Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke answers media questions moments after he announced Christopher Watts is facing nine felony charges.
Sady Swanson, firstname.lastname@example.org
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Prosecutors and investigators believe Christopher Watts’ recent confession as to how and why he killed his wife and daughters in August is largely truthful.
Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke previously invited Watts to one day come forward with a full, truthful confession after he was sentenced Nov. 19.
Rourke told the Coloradoan on Thursday he was surprised to hear how forthcoming Watts was when investigators from the FBI, Colorado Bureau of Investigation and Frederick Police Department unexpectedly came to the Wisconsin prison and asked to speak with him Feb. 18.
Throughout their investigation and prosecution of this case, Rourke said they tried to figure out what happened, but he told the Coloradoan that “reality turns out to be much worse than anything any of us surmised from the evidence we had … about the worst you could imagine.”
After Watts was sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison, Rourke said he doubted Watts would ever give an honest account of the killings. But on Thursday, Rourke said he believes Watts’ recent confession to investigators is a “truthful, credible account” of the killings.
“I’m assuming what he is telling is truthful,” Rourke said, adding that the skilled investigators who interviewed Watts also believe he was honest in his most recent confession. “I don’t think that everything that came out of his mouth during those interviews was the truth because I honestly don’t believe that this monster has the ability to have remorse at all.”
Rourke said some pieces of evidence match Watts’ most recent confession, including footage from a neighbor’s security camera that shows another shadow aside from Watts’ by his truck when he was loading Shanann’s body into the back seat.
In the video released by the Weld County District Attorney’s Office, Watts is seen standing by his work truck when another shadow appears to be moving toward him, and Watts leans down to pick something up, likely one of the girls.
That video “would be consistent with his statements that the girls were alive when they left the house and walked out to the truck,” Rourke said.
Watts has never testified under oath with the threat of perjury in this case.
Prosecutors and investigators previously believed Watts killed his wife, Shanann, and their daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste, at their Frederick home before disposing of their bodies at the oil site owned by Watts’ former employer.
They believed Watts killed his family to start a new life with a coworker whom he had recently begun having an affair with. On Feb. 18, Watts told investigators his affair “contributed” to the murders, but she never asked him to harm his family.
Watts said he didn’t realize he was unhappy with his marriage until he started having the affair in July.
“God gave me opportunities to get out,” Watts said, referring to his affair. “I just wish I could take it all back.”
Watts and Shanann were having what he described as an emotional conversation about their relationship in the early-morning hours of Aug. 13 when Watts told Shanann he no longer loved her.
Shanann told him, “You’re never gonna see the kids again,” and he said he “snapped” and immediately strangled her.
Watts also admitted to killing Bella and Celeste after driving them over an hour away to an oil site, where he buried Shanann in a shallow grave and dumped his daughter’s bodies in oil tanks.
“Once she was gone, I didn’t know what was going on,” Watts recently told investigators. “It was like a traumatic … a traumatic event. I was shaking, I didn’t know what had happened. … I wasn’t in control of what I could think or what I could do at that point in time.”
Prior to his arrest Aug. 15, about 24 hours after pleading for his family’s safe return on television news stations, Watts told investigators he strangled his wife “in a rage” after seeing her kill their two daughters on a baby monitor screen.
Chris Watts reportedly confessed to killing his wife Shanann Watts and their two daughters
9NEWS, Fort Collins Coloradoan
Watts admitted to those same investigators in the recent interview that he wouldn’t have thought to place the blame on Shanann if investigators hadn’t brought it up to him.
“I never thought about that story,” Watts told investigators Feb. 18. “And, you know, that’s what my attorneys were going with.”
Watts said he “just went with it” partly because he knew his family would believe it because they never liked Shanann.
But, two weeks after he was arrested, Watts said he told his attorneys the truth about what happened. His attorneys asked him “about 100 times” if he would be interested in accepting a plea agreement if one was offered, and Watts said he would plead guilty to “end it all.”
Watts said his attorneys never pressured him into taking a plea deal and they were “ready to fight” for him, but his parents still feel like he was “railroaded” into accepting the plea agreement, which involved pleading guilty to all nine charges in order to remove the death penalty as a sentencing option.
Watts said his parents received tips from people worldwide that a supplement he used that claims to help with health and weight loss is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and “can alter someone’s mind.”
Watts told investigators wearing the Duo Burn patches increased his heart rate, made him “feel like he was working out all day,” and allowed him to sleep for just three hours a night.
His parents also suggested he defend himself by saying he had complex post traumatic stress disorder from an emotionally abusive relationship, but Watts told investigators while he may have related partly to the CPTSD diagnosis, “it doesn’t make up for what happened.”
Follow Sady Swanson on Twitter: @sadyswan.
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