- Text messages obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request by the Daily Mail show Shanann Watts was trying to save her marriage in the weeks before her husband, Chris Watts, murdered her and her two daughters.
- At the time of her death, Shanann Watts was 15 weeks pregnant with a baby boy she planned to name Niko. She told friends that her husband had said he regretted getting her pregnant.
- As their relationship crumbled, Chris Watts started dating a woman from his work who sent him seminude photos and romantic messages and even searched Google for wedding dresses.
In June, Shanann Watts, who was pregnant at the time, took her two young daughters to visit family in North Carolina for five weeks, leaving her husband, Chris Watts, behind in Colorado to work.
Within days she noticed him become distant, and by the time she returned home at the beginning of August, she had confided in friends that she thought he was cheating, and she was desperately trying to salvage their marriage.
She talked to her friends about it, bought a relationship book, and searched for a good couples counselor.
Days later, 34-year-old Shanann Watts’ body was found buried in a shallow grave at the oil site where her husband worked. The bodies of their two daughters were dumped in oil tanks just a few yards away.
Chris Watts, 33, would eventually plead guilty to the murders. He was sentenced to life in prison earlier this month.
Mobile phone data first obtained by the Daily Mail in a Freedom of Information Act request is shedding new light on the disturbing murders, which took place as a new relationship was blossoming between Chris Watts and a woman he met at his work.
The affair begins
A search of Chris Watts’ phone would turn up seminude photos of his mistress, Nichol Kessinger, 30, along with romantic messages and voicemails.
In an interview with The Denver Post earlier this month, Kessinger said the two met at work in June and started dating at the end of that month. That seems to line up with Chris Watts’ phone records, which show him entering Kessinger’s contact information into his phone on June 14.
Shanann Watts left for her extended trip to North Carolina on June 27. Signs of tension in the Watts’ marriage first appeared on July 10, when she texted to ask if he was “OK” because it didn’t seem like he wanted “to talk” during their call earlier that evening.
“I wish my husband wanted to talk to me,” she added.
Chris Watts brushed off her concerns, saying he was “fine” and had just been stressed at work.
Investigators noted that the first call found between Chris Watts and his mistress on his phone was logged three days earlier. Four days after Shanann Watts’ concerned texts, Chris Watts and Kessinger went on a date to a museum in Boulder.
While Kessinger downplayed the seriousness of their relationship in her Denver Post interview, saying she told him she wanted to take things slow, the phone reports paint a different picture.
On July 18, she started sending him seminude photos. By the end of the month, the two had gone away on an overnight trip to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, and Kessinger had Googled the phrase, “Man I’m having affair with says he will leave his wife.”
On August 4, she searched for wedding dresses on the internet for over two hours.
Chris Watts kept the pictures of Kessinger secret from his wife by hiding them in a secret calculator app on his phone. During one of his many calls with his wife while she was away, he transferred some of those pictures into the app.
Chris Watts grew more and more unresponsive to his wife’s calls and texts, and she picked up on it. Shanann Watts started trying to talk to him about how they could fix their relationship.
“I realised [during] this trip what’s missing in our relationship! It’s only one way emotions and feelings,” she texted her husband on July 24. “I can’t come back like this. I need you to meet me halfway. You don’t consider others at all, nor think about feelings.”
“I try to give you space, but while you are working and living the bachelor life I’m carrying our 3rd and fighting with two kids daily and trying to work and make money,” she continued. “It’s not hard texting love you and miss you. If you don’t mean it then I get it, but we need to talk. I kept looking at my phone all night and no response from you. Like seriously! We didn’t just start dating yesterday! We’ve been together 8 years and have 2.5 kids together.”
The next morning, Chris Watts’ phone shows he Googled, “When to say I love you for the first time in a new relationship.”
On July 31, Chris Watts flew to North Carolina for the final week of his family’s vacation.
Things did not appear to improve once he and his wife were reunited.
She wrote him a lengthy text message on August 4, saying: “From the day I left you never said I missed you before I said it. Something changed when I left. You may be happier alone and that’s fine. You can be alone! This pregnancy, you have failed to acknowledge it, or to acknowledge how I’m feeling.”
He responded that he was “sorry for the way I’ve been acting.”
“It’s just been in my head and I haven’t been right at all,” he added.
“I don’t know how you fell out of love with me in 5.5 weeks,” Shanann Watts responded in another message the following day.
Asking for advice
The situation got so bad that Shanann Watts started confiding in her friends.
On August 7, the day the family returned to Colorado, she texted one friend that “Chris told me last night he’s scared to death about this third baby. And he’s happy with just bella and Celeste and doesn’t want another baby.”
When the friend tried to reassure her that everything would be fine once the baby was born, she responded: “He has changed. I don’t know who he is.”
“I told him last night, I don’t feel safe with him after what he said about the baby and if he loves me he would hold me and tell me it will be OK,” she continued. “Give me something and he did nothing, but go to bed.”
The day after they returned to Colorado, she texted another friend that she tried to have sex with her husband the night before “to see if that would help” the situation, but “he rejected me.”
That night, the two were supposed to go to an ultrasound. The family was also supposed to host a gender-reveal party, but Shanann Watts canceled it because of their relationship issues.
When a friend asked if Shanann Watts thought her husband was having an affair, she said she asked him and he told her no.
But she wasn’t certain he was telling the truth because “what else would make him do a complete 360 … We couldn’t get enough of each other before I left.”
On August 9, Shanann Watts left town for a brief business trip to Arizona. One of the nights she was away, Chris Watts hired a babysitter to watch the girls so he could attend a Colorado Rockies game with coworkers.
In reality, he went to meet up with his mistress.
Despite her husband’s increasing coldness, Shanann Watts appeared hopeful that she could save their relationship.
She told one of her friends on August 9 that they’d had a great conversation the night before, and he agreed to read a relationship book she bought off Amazon.
She also started searching for couples counselors in her area, and the two planned a getaway to Aspen for the weekend after she returned from Arizona.
Meanwhile, Chris Watts transferred more seminude selfies of his mistress into his secret calculator app.
Trying to work things out
The night before she returned to Colorado, Shanann Watts sent one of her friends a draft of a speech that she planned to make to her husband when she got back to express how she was feeling about their troubles.
The message read: “Can you please tell me something, because just like you, I’m in my head? I try to fix things and make them better and this is making me crazy. I know that you need time. I want to give you what you’re asking for and respect your space, I need some time. This place that I’m in, in my head, is not a good place. It is not healthy for me, or Niko. I need you to help me help you. I need you to give just a little bit of what I did, or didn’t so, do I’m not going crazy in my head to figure it out. I know I can’t fix this by myself; that, we are going to have to work together.”
She also admitted to the friend that she wasn’t blameless in their relationship.
“I sometimes can be b—-y and he gets that side of me,” she said. “I know I tend to make him feel like he isn’t able to do things because I have control issues.”
A home-security system shows Shanann Watts returning home early on August 13.
It’s believed that she was strangled to death that very morning, and their daughters were smothered, according to their autopsy reports, also obtained in the FOIA request.
The investigators note that at 5:48 a.m., Chris Watts left home “with the bodies of his family piled in the backseat of his truck.”
Shanann Watts was reported missing that day when one of her friends failed to get in touch with her.
Chris Watts told the cops that he believed his wife had run off with his daughters, but their bodies were found dumped at the oil site where he worked just a few days later.
Chris Watts then changed his story and said he’d killed his wife when he caught her strangling one of their daughters.
But earlier this month, he confessed to first-degree murder for the deaths of not only Shanann Watts but also their two daughters and their unborn son. He is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
- Read more:
- There’s ‘no evidence’ Chris Watts’ wife killed their kids as he claimed, according to a new report
- Colorado man accused of murdering his wife and two daughters thinks that ‘no one understands him’
- Colorado dad may have strangled his 3- and 4-year-old daughters before allegedly dumping their bodies in an oil tank to hide the smell, documents suggest
- Police investigating a horrific family murder case in Colorado found the bodies in a remote oil field with help from a drone
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