CRIME
08/20/2018 05:45 pm ET Updated Aug 21, 2018

Chris Watts Formally Charged With Killing Pregnant Wife, 2 Daughters

But court documents show he is pinning his daughters' deaths on his wife, Shanann Watts.

The husband of a pregnant woman who was reported missing last week along with their two young daughters has been charged with their murders, officials announced Monday.

The Weld County District Attorney’s Office filed nine charges on Monday against 33-year-old Chris Watts of Frederick, Colorado, including five first-degree murder charges, three charges for tampering with deceased bodies and one charge for unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the first degree.

In an arrest affidavit also released Monday, police say Watts told them he “went into a rage” and strangled his wife, Shannan, to death after he saw footage on their baby monitor of her strangling their daughter Celeste, 3, and of their other daughter Bella, 4, “sprawled out on her bed and blue.”

Despite Shanann Watts’ positive posts on Facebook about her husband, friends and family told local media that the couple had recently appeared to have a strained marriage. Police also wrote in the affidavit that Chris Watts was having an affair with a co-worker, which a few friends suggested his wife had suspected.

Watts claims that he and his wife had an “emotional” conversation shortly before the strangling and that he told her he wanted to initiate a separation after she returned home around 2 a.m. from a business trip on Aug. 13.

When asked by a reporter whether the officials will seek the death penalty for Watts, District Attorney Michael Rourke said it was “way too early to have that conversation.” 

Watts initially told police and local media that he had no idea where his family members were after his wife and two daughters were reported missing on Aug. 13. 

“My kids are my life. Those smiles light up my life,” he told local news station ABC 7 the day after their disappearance. “I just want them to come back. If they’re not safe right now, that’s what’s tearing me apart. Because if they are safe, they’re coming back. But if they’re not, this has got to stop. Like, somebody has to come forward.”

On Aug. 15, police arrested Watts. His children’s bodies were found submerged in oil tanks, while his wife’s body was recovered from a shallow grave nearby, according to court documents obtained by CBS News.

This story has been updated with information from the arrest affidavit.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

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