Weld district attorney to announce charges in Frederick killings | PostIndependent.com | PostIndependent.com

Husband claims in arrest affidavit his wife killed two daughters over possible divorce

Joe Moylan
The Greeley Tribune
Chris Watts is escorted into the courtroom before his bond hearing on Thursday at the Weld County Courthouse in Greeley.
Joshua Polson/jpolson@greeleytribune.com

GREELEY, Colo. — Christopher Watts’ arrest affidavit claims the Frederick man killed his pregnant wife after discovering she had strangled their two daughters.

The affidavit, made public Monday following the filing of formal charges and a press conference by the Weld District Attorney’s Office, states that when Watts’ wife, Shanann, returned home early last Monday morning from a business trip to Arizona, Watts had a conversation with her about wanting to initiate separation proceedings. During the investigation, evidence surfaced that Watts was actively involved in an affair with a co-worker, according to court records.

After the two cried about it for a few minutes, Watts went downstairs. When he returned a short while later to continue talking, he saw on a baby monitor 4-year-old Bella sprawled out on her bed and blue, and Shanann actively strangling 3-year-old Celeste, according to court records.

Watts told police he went in to a rage and strangled his wife to death. He put their bodies in his work truck, and dumped them at an oil and gas site.

On Monday, the Weld District Attorney’s Office filed formal charges against Watts, 33. He faces three counts of first-degree murder after deliberation, two counts of first-degree murder of a victim under the age of 12 and by a person in a position of trust, one count of first-degree unlawful termination of a pregnancy, and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body, all felonies.

The district attorney’s office hosted a 4 p.m. press conference to discuss the charges. Weld District Attorney Michael Rourke said in addition to filing formal charges, his office submitted a motion to have the case file unsealed.

Watts’ wife and two daughters were reported missing Monday, Aug. 13 by family friend, Nicole Utoft. Utoft told police she dropped Shanann off at her home, 2825 Saratoga Trail, about 1:45 a.m. last Monday following their work trip to Arizona. Utoft became worried later that day when Shanann, who was 15 weeks pregnant, missed a 10 a.m. doctor’s appointment and didn’t return multiple texts or phone calls.

Utoft went to the Watts home and saw Shanann’s car parked in the garage, according to court records. Fearing Shanann might be having a medical emergency from the pregnancy, Utoft tried to enter the house, but couldn’t because the front door was latched.

Watts was arrested Wednesday night after confessing to killing his wife. He was booked into Weld County Jail shortly after midnight on Thursday.

Frank Rzucek Sr., Shanann’s father, spoke during the press conference. He thanked the public for its support and for attending the vigil held for Shanann and her daughters last week. He also asked for continued prayers.

Hours after Watts made his first appearance Thursday in Weld District Court, the Frederick Police Department — in conjunction with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation — announced the bodies of Bella and Celeste were recovered from a nearly full oil and gas tank on property owned by Anadarko Petroleum. Shanann’s body was recovered from a nearby shallow grave. Watts was an Anadarko employee up until shortly before his arrest on Wednesday.

Now that formal charges have been filed, Watts is scheduled to return to district court at 10 a.m. Tuesday for a more formal advisement hearing. He is represented by Colorado Public Defender James Merson.

Weld District Attorney Michael Rourke appeared during Watts’ first hearing last week with Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wrenn and Deputy District Attorney Patrick Roche.

Greeley Tribune reporter Emily Wenger contributed to this report

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