Chris Watts charged with murder, unlawful termination of a pregnancy in deaths of wife, daughters

Posted at 4:22 PM, Aug 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-20 20:04:26-04

Weld County prosecutors on Monday formally charged 33-year-old Chris Watts with nine felony counts, including first-degree murder, in regards to the deaths of his pregnant wife, Shanann Watts, and their two young daughters.

Watts faces three counts of first-degree murder after deliberation, two counts of first-degree murder – victim under 12/position of trust, one count of first-degree unlawful termination of a pregnancy, and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body, according to Colorado court records and documents filed Monday afternoon.

READ: Affidavit: Chris Watts was having affair, claimed wife tried to kill daughters before he killed her

At a Monday afternoon news conference, District Attorney Michael Rourke declined to further discuss any details of the case.

But Shanann Watts' father, Frank Rzucek, gave a brief statement: "We would like to thank everyone in the Frederick Police Department and all the agencies involved for working so hard to find my daughter, granddaughters and [unborn child] Nico," Rzucek said. "Thank you everyone for coming out to the candlelight vigil and sending all your prayers. They are greatly appreciated. And keep the prayers coming for our family. Thank you very much.”

The unlawful termination of a pregnancy charge comes because Shanann Watts was 15 weeks pregnant at the time she was killed. The documents state: "The woman died as a result of the unlawful termination of the pregnancy.". Former Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett explained the statute in an interview with KMGH Friday.

The documents show there are at least 72 witnesses in the case so far – most of whom are law enforcement officers.

The affidavit for Chris Watts' arrest was ordered unsealed Monday and was released Monday afternoon. It says that Chris Watts was having an affair that he had previously denied to police, and that he claimed that Shanann had tried to strangle their daughters after he told her he wanted to separate.

The affidavit also backs up some of what KMGH has reported so far and what neighbors have said about the case.

Watts was arrested late last Wednesday for investigation on first-degree murder and tampering with deceased body charges and has been held without bond ever since.

MORE: Everything we know so far about the Watts family murders

His pregnant wife and daughters, 34-year-old Shanann Watts, 3-year-old Celeste and 4-year-old Bella, were reported missing last Monday by a family friend after Shanann missed a doctor’s appointment.

A day after the three were reported missing, Chris Watts gave an interview toKMGH in which he pleaded for the girls to come home and said he and his wife “had an emotional conversation” before he allegedly last saw her. Watts confessed to killing the three of them, two law enforcement sources told KMGH last week.

Shanann’s body was discovered in a field on Anadarko Petroleum Company property. Court documents show her body was found in a "shallow grave near an oil tank." Her daughter’s bodies were discovered concealed within oil tanks nearby, sources told KMGH. Court documents filed late last week show experts were advised the bodies were in tanks filled with crude oil "for several days." Chris Watts had been an Anadarko employee but was fired by the company Wednesday.

On Friday, the coroner's office announced they had positively identified the bodies as those of Shanann Watts and her two daughters. The manner and cause of death of all three bodies are pending further laboratory results and have not been released at this time.

Weld County prosecutors said in court last week they believed the two girls and their mother were killed inside the home but did not elaborate. Frederick police said Friday they still had several days of interviews to complete before Monday's deadline.

Watts is scheduled to appear in court at 10 a.m. Tuesday to learn the formal charges he faces in the case.