34-year-old Shanann Watts, her unborn child and her two daughters, 4-year-old Bella Watts and 3-year-old Celeste Watts, were honored at a candlelight vigil outside their family home in Frederick, Colo. on Friday, Aug. 17.
GREELEY — Christopher Lee Watts, the Frederick man accused of killing his wife and two daughters, faces five counts of first-degree murder and four other felony charges filed by the Weld County District Attorney’s Office.
The district attorney’s office on Monday formally charged Watts with three counts of first-degree murder after deliberation for the deaths of Shanann, Celeste and Bella Watts, along with two counts of first-degree murder for causing the death of a person under the age of 12 while being in a position of trust. He also faces one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased body.
The complaint says mother and wife Shanann Watts “died as a result of the unlawful termination of the pregnancy.”
Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke refused to answer most questions about the case, including whether his office would seek the death penalty, during a press conference held Monday afternoon.
“Way to early to have that conversation,” Rourke said about the possibility of pursuing the death penalty for Christopher Watts.
Rourke said investigators believe Bella and Celeste died on either Aug. 12 or 13, and that they know Shanann Watts had returned from a work trip on Aug. 13.
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Shanann Watts’ father, Frank Rzucek, spoke briefly during Monday’s news conference, thanking the community and law enforcement for its outpouring of support.
“Keep the prayers coming for our family,” Rzucek said.
Christopher Watts, 33, was arrested late Wednesday. Police said Shanann Watts was found dead in a shallow grave on property owned by Anadarko Petroleum, one of the state’s largest oil and gas drillers, where Christopher Watts worked as an operator. Investigators found what they believe are the bodies of 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste nearby on Thursday.
Court documents filed Friday by the defense, which were obtained by 9News and shared with the Coloradoan, suggest Bella and Celeste may have been strangled and confirmed their bodies were found in an oil well filled with crude oil. They had been submerged for four days.
Rourke said his office filed a motion to unseal the arrest affidavit for Christoper Watts after filing formal charges Monday afternoon. The motion was granted by 19th Judicial District Judge Marcelo Kopcow prior to the 4 p.m. press conference.
On Friday, Kopcow denied a request by Christoper Watts’ defense attorney to require a coroner to collect DNA from the necks of the young girls.
The judge said in the order he would not tell the medical examiner’s office involved in the case how to do its job.
Autopsies were completed Friday on Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts. The cause of their deaths has not been made public.
Weld County prosecutors said Watts was jailed in protective custody. He is scheduled to appear in court at 10 a.m. Tuesday to be advised of charges levied against him.
Read the unsealed arrest affidavit for suspect Christopher Watts at the bottom of this story.
All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in court. Arrests and charges are merely accusations by law enforcement until, and unless, a suspect is convicted of a crime.
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