Frank Rzucek leaned ahead on a courtroom bench and sobbed as a prosecutor detailed the horrible methods his pregnant daughter and two younger granddaughters have been murdered by Christopher Watts, the husband and father whom the victims beloved and trusted.
The small print have been ugly — how Four-year-old Bella bit her tongue whereas preventing again as her father smothered her to dying, how Bella’s physique was scraped as Watts shoved her via a small hatch in the oil tank the place he hid her physique, how investigators later discovered a tuft of sentimental blond hair on one of many tanks.
However the brand new information defined at Watts’ sentencing listening to Monday didn’t reply the query repeatedly requested by the victims, together with Watts’ personal mother and father: Why did Watts kill his spouse and daughters? How might a seemingly regular husband and father commit such horror?
“I trusted you to take care of them. Not to kill them,” stated Rzucek, his voice breaking as he recited in courtroom the names of his murdered daughter, Shanann, and granddaughters, Four-year-old Bella and Three-year-old Celeste, and unborn grandson, Nico.
A prosecutor provided a principle on the Frederick man’s sentencing Monday morning — that Watts needed a recent begin with a brand new girlfriend. However when given the prospect to clarify himself, Watts declined.
“No sir,” Watts stated when the decide requested him if he would really like to converse.
Quickly after, Weld County District Courtroom Decide Marcelo Kopcow sentenced the Frederick man to life in prison with out parole for the murders of his spouse and youngsters, ending a felony case that has drawn widespread consideration from throughout the nation since a good friend reported Shanann and the women lacking on Aug. 13. Watts, 33, pleaded responsible to the crimes on Nov. 6 in trade for the prosecutors’ settlement that they might not pursue the demise penalty.
“This is perhaps the most inhumane and vicious crime I have handled out of the thousands of cases I have seen,” Kopcow stated earlier than delivering the sentence.
In the course of the listening to, Weld County District Lawyer Michael Rourke defined new particulars about how Watts murdered his household. Watts strangled Shanann — a course of that may take greater than 2 minutes — in the early hours of Aug. 13. Shanann had bruises in the form of fingers on her neck, an post-mortem report stated.
Watts then loaded the our bodies into his truck and drove to an Anadarko Petroleum website that he knew from work. He buried Shanann in a shallow grave and shoved the women’ our bodies by way of hatches on the highest of oil storage tanks.
“All of this, your honor, for what?” Rourke stated.
Rourke’s greatest rationalization was that Watts needed to begin a brand new life with Nichol Kessinger, a lady he had began courting fewer than two months earlier. Watts texted the lady in any respect hours of the night time whereas ignoring messages from his spouse. The 2 had traveled to Nice Sand Dunes Nationwide Park whereas his household was on trip in North Carolina, Rourke stated.
However Rourke couldn’t know for positive as Watts has by no means given a full confession.
“None of this answers the questions of why,” Rourke stated. “If he was this happy and wanted a new start, get a divorce. You don’t annihilate your family and throw them away like garbage.”
Watts’ mother and father, Ronnie and Cynthia, condemned the crimes and didn’t ask the decide for leniency in their son’s sentencing.
“We still don’t have the answers,” Ronnie Watts stated in a press release learn by his lawyer, Jean Powers. “I hope one day, Christopher, you can help us.”
Cynthia Watts stated she was nonetheless struggling to perceive the “absolute horror” and can by no means recuperate from the trauma.
However Chris continues to be her son, she stated, and she or he loves him as his mom and all the time will. Her phrases tumbled quicker as she neared the top of her ready assertion and tears streamed down her face.
Watts bounced his leg up and down as his household spoke. He seemed towards his lap however didn’t cry as his mom informed the decide how a lot she nonetheless liked her son.
On the finish, she turned to face her son, who was dressed in inmate orange.
“We forgive you, son,” she stated.
Watts’ mom referred to as a number of native information retailers, together with The Denver Submit, the week after her son pleaded responsible and stated that she believed her son had been coerced into the settlement. However the Watts met with prosecutors over the weekend and stated on the listening to Monday that they consider their son dedicated the murders.
“Doesn’t just happen in the moment”
Rourke stated he believes Watts deliberate the murders, although Watts has by no means stated so. The afternoon earlier than the killings, Watts texted with a coworker and organized his work schedule in order that he can be the one individual on the website when he disposed of the our bodies. Later that morning, he referred to as the women’ faculty to say he was unenrolling them and referred to as an actual property agent to talk about promoting the house the place he killed his household, Rourke stated.
“Something like this, in my mind, doesn’t just happen in the moment,” he stated at a information convention Monday afternoon with Shanann’s household, who didn’t converse.
Watts turned a suspect in his household’s disappearance in a short time as a result of his tales didn’t make sense, Rourke stated. Shanann’s purse, telephone and automotive have been nonetheless on the residence when police arrived, and the home was locked from the within. Investigators later used the GPS system in Watts’ truck to monitor his travels the morning of the killings to the location the place the our bodies have been discovered.
Rourke additionally confirmed the account Watts’ girlfriend, Kessinger, gave The Denver Publish in an interview however added that the lady deleted all the photographs and messages associated to Watts from her telephone earlier than she approached regulation enforcement together with her story. He stated that Kessinger cooperated with police and had no prior information of the murders.
After the information convention, Weld County Coroner Carl Blesch launched the autopsies of Shanann, Bella and Celeste. The findings have been in step with Rourke’s description of the victims’ deaths through the listening to. Toxicology studies state that Shanann had a blood alcohol content material of .128, however Rourke stated that was brought on by decomposition and there was no proof that the lady had been consuming when Watts killed her. The women additionally had substances in their our bodies, however the coroner’s workplace discovered they have been brought on by the crude oil they have been discovered submerged in.
Rourke stated investigators didn’t understand how Bella and Celeste have been smothered, however famous that Watts had no exterior accidents past a small mark when he was taken into custody.
Shanann’s mother and father and brother determined they didn’t need to pursue the demise penalty after discussing with Rourke the emotional, years-long course of it will require.
“I didn’t want death for you because that’s not my right,” Sandra Rzucek stated to Watts on the sentencing.
Watts can be transferred to the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Middle the place he can be evaluated and assigned to a prison, Rourke stated. Prosecutors will file a request inside the subsequent three months that Watts pay restitution, together with for the prices of burying Shanann, Bella and Celeste.
In the course of the in depth search for Shanann, Bella and Celeste by a number of regulation enforcement businesses, Watts appeared on native tv information and requested for the protected return of his household. His impassive plea earlier than TV cameras was introduced up Monday in courtroom.
Two days after his tv interviews, Watts was arrested in their deaths. Watts informed police that he strangled his spouse in a rage on Aug. 12 after he noticed her choking their daughter Celeste on a video child monitor, in accordance to his arrest affidavit. He stated Bella was “sprawled” on a mattress and appeared blue.
Watts informed police that he had requested for a separation from Shanann earlier that day and that he was having an affair.
The lady Watts was courting, Kessinger, informed The Denver Publish she had solely been concerned with Watts since July they usually by no means mentioned long-term plans for their relationship. Watts lied to her and advised her that he had finalized a divorce with his spouse, she stated.
Watts has by no means given investigators one other account of what occurred and has by no means proven indicators of regret for anyone however himself, Rourke stated.
“I don’t think he’ll ever tell us,” he stated.