Chris Watts Killed His Wife So It Would Be 'Easier' To Be With His Mistress

Emily Shiffer
·4 mins read
Photo credit: Shanann Watts/Netflix/2020
Photo credit: Shanann Watts/Netflix/2020

From Women's Health

  • Chris Watts murdered his wife, Shanann Watts, and their two daughters in 2018.

  • The killings are the subject of a new Netflix documentary, American Murder: The Family Next Door.

  • Chris revealed his motive and said it had to do with another woman, Nichol Kessinger.

Netflix's new true crime documentary American Murder: The Family Next Door premiered on September 30, and it's bringing back into the limelight the chilling story of the Watts family murders. On August 13, 2018, Colorado dad Chris Watts murdered his pregnant wife, Shanann Watts (she was carrying their son, Nico), and their two daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste. At the time, Watts was having an affair with girlfriend Nichol Kessinger.

Ultimately, it's impossible to have all the answers as to why Watts killed his wife and children. But he did give some clues following their murders:

Watts said he killed his wife so he could be with Kessinger.

He did reveal more about his motive to Cheryln Cadle, a woman he began corresponding with while in prison. Cadle released a book about their letters titled Letters From Christopher in October 2019.

Watts confessed that he poisoned Shanann with the painkiller Oxycodone, hoping to cause her to miscarry, according to The Daily Mail. "I thought it would be easier to be with Nichol if Shanann wasn't pregnant," he explained.

Ultimately, Watts strangled Shanann to death and said he wanted to be with Kessinger.

"I knew if I took my hands off of her, she would still keep me from Nikki [Nichol]," he wrote in one of the letters.

However, in an interview with police, Kessinger said that she didn't believe the affair was the catalyst for the murders, but it may have "accelerated the process," per The Daily Mail.

Photo credit: Shanann Watts/Netflix/2020
Photo credit: Shanann Watts/Netflix/2020
Photo credit: Courtesy of Netflix/2020
Photo credit: Courtesy of Netflix/2020

'American Murder' shows the Watts had marital issues.

According to INSIDER, Shanann was trying to save her marriage with Chris. She talked to her friends about it, bought a relationship book, and searched for a good couples counselor.

In the Netflix documentary, Shanann's texts to with Chris and friends revealed more about their crumbling relationship. While on a trip to North Carolina with her daughters to see family before her death, Shanann texted Chris about her feelings.

"I realized [during] this trip what's missing in our relationship! It's only one way emotions and feelings," she texted her husband, per the doc. "I can't come back like this. I need you to meet me halfway. You don't consider others at all, nor think about feelings."

"I try to give you space, but while you are working and living the bachelor life I'm carrying our 3rd and fighting with two kids daily and trying to work and make money," she continued in another text. "It's not hard texting love you and miss you. If you don't mean it then I get it, but we need to talk. I kept looking at my phone all night and no response from you. Like seriously! We didn't just start dating yesterday! We've been together 8 years and have 2.5 kids together."

Photo credit: Courtesy of Netflix/2020
Photo credit: Courtesy of Netflix/2020

Shanann's texts with friends also revealed issues, according to Fox 31 News in Colorado.

"He has changed. I don't know who he is," Shanann wrote.

Her friend responded, "What do you mean?"

Shanann texted, "He hasn't touched me all week, kissed me, talked to me except for when I'm trying to figure out what is wrong. I just want to cry. We've never had a problem in our relationship like this. No joke. NEVER. THIS IS TOTAL LEFT FIELD."

The Watts family also had money issues prior to 2018.

The couple's marriage was also affected by financial problems, according to Distractify. Although Watts worked for Anadarko Petroleum and Shanann sold products for the multi-level marketing company, Le-vel, they filed for bankruptcy in 2015.

Photo credit: Shanann Watts/Netflix/2020
Photo credit: Shanann Watts/Netflix/2020

According to The Daily Mail, Kessinger said in a police interview that "money is the biggest catalyst for this event happening," referring to the murders. But it's unknown whether the family still had money issues in 2018 when the killings occurred and if that was a factor in Watts' motive. Watts has never explicitly mentioned the family's financial problems as a reason for the murders.

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