The bodies of his daughters were found submerged in an oil tank where they had been for days.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on November 13, 2020. It has since been updated.
Trigger warning: This article contains graphic details of violence that some readers may find distressing.
33-year-old Chris Watts looked like any other distressed husband as he asked for help on TV to help find his wife and two beautiful little daughters. When he said, "If somebody has her and they're not safe... like, I want them back now," every American believed him until they got to know about the monster hiding behind the mask of a concerned husband and a father.
Chris murdered his pregnant wife and both his daughters on August 13, 2018. 4-year-old Bella who was the last one murdered by her ruthless father even begged him not to kill her. "Please, daddy, do not do to me what you just did to Cece," she said. Nonetheless, she was suffocated to death, according to The New York Post.
When attorney Steven Lambert who represents Shanann’s parents—Frank and Sandy Rzucek—revealed the details of the senseless murder on The Dr. Phil Show, one cannot help but shed a few tears. He said that little Bella “fought for her life” courageously with a man who could easily overpower her.
Elaborating this, attorney Lambert said, “There was a struggle of the things that have been hard for the [family] to comprehend and to accept in this reality, what happened to Bella in those last moments has been the hardest.” Bella had witnessed Chris strangling her mother after the couple had a fight over their relationship. But the little one was too young to understand what was going on so she questioned him with the innocence of a child.
“What are you doing with Mommy?’” she asked, as narrated by Lambert. “What [Chris] said was, ‘Mommy is sick. And, we need to take her to the hospital to make her better.’ From our understanding, Bella did not witness the actual killing of her mother.”
When Chris reached the place where he would dispose of Shanann's body, Bella saw her father kill her little sister with her favorite blanket. Lambert continued, “He walks over, takes CeCe’s favorite blanket, and smothers her. Then, he takes her body, takes it out of the vehicle."
He continued that by then "Bella had unbuckled herself from the vehicle." Lambert further added, "He went back to the vehicle. Bella said, ‘Please, Daddy, don’t do to me what you just did to CeCe.’” Shanann's broken and grieving family also spoke about the tragic event.
Chris Watts' parents told abc11 that his son's relationship with his late-wife was abusive, and she was the reason they got isolated from his family. Chris' father, Ronnie Watts, said, "It boils down to: I just want the truth of what really happened." He continued, "If he did it all, I can live with it. If he didn't, I want him to fight for it."
If Cindy Watts is asked, Shanann was "more capable" of killing her kids than Chris. "Christopher, I don't see him capable at all but if something happened that night and that did happen—God forbid if it did happen—what was the trigger? Why? What happened? I just want the truth because he's not the sociopath next door. He's not the kind of person that would do something like that. I have to know why. I have to know. It's important to me," she said.
Chris pleaded guilty to the murders and got spared the death penalty. There are reports that Bella had also bitten her tongue when Chris strangled her. According to KOCO News 5, Michael Burson, a forensic pathologist who conducted all three autopsies said, "Imagine the horror in Bella’s mind as her father took her last breaths away."
However, there were no signs of struggle in the case of Celeste. Multiple chemicals were found in the bodies of the little ones as they were submerged in the oil tank for days. While Bella's body had ethanol and benzene derivative toluene, Celeste's body had n-butanol, ethanol, N-propanol, and acetaldehyde.
The investigators who worked on the case said that this was a case they would not forget even if they tried. Steve Wrenn, the Deputy District Attorney for Weld County, told Fox News said, “This [case] took it to a level that I don’t think a lot of people are still able to get their heads around it. It’s impacted the way we go about our daily lives and how we interact with our families, how we are able to do our jobs sometimes.”
He continued, “The ripple of one crime like this has been phenomenal. The first responders that had to remove the children from the oil tanks—they’ll never be the same. Some of the investigators I know had struggled to return to their jobs and go about investigations the same way.”