Slain Colorado mother painted rosy picture of married life

FREDERICK, Colo. (AP) — Shanann Watts' Facebook page painted a portrait of a happy married life — of a woman dedicated to her husband and their two young children. She called her husband "my ROCK!" and said he was "the best dad us girls could ask for."

But that idyllic image was shattered Wednesday when her husband, 33-year-old Christopher Watts, was arrested on suspicion of killing his family in Colorado.

Police said the mother, who was pregnant, was found dead on property owned by Anadarko Petroleum, one of the state's largest oil and gas drillers, where Christopher Watts worked. Investigators found what they believe are the bodies of 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste nearby on Thursday afternoon.

They have not released any information about a motive or how the three were killed.

RELATED: Shanann Watts and her two daughters disappear in Colorado

63 PHOTOS
Shanann Watts and her two daughters killed in Colorado
See Gallery
Shanann Watts and her two daughters killed in Colorado
A photograph sits amid the tributes as they grow outside the home where a pregnant woman, Shanann Watts, and her two daughters, Bella and Celeste, lived Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Frederick, Colo. The woman's husband, Christopher Watts, has been arrested on suspicion of killing his family. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Christopher Watts, 33, arrested on suspicion of murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters, in Frederick, Colorado, U.S., is shown in this handout photo provided August 16, 2018. Weld County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
GREELEY, CO - AUGUST 21: Frank Rzucek the father of Shanann Watts was in court for Christopher Watts arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse on August 21, 2018 in Greeley, Colorado. Christopher Watts faces nine charges, including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife Shanann and his two young daughters, 4-year-old Bella, and 3-year-old Celeste. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
This photo combo of images provided by The Colorado Bureau of Investigation shows, from left, Bella Watts, Celeste Watts and Shanann Watts. The Frederick Police Department said Chris Watts was taken into custody. Watt's pregnant wife, 34-year-old Shanann Watts, and their two daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste were reported missing Monday, Aug. 13, 2018. The police said on Twitter early Thursday that Chris Watts will be held at the Weld County Jail. He has not yet been charged. (The Colorado Bureau of Investigation via AP)
Photo: Facebook
GREELEY, CO - AUGUST 21: Frank Rzucek the father of Shanann Watts was in court for Christopher Watts arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse on August 21, 2018 in Greeley, Colorado. Christopher Watts faces nine charges, including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife Shanann and his two young daughters, 4-year-old Bella, and 3-year-old Celeste. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Photo: Facebook
Christopher Watts is escorted into the courtroom before his bond hearing at the Weld County Courthouse on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Greeley, Colo. Watts, of Colorado, whose wife and daughters disappeared this week was arrested on suspicion of killing them. (Joshua Polson/The Greeley Tribune via AP, Pool)
FREDERICK, CO - AUGUST 16: Terry Warren, of Frederick, taks a moment at a makeshift memorial to Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts, who have been missing since Monday, is seen outside the family home on August 16, 2018 in Frederick, Colorado. Frederick police have arrested Shananns husband Christopher Watts on suspicion of murdering the three. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
GREELEY, CO - AUGUST 21: Frank Rzucek the father of Shanann Watts, left, and her brother Frankie Rzucek were in court for Christopher Watts arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse on August 21, 2018 in Greeley, Colorado. Christopher Watts faces nine charges, including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife Shanann and his two young daughters, 4-year-old Bella, and 3-year-old Celeste. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Photo: Facebook
Judge Marcelo A. Kopcow speaks to the attorneys during the bond hearing for Christopher Watts at the Weld County Courthouse Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Greeley, Colo. Watts, of Colorado, whose wife and daughters disappeared this week was arrested on suspicion of killing them. (Joshua Polson/The Greeley Tribune via AP, Pool)
Photo: Facebook
Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke waits for the bond hearing for Christopher Watts to begin at Weld County Courthouse Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Greeley, Colo. A judge has ordered Watts of Colorado who is accused of killing his pregnant wife and two young daughters held in jail without bail. (Joshua Polson/The Greeley Tribune via AP, Pool)
Baltasar Gutierrez, left, joins his daughter, Irene Montoya, in talking to reporters after they left a tributes outside the home where a pregnant woman and her two daughters lived Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Frederick, Colo. The woman's husband has been arrested in the disappearance of the woman and children. Authorities say that they have found the woman's body and believe to know the whereabouts of the two girls. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
From left, 4-year-old Liberty Bell joins her mother, Ashley, and father Steven as they put a tribute with others outside the home where a pregnant woman and her two daughters lived Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Frederick, Colo. The woman's husband has been arrested in the disappearance of the woman and children. Authorities say that they have found the woman's body and believe to know the whereabouts of the two girls. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
FREDERICK, CO - AUGUST 16: Frederick Police Department Chief Todd Norris talks to media on August 16, 2018 in Frederick, Colorado. Frederick police have arrested Shananns husband Christopher Watts on suspicion of murdering the three. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Photo: Facebook
FREDERICK, CO - AUGUST 16: Colorado Bureau of Investigation Director John Camper talks to media on August 16, 2018 in Frederick , Colorado. Frederick police have arrested Shananns husband Christopher Watts on suspicion of murdering the three. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Photo: Facebook
Ashley Bell places flowers with the growing number of tributes outside the home where a pregnant woman and her two daughters lived Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Frederick, Colo. The woman's husband has been arrested in the disappearance of the woman and children. Authorities say that they have found the woman's body and believe to know the whereabouts of the two girls. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Photo: Facebook
FREDERICK, CO - AUGUST 16: Colleen Hendrickson and her grandson Ezra Reed, 3, who lives down the street, place flowers at a makeshift memorial to Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts, who have been missing since Monday, outside the family home on August 16, 2018 in Frederick, Colorado. Frederick police have arrested Shananns husband Christopher Watts on suspicion of murdering the three. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Photo: Facebook
Christopher Watts glances back at a Weld County Sheriff's Deputy as he is escorted out of the courtroom at the Weld County Courthouse Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Greeley, Colo. Watts, of Colorado, whose wife and daughters disappeared this week was arrested on suspicion of killing them. (Joshua Polson/The Greeley Tribune via AP, Pool)
Photo: Facebook
A pump jack sits near the home where a pregnant woman and her two daughters lived Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Frederick, Colo. The woman's husband has been arrested in the disappearance of the woman and children. Authorities say that they have found the woman's body and believe to know the whereabouts of the two girls. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Photo: Facebook
Tributes grow outside the home where a pregnant woman and her two daughters lived Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Frederick, Colo. The woman's husband has been arrested in the disappearance of the woman and children. Authorities say that they have found the woman's body and believe to know the whereabouts of the two girls. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Photo: Facebook
Tributes grow outside the home where a pregnant woman and her two daughters lived Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Frederick, Colo. The woman's husband has been arrested in the disappearance of the woman and children. Authorities say that they have found the woman's body and believe to know the whereabouts of the two girls. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook
Ashley Bell reacts after leaving flowers among the tributes growing outside the home where a pregnant woman and her two daughters lived Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Frederick, Colo. The woman's husband has been arrested in the disappearance of the woman and children. Authorities say that they have found the woman's body and believe to know the whereabouts of the two girls. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Photo: Facebook
A photograph sits amid the tributes as they grow outside the home where a pregnant woman, Shanann Watts, and her two daughters, Bella and Celeste, lived Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Frederick, Colo. The woman's husband, Christopher Watts, has been arrested on suspicion of killing his family. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook
Tributes grow outside the home where a pregnant woman and her two daughters lived Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Frederick, Colo. The woman's husband has been arrested in the disappearance of the woman and children. Authorities say that they have found the woman's body and believe to know the whereabouts of the two girls. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook
Tributes grow outside the home where a pregnant woman and her two daughters lived Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Frederick, Colo. The woman's husband has been arrested in the disappearance of the woman and children. Authorities say that they have found the woman's body and believe to know the whereabouts of the two girls. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook
Irene Montoya of Aurora, Colo., places a bouquet of flowers as tributes grow outside the home where a pregnant woman and her two daughters lived Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Frederick, Colo. The woman's husband has been arrested in the disappearance of the woman and children. Authorities say that they have found the woman's body and believe to know the whereabouts of the two girls. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Bella goes Zip Lining today on Field Trip! 😱 Celeste’s pigtails 😂😂😂
Picked up this cutie from school for mommy/daughter lunch. She was excited to tell her daddy all about it.
My sweet princess! I love her so much. She went with me this morning to Rise and Thrive and we had a blast!
These two little girls are my world! I love them so much, even when they drive me crazy! Tomorrow is the last day Celeste is in 2yr old PreSchool and Bella is in PreK 1. Growing up so fast.
Happy Husband Appreciation Day! I couldn’t imagine a better man for us. You spoil us with love an attention! You put up with 3 impatient, demanding women in the house. 🤣🤣 You Work so hard everyday to provide for us. I love you so much and so grateful you hung around when I tried pushing you away in the beginning! 🤣🤣 #HappyHusbandappreciationday
Ashley Bell, left, is consoled by her husband, Steven, and 4-year-old daughter Liberty as the woman places a tribute outside the home where a pregnant woman and her two daughters lived Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Frederick, Colo. The woman's husband has been arrested in the disappearance of the woman and children. Authorities say that they have found the woman's body and believe to know the whereabouts of the two girls. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Wind 💨 Be Crazy 😜 today! #colorado #windblownhair #windy #beautiful #crazy
My world and heart all wrapped up in this photo! . . . . #myworld #myheart #myloves #love #chris #age33 #celeste #age2 #bella #age4 #family #mygirls #instagram #instaphoto #instapic #spring #colorado
I love this man more than words can say! He’s my Rock, my love, my biggest fan, supporter and my husband! I couldn’t of hand picked a better man to call my husband and father to our girls! He dreams Big with me, he runs hard with me and he is just flat out friggin awesome! I love you Chris so much! Happy Valentines Day! #8yearsandcounting #love #valentinesday #myman #mylove #forever #sappy
Kids are napping, now it’s time for me to brace myself for a Costco Run! 😜😎🤪 thank goodness we Thrive! 🙌🏽Mood Support is being tested this week! Who’s kiddos still nap? 😴 #naptime #thrive #sickkids #christmas #busy #love
Love my snuggles! #rarewithcece #wild #fearless #fulloflove #fulloflife #loveher #daughter #blessed
FREDERICK, CO - AUGUST 16: Neighbors, who did not want to give names, bring a stuffed dog to a makeshift memorial to Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts, who have been missing since Monday, is seen outside the family home on August 16, 2018 in Frederick , Colorado. Frederick police have arrested Shananns husband Christopher Watts on suspicion of murdering the three. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Photo: Facebook
An unidentified young boy places a bouquet of flowers on a pile of tributes outside the home where a pregnant woman and her two daughters lived Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Frederick, Colo. The woman's husband has been arrested in the disappearance of the woman and children. Authorities say that they have found the woman's body and believe to know the whereabouts of the two girls. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Christopher Watts looks down during his bond hearing at the Weld County Courthouse Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Greeley, Colo. Watts, of Colorado, whose wife and daughters disappeared this week was arrested on suspicion of killing them. (Joshua Polson/The Greeley Tribune via AP, Pool)
A photograph sits amid the tributes as they grow outside the home where a pregnant woman, Shanann Watts, and her two daughters, Bella and Celeste, lived Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Frederick, Colo. The woman's husband, Christopher Watts, has been arrested on suspicion of killing his family. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"As horrible as this outcome is, our role now is to do everything we can to determine exactly what occurred," John Camper, director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, said at a news conference in Frederick, a small town on the grassy plains north of Denver, where fast-growing subdivisions intermingle with drilling rigs and oil wells.

The deaths also left family and friends searching for answers.

Shanann Watts, 34, was one of the first customers to visit Ashley Bell's tanning salon in nearby Dacona two years ago. The two women quickly became friends, and before long they were texting or calling each other almost daily. Their daughters also played together during salon visits.

Bell said she never detected that anything was amiss with the Watts family.

"I just don't understand it," said Bell, who described Christopher Watts as a loving father.

Shanann Watts was from North Carolina, and her parents' next-door neighbor, Joe Beach, said he saw her recently when she visited the neighborhood of modest homes in Aberdeen.

"We were talking about general things, about how her two girls were doing and how life was out in Colorado. She didn't give me an indication that there was anything wrong. She seemed pretty happy."

But a June 2015 bankruptcy filing captures a picture of a family caught between a promising future and financial strain.

Christopher Watts had gotten a job six months earlier as an operator for Anadarko, and paystubs indicate his annual salary was about $61,500. Shanann Watts was working in a call center at a children's hospital at the time, earning about $18 an hour — more for evenings, weekends or extra shifts she sometimes worked.

The couple had a combined income of $90,000 in 2014. But they also had tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, along with some student loans and medical bills — for a total of $70,000 in unsecured claims on top of a sizable mortgage.

They said in the filing that their nearly $3,000 mortgage and $600 in monthly car payments formed the bulk of their $4,900 in monthly expenses.

Christopher Watts, who is being held without bail, is expected to be formally charged by Monday with three counts of murder and three counts of tampering with evidence.

After his wife and daughters were reported missing and before he was arrested, he stood on his porch and lamented to reporters how much he missed them, saying he longed for the simple things like telling his girls to eat their dinner and gazing at them as they curled up to watch cartoons.

He did not respond to reporters' questions when he was escorted into the courtroom Thursday.

His attorney, James Merson with the Colorado State Public Defender's Office, left the hearing without commenting to reporters and did not respond to a voicemail left at his office Thursday by The Associated Press.

___

Drew reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. Associated Press writers Colleen Slevin and Thomas Peipert in Denver, Courtney Bonnell and Michelle A. Monroe in Phoenix and researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.