Chris Watts confesses to killing daughters for first time: 'I didn’t want to do this, but I did it'

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Christopher Watts has admitted killing his daughters last year at the oil site where he dumped their bodies after strangling his wife, Shanann, in their Colorado home.

On Thursday, investigators released a five-hour interview with Watts on Feb. 18 at the Wisconsin prison where he is being held.

It's unclear what kind of advance notice Watts was given about the visit from Colorado Bureau of of Investigation agent Tammy Lee, FBI special agent Graham Coder and Frederick police detective Dave Baumhover.

Investigators told Watts they were left with a thousand questions they had wanted to ask him after his swift arrest and that they believed he still had information to share.

They eased into the interview by talking about life in prison and his family outside prison, but the conversation progressed to his relationship with Nicole Kessinger, his relationship with Shanann and what happened Aug. 13, the day he killed his family.

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“I don’t intend to take you to a dark place today," Coder told him. "I hope that when we’re done, you’ll feel better. … I think it will be very good for you."

Lee told Watts it's hard for them to understand how a father who is shown in videos giving piggyback rides, making snacks and watching princess movies with his daughters could end up killing them.

Watts said he killed his daughters out of anger with Shanann “that he took out on everyone in front of him that morning,” according to investigators.

"Like I said, it’s like something else was controlling me that day," Watts said. "I had no control over, to fight back.

“Right now I’d have a 5-year-old … a 3-year-old … and more than likely, a one-month-old son … and a beautiful wife … and right now it’s just me,” Watts told investigators.

The confession

This is Watts' account of what happened Aug. 13. Be warned that it contains some disturbing details.

Watts said he and Shanann had a fight in the hours after she returned from a business trip Aug. 13.

After Shanann returned from her business trip about 2 a.m., he said he felt her get into bed but also felt she knew about his affair. He said they had sexual intercourse and then fell asleep. He said that might have been a "trigger point ... like you hit the push button on a bomb and it just blows up.”

He woke up to get ready for work and woke up Shanann to talk.

Watts said he was straddling Shanann as she laid on her back, and he asked whether they could cancel an upcoming trip to Aspen, Colorado, and whether they could move to get away from their house.

Watts said Shanann then told him she knew he was having an affair and started to cry, but Watts denied having an affair.

“I just felt guilty … more guilty than ever before,” Watts told investigators, according to documents released Thursday.

Photo of Christopher Watts provided by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation
Photo of Christopher Watts provided by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation

Watts told Shanann he didn’t think their marriage was going to work and that he didn’t love her, and Shanann responded: “You’re never gonna see the kids again … you’re never gonna see them again … get off me … don’t hurt the baby.”

Watts put both hands around his wife's neck and strangled her.

“Every time I think about it, I’m just like, did I know I was going to do that before I got on top of her?” he told investigators.

“Everything that happened that morning I just don’t – I don’t know, … like, I try to go back in my head … I didn’t want to do this, but I did it … it just felt like there was already something in my mind that was implanted that I was gonna do it and when I woke up that morning, it was gonna happen and I had no control over it.”

Watts recalled Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke saying at the sentencing hearing that it takes two to four minutes to strangle someone to death, so “Why couldn’t I just let go?”

Watts said he didn’t know why Shanann didn’t fight back and believes she may have been praying.

After he killed Shanann, Watts said, he was shaking and felt as if he wasn’t in control of his emotions.

The noise from their fight woke up their daughter Bella, 4, Watts said.

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She asked her father what was wrong with her mother, and Watts said he replied, “Mommy doesn’t feel good.”

He wrapped Shanann in a sheet and tried to carry her downstairs, but he lost his grip and had to drag her out to his truck, where he put her body in the back seat on the floorboards.

He said Bella was smart and knew what was going on.

The noise woke their 3-year-old daughter, Celeste, who was starting to get out of bed when Watts came back inside.

Watts said he felt as if someone else was in control of him as he put Bella and Celeste in the back of his truck on the bench seat.

Nov. 6: Colorado dad pleads guilty to murder of pregnant wife, 2 daughters

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Watts said when they arrived at the oil site 45 minutes from their Frederick, Colorado, home, he pulled Shanann's body out of the car with his daughters sitting on the back seat. They asked him what he was doing to their mother, and he said he doesn't recall what he told them.

Watts said he returned to the truck and “Cece was first.”

He put his daughter’s Yankees blanket over her head and strangled her in the back seat with Bella sitting beside her, Watts told investigators.

“I wasn’t (thinking) … if I was thinking, this wouldn’t have happened … or any partial hint of what I feel for those girls and what I feel for my wife, then none of this would have happened … so I wasn’t thinking,” Watts said.

He carried Celeste from the truck to the oil tank and dropped her inside, then returned to his truck where Bella remained in the back seat.

“What happened to Cece?” Watts said Bella asked him. “Is the same thing gonna happen to me as Cece?”

He said he is not sure how he replied.

He “did the same thing” to Bella and placed the Yankees blanket over her head, Watts told investigators. He took Bella's body to another oil tank and dropped her inside. Watts said he doesn't know why he dumped his daughters in separate tanks.

“Daddy, no!” were Bella’s last words, Watts said, and he hears them every time he closes his eyes.

Aug. 23: 'Eerie' photo of Chris Watts with pregnant wife, daughter captured in Myrtle Beach days before murders

Aug. 20: Colorado murder suspect Chris Watts says he killed his pregnant wife after she strangled their two daughters

Watts said when he heard the prosecutor say Bella bit her tongue repeatedly, “he wanted to bang his head up against the wall,” according to investigators.

"Those are my kids, those are my babies," Watts told investigators. "I talked to them every night. I don’t see how this could happen. Every time I see pictures of them now, I don’t know how this could happen. Being a dad was the best part of my life. I took it all away.”

In November, Watts was sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison and 84 additional years for the murders of his pregnant wife and two daughters.

Follow Sady Swanson on Twitter: @sadyswan

Aug. 18: Colorado mom's body was in shallow grave near where daughters were found, court records say

Aug. 17: Candlelight vigil for slain Colorado mother, daughters draws hundreds

Aug. 17: Court documents: Colorado children found in oil well, may have been strangled

Aug. 16: Bodies of missing mom, 2 daughters found in Colorado, authorities say; father arrested

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Chris Watts confesses to killing daughters for first time: 'I didn’t want to do this, but I did it'