True Crime: Horrific family slayer Chris Watts

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Staff Writer Grace Campbell unfolds the terrifying actions of Chris Watts, the killer who murdered his entire family. Watts’ crimes were the subject of the Netflix documentary ‘American Murder: The Family Next Door’.

Grace Campbell, Staff Writer

You’ve probably heard the name Chris Watts at least once in the past year. His crimes were featured on true-crime shows such as “Dateline” and “20/20” and are the subject of the viral Netflix documentary “American Murder: The Family Next Door.” The infamous family slayer killed his whole family in 2018, but unfortunately, his story doesn’t end there.

Let’s first set up some background. The year was 2018 and Watts was living in Colorado with his wife Shannan and two beautiful daughters, Bella (4) and Cece (3). Did I mention Shannan was also pregnant? The five of them lived their small town lives, and to the outside world, they were the picture-perfect family. As seen on Shannan’s Facebook page where she frequently posted, all three girls loved Watts, he was a doting husband and a great dad… or so it seemed. 

In June of that year, Watts entered a new name into his phone, “Nicole Kessinger,” who began as a colleague and quickly became his mistress. The start of his relationship with Kessinger is what many people believe led Watts to perform the horrible acts that took place in August of that same year. 

In July, Shannan took the girls to North Carolina to visit with their grandparents, where Watts joined them for only the last week of the six-week trip. While his family was away Chris spent the majority of his time with Kessinger, and Shannan was not oblivious to it. There are now documented texts from Shannan to her friends where she notes Chris’s strange and distant behavior. It’s truly heartbreaking. 

Things only got worse from there. When they returned from North Carolina, Shannan had to leave the very next day for a quick work trip, which would end up being the last one of her life. She returned from the trip on Aug. 13 at about 2 a.m. when her friend Nikkol dropped her off. She met Chris in bed, and three hours later her life was over. 

The next morning Nikkol tried calling and texting Shannon multiple times but got no answer, which was extremely rare for Shannan, as she was known to be on her phone 24/7. After a few hours Nikkol got so worried she visited Shannan’s house, and with no sign of life, she called the police and Chris. 

As for Chris, he left for work that morning at about 5 am, per usual, and when he arrived home at police request, it’s safe to say he did not have the typical reaction to hearing your wife and kids were gone. No tears, yelling, not even a look of confusion on his face. It was safe to say he was the prime suspect from day one. 

To make a long story short, after days of questioning, lie detectors and even a meeting with the police from Kessinger (the mistress!!!!), Chris finally confessed. 

First, let’s get to Nicole Kessinger. She basically walked into the police station right when Shannan was declared missing and confessed her relationship with Chris claiming she had no idea he could be capable of such a thing. She also claims Chris told her that he and Shannan separated, but due to her numerous amount of searches of Shannan’s Facebook prior to the murder, it’s safe to say she knew more than she was letting on. Either way, she’s not the criminal here, so let’s hear his confession. 

Chris’s story of events goes as follows: Shannon got home and initiated sex, before they both fell asleep. When Chris woke up for work at 5 he had a frank discussion with Shannon about ending their relationship. Obviously shocked and upset, Shannan threatened that he would never see his kids again. In an “uncontrollable moment of rage” he put his hands around her neck and strangled her until her eyes bled and four minutes later she was dead. Horrifyingly, then his four year old daughter walked in and asked “What’s wrong with mommy?” Chris was shocked because, oh did I forget to mention, he had tried to strangle both his daughters to death previously, but they survived!! 

Not knowing what to do, Chris hauled his pregnant wife’s dead body into his work truck with his two terrified daughters and took them the 45 minute drive to his work site where he first smothered his three year old Cece to death, then did the same to Bella. He recalls Bella’s last words as, “Daddy no.” 

He buried Shannan and stuffed his dead toddlers into oil tanks- how inhumane can you be? He then continued onto his normal day, texting Nicole until the police called him home.

Now, two years later Chris is serving three consecutive life sentences in prison, where he will spend the rest of his life, as he should. And to Shannon, Bella, Cece and Nico (their unborn child), your stories and lives will never be forgotten.