One year on – the murders of Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts

The horrendous murders of Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts in August 2018 had everyone at True Crime Society on edge. What was first said to be the disappearance of a pregnant mother and her two young girls quickly turned into the most horrible crime imaginable.

Shanann and Chris Watts were seemingly living the American dream in Frederick, Colorado. Chris was employed by Anadarko Petroleum, while Shanann was an independent representative for the multi-level marketing company Le-vel, selling a product called Thrive. They had two beautiful girls, Bella (4) and Celeste (3).

On June 11, 2018, Shanann surprised Chris with the news that she was pregnant for the third time and that they were getting their longed for son.

Shanann’s Pregnancy Announcement

Chris Watts seems genuinely excited.

“That’s awesome,” he tells his wife before kissing her. “I guess when you want to, it happens.”

On June 14, 2018, Shanann posted a video online of Bella singing a song about how much she loved her daddy.

Bella sings ” My daddy is a hero/ He helps me grow up strong/ He helps me snuggle too/ He reads me books/ He ties my shoes/ You’re a hero through and through/ Daddy, Daddy, I love you.”

On the same day that Bella is singing to Chris ‘ her hero’, he enters contact details for Nichol Kessinger into his phone. Nichol and Chris work together at Anadarko. Unbeknownst to his wife Shanann, Chris and Nichol are in a relationship.

June 14: Chris Watts enters coworker Nichol Kessinger's contact information into his phone. Kessinger would later become his mistress.
Nichol and Chris

On June 17, 2018, Shanann posted a Father’s Day tribute to Chris on Facebook. “Chris, we are so incredibly blessed to have you!” she wrote, according to HuffPost. “You do so much everyday for us and take such great care of us. You are the reason I was brave enough to agree to number 3!” She shared a photo from the ultrasound of their baby a few days later.

June 19: Shanann Watts shares a picture from her first ultrasound and writes that her husband is the

June 27, 2018 sees Shanann take Bella and Celeste to North Carolina for a five week vacation. Chris stays at home to ‘work’. While Shanann was away, Nichol visited the Watts home multiple times.

July 4: Kessinger told police she went to Chris Watts' house for the first time on the Fourth of July to
The Watts home

July 7, 2018 – this is the first official record of a phone call between Chris and Nichol.

July 7: The first phone call is logged between Chris Watts and Kessinger.
Chris and Nichol

July 10, 2018 – tension between Chris and Shanann is beginning to show. Police obtained text messages between the two:

July 10: Signs of tension begin to show in the Watts' marriage, according to their text messages.

July 18, 2018 – Nichol sends Chris multiple semi-nude photos of herself. Chris has a fake calendar app on his phone, which is where he stores the photos.

July 18: Kessinger sends Chris Watts seminude photos of herself, which he stores on a secret calculator app on his phone.

Nichol

July 30, 2018 – Chris gives Nichol a love letter before he leaves to go on vacation with his wife and children.

July 30: Chris Watts gives Kessinger a love letter before leaving town to join his family on their summer vacation.
The inside of the letter contains lyrics to the song

July 31, 2018 – Chris flies to North Carolina for a week of vacation with his wife and girls. Shanann sent text messages to friends, outlining problems that she was having with Chris.

July 31: Chris Watts flies to North Carolina for the final week of his family's vacation. His and Shanann Watts' reunion does not appear to be happy, according to a copy of a text Shanann Watts sent to her husband, which she later forwarded to a friend.

On August 4, 2018, there was an issue with Chris’ parents when they exposed Celeste to nuts (of which they knew she was allergic to). Shannan was upset that Chris did not stick up for her in the situation.

August 4, 12:45 a.m.: Shanann Watts sends her husband a long text message accusing him of failing to stand up for her after his parents exposed their daughter Celeste to nuts, which she was allergic to.
Shanann’s messages to Chris

Back in Colorado, Nichol was searching online for wedding dresses. She spent two hours browsing the net, looking for her dream dress.

On August 7, 2018, Shanann begins to tell her friends more about her troubles with Chris.

August 7: Shanann Watts starts confiding in friends about her problems with her husband.
August 9: Shanann Watts tells a friend that Chris Watts went to her ultrasound but he was cold to her, so she decided to cancel the baby's gender-reveal party.

Shanann is trying during this time to desperately save her marriage. She sent a text to a friend, showing a handwritten letter that she gave to Chris.

August 9: Shanann Watts texts a friend a handwritten letter she has drafted to give to her husband, in which she says she doesn't know how they

Shannan leaves for a brief business trip to Arizona on August 9, 2018.

While Shanann is away, Chris hires a babysitter. He tells his wife that he is going to a Colorado Rockies game with his coworkers, whereas in reality he was going on a date with Nichol to a sports bar.

August 12, 2018 – while Shanann is away on her trip, she sends a friend a message of a speech that she is intending to give to Chris when she returns to Colorado the following day.

August 12: Shanann Watts sends a friend a draft of a speech she plans to give to her husband when she returns to Colorado the next day.

COUNTDOWN TO MURDER

On August 13, 2018 at 1.48am, neighborhood CCTV catches Shanann returning home from her business trip.

August 13, 1:48 a.m.: A neighbor's surveillance camera captures Shanann Watts returning home from her business trip to Arizona.

What happened after Shanann returned has been the subject of debate, as Chris told many lies to police in the days after. He said he and his wife got into an argument when he woke up to get ready to work. He told investigators she accused him of cheating, he “snapped,” and then he strangled her.

Later that morning: Watts said he and his wife got into an argument when he woke up to get ready to work. He told investigators she accused him of cheating, he
Chris and Shanann

Chris said that the noise woke up Bella who came into the bedroom and asked ‘What’s wrong with Mommy?”

Chris said his daughter watched as he wrapped his wife’s body in a sheet and dragged her out to his truck. Watts told investigators that both girls sat on the bench seat of his truck as they drove out to an oil site where he worked to dump Shanann’s body in a shallow grave. He smothered both girls with a blanket in the back seat of the truck and dumped their bodies into oil tanks,

At 5.27am, Chris is captured on CCTV loading Shanann and the girls into his truck.

August 13, 5:27 a.m.: Surveillance footage shows Watts loading up his work truck and leaving home.

At 10.10am, after disposing of his family’s remains at the oil field where he worked, Chris looks up the lyrics to a Metallica song, “Battery.”

The song contains the lyrics: “Smashing through the boundaries/ Lunacy has found me/ Cannot stop the battery/ Pounding out aggression/ Turns into obsession/ Cannot kill the battery/ Cannot kill the family.”

In an interview with investigators in February, after he was sentenced, Chris said he was looking up the lyrics to the song because Nichol liked it and asked him what it meant.

He denied looking up the lyrics on the way to or from the oil site after the murders.

Later this day, the Watt’s realtor reaches out to Chris to discuss a possible home move. The realtor questions why Shanann hasn’t responded to messages and Chris says ” She hasn’t been around all day, it’s very odd.”

August 13: At one point the realtor questions why Shanann Watts hasn't weighed in on their conversation. 

At 1.40pm on August 13, 2018, Shanann’s friend Nickole Atkinson reported her missing after she was unable to get in touch with her.

August 13, 1:40 p.m.: Shanann Watts' friend Nickole Atkinson, left, reports her missing when she can't get ahold of her.
Nickole Atkinson

Police arrived and looked over the Watts home. A neighbor sees what is happening and invites the police to review his home-surveillance footage. This footage disproves Chris Watts’ story to the police that his wife left with the girls while he was at work.

August 13: After looking through the house, a neighbor invites Chris Watts and a police officer over to his property to review his home-surveillance footage, which disproves Chris Watts' story that his wife left with the girls while he was at work.
The moment Chris realizes his movements were caught on CCTV

On August 14, 2018, one day after the murders, Chris appears on television to appeal for information about the whereabouts of his family.

It doesn’t take long for Chris’ house of lies to come crashing down. On August 15, police discover Chris’ relationship with Nichol and he fails a lie detector test. He cracks and confesses his role in the death of his wife to police.

August 15, evening: After police discover Chris Watts has a mistress and he fails a lie detector test, he admits to strangling his wife and burying her in a shallow grave at an oil site.

He refuses to take responsibility for the murders of the girls. He tells police that Shanann smothered them.

At 11.30pm on August 15, 2018, Chris is arrested on suspicion of three first-degree-murder charges and three charges of tampering with a deceased human body.

August 15, 11:30 p.m.: Chris Watts is arrested on suspicion of three first-degree-murder charges and three charges of tampering with a deceased human body.

On August 16, 2018, Chris tells police where he dumped the remains of his family. Their bodies are recovered.

August 16, afternoon: Shanann Watts' body is found in a shallow grave near this oil site. The bodies of the girls were found in the two oil tanks.
The site where Shanann, Bella and Celeste were found

What happened next was nothing short of a circus. Hundreds of pages of evidence were released during Chris’ trial. Details of the affair between Nichol and Chris were made public. Nichol has chosen to go into hiding following the release of hundreds of text messages and communications between the two.

On November 6, 2018, Chris Watts plead guilty to all nine counts that he was charged with.

November 6: Chris Watts pleads guilty to all nine counts against him.
Chris in jail

In pleading guilty to five counts of first-degree murder, Chris Watts negated his initial story that his wife killed their daughters and assumed responsibility to killing all three himself. Two additional murder charges were added because the children were under the ages of 12.

He also pleaded guilty to three counts of tampering with a deceased human body and one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy.

On November 19, 2018, Chris was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences, without the possibility of parole.

November 19: Chris Watts is sentenced to three consecutive life sentences, without the possibility of parole.

This case was one of the craziest we have ever come across. There is no way to document everything that went on in a blog post – we would need to write a novel! There are thousands of pieces of evidence that were released to the public. Be sure to join our Facebook group, where we have TEN threads dedicated to the murders of Shanann, Bella and Celeste.

Rest in peace, Shanann, Bella and Celeste. Rot in prison, Chris.

The Full Timeline – Chris Watts Murder Case

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