Christopher Watts, the Colorado father who pleaded guilty to killing his wife and two young daughters back in August, was sentenced by a judge on Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The ruling came after the parents of his slain wife, 34-year-old Shanann Watts and his own parents spoke out in court. It also came days after the woman he was having an extramarital affair with came forward to share her story with the media for the first time.
“This is the heartless one, the evil monster,” Shanann’s father, Frank Rzucek, told the court. “I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them. And they also trusted you,” he said, adding that Watts carried “them out like trash” after murdering his daughter and granddaughters. Overcome with emotion, Rzucek told Watts, “You disgust me. You don’t know what love is, because if you did, you would not have killed them.”
Sandra Rzucek, Shanann’s mother, then spoke and said the family loved Watts “like a son.” She continued, “We trusted you. Your faithful wife trusted you. Your children adored you.” But, she said, “I didn’t want death for you because that’s not my right. Your life is between you and God and I pray that he has mercy for you.”
Watts’ mother, Cindy Watts, also had the chance to speak and expressed sorrow and bewilderment over the crime, coming to tears at one point. “As your mother, Chris, I have always loved you and I still do. I hate what has happened,” she said. “But we will remain faithful as your family … we love you and we forgive you, son.”
In the days ahead of Watts, new information about his possible motives emerged when the woman with whom he’d been having an affair spoke out publicly for the first time.
In an interview with The Denver Post, Nichol Kessinger revealed that she and Watts had started dating in July — and that she was under the false impression that he was in the final stages of a divorce. Kessinger and Watts worked at the Anadarko Petroleum oil company, but Kessinger said they had little contact until Watts came into her office in June to introduce himself. He was not wearing a wedding ring, and while he told Kessinger about his two daughters, he also said that he was nearing the end of divorce proceedings.
They began a physical relationship in July and saw one another frequently. At the end of the month, Watts reportedly told Kessinger that his divorce was final, and asked for her help looking for a new apartment.
“He made me believe that he was doing all of the things that a rational man and good father would do,” Kessinger told the Post.
"He lied about everything." That's from the woman who says she had an affair with Chris Watts, the man who will be sentenced Monday in the murders of his wife and kids. Nichol Kessinger tells the Denver Post, Watts told her he was divorced: https://t.co/eKsctcJKIW pic.twitter.com/958G2Dw2xl
— HLN (@HLNTV) November 16, 2018
On August 13, the same day that Shanann Watts and her two daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste, went missing, Watts texted Kessinger and told her that his family was “gone” — and more specifically that Shanann had taken the girls on a play date and had not returned. He did not seem concerned, according to Kessinger.
Only when reading the news that night did Kessinger discover that Shanann was four weeks pregnant, and that her wallet and purse had been found in the house. In the wake of their disappearances, Watts appeared on television to plead for their safe return.
After failing to elicit satisfactory information from Watts about the apparent lies that he had told her, Kessinger contacted local authorities to tell them about their relationship. She met with the FBI on August 15.
“I just wanted to help,” she told the Post. “With a pregnant woman and two children missing, I was going to do anything that I could.”
Watts was arrested that same day. He confessed to killing his wife, but said that he only did so because he had witnessed her strangling their daughters to death. The police have explicitly said that they do not believe his story. With information provided by Watts, the authorities were able to find the three bodies: Shanann had been buried in a shallow grave near two oil drums, where the bodies of Bella and Celeste were found.
Watts agreed to plead guilty to all three murders as part of a deal to avoid a possible death sentence.
For more on his sentencing, watch the video below.
Read the full story at The Denver Post.