For her parents, Chris was the ideal husband and a loving father. No one in their dreams thought that he would even think of taking the lives of his beloved wife, daughters, and an unborn child.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on December 31, 2020. It has since been updated.
"I felt my daughter's spirit the moment she died. I knew. I swear to God I knew. ... I woke up the whole house. I said, 'Something's wrong with Shanann.'"
These were the words of a heartbroken mother. Sandra and Frank Rzucek were shocked when they found out that their son-in-law Chris Watts had murdered not only their daughter Shanann Watts, but their granddaughters, Bella (4) and Cece (3) too. Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant with their third child at the time of death.
The Rzuceks' didn't - and probably still can't - understand why Chris would take such a drastic step. In an exclusive interview with 20/20 back in 2018, the devasted father said, “That’s the big word – Why? He must have snapped, because there’s nothing else I could figure out what happened to him.” Sandra continued, “We did scream at God, yes we did. The devil comes to you in any shape, size, and form and can be transformed into anything," as reported by ABC News.
Calling their daughter a "phenomenal" mother who would “do anything for her children," the parents revealed that they adored Chris, in fact, they “loved him.” Shanann and Chris met each other through Facebook, right when she was battling lupus. But it didn't affect Chris' love for Shanann.
Sandra revealed that Chris took care of her in every way possible. “She had her head on his lap, and they were watching TV. He didn't move. He didn't get up to go to the bathroom. He didn't get a drink. He let her sleep for four hours. I told her, ‘God must've sent him to you.’” This made it even more difficult for them to believe that he took their lives with his bare hands because he was a loving husband and "a very loving father."
The details of the murder came after Chris told the investigators about it in a five-hour interview which was later released by the authorities. While talking on the Dr. Phil show, Shanann's brother Frankie said, "It's worse than we ever thought. We thought we'd heard the worst already, we had no idea it was worse than this."
Her mother confessed that faith was the only thing keeping her alive. "Those were my grandchildren. I loved them. They were mine. I cry all the time. There's many times that I just feel like giving up. If it wasn't for God I wouldn't be here."
Frank recounted the brutal details of the killing on the show. The bodies of all three were found in a secluded oil field where Chris worked. The murderer later plead guilty to the heartless crime and is now serving five life sentences after the Rzucek's dropped the possibility of pursuing the death penalty. But did the sentencing bring back the lives of Shanann, Bella, and Cece? No. It just brought more grief.
When Dr. Phil asked the parents why they thought Chris was confessing, Frank replied, "I think it's eating him up. I think he was more than glad to talk to somebody for five hours, sitting in a box 24/7." An emotional Sandra added, "We loved him like a son and Frankie loved him like a brother. I just don't understand," according to CNN.
However, Sandra is at peace because she knows that her daughter and granddaughters are at peace as well. How? The mother claims that on the day the authorities told them that they had discovered Shanann and the kids' bodies, she had felt their presence. "That night I was laying in bed and I just felt a presence and I heard my daughter. I felt her, and I heard her say, 'I love you mommy and I'm sorry.'"
She further added, "She told me she was at peace." Even Bella spoke to Sandra and told her, "I can go to Disney World any time I want. I said, 'that's right, Bella.'"
If you think the Rzuceks' torment couldn't get worse, you're wrong. According to Frank, the family has been enduring cyberbullying since the death of their loved ones where they are subjected to "wild false allegations" and "constant stream of ugly, evil insults and attacks."
In a statement issued to 9News.com, Frank wrote, "Every time we turn around, there is someone trying to capitalize on this tragedy by spreading false rumors, or outright lies, about Shanann and our grandchildren." He added that they have received death threats too, "All because we are the victims of a painful tragedy." "Families like ours should have the right to feel safe, the right to a basic level of privacy, the right to mourn in peace."
Frank took the decision of issuing a statement in the hopes that Congress will "pass laws that will protect victims of unspeakable crimes from this kind of abuse" and the social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter would "take some responsibility" and "stop this despicable conduct."