Colorado man charged with murder says wife killed daughters

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado man told police that he killed his pregnant wife in "a rage" when he discovered she had strangled their two daughters after he sought a separation, according to an arrest affidavit released on Monday shortly after prosecutors charged the man with his family's murders.

According to the affidavit, Christopher Watts told his wife, Shanann, that he wanted to separate when she returned from a business trip early on the morning of Aug. 13.

Watts told police that he walked downstairs after the conversation.

When he returned to the couple's bedroom, Watts said he checked a baby monitor on Shanann's nightstand and saw his wife strangling their youngest daughter while their oldest daughter sprawled on her bed, looking blue.

Watts, 33, said he then "went into a rage" and strangled his wife.

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

He told police that he loaded all three bodies into his work truck, and then he buried his wife at an oil work site and dumped the remains of 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste inside oil tanks.

A judge on Friday denied a request by defense lawyer James Merson to require the coroner to collect DNA from the necks of the children.

Autopsies have been completed but not released.

The arrest affidavit was sealed at prosecutors' request until Monday. After nine felony charges were filed against Watts, a judge granted prosecutors' request to unseal it.

Watts faces three first-degree murder charges, two counts of murdering a child, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.

The charges come a week after a friend reported Shanann Watts, 34, and the girls missing.

Before his arrest last week, Christopher Watts lamented in interviews with local television stations about missing his wife and daughters. He spoke in front of their home in Frederick, a small town on the grassy plains north of Denver where fast-growing subdivisions intermingle with drilling rigs and oil wells.

The bodies were found on property owned by Anadarko Petroleum, one of Colorado's largest oil and gas drillers, where Watts had worked as an operator. Court documents filed by Merson said the girls had been submerged in crude oil for four days.

The affidavit says Watts gave police an aerial photograph of the area and identified three areas where he placed the bodies. Investigators used a drone to search the area and spotted a bed sheet that matched other linens found in the family home, along with fresh dirt.

Watts is being held without bail and will next appear in court Tuesday.

Family and friends said they were shocked by the slayings, saying the family seemed happy and Christopher Watts appeared to be a good father. The social media accounts for Shanann Watts, who was from North Carolina, are filled with photos of the family smiling and playing and posts praising her husband and expressing excitement about the couple expecting their third child.

But a June 2015 bankruptcy filing captured a picture of a family dealing with financial strain.

Read Full Story