Chris Watts murdered his wife, Shanann, and their two daughters, 4 and 3. He was imprisoned for life.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 5, 2020. It has since been updated.
Anyone who has been through a divorce will be able to tell when the turning point happened. In retrospect, we may realize the definitive moment when one or both decide that this is it. It's over. It may have taken us time to process them, but many just know when our partner's way of looking at us changes from loving to indifferent. Family killer Chris Watts' wife Shanann was also able to identify some of those signs before he murdered her. Texts exchanged between them and those she sent to a friend revealed that her marriage was crumbling, but she wanted to make it work.
In August 2018, Chris murdered his 15-weeks pregnant wife and smothered their young daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. Before confessing, he had positioned himself as a worried husband and father when his family was reported missing, as per Oxygen. Eventually, he confessed to killing them, where their bodies were, and how he did it.
American Murder: The Family Next Door, a documentary on the Watts family, showed videos of the family where Chris seemed like a devoted husband and loving father. However, the documentary also included texts Shanann had sent to a friend and to her husband, which reveal a different picture.
There had been tension in the family because of Shanann's relationship with Chris' parents, who didn't attend their wedding. Before her North Carolina trip in August 2018, she had taken her kids to visit their grandparents. Chris' mother, Cindy, had bought pistachio ice cream but Celeste was allergic to nuts. The mother-of-two yelled at her mother-in-law, who kicked Shanann out of the house.
"You should call your Dad and tell him you did not appreciate your mom putting your daughter at risk today," Shanann told Chris in one text, included in the documentary. He replied, "I will call him and tell him what I think about this. It’s not f--king cool at all because it is the kids. I will set this right." The tension with the in-laws escalated later, and Shanann told a friend that she doesn't want to see them ever again.
Later Chris told investigators, "My mom just never thought she was good enough."
Closer to the date of her death, Chris opened up to Shanann about his fears about their unborn child, which alarmed her. As per Fox31, on August 7, she texted a friend saying, "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." The friend responded, "He's just scared. Everything will be fun once the baby comes out."
However, the mother-of-two wasn't convinced. "He has changed. I don't know who he is," she said. The friend responded, "What do you mean?" Shanann texted, "He hasn't touched me all week, kissed me, talked to me except for when I'm trying to figure out what is wrong."
"I just want to cry. We've never had a problem in our relationship like this. No joke. NEVER. THIS IS TOTAL LEFT FIELD," she tells her friend, who tried to comfort her. Shanann responded, "What if he really doesn't love me anymore?!" Her friend wrote, "Not possible honey. He LOVES YOU!" Shanann replied, "Tomorrow is 8 years we started dating."
Later, she added, "He said we are not compatible anymore! He refused to hug me after he said he will try to 'work' it out! Said he thought another baby would fix his feelings. Said, he refused couples counseling." Shanann's friend texted back, "Go through his phone, make sure there isn't some other b**ch I have to kill."
Later, Shanann texted her friend saying, "This baby in my belly deserves his full love." However, she had started doubting him by then. "Only thing I can think of even though I don't think he has it in him is another girl," she said. He did have another woman in his life.
Before she died, she went on a business trip and had a breakthrough that showed she wanted to work on herself as well. "He never fights with me, just goes with flow. He and I know I like things done a certain way, but I never thought about how that may make him feel as a man. I belittle him without realizing it with his parents. Told him he needed to find his balls and protect his family," she wrote to a friend, reported Oxygen.
The day before she died, she texted her husband and thanked him for taking care of the kids while she was gone. She thought she was returning home to a somewhat absent husband and she will be able to mend their bond. Little did she know that he hired a childminder and went on a date with his mistress or that he would ask for a divorce and later kill her.
A Facebook Fundraiser had helped the victims' family raise more than $100,000.