'Bombshell' information from girlfriend of Chris Watts helped investigators

 

"Nichol Kessinger turned out to have information that I can best describe as being a bombshell," said Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke in an interview that aired on Investigation Discovery Sunday night.

Watts pleaded guilty in November to murdering his wife Shanann Watts, who was pregnant, and his daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, and is serving three consecutive life sentences.

When Shanann, Bella and Celeste went missing last August, local media descended, and Watts begged on camera for the safe return of his family.

For Kessinger, something didn't seem right. She had been romantically involved with Watts for a couple of months and thought police should know.

"We started hanging out pretty frequently in the last week of June," Kessinger told police, according to recordings that aired Sunday night.

"He informed me that he did have two kids, that he was currently in the process of a separation from his wife. As far as I knew, that was becoming pretty finalized."

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Shanann Watts and her two daughters killed in Colorado
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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
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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
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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)
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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)
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"I wonder if there's more to this story than I know because I think he's a really good guy, and you know, I'm worried about his wife and kids," she said. "And it's just freaking me out because those little girls are just so little, and she's pregnant, you know? And it's like where's their mom?"

Police found cards Watts had sent Kessinger, photos of the pair together and emails sent between the two, and started to focus on Watts, prosecutors told Investigation Discovery.

"It appeared to us as if he had every intention of starting a brand new life, clean of Shanann and Bella and Celeste and Niko with the love of his life — is how he described Nichol Kessinger," Rourke said. Shanann and Watts had planned to name their third child Niko.

Watts first admitted to killing only Shanann. He said he found her strangling their daughters and then strangled her.

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Christopher Watts' court appearances
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Christopher Watts' court appearances
GREELEY, CO - AUGUST 21: Christopher Watts is in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse on August 21, 2018 in Greeley, Colorado. Watts faces nine charges, including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters. (Photo by RJ Sangosti - Pool/Getty Images)
Frank Rzucek, the father of Shanann Watts, and her brother Frankie Rzucek react during the arraignment hearing of Christopher Watts on nine charges including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters, at the Weld County Courthouse in Greeley, Colorado, U.S. August 21, 2018. RJ Sangosti/Pool via REUTERS
Michael J. Rourke, District Attorney for Weld County, listens to the judge during the arraignment hearing of Christopher Watts on nine charges including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters, at the Weld County Courthouse in Greeley, Colorado, U.S. August 21, 2018. RJ Sangosti/Pool via REUTERS
Frankie Rzucek, the brother of Shanann Watts, watches the arraignment hearing of Christopher Watts on nine charges including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters, at the Weld County Courthouse in Greeley, Colorado, U.S. August 21, 2018. RJ Sangosti/Pool via REUTERS
Christopher Watts, facing nine charges including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters, appears in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse in Greeley, Colorado, U.S. August 21, 2018. RJ Sangosti/Pool via REUTERS
Frank Rzucek, the father of Shanann Watts, reacts during the arraignment hearing of Christopher Watts on nine charges including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters, at the Weld County Courthouse in Greeley, Colorado, U.S. August 21, 2018. RJ Sangosti/Pool via REUTERS
Christopher Watts, facing nine charges including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters, appears in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse in Greeley, Colorado, U.S. August 21, 2018. RJ Sangosti/Pool via REUTERS
Christopher Watts, facing nine charges including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters, appears in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse in Greeley, Colorado, U.S. August 21, 2018. RJ Sangosti/Pool via REUTERS
GREELEY, CO - AUGUST 21: Christopher Watts is in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse on August 21, 2018 in Greeley, Colorado. Watts faces nine charges, including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters. (Photo by RJ Sangosti - Pool/Getty Images)
Christopher Watts, facing nine charges including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters, appears in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse in Greeley, Colorado, U.S. August 21, 2018. RJ Sangosti/Pool via REUTERS
Frank Rzucek, the father of Shanann Watts, reacts during the arraignment hearing of Christopher Watts on nine charges including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters, at the Weld County Courthouse in Greeley, Colorado, U.S. August 21, 2018. RJ Sangosti/Pool via REUTERS
GREELEY, CO - AUGUST 21: Christopher Watts is in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse on August 21, 2018 in Greeley, Colorado. Watts faces nine charges, including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
GREELEY, CO - AUGUST 21: Christopher Watts is in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse on August 21, 2018 in Greeley, Colorado. Watts faces nine charges, including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
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But then, in November, he pleaded guilty to killing all three, in a bid to avoid the death penalty.

Watts had previously pointed investigators to the property of Anadarko Petroleum, where he worked and had disposed of the bodies. Shanann was found in a shallow grave on the site, and each of the girls' bodies were found submerged in separate oil tanks.

Recovery of the bodies was gruesome, investigators said. "A lot of different folks had to be involved in that, and I don't know if any of them will ever be the same," Weld County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wrenn said.

"We have to have crime scene personnel basically climbing in to these tanks to recover these two little girls' bodies," Rourke said. "From a basic human reaction, how in the world can you do that to your own kids?"

After his sentencing, Watts admitted to investigators in an extensive jailhouse interview that he had killed his whole family. He said he first strangled his wife after telling her he didn't love her anymore.

He said, "I had no control over it. Why couldn't I just let go?"

Watts said he then loaded his daughters and Shanann's body into his truck and drove them to Anadarko where he smothered his daughters and got rid of all three bodies.

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