‘Evil Monster’ gets life for killing wife, kids
THE man who killed his pregnant wife and two daughters was sentenced to life in prison on Monday as his spouse's father called him an "evil monster".
Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty in exchange for Chris Watts' guilty plea, after seeking approval from wife Shanann's family.
Watts, who dumped the bodies on an oil work site in Colorado, was given three consecutive life sentences and will not be eligible for parole for his hideous crime.
The 33-year-old pleaded guilty to three charges of murder, two counts of killing a child, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.
Mrs Watts' father Frank Rzucek delivered an emotional impact statement in court, saying "life will never be the same" without Bella, Celeste, Shanann and her unborn baby Nico.
"They had all their lives to live," he said. "They were taken by a heartless one. This is the heartless one, the evil monster."
He said his daughter and granddaughters "were loving and caring people" who loved life.
"I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them. And they also trusted you. The heartless monster and then you take them out like trash. You disgust me.
"You may have taken their bodies from me but you will never take the love they had from me. They loved us more than you will ever know, because you don't know what love is, because if you did, you would not have killed them, you monster."
A friend had asked police to check on Mrs Watts on August 13 after not being able to reach her and growing concerned that the 34-year-old had missed a doctor's appointment. Officers soon sought assistance from state investigators and the FBI.
Watts spoke to local TV reporters from the front porch of the family's home in Frederick, a small town north of Denver, begging for their safe return.
In footage that later sickened the world, he told the cameras the house felt empty without Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, watching cartoons or running to greet him at the door.
Within days, he was arrested and charged with killing his family. Court records revealed that Watts acknowledged to police that he killed his wife, telling investigators he strangled her in "a rage" when he discovered she had killed their daughters after he sought a separation.
Prosecutors have since called his account "a flat-out lie." Police learned that Watts was having an affair with a co-worker. He had denied that before being arrested.
Authorities have not released autopsy reports or any information about how the mother and daughters died. Prosecutors said the reports would be released after Watts was sentenced.
The girls' bodies were found submerged in an oil tank, on property owned by the company Watts worked for until his arrest. Mrs Watts' body was found buried nearby in a shallow grave.
Mr Rzucek, who has seen video evidence, said he had no idea how Watts thought he would get away with the murders. "The cameras don't lie," he said. "You carried them out like trash.
"You buried my daughter Shanann and Nico in a shallow grave and then you put Bella and Celeste in huge containers with crude oil, you heartless monster.
"I hope you see that every time you close your eyes at night. Oh I forgot, you have no heart or feelings or love.
"I will think of them every day of my life and I love them every day of my life.
"Prison is too good for you. This is hard to say but may God have mercy on your soul. I hope you enjoy your new life, it's nothing like the one you had out here."
The killings became the focus of true crime blogs and online video channels, assisted by dozens of family photos and videos that Mrs Watts shared on social media showing the smiling couple spending time with their children.
Court records showed the couple's lifestyle caused financial strain at times. They filed for bankruptcy in June 2015, six months after Watts was hired as an operator for the large oil and gas driller Anadarko Petroleum at an annual salary of about $61,500.
At the time, Mrs Watts was working in a children's hospital call centre for just $18 per hour. They reported total earnings of $90,000 in 2014 but $70,000 in unsecured claims along with a mortgage of nearly $3,000. The claims included thousands of dollars in credit card debt, some student loans and medical bills.