US

Chris Watts’s Killings of Pregnant Wife, Young Daughters Still Haunt Investigators: Documentary

By Zachary Stieber

The killings of a pregnant Colorado woman and her two young daughters by her husband, 33-year-old Chris Watts, is still haunting investigators who worked on the case.

Watts was convicted of killing Shanann Watts, 34, her unborn baby boy, and their two young daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, last year and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The brutal murders are the focus of a new documentary on the Investigation Discovery Channel set to air on June 2, called “Family Man, Family Murderer: An ID Murder Mystery.”

Steve Wrenn, the Deputy District Attorney for Weld County, was one of the investigators who are featured in the new documentary. He said that people who worked on the case were changed forever.

Shanann Watts family wants justice
Shanann Watts and her two daughters in a file photo. (Shanann Watts/Facebook)

“Police officers, first responders, prosecutors, defense attorneys—we operate in a world where we see bad people do bad things on a somewhat daily basis,” Wrenn told Fox News. “This took it to a level that I don’t think a lot of people are still able to get their heads around it. It’s impacted the way we go about our daily lives and how we interact with our families, how we are able to do our jobs sometimes.”

“The ripple of one crime like this has been phenomenal,” Wrenn added. “The first responders that had to remove the children from the oil tanks—they’ll never be the same. Some of the investigators I know had struggled to return to their jobs and go about investigations the same way.”

Wrenn said that the people who attended the autopsies of the victims were also affected.

The bodies of the two little girls were found on Aug. 16, 2018, submerged in crude oil, while their mother was buried nearby.

Shanann Watts and two daughters
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 in Frederick, Colorado on Aug. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Prosecutors said that Watts strangled Bella while she tried to fight him off.

“She fought back for her life as her father smothered her,” Weld County prosecutor Michael Rourke told the court during the sentencing. “Imagine the horror in Bella’s mind as her father took her last breaths away.”

The county coroner found blunt force trauma on the girl’s jaw, and lacerations, and contusions in her mouth. The autopsy also found teeth impressions, and superficial bite marks on the surface of her tongue.

The family’s attorney said this year that Bella walked into the room as her father strangled Shanann Watts.

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 on August 16, 2018. (Weld County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS)
Christopher Watts, 33, arrested on suspicion of murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters, in Frederick, Colorado, is shown in this handout photo provided on August 16, 2018. (Weld County Sheriff’s Office/Handout via REUTERS)

Bella walked in and asked her dad, “What are you doing with mommy?” the lawyer said. The attorney also said that Watts drove the girls with their mother’s dead body to the area where he left their bodies before smothering Celeste with her favorite blanket as her sister watched.

“Please daddy, do not do to me what you just did to Cee Cee,” Bella said before being killed.

Watts told investigators in February that he initially blamed the girls’ deaths on his wife because he thought his family would believe that she killed them.

Watts told investigators in the interview that he seized on the idea of his wife hurting the children when a detective floated the idea. Shortly after, Watts claimed he killed his wife because she killed the girls.

“I never even thought about it until you guys mentioned it,” he said. “I just went with it.”

“I do agree that this crime can only be committed by a sociopath,” Wrenn told Fox. “There’s no other possible explanation.”