'American Murder: The Family Next Door' — Where Is Chris Watts Today?

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Chris Watts
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The Watts family murders made headlines everywhere, as the nation found itself wrapped up in yet another high-profile murder case. While it's been over two years since Chris Watts was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife, their unborn baby, and their two daughters, Netflix's American Murder: The Family Next Door, which debuts on the streaming platform on Sept. 30, has us wondering one thing: where is Chris Watts today?

Where is Chris Watts today?

Just two months after his arrest, Chris Watts was sentenced to three life sentences in prison for the murders of his wife, Shanann, and their two children, Bella and Celeste. Although he was sentenced in Colorado, he is serving his sentence in a Waupun, Wisconsin prison. 

"He knows exactly what he did," a source said in 2019. "He's haunted by what he did. He says he can't shake the memories of his family, and they haunt him. He is in his own psychological torment, every day of his life."

"He knows he deserves it," the source continued. "He knows that he made many mistakes in his life, and this is his punishment."

Read on to find out more details about Chris Watts and the tragic murder of his family.

When was Chris Watts arrested?

Christopher Watts, now 35,  was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of tampering with physical evidence in the death of his wife Shanann Watts, 34, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. 

Shanann, who was 15 weeks pregnant, returned from a business trip Aug. 13. She and her daughters were reported missing by a friend on that day when she missed a doctor appointment. Chris was arrested two days later on suspicion of murdering his family. The bodies of his wife Shanann and daughters Bella and Celeste were found on August 15.

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"We wish we had a different outcome," Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said at the time. "We wish would've been able to locate them alive."

According to social media, the Watts family looked like the perfect family, as their social media accounts were flooded with photos of smiling faces and loving posts. In light of recent events, and the death of Shanann, Bella, and Celeste, investigators have released the arrest affidavit that details Chris' account of the murders. 

According to the affidavit, after Shanann returned home from her work trip, Chris told her he wanted to separate. He said the conversation was emotional but civil. He said he then walked downstairs, and when he returned to their bedroom, he witnessed Shanann strangling their daughter Celeste. He said he went into a "rage" and strangled Shanann to death. Chris then took the bodies to the work site, where they were ultimately found by the police. 

The arrest affidavit also said that Chris was having an affair with a coworker, though he denied it. 

Chris first confessed to murdering his wife Shanann, but not his kids.

According to investigators, Chris reportedly admitted to slaying his wife and daughters and told authorities where to find their bodies.

Shanann's family sent a statement to CBS confirming his confession.

“It is with deep hurt, confusion and anger to confirm our beautiful cousin Shanann Watts, her unborn child, and her two angelic daughters, Bella (4), Celeste (3) were viciously murdered by husband Chris Watts; who confessed to the killings. Please keep Shanann’s parents and brother in your prayers," the statement reads.

He did multiple news interviews pretending he didn't know where his wife and kids were.

Chris spoke to reporters about how much he missed his wife and kids and wanted them to come home safely. He was charged with their murders after what authorities called a "convincing act."

"Last night, I had every light in the house on. I was hoping that I would just get ran over by the kids running in the door, just barrel-rushing me, but it didn't happen," he told KMGH. “I mean, the kids are my life,” he said. “I mean, those smiles light up my life. And just, like, I mean, last night, when they usually eat dinner, it was like, I miss them. I miss telling them, ‘Hey, you gotta eat that or you’re not gonna get your dessert.’ I miss that. I miss them, you know, cuddled up on their couches."

The next day, he was sitting in jail for allegedly killing them.

The bodies were found at Chris' former workplace.

Shanann's body was found buried in “a shallow grave near an oil tank" on the property of Chris' former workplace, Anadarko Petroleum, where he was employed up until August 15, according to court documents filed by the Weld County District Attorney’s Office.

The bodies of Bella and Celeste were dumped in an "oil well filled with crude oil for several days," authorities said. The oil well that the young girls' bodies were dumped in was "mostly full."

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Authorities believe the victims' bodies were hidden in the oil well to conceal the smell and had been there for four days when authorities located them.

He admitted to strangling them. 

Court documents revealed that is was requested the girls' necks be swabbed for DNA evidence, which investigators said would still be present even after being submerged in crude oil for days. The request was denied, as was a recommendation that the girls' and Shanann's fingernails and hands be swabbed. 

The last person to see Shanann alive said she suspected Chris had something to do with her disappearance.

Nickole Atkinson dropped Shanann off at her home at around 2 a.m. on Aug. 13 after a late business trip, making her the last person to see the slain mother. When she found out Chris had been arrested on murder charges, she wasn't surprised.

“He just kept saying that he didn’t know where she was and that she was on a playdate,” Atkinson said of the conversation she had with Chris the day before she reported Shanann and the kids missing. “But he couldn’t give us the name of the friend. I knew he had something to do with it the day I was at his house with him, but I didn’t want to think that.”

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The family was struggling with finances.

Chris and Shanann had filed for bankruptcy in 2015 after garnering about $70,000 in debt, most of it related to student loans. The family seemed to have overcome their financial deficit according to photos and posts.

Shanann posted on social media that she had gotten a new job and was excited for the future. 

Friends said Chris may have been cheating on Shanann.

A friend of Shanann's said that she was concerned Chris was unfaithful. "It came to her mind that possibly he could be cheating," Amanda Thayer revealed.

Again, in the arrest affidavit, police said Chris was having an affair with a coworker, but he adamantly denied it. 

Friends also thought Chris and Shanann may have been planning to separate.

A family friend said that Shanann might have been getting ready to divorce Chris. "he two “were having marital problems and she [Shanann] was getting ready to leave him,” Atkinson, who reported Shanann missing on Aug. 13 said. 

She was concerned because Chris seemed unbothered by the fact his family was missing and decided to give him a call.

"I didn't find out that they were going to separate or anything like that until I called Chris that morning," Atkinson confessed. "When I called him and asked him where she was, that's when he told me and I basically told him that that wasn't my [concern] at that particular moment because it wasn't and that their business was their business, that they would either work it out or they wouldn't."

The heartbroken friend said that there was no excuse for what Chris had done.

“I mean couples or families have their issues, but not to where it justifies what was done,” she said. “I know that Chris and her were having some issues about three weeks prior to everything happening. But as far as the social media and what actually went on behind closed doors I don't know."

Shanann's gender reveal party was going to be held that weekend.

Shanann's friend, Ashley Bell, said that the slain mother was planning on revealing her baby's gender over the weekend. She was 15 weeks pregnant and was excited to share the baby's gender and name with family and friends. According to Shanann's brother's Facebook page, she was having a boy and planned on naming him Niko.

Shanann had previously posted a video where she informed her husband and kids that she was pregnant. Chris seemed elated.

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Sarah Gangraw is a travel-addicted cat lady who lives on black coffee and cheese. She has a degree in journalism and writes about all things news, entertainment and crime. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter — she's occasionally funny.