A Colorado man accused of murdering his pregnant wife and two infant daughters pleaded guilty on Tuesday after he effectively admitted to lying repeatedly about the circumstances behind the killings — as well as his decision to hide the bodies of his wife and children in oil tanks at his place of work. Chris Watts, 33, agreed plead guilty on Tuesday to five counts of first-degree murder, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a dead body.
The case’s conclusion marked the end of a tragic saga for the family of Shan’ann Watts, 34, who was murdered by her husband alongside her daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. In August, Chris Watts appeared on TV to plea for the return of his wife and daughters after he said they mysteriously disappeared. When their bodies were discovered hidden on the grounds of the oil site at which he worked, Watts defended himself against murder accusations by claiming that he had only killed Shan’ann because he “flew into a rage” after witnessing her murder their children on a baby cam. Appearing in court on Tuesday, Watts effectively admitted he had made up that story as well, and made a guilty plea in front of his late wife’s family after accepting a deal that would allow him to escape the death penalty.
“What I can tell you most affirmatively today, by what happened in the courtroom, is the spotlight that he tried to shine on Shanann falsely, incorrectly … has been corrected,” said Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke. “The spotlight shines directly where it belongs: on him.”
Shan’ann’s family, Rourke added, was going through “extraordinary sadness” as the case has dragged on, but he hoped that the guilty plea would at least allow them to have some “sense of closure.”
Watch video coverage of the story below.
Read the full story at PEOPLE magazine.