about the call in her conversation with law enforcement. 

Nichol told investigators that Chris was lying on a mattress that didn't have any sheets, which was a crucial detail as a drone spotted a sheet on the oil site Watts' worked on and where he had disposed of the bodies. A matching sheet and pillowcase were also found in Chris' trash can.

According to the documents, Nichol also told police that Chris told her he only learned Shann'ann was pregnant on the day she went missing. Chris went on to explain that Shann'ann revealed the information during a fight, adding that his wife told him "the kid was not his," per Nichol's recollection. 

But that turned out to be a lie, as People reports Shann'ann posted the news of her pregnancy on Facebook in May, including a video of the moment she told Chris the news. 

In the video, Shann'ann is wearing a T-shirt which says "Oops … we did it again" as she films Chris' reaction to the news after coming home. "We did it again," she says to him. Chris is then seen holding a pregnancy test, before kissing Shann'ann and saying, "I guess when you want to, it happens. Wow."

While police believe Chris' desire to start a new life with Nichol led to his decision to commit the murders, the documents show Nichol believed he would've done it even if they weren't together.

"I legitimately think his cheese was sliding off his cracker long before he met me," she told police on August 16.

Nichol did go on to say she believed their relationship "accelerated the process."