Christopher Watts, the Frederick man who killed his wife and three children and then hid their bodies in an oil field, pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon to four charges.
Watts reached the plea deals with the Weld County District Attorney’s Office in an exchange for avoiding the death penalty. He pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree murder, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.
Police arrested Watts in August in connection to the killings of his 34-year-old pregnant wife, Shanann, and their two daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste. Investigators found the bodies of Shanann and the girls in rural Weld County on Andarko Petroleum property, the company where Christopher Watts worked. The girls’ bodies were found in an oil tank and their mother’s body was found in a shallow grave nearby.
Watts will be sentenced on Nov. 19 at 10:30 a.m. in Weld County District Court.
Watts remained in Weld County Jail Tuesday without bail on three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree murder by a person in a position of trust, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body in connection to the killings.
Watts, 33, was scheduled to appear for a status hearing on Nov. 19, but Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke on Friday announced in a court filing that a hearing would be held Tuesday. The filing did not offer any information about what the hearing would concern and a spokeswoman for Rourke declined on Monday to explain what the hearing was about.
Officials have not released the cause of their deaths, but a defense motion filed in August suggested that the two girls had been strangled. Weld County coroners have completed autopsies on the three bodies, but those reports have not been made public because prosecutors argued that releasing the autopsies would damage the continuing investigation.
Shanann and her daughters were reported missing on Aug. 13 by a family friend. Christopher Watts appeared on local television news pleading for his family’s safe return the day before he was arrested in their deaths.
Watts told police that he asked his wife for a separation the day on Aug. 12, according to his arrest affidavit. Investigators found that he had been in an affair with a coworker, the affidavit states.
He told police that he strangled Shanann to death in rage after he saw her strangling their daughter, Celeste, on a video baby monitor after they talked about the separation, according to the affidavit. He said their other daughter was “sprawled” on a bed and appeared blue on the monitor.
Watts told police that he then loaded the bodies into his truck and took them to the Anadarko work site, according to the affidavit. Investigators later found the bodies there.
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