Christopher Watts of Frederick Colorado accused of killing wife Shanann, 34, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3 left them in a greasy grave
The 33-year-old father who ‘murdered his pregnant wife and two daughters, and stuffed the toddlers’ bodies in oil and gas tanks so they wouldn’t smell’
Two young girls found inside ‘nearly full’ fuel canisters at field where he worked
Investigators believe the method was intended to disguise the smell of decay
Watts has not been formally charged and cops not revealing method or motive, but he faces three counts of first-degree murder and three of tampering with evidence
He claimed for days that his family was missing, had been active in giving media interviews about their disappearance, before admitting to police his role in their disappearance
Family had struggled with paying back debts and filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and were due in court next week to face $1,500 lawsuit from homeowners’ association
Both appeared to have landed decent jobs in recent times
Most friends didn’t see troubles between the couple but one said Watts was suspected of cheating
Their corpses were found on Thursday afternoon, several hours after investigators also located the remains of their mother, 34-year-old Shannan. She was also found at the field, although the exact locations of the bodies has not been revealed.
The suspect appeared in court for the first time on Thursday in an orange jumpsuit and shackles. He was denied bail during the appearance.
Watts did not speak as he was escorted into the courtroom. He looked down for much of the hearing but made eye contact as the judge reviewed his rights.
Relate: The body of Shanann Watts, pregnant Colorado mom whose husband pleaded on TV news for her safe found – Christopher Watts has admitted to killing his family
Though formal charges have not yet been filed, he could face three charges of murder and three charges of tampering with evidence.
Judge Marcelo Kopcow told prosecutors to file formal charges by Monday and set a Tuesday hearing to review the charges. The judge also approved a request by Watts’ attorney that police preserve all written notes and notify the defense team before autopsies are performed.
Christopher Watts [eft], confessed to killing his wife Shanann and their daughters Bella, [top right] and Celeste, three, [bottom left] on Wednesday night. The bodies of the two girls were found close to their mother’s.They were stuffed inside oil and gas canisters to disguise the smell
Prosecutors say they believe the mother and children were killed in their home and the bodies later moved, but no cause of death has been made public.
Shanann who promotes a weight loss supplement for a living and travels the country to attend sales conferences, went missing on Monday after returning from a business trip to Arizona at around 1am.
The girls had spent the weekend at home with their father while their mother was away working, police said.
Watts said the last time he saw his wife was at 5.15am on Monday when he left for work. He said that they had stayed up having an ’emotional conversation’ between her arrival at 1am and his departure for work.
He said he became worried when she did not reply to his text messages later in the morning. Watts said he became panicked when a friend arrived at the home at noon and there was no answer.
Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant. Her family revealed on Thursday that she was carrying a baby boy who was to be named Nico.
She and her husband were due in court next week to face a lawsuit from their homeowners’ association, which was suing them for $1,500.
Related: Colorado dad, Christopher Watts, reportedly, confesses to killing pregnant wife, two daughters after pleading for their safe return days earlier
Watts had gotten a job six months earlier as an operator for Anadarko, and paystubs indicate his annual salary was about $61,500.
They said in the filing that their nearly $3,000 mortgage and $600 in monthly car payments formed the bulk of their $4,900 in monthly expenses.
Watts was employed at Anadarko until word of his arrest on Wednesday, the company said.
Shanann appeared highly engaged with her work marketing supplements, boasting on social media of work trips to New Orleans, Toronto, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, Las Vegas and San Diego.
Despite their financial troubles, most friends said that they never noticed anything wrong between the couple.
In June, Shanann shared an ultrasound of their unborn third child on Facebook, calling Watts ‘the best dad us girls could ask for’.
‘I don’t know why he would want to kill her, the wife and the two kids,’ Joe Beach, a neighbor of the family in Aberdeen, told ABC 11.
‘I’m still in complete shock about it,’ said Joe Duty, Watts former teacher. ‘Chris was one of the best students that I ever taught … He was always punctual, did everything right.’
However, Amanda Thayer suggested Shanann thought her husband could have been unfaithful, telling CBS: ‘It came to her mind that possibly he could be cheating.’
Shanann was extremely active on Facebook, and posted this status praising her husband on June 19
Authorities are refusing to say how they think Shanann died or the motive of the killer.
They would not indicate on Thursday when they think the mother was killed, or if they believe the children were still alive when she returned on Monday from her business trip.
Nor did investigators reveal what prompted Watts to make his apparent confession.
He did lead police to Shanann’s body, police said, adding on Thursday that they also believe they known the location of the two girls’ bodies.
The Weld County District Attorney asked a judge to seal the arrest affidavit and was granted his request.
On Thursday, the DA said he hoped to share more details on Monday when he planned to lodge formal charges against Christopher.
Meanwhile Shanann’s family have been left outraged by the investigation, are fuming over police ‘dragg[ing] their heels’ in taking Christopher into custody.
Christopher and Shanann are seen with their two daughters. Chris worked for an energy company while Shanann worked for a multi-level marketing company that sold supplements
Police say that he confessed to the murders and tried to hide the bodies in the oil field where he worked.
On Thursday, Shanann’s family issued a statement sharing their grief.
‘The family are deeply saddened over the inhumane murders of their beloved daughter and sister Shanann, her unborn child and her beautiful daughters Bella Marie and Celeste Cathryn.
‘Please allow the family, and those close, to mourn their passing in private.’
A fundraiser to help support Shanann’s family in paying funeral and other expenses raised nearly $30,000 in just two days.
On Wednesday, police were seen searching the family’s home at the same time. They towed away Watts’ truck and were seen putting other evidence into bags.
Hours earlier, Watts appeared on NBC’s Today show where he said he had ‘no idea’ where they went.
‘I don’t feel like this is even real right now. It’s like a nightmare I can’t wake up from,’ he said.
‘When I got home yesterday it was like a ghost town. She wasn’t here. The kids weren’t here. I have no idea, like, where they went,’ he said. .
Chris Watts makes appeal over missing family before his arrest. Hours before his arrest on Wednesday, Chris appeared on TV [photo], where he said he had ‘like no idea’ where the family went
She said she was going to a friend’s house with the kids and that’s the last thing I heard, and that was it
‘It was very vague,’ he said.
‘In my heart I believe that she is somewhere and I hope that she is safe.’
Elsewhere, he said he was not so sure.
‘Right now I don’t want to just throw anything out there. I hope that she’s somewhere safe right now and with the kids.
‘But could she have just taken off? I don’t know, but if somebody has her and they’re not safe, I want them back now.’Turning to the camera, he made a direct plea to them, saying: ‘Shanann, Bella, Celeste, if you’re out there just come back.
‘If somebody has her, just bring her back.
‘I just need to see everybody. I need to see everybody again.
‘This house is not complete without anybody here. Please bring her back.’