In August of 2018, the town of Frederick, Colorado was shocked to see on social media and the news the case of a missing pregnant woman and her two toddlers. The missing mother, Shanann Watts, was last seen on her ring doorbell camera at approximately 2 am August 13th as she returned home from a business trip to Arizona. Her two daughters Bella (4) and Celeste (3) had spent that weekend with their father, Chris Watts. Later that morning, Nickole Atkinson, a friend who had dropped Shanann off at her home that morning, found that she was getting no response to her texts and calls to Shanann. Within hours, Nickole Atkinson, Chris Watts, and a police officer search the home. They find Shanann’s purse, medication, and phone. Her shoes lie by the front door and her car in the garage with the two car seats inside. No footage showed her leaving the home.
The Watts’ neighbor’s surveillance footage showed Chris Watts backing his truck up to the open garage door and loading several unseen things. His friends and neighbors became suspicious of his behavior. Within days it is revealed he had been having an affair with a coworker for roughly a month. She has since gone into hiding. Chris Watts eventually confessed to his father his version of events, that Shanann had suffocated the girls after he demanded a divorce and informed her of the affair. In a rage, the distraught father then strangled his wife. Although he would later confess, in detail, to killing all three himself, the initial confession is one many still accept. Despite his second, full confession, Shanann still received tons of hate from those who feel sympathy for Chris Watts.
Described by many as the kindest, quietest and most passive man they’d ever met, Chris Watts appeared to all as the submissive partner in their marriage. Shanann was a go-getter. She ran two businesses online (both hers and Chris’ direct sales), and was very open on social media to reach more clients. She built her own home before meeting Chris. In spite of her Lupus diagnosis, she worked hard to succeed. Many describe her as a dominant person, who knows how she likes things done.
Since Chris Watts’ sentencing, supporters throw shade on Shanann’s name. They call her controlling, emasculating, and demanding towards her husband. Many searched for something Shanann must have done to make her husband kill her and her children. On her social media, commenters even critisized her parenting. Reddit comments describe her spending habits and one commenter says, “How can you honestly discuss this case without victim shaming , within 3 yrs she had them almost 500k in debt for the 2nd time” and goes on to say, “no-one deserves what happened to her , no-one , but let’s be real she was not a nice person.”
Does not being “a nice person” with an alleged spending problem lead to the conclusion that Shanann brought out the murderous rage of her husband? It is assumed that Chris Watts cooked up his plan to murder his family while his wife and children were away in North Carolina to see family. During this time alone, five weeks, he spent most of it with his mistress. He described in his confessions she had, “took his breath away.” In texts to her, he declares, “being in your life is something I crave.” His mistress replies later, “You think youre the only one addicted right now? I’m so hooked on you.” His mistress was different from Shanann in many ways, mostly she allowed Chris to be more dominant. Although Shanan had a dominant personality, she was not known to be abusive to her husband, or vise versa.
It appears more likely that Chris enjoyed his five weeks away from his family spent with his mistress. The financial stress, straining marriage and anxiety with a new baby coming sent Chris Watts into a haste to find a way to get out of the situation, and start anew with his mistress. She wanted to give him his first son, but Shanann was pregnant with a baby boy, Nico Watts. Author Cheryln Cadle allegedly corresponded with Watts in prison after his arrest, in letters where he admitted to a lot of unknown deeds before the murder of his family. Like giving his wife oxycodone in efforts to make her miscarry, which failed. He also allegedly confessed to her of attempting to kill his daughters the night before Shanann returned from Arizona, by suffocating them. This also failed.
In the end, Shanann has been victim blamed for her own murder. Some have gone as far as saying the children deserved it as well. Despite Shanann’s personality, Chris had no right, or justification, to murder his pregnant wife and children. After her murder, he placed her into garbage bags and into the back floor of his truck. His daughters sat in the back seat above their mother, complaining of the smell. He arrived to his worksite and buried his wife in a shallow grave. The murder of his family signified the beginning of his new life with his mistress.
He suffocated his daughters in the truck, one watching the other. Bella cried, “Daddy no!” as her father took her life. He heartlessly stuffed his daughters bodies into giant crude oil tanks. With an 8 inch opening, even a toddlers body wouldn’t fit. He shoved them into the opening. Chris Watts murdered his entire family and tried to get away with it in order to start a new, bachelor life. He described killing his wife as the “epitamy of rage” when she said he would never see his children again after telling her he didn’t love her. Shanann and Chris Watts had differing personalities, but that is no excuse for what he went on to visiciously do. Shanann and her children did not deserve to die. The way he lied for days and even months before admitting what truly happened shows his sheer lack or remorse.