• Petition seeks to remove Chris Watts' family photos from cell

    By: Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    WAUPUN, Wis. - A group of “armchair detectives” is demanding in an online petition that Colorado murderer Chris Watts, who strangled his pregnant wife and suffocated his two young daughters last August, be forced to remove photos of his murdered family from his prison cell. 

    The petition on Change.org, which on Friday evening was about 300 signatures short of its goal of 10,000, was started by a group calling itself the Seek the Truth & Armchair Detective Group. It is addressed to Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers; the state Department of Corrections’ head, Kevin Carr; and William Pollard, the warden of Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun. 

    Watts, 33, is serving life in prison for the Aug. 13 murder of Shanann Watts, 34, inside their Frederick, Colorado, home. He was sentenced to two additional, consecutive life sentences in the murders of the couple’s daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, as well as fourth and fifth concurrent life sentences in the case.

    >> Related story: ‘Daddy, no!’: Chris Watts’ 4-year-old daughter begged for life after mom, sister murdered

    Watts was transferred to the Wisconsin prison system for his own protection after pleading guilty in November to nine felony charges, including five murder charges, related to the killing of his family. On top of his five life sentences, Watts was sentenced to another 48 years for unlawful termination of a pregnancy and 12 years each for three counts of tampering with a deceased body. 

    Watts told FBI and Colorado Bureau of Investigation agents in a February prison interview that inmates in Colorado had shouted threats at him and urged him to commit suicide. 

    It was in that five-hour February interview that Watts explained in chilling detail exactly how he killed his family. It was also at that time that Watts told the FBI and CBI agents he has pictures of Shanann, Bella and Celeste in his prison cell and “talks to them every morning and every night.” 

    Watts also has a copy of a book he used to read to his daughters. 

    A screenshot of a Colorado Bureau of Investigation document shows details of a February 2019 interview with Chris Watts, who is serving multiple life sentences in the Aug. 13, 2018, murders of his wife, Shanann Watts, 34, and the couple's daughters,
    A screenshot of a Colorado Bureau of Investigation document shows details of a February 2019 interview with Chris Watts, who is serving multiple life sentences in the Aug. 13, 2018, murders of his wife, Shanann Watts, 34, and the couple's daughters,
    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    “As taxpayers and members of the public, we are outraged that Chris Watts was allowed to have a photograph of the victims he was convicted of murdering, including his two minor children,” the Change.org petition states. “Allowing a murderer to keep a trophy of his victims goes against the purpose and mission statement of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, which emphasizes public safety and victim advocacy.”

    The petition demands that the photos be returned to Shanann and the girls’ surviving family members. Steven Lambert, an attorney for Shanann Watts’ family, told CNN they had no comment about the petition at this time. 

    Editor’s note: The following depiction of the deaths of Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts is graphic in nature and may be upsetting to some readers.

    Watts explained in February how he strangled his wife, who had just returned home from a business trip, before driving Bella and Celeste -- both alive, and with their mother’s dead body at their feet -- to an isolated Andarko Petroleum oil tank battery 60 miles away.

     

    This 2018 Google Maps image shows the location where Chris Watts, 33, of Frederick, Colorado, disposed of the bodies of his pregnant wife, Shanann Watts, 34, and their daughters, Bella, 4, and 3-year-old Celeste. Photo: Google
    This 2018 Google Maps image shows the location where Chris Watts, 33, of Frederick, Colorado, disposed of the bodies of his pregnant wife, Shanann Watts, 34, and their daughters, Bella, 4, and 3-year-old Celeste. Photo: Google

    Watts, who worked for Andarko and was having an affair with a coworker, covered each girl’s head with a blue Yankees blanket before suffocating and strangling them. 

    Bella, who saw her father suffocate her younger sister, asked, “Is the same thing gonna happen to me as Cece?”

    Watts told the agents he didn’t remember if he responded before killing Bella, who he said screamed, “Daddy, no!” as he put the blanket over her head. 

    Prosecutors said during Watts’ sentencing hearing that the little girl bit through her tongue multiple times as she fought for her life. Watts told the investigators he could hear her “grunt” as she tried to breathe, and her head twisted back and forth under the blanket.

    Read the entire CBI report on Watts’ Feb. 18 interview, in which he talks about his family, the murders and his affair with a coworker, below. Warning: Details of the slayings may be too disturbing for some readers. 

    Watts shoved the girls’ bodies into two oil tanks containing crude oil before burying his wife and unborn son, who was to be named Nico, in a shallow grave nearby. All three bodies were recovered after Watts confessed Aug. 15 to killing Shanann. 

    He initially claimed he killed Shanann in a rage after she strangled the girls following an argument about their marriage. He admitted in February, however, that he lied in his initial confession to Frederick police detectives. 

    CBS Denver reported that the family’s former home is scheduled to be auctioned off this summer.  

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