An author and pen pal of notorious family killer Chris Watts says he confided in her that he buried his wife Shanann’s body away from their children’s bodies because he "hated her so much" at that moment.
Cheryln Cadle, the author of "Letters from Christopher: The Tragic Confessions of the Watts Family Murders," was featured in Lifetime's "Cellmate Secrets: Chris Watts," which premiered Friday night.
Cadle "became intrigued by Chris over the course of his trial and began exchanging letters with him and eventually met him in-person, where he allegedly revealed more to her than he did to the FBI,” Lifetime states in a press release for the show.
Related video: Meet the woman standing up for Chris Watts
Watts killed his entire family in August 2018. The narrative established through investigator interviews and court documents is that he first strangled his wife Shanann, who was 15 weeks pregnant with their son, inside their Frederick, Colorado home before smothering their young daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. Then, he attempted to play the role of a concerned husband and dad whose family had gone missing. But that facade soon crumbled: it became evident that he'd been having an affair and, after the bodies were discovered, he was arrested before ultimately pleading guilty to their murders; he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Chris Watts and Cheryln Cadle Photo: Getty Images; Lifetime
Following his guilty plea and conviction, Chris gave the FBI a chilling five-hour interview detailing the killing of his family. He described in horrific detail how he suffocated his children after strangling Shanann, whom he said didn’t fight back.
But now, Cadle claims that Chris has divulged even more disturbing details to her during the course of their communications. She tells the producers of "Cellmate Secrets" that Chris told her during a prison visit that he drugged Shanann with oxycodone weeks before her murder.
“He tried to poison Shanann with a large dose of it,” she said. “What he wanted her to do was for her to miscarry.”
She said he told her he never wanted that baby and that it was easier to cheat if his wife wasn’t pregnant. The alleged attempt was unsuccessful, though Shanann did become ill, according to Cadle.
Cadle said that Chris also confessed to her via letter that he attempted to murder his two daughters in their bedroom before killing Shanann. He allegedly wrote her that he had sex with Shanann after she returned from a business trip, then as she slept he went into the girls’ bedroom to smother them. He allegedly claimed he didn’t want them to hear him murder their mother and that he planned this act ahead of time.
The father thought both Bella and Celeste were dead as he reentered the bedroom he shared with his wife and got into an argument with her about their failing relationship, Cadle said. While he didn’t admit to cheating, Chris told Shanann he no longer loved her, according to Cadle; that's the same story he told the FBI. Shanann allegedly responded that if he were to end their marriage, he'd never see his daughters again. Despite the fact he allegedly already thought the girls were dead, this comment enraged him enough to kill her at that moment, Cadle said.
Cadle divulges in the show that at one point, Chris told her that he drugged Shanann that night. However, he changed his story during another correspondence to say he didn’t.
“So, I’m not sure what the truth is there but I believe he drugged her again,” she said. “Shanann was a vivacious and tenacious woman. I believe that she would have fought back and there was no sign that she fought back at all.”
Chris then drove his dead wife and his two children, who were still alive, to an oil site where he worked. It was there where he fatally smothered the children before stuffing them into oil wells. He buried Shanann in a shallow grave nearby.
Cadle asked the killer why his wife couldn't be with her own children, even in death.
"He said he wanted just to get them as far away from Shanann as he could," she said.
The author said he wanted the kids away from their mother "because he was so angry with Shanann, he at that moment hated her so much."