In the early morning hours of August 13, 2018, a young mother returned home from a business trip. She expected to quietly enter her house, check on her two sleeping baby girls, and then slip into bed next to her loving husband. Her friend, Nickole Atkinson, had dropped her off at 1:45 am and planned on possibly driving Shanann to a doctor’s appointment early the next morning.
Shanann was almost four months pregnant with her first son, Nico Watts, and her two baby girls, Bella and Cece, were upstairs asleep.
Or her baby girls were already de*ad.
We will never know the full truth of the mu*rder of this precious family because their mu*rderer, Shanann Watts’ husband Christopher, is incapable of telling the truth. The actions of Chris Watts that night were the opposite of the mask that he had worn for his whole life and for him to admit to the truth is for him to discard his mask.
It is impossible for the public to ever know who this slug of a man really is because he does not know or accept who he really is.
Chris Watts is not the dream husband — ready to accomplish any task on a honey-do list with a loving smile. Nor is he the perfect father — the man who knows just what snacks his little girls like or how to do their hair. And he is not the perfect coworker who volunteers to head out to a work site early in the morning so that others don’t have to be inconvenienced.
He is none of that.
Chris Watts is a deeply shallow shell of a man whose only personality is to covertly rage at the women in his life who have supposedly deprived him of his personality. That is all that he is — an empty monster, a liar, and a ki*ller who blames those closest to him for his own failures and his own torment.
And he is also an idiot, despite his claims of an IQ of 130. His stupidity and the actions of Shanann’s friend, Nickole Atkinson, are why Chris Watts is rotting in jail, where he belongs, for the rest of his life.
Shanann Watts was a woman who was ambitious and driven in the best of ways. She succeeded in life by building others up and her Facebook page is a living testimonial to that attitude. Many of her posts were positive affirmations to help others get through their day. She was open about her health challenges (she was suffering from the autoimmune disease Lupus), open about her past divorce, and open about the loving life that she thought she was building with her husband.
Luckily, as some of her husband’s behavior began to be suspicious, Shanann was open about that with her friends as well.
Shanann told her friends that Chris had recently said that he didn’t want their third baby, that he was refusing sex with her, that he was refusing marriage counseling — that he was just done and that this sudden change had occurred while she and the girls were in North Carolina visiting family and Chris had stayed behind in Colorado for work.
Shanann was not worried about maintaining an image of happiness if it was fake — she wanted the real deal because she was the real deal.
In joy, she reached out to her friends and family. In sorrow, she reached out to her friends and family. Shanann was the kind of supportive, inspiring, and fun friend and family member that any of us would be lucky to have, and her loved ones returned that loyalty in full measure.
If any one of the many people that loved her had been there in the early hours of August 13, 2018, Shanann would still be alive. A coward like Chris Watts could only k*ill her when she was alone — but he was dumb enough not to realize that Shanann was never alone.
At 3:30 in the morning of August 13, 2018, Shanann’s mother, Sandy Rzucek, woke up and heard the Holy Spirit whisper the name Shanann.
Photo of Shanann Watts and her mom, Sandra Rzucek. Image from Facebook.
“I felt my daughter’s spirit the moment she died. I knew. I swear to God I knew. … I woke up the whole house. I said, ‘Something’s wrong with Shanann.’”~Sandy Rzucek
A few hours later, Shanann’s friend, Nickole Atkinson, started calling and texting her. She wanted to offer her a ride to her doctor’s appointment that morning since Shanann had not been feeling well on their trip to Arizona the day before. Uncharacteristically, Shanann did not answer. Nickole drove to Shanann’s doctors and found out that she had not shown up to her appointment, so Nickole then went to Shanann’s house.
Shanann’s car was in the garage and the shoes that she wore every day were visible next to the front door. Nickole knocked and knocked and used the code that she had to try to enter the house, but the front door was barred from the inside with a child-safety latch. She then called Chris Watts who tried to stall Nickole with a lie about Shanann taking the girls on a play date, but Nickole knew better. She told him nothing seemed right, she was worried and was going to call the police. Chris told her not to call the cops and claimed that he was heading home.
Nickole ignored the lies of her friend’s husband and trusted her instincts — she trusted her gut and everything that she knew about Shanann — and she called the police.
Were it not for the swift actions of Nickole Atkinson, Chris Watts would’ve had more time to try to cover up the four mu*rders that he had just committed and Shanann, Bella, and Cece would’ve spent many more nights buried in the cruel dirt and the destructive oil where Chris Watts had dumped their bodies.
Once the Frederick Police Department arrived at Shanann’s house, Chris Watts was very slow to arrive. He kept claiming he was five minutes away and then a half-an-hour would pass and he wouldn’t arrive. In the police bodycam from that day, Shanann’s mother Sandy can be heard frantically giving Nickole Atkinson permission to enter her daughter’s house.
Shanann’s angels on earth were gathering and they were not silent.
Once Chris Watts finally arrived at the house, he quickly shook the officer’s hand and then ran into the garage, stopped to open the door to Shanann’s car, and then went into the house from the garage and shut the door behind him, leaving the Frederick Police officer and Nickole outside. After about a minute, Chris Watts finally opened the door.
He did not scream for Shanann, or Bella, or Cece when he entered the house.
Nickole’s son found Shanann’s cellphone wedged between some pillows on the upstairs sofa. Nickole’s face at the moment that Shanann’s cellphone was discovered looked as if she had just lost her best friend — because she had. Because she knew that Shanann was gone — that something horrible must have happened to her, that she would never have willingly left her cellphone behind.
Chris did not look worried. He just muttered that the phone was her lifeline and then ambled off to “accidentally” discover her wedding ring left on their nightstand.
Nickole’s son told the Frederick Police Officer that the Watts’ next-door neighbor, Nate, had cameras that showed the Watts’ driveway and everyone went next door to watch the video footage. The video showed Chris Watts’ truck leaving at 5:45 am and also showed him spending over twenty minutes loading his truck for work.
According to his neighbor, Watts had never backed his truck up to the garage to load it — NEVER.
While the video of his movements that morning was playing, Chris Watts put his hands on top of his head and rocked back and forth — surrendering and comforting himself. He knew he was caught. If Shanann and the girls had left on the fictional play date he had invented, Nate’s camera would have filmed it but there had been no movement in the Watts’ driveway for the rest of the day.
A missing person’s report was filed and fliers began to be distributed around the neighborhood, but Detective Baumhover of the Frederick Police Department knew that something criminal had happened to the missing mother and her children and he knew that the number one suspect was right in front of him.
That night, Monday, August 13, 2018, Shanann, Bella, and Cece did not return home and the supposedly worried husband and father, Chris Watts, slept soundly in the house.
The next day, Tuesday, August 14, 2018, a local ABC affiliate interviewed Chris Watts in front of what had been his family’s home. He did not look sad or worried or frantic or any of the things a parent and husband would be. He smiled. He would only say the names of his wife and children when prompted by the interviewer — otherwise, he used the term “them”, which is classic distancing language. He rocked back and forth and hugged himself.
Every law enforcement official who viewed the interview had an immediate gut reaction that they were no longer looking for three missing people — they were looking at a mur*derer.
A few hours before the ABC interview, the Frederick Police Department had contacted the Colorado Bureau of Investigation — who had, in turn, contacted the FBI.
The next day, Wednesday, August 15, 2018, Chris Watts went to the Frederick Police Department and voluntarily took a polygraph administered by CBI Agent Tammy Lee. Agent Lee told Chris that if he had anything to do with the disappearance of his wife and children, it would be really stupid for him to take the lie detector test. And he didn’t believe her.
Chris Watts didn’t want any woman to tell him what to do anymore, so he took the test and, of course, failed spectacularly.
Agent Tammy Lee played Chris masterfully. Once she confronted him with the fact that he had failed the lie detector test, she offered him a way to maintain the image that she had deduced was so important to him. She asked him if Shanann had done something to the girls. She told him that, “Chicks are crazy.” Agent Lee wasn’t maligning or attacking Shanann — she KNEW that Chris had k*illed all three of his family members — but she also knew that he wasn’t going to confess outright, so she reeled him in, like the big stupid fish that he is.
Chris first tried to suggest that his failure of the polygraph was due to him lying about having an affair. Law enforcement brushed this admission aside — no question on the polygraph had involved an extramarital affair and (haha, mur*dering a*&hole) they already knew about his affair with Nichol Kessinger.
Once backed into a corner, Chris Watts admitted that he had ki*lled Shanann, but claimed that she had ki*lled Bella and Cece in a fit of rage after he had told her about his affair.
Agent Lee knew he was lying but pressed on, trying to get him to reveal the location of their bodies — which he did.
At 11 pm, Shanann’s body was unearthed at Cervi 319, an Anadarko Oil Well site where Chris had volunteered to work in the hours after his family’s disappearance. At 11:02 pm, Christopher Watts was handcuffed and booked into custody.
The next day, Thursday, August 16, 2018, the bodies of Bella and Cece Watts were recovered from inside the oil tanks at Cervi 319.
Two days after the recovery of the bodies of the baby girls, Agent Tammy Lee was at a hair salon with her own mom and sister, trying to distract herself for a moment. She broke down crying and couldn’t stop.
“I felt like I knew them. I’ve been to many homicides of children. This one was different. I felt like I knew what they sounded like. I knew what they looked like when they played and how they sounded when they giggled. I felt like I was mourning their de*aths.”~Agent Tammy Lee
In November of 2018, Chris Watts pled guilty to the mur*ders of Shanann, Bella, and Cece Watts and was sentenced to three separate sentences of life without parole for their mur*ders. He was also sentenced to two additional life sentences for m*urdering a child while being in a position of trust to them and additional time for the mur*der of his unborn son, Nico, and for tampering with human remains.
Despite the prognostications of various YouTube commentators, Christopher Watts will never get out of prison. He confessed and was under no duress. Over the next few years, the media attention paid to this case will dwindle and Chris Watts will return to being what he has always been — an empty shell of a man with a mask for every occasion.