New details emerge about pregnant wife and her daughter’s murders

REVEALED: Bodies of girls, aged 3 and 4, were submerged in oil drums for FOUR DAYS and their pregnant mother was buried in a shallow grave after they were all murdered by killer dad

  • Court documents obtained Saturday revealed new details about the bodies of Shanann Watts’ and the couple’s daughters Bella and Celeste
  • Christopher Watts, 33, is being held without bail on three counts of murder 
  • The girls’ bodies were found stuffed in oil drums after he confessed Wednesday
  • Prosecutors are weighing whether to pursue death penalty, a rarity in Colorado 
  • Motive for the murders remains a mystery though as investigators keep mum 
  • Shanann was planning to throw a gender reveal party on Saturday 

New court documents have revealed that the body of Shanann Watts, a pregnant mother whose husband is suspected of killing her and the couple’s two young daughters, was found in a shallow grave near where the girls were submerged in an oil tank

The body of a pregnant mother whose husband is suspected of killing her as well as strangling their two young daughters was found in a shallow grave near where the girls were submerged in oil drums for four days, court documents have revealed.

Christopher Lee Watts is being held without bail in Weld County, Colorado, on Saturday, the day he and his wife Shanann had planned to throw a gender reveal party.  

The 33-year-old has been charged with murdering Shanann and the couple’s two daughters, four-year-old Bella and three-year-old Celeste, whose bodies were recovered Thursday in an oil field where he worked.

In a motion filed Thursday night which was obtained by 9NEWS Saturday, prosecutors revealed: ‘The body of Defendant’s wife was located earlier this morning after being recovered from a shallow grave near an oil tank. 

‘Later this afternoon, law enforcement recovered the bodies of Defendant’s two daughters from inside oil tanks located near the grave of their mother.’

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Christopher Lee Watts, 33, is facing three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of evidence tampering in the killings of his wife Shanann and daughters Bella, four, and Celeste, three, whose bodies were recovered Thursday in an oil field where he worked

The two young girls were believed to have been strangled before their bodies were submerged in an oil drum, according to court documents

An aerial view of the oil field where the bodies were recovered Thursday is shown above

The motion also said: ‘The Weld County Coroner has informed the prosecution that time is of the essence in conducting the autopsies, especially for the children given the period of time their bodies were submerged in oil.’ 

Defense attorneys responded with a motion on Friday requesting to have an expert present at the autopsy as well as for DNA to be taken from the necks of the little girls’ bodies, strongly suggesting that they had been strangled.  

Christopher faces three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of evidence tampering, with formal charges expected to be filed Monday. 

Prosecutors are believed to be weighing the death penalty – a rarity in Colorado, which has executed only one offender since capital punishment was reinstated in 1977.


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In Friday’s filing, defense lawyer Megan Ring wrote that she wants to make sure DNA from the little girls’ bodies is maintained and she has not been able to ascertain whether the prosecution is taking steps to do so.

‘It does not seem clear that the coroner, pathologist, or anyone working on behalf of the prosecution team in autopsy plan to take swabs of the necks of the two decedent children,’ she said in a two-page filing to a court in Weld County, Colorado.

She specifically asked for ‘several swabs of the neck’ to be taken, along with control swabs on other parts of the girls’ bodies. She said without a defense expert taking the swabs that evidence could be ‘lost forever.’

Ring asked that DNA expert Richard Eikelenboom be allowed to do the testing, saying that he believed that DNA would remain on the necks of the girls ‘in spite of the fact that the remains were in oil for four days’ – revealing for the first time that the bodies were hidden on Monday.

Watts is seen in court on Thursday. He is being held without bail, and prosecutors are believed to be weighing whether to pursue the death penalty in the case – a rarity in Colorado

Christopher Watts’ public defender filed this motion on Friday morning, indicating autopsies for the girls were imminent and requesting DNA swabs from their necks

The new details about the gruesome deaths came on the day that Shanann was planning to host a gender reveal party for her unborn baby.

Shanann’s brother Frankie Rzucek said in a heartbreaking Facebook post on Thursday that the unborn child was a boy, and the couple planned to name him Niko.

Colorado is one of 12 states that does not bring murder charges for the homicide of an unborn child, and Christopher faces only three murder counts. 

Ashley Bell, a tanning salon owner who became close friends with Shanann after she began coming in as a customer, told KDVR that the baby’s gender reveal party had been planned for Saturday in the Watts’ suburban home in Frederick, on the northern outskirts of Denver.

Instead, the home has become a somber memorial, with a small mountain of stuffed animals piling up outside.

On Friday, even people who did not know the couple were passing the home and leaving teddy bears, flowers and candles in the front yard. 

The couple’s home, where police say the murders were committed, is seen on Friday

Instead of a gender reveal party, the home is now a somber site of mourning, with even strangers visiting to pay tribute to the slain mother and children

Police say that the children and their mother were killed inside the home before their bodies were hidden in the oil field. 

Investigators have not said when the murders were committed, but the new court filing indicated the bodies were hidden on Monday.

Shanann was on a work trip to Arizona from August 10 to August 12. She sold weight-loss patches for a multi-level marketing firm, while Christopher was an operator for oil drilling company Anadarko.

Christopher claimed in a televised interview that Shanann returned home between 1am and 2am on Monday August 13, and that they stayed up having an ’emotional conversation’ until he left for work at 5.15am.

He continued to maintain his innocence for several days, making public appeals for his family’s safe return, until police said he confessed to the murders on Wednesday. 

Investigators have not revealed a motive in the case. While some friends of the couple have said that the relationship was under strain and there may have been infidelity, others said the marriage was strong and there were no signs of trouble.

Christopher worked for oil drilling company Anadarko, while Shanann sold weight-loss patches for the multi-level marketing firm Le-Vel

The family is seen leaving Colorado for a trip to North Carolina in late June. Shanann and the girls stayed for six weeks visiting her family, while Christopher returned after one week

Shanann and the girls had recently returned to Colorado on August 7, after spending six weeks with her family in North Carolina. Christopher returned to Colorado after the first week of the trip as previously planned, according to social media posts. 

The couple declared bankruptcy in 2015, and despite Shanann’s frequent Facebook posts boasting of the Lexus and frequent paid trips she was awarded for selling health supplements, the couple was facing a $1,500 civil suit from their homeowners’ association.

They purchased their five-bed, four-bath home for $400,000 in 2013, and their mortgage payment was about $3,000 a month, according to bankruptcy records.

A candlelight vigil for the slain mom and girls was held outside of the home on Friday evening.

Christopher Watts is next due in court on Tuesday. Prosecutors may take several weeks to consider whether to pursue a death penalty case against him. 

At a minimum, he will receive life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

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