Man escapes death penalty after admitting killing wife and two daughters

A man charged with killing his pregnant wife and two daughters will avoid the death penalty after pleading guilty.

Christopher Watts, 33, said he had killed Shannann Watts after seeing her strangling one of their children on a baby monitor.

Watts claimed in an interview that his 34-year-old partner killed the girls, Celeste and Bella, after learning that he wanted a divorce.

Christopher Watts
Christopher Watts pleaded guilty in court

He faced 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.

Appearing in court in Greeley, Colorado, on Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to all nine charges as the judge read them out.

Prosecutors said a possible death penalty was dropped with the agreement of victims’ family members.

Shanann Watts' father, Frank Rzucek (left), and her brother, Frankie Rzucek
Shanann Watts’ father, Frank Rzucek (left), and her brother, Frankie Rzucek

Shannan Watts’s father was pictured looking overcome with emotion during the hearing. Her mother and brother were also there.

Investigators discovered Watts was “actively involved in an affair with a co-worker”, which he had denied during an earlier interview.

Shanann and Christopher Watts. Pic: Facebook
Shanann and Christopher Watts. Pic: Facebook

He told officers he loaded his wife and children’s bodies into the back seat of his truck and drove them to an oil and natural gas company he worked for.

His wife was buried there and the girls were submerged in crude oil, with their remains found by police who used a drone to search areas identified by Watts.

The couple had credit card debts running to tens of thousands of dollars, with some student loans and medical bills adding up to $70,000 (£54,876) in unsecured claims – on top of a sizeable mortgage.

Nevertheless, Mrs Watts had written upbeat social media posts about her daughters, pregnancy and love for her husband not long before she died.

Family friend Ashley Bell said he did not understand why Watts killed his family, describing him as a loving father and his wife as “pretty happy” at the time of her death.


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