FREDERICK, Colo. – Shanann Watts’ Facebook page painted a portrait of a happy married life of a woman devoted to her husband, and their two young children. She called her husband “my ROCK!” and said that he was “the best dad of the girls could ask for.”
But that idyllic image was shattered Wednesday when her husband, the 33-year-old Christopher Watts, was arrested on suspicion of killing his family in Colorado.
The police said the mother, who was pregnant, was found dead on property owned by Anadarko Petroleum, one of the largest oil and gas drillers, where Christopher Watts worked. The researchers found what they believe are the bodies of the 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste is in the neighborhood on Thursday afternoon.
They have not released any information about a motive or how the three were killed.
“As horrible as this outcome is, our role now is to do everything we can to determine exactly what happened,” John Camper, the director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, said at a press conference in Frederick, a small town on the grassy plains north of Denver, where fast-growing subdivisions mixed with oil rigs and oil-wells.
The deaths also have family and friends looking for answers.
Shanann Watts, 34, was one of the first customers to visit Ashley Bell tanning salon in the near Dacona two years ago. The two women quickly became friends, and soon they were texting or calling each other almost daily. Their daughters also played together in the salon visit.
Bell said that they never have discovered that there was something wrong with the Watt family.
“I don’t understand,” said Bell, who described Christopher Watts as a loving father.
Shanann Watts was from North Carolina, and her parents’ next-door neighbor, Joe Beach, said he saw her only when she visited the neighborhood of modest homes in Aberdeen.
“We were talking about general things, about how her two girls were doing and how life was in Colorado. They didn’t give me an indication that something is wrong. She seemed quite satisfied.”
But in June 2015 bankruptcy filing captures a photo of a family caught between a promising future and financial pressure.
Christopher Watts had gotten a job six months earlier as an operator for Anadarko, and paystubs to give to his annual salary is approximately € 61,500. Shanann Watts was working in a call center in a children’s hospital in the time, earning about $18 hour — more for evening, weekends, or additional shifts, they sometimes worked.
The couple had a combined income of $90,000 in 2014. But they also had tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, along with some student loans, and medical expenses for a total of $70,000 in unsecured claims on top of a hefty mortgage.
They said in the filing that their almost $3000 mortgage and $600 in monthly payments, formed the largest part of their $4,900 in monthly costs.
Christopher Watt, who is being held without bail, is expected to be formally charged by Monday with three murders and three counts of tampering with evidence.
After his wife and daughters were reported missing, and before he was arrested, he stood on his porch and lamented to reporters how much he missed them, saying: he longed for the simple things, such as telling his girls to eat their dinner and stare at them as they curled up to watch cartoons.
He did not respond to reporters’ questions when he was escorted into the courtroom Thursday.
His lawyer, James Merson with the Colorado State Public Defender ‘ s Office, left the hearing without commenting to reporters and did not respond to a voicemail left at his office Thursday by The Associated Press.
Drew reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. Associated Press writers Colleen Slevin and Thomas Peipert in Denver, Courtney Bonnell and Michelle A. Monroe in Phoenix, and researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.