The Facebook page of pregnant mum Shanann Watts painted a portrait of a happy married life — of a woman dedicated to her husband and their two young children. She called her husband “my ROCK!” and said he was “the best dad us girls could ask for.”
That idyllic image was shattered Wednesday when her husband, 33-year-old Christopher Watts, was arrested on suspicion of killing his family in Colorado, US.
Police said the mother was found dead on property owned by Anadarko Petroleum, one of the state’s largest oil and gas drillers, where Christopher Watts worked. Investigators found what they believe are the bodies of four-year-old Bella and three-year-old Celeste nearby on Thursday.
They have not released any information about a motive or how the three were killed.
“As horrible as this outcome is, our role now is to do everything we can to determine exactly what occurred,” John Camper, director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, said at a news conference.
The deaths also left family and friends searching for answers.
Shanann Watts, 34, was one of the first customers to visit Ashley Bell’s tanning salon in nearby Dacono two years ago. The two women quickly became friends, and before long they were texting or calling each other almost daily.
Ms Bell said she never detected that anything was amiss with the Watts family.
“I just don’t understand it,” she said, who described Christopher Watts as a loving father.
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A June 2015 bankruptcy filing depicts a family caught between a promising future and financial strain.
Christopher Watts, who is being held without bail, is expected to be formally charged by Monday. He was arrested on suspicion of three counts of murder and three counts of tampering with evidence.
After his wife and daughters were reported missing and before he was arrested, Watts stood on his porch and lamented to reporters how much he missed them, saying he longed for the simple things like telling his girls to eat their dinner and gazing at them as they curled up to watch cartoons.
A possible fourth murder charge
The case also has focused attention on Colorado’s lack of a law allowing homicide charges in the violent deaths of fetuses, which is the case in 12 states. Proposals to allow homicide charges in the violent deaths of fetuses in Colorado have been stymied by debate about how to avoid infringing on abortion rights.
The law can add up to 32 years to a prison sentence. The top punishment for homicide in Colorado is the death penalty or life in prison.
Prosecutors have not discussed any additional charges that Watts may face.