Lawyers for Shanann Watts‘ grieving family members, the Rzuceks, appeared as expected on Dr. Phil Tuesday for the first installment of a two-part special on the murders perpetrated by inmate-for-life Chris Watts.
Watts was sentenced the multiple lifetimes in prison in Nov. 2018 for the heinous murders of his wife Shanann and his daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. Shanann Watts was pregnant at the time she was strangled to death. Her unborn son was to be named Nico. Chris Watts was charged for the murders and the unlawful termination of his wife’s pregnancy. He will never be eligible for parole.
Colorado authorities have said that they anticipate publicizing new information about the case on March 7. That would be Thursday of this week. In advance of that, however, attorneys revealed the contents of the five-hour interview, in which Watts provided additional information to investigators about the murders.
During the Dr. Phil segment, attorney Steven Lambert said that, indeed, the revelation of the affair directly led to the unconscionable murders.
Lambert said that when Shanann came home in Aug. 2018 she and Chris had a fight. Her would-be murderer told her that he was having an affair.
“He told her that it was pretty much over between them,” Lambert said. “[Shanann] had said something to effect of ‘Well, you’re not going to see the kids again.’”
“As a consequence of that conversation he strangled her,” he continued. He said Chris Watts told Bella that her mom “was sick and that they needed to take her to the hospital to make her better.”
Lambert revealed that Bella’s last words were “Please, daddy, do not do to me what you just did to CiCi.” Watts smothered Celeste to death with her favorite blanket. Watts smothered Bella next. Authorities said Bella fought back for her life.
The attorneys said that their gut feeling on Watts’ recounting of the murders is that it is “authentic.” Lambert said he personally had “no reason to doubt it,” unless Watts is protecting someone else. The attorney panel noted that Watts wasn’t offered anything for details (and realistically there’s nothing that could be offered that would change his situation). They could only surmise that Watts had found “jailhouse religion.” Watts now claims he’s “remorseful” and has “found God.”
Lambert said that the Watts was oddly forthcoming in interviews when giving a “full confession,” almost like he was a “neighbor” telling them what happened.
Weld County DA Michael Rourke previously detailed the shocking crimes Watts committed. He said Bella fought back for her life.
“The man she loved choked the life out of her,” Rourke said the day Watts was sentenced to multiple life sentences without the possibility of parole. “What must Bella, age 4, and Celeste, age 3, thought as their father, the one man on this earth who was supposed to protect them […] snuffed out their lives?”
“The man seated to my right smothered his daughters,” he continued. “Bella fought back for her life.”
The murders “were not done in an uncontrolled vengeful manner,” Rourke said.
“[Watts] calmly and methodically loaded their bodies into his work truck,” he continued. “In one final sign of callousness he drove them to a location where he thought no one would ever find them.”
“He ensured that they would not be together, even in death,” disposing of their bodies in separate locations.
Prosecutors in Weld County, Colorado, searched far and wide for a motive and ultimately concluded that Watts “annihilate[d]” his family and “[threw] them away like garbage” because he wanted to get a new start with a mistress. That mistress was identified as Nichol Kessinger, and she came forward to say Watts “lied” to her about “everything.”
Kessinger claimed she started dating Watts less than two months before his family was found dead. She said she worked in the environmental department of a contractor for Anadarko Petroleum, where Watts worked and attempted to hide the girls’ bodies in oil tanks. He also buried Shanann in a shallow grave on that property.
“When he spoke to me, he was very softspoken,” Kessinger said. “He appeared to be a good listener.” She also said Watts was open about the fact that he had two daughters, and claimed he was finalizing his divorce.
“I thought, ‘If he was able to lie to me and hide something that big, what else was he lying about?’” she asked. Kessinger claimed that Watts didn’t show emotion when his family went missing and attempted to change the subject from his family’s whereabouts.
“It seemed off,” Kessinger said.
The second half of the Dr. Phil special will air next Monday, March 11.
Alberto Luperon contributed to this report.
[Image via YouTube/Dr. Phil screengrab]