U.S. man admits slaying wife, blames her for daughters’ deaths

A 33-year-old Denver man is facing three first-degree murder charges

The father of two young girls found submerged in oil tanks after being missing for days told authorities his pregnant wife killed the children after learning he wanted a separation, and that he erupted in rage after witnessing the killings and strangled their mother inside the family’s suburban Denver home, according to court documents.

Days after letting police inside his home so they could help find his missing family, Christopher Watts told investigators “he would tell the truth.”

Watts first asked to speak with his father then admitted to killing his wife, Shanann. Watts told police in court papers released Monday that he killed her after witnessing her strangling one of the girls on a baby monitor. The other child had already been killed by the woman, he said.

Watts, 33, faces three first-degree murder charges, two counts of murdering a child under 12, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body. He is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday and is being held without bail.

District Attorney Michael Rourke declined to answer questions about the case Monday but said his office has three prosecutors working on it. Rourke also said it was too early to discuss whether he will seek the death penalty.

RELATED: Kelowna man charged in deaths of wife and daughters appears in court

Police first visited the family’s house on Aug. 13, after a friend asked officers to check on Shanann Watts. She had missed a doctor’s appointment and wasn’t answering calls or text messages hours after returning home after a business trip, the friend reported.

With Christopher Watts’ approval, police searched the house and found his wife’s cellphone stuffed inside a couch. Her purse was on a kitchen island and a suitcase was at the bottom of the stairs.

A detective spoke to Christopher Watts and learned about his separation plans. Watts first described the conversation with Shannan as civil but later told police that “they were both upset and crying” and she planned to go to a friend’s house that day, the court papers said.

When Shanann Watts and the girls did not return home by Tuesday morning, investigators ramped up their efforts with the help of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Christopher Watts was interviewed by several local television stations, asking for the return of his family and discussing how much he missed spending time with his children.

It wasn’t until Wednesday night that he made his promise to tell police the truth.

According to Watts’ account, the early hours of Aug. 13 began with an intense conversation. He said he told his wife that he wanted a separation. Separately in the papers released Monday, investigators said they learned that Watts was “actively involved in an affair with a co-worker,” something he denied in earlier conversations with police.

Watts told police that after discussing the separation he walked downstairs.

When he returned, he told them he spotted a baby monitor on his wife’s nightstand — displaying her “actively strangling” their 3-year-old daughter, Celeste. He said the video feed also showed their other daughter, 4-year-old Bella, “sprawled out on her bed and blue.”

“Chris said he went into a rage and ultimately strangled Shanann to death,” the document said.

Police found surveillance video from a neighbour showing Watts’ truck backing into the driveway at 5:27 a.m. and shortly after driving away from the house in Frederick, a small town on the grassy plains north of Denver where fast-growing subdivisions like the one the Watts family lived in intermingle with drilling rigs and oil wells.

Watts, an operator with Anadarko Petroleum, said he loaded his wife and daughters’ bodies into the back seat of his truck and drove to an oil work site about 40 miles (65 kilometres) east of the family’s home. There, he buried Shanann Watts’ body and “dumped the girls inside” oil tanks, according to the court document.

Separate court documents filed by Watts’ defence attorney last week said the girls’ bodies were submerged in crude oil for four days before police found the remains late Thursday. Their mother’s body was found nearby, in a shallow grave, according to prosecutors.

Anadarko, one of Colorado’s largest oil and gas drillers, has since fired Watts.

RELATED: When parents kill: A look at B.C. cases and the minds behind them

The court filing 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 in the family home, along with fresh dirt.

Shanann Watts’ social media social media posts show the girls playing with their father and each other. The couple married in North Carolina nearly six years ago, and moved to Colorado soon after.

Shanann’s father, Frank Rzucek, spoke to reporters for the first time on Monday. In a statement, he thanked police for their efforts, along with friends and neighbours who organized a candlelight vigil outside the family’s home last week.

“Keep the prayers coming for our family,” Rzucek said.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Huckleberry harvesting restricted to protect grizzly habitat

The Province is restricting commercial-scale huckleberry harvesting to protect grizzly bear habitat… Continue reading

Nelson rejects plastic bag ban, opts for education and awareness

Council will collaborate with Chamber of Commerce

Nelson U-Haul shutting down

Kootenay Glass and Mirror will no longer provide the service as of July 12

Search for missing Salmo motorcyclist called off for the time being

RCMP say no evidence of Cory McKay’s whereabouts was found Thursday

Live edge furniture company opens in Creston

Jeremy and Sarah Smith are the proud owners of Dombelltay Custom and… Continue reading

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

B.C.-wide police efforts identify Vancouver Island robbery suspect

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Most Read