A man who strangled his pregnant wife to death before killing his two daughters wanted to get out of his marriage and away from his growing family, prosecutors have said as he was sentenced by a judge.
The motive was assigned on Monday as Christopher Watts was sentenced to life in prison without parole in a Colorado court, a punishment secured as a part of a plea deal.
Watts, 33, pleaded guilty to the charges two weeks ago, admitting that he killed his pregnant wife Shanann, 34, and their two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. During his sentencing, Watts’ father-in-law, Frank Rzucek, said that he was disgusted by the way he took his wife and children “out like the trash”.
“I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them,“ Mr Rzucek, said during his emotional statement. ”They also trusted you, the heartless monster, and then you take them out like trash. You disgust me.“
“Prison is too good for you,” Mr Rzucek continued. “This is hard to say, but may God have mercy on your soul”.
Shanann's brother, Frankie Rzucek Jr was equally as distraught.
“What kind of person slaughters the people they love the most?” he asked.
Watts was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences for the murders, and a 48-year prison sentence for the wrongful termination of a pregnancy. He also received 12 years for tampering with the bodies of each victim.
Prosecutors noted that Shannan had died from strangulation and the two daughters were smothered.
Watts buried the body of Shannan in a shallow grave nearby, to “to secrete away his family in a place he hoped they’d never be found”, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said.
The murders captured the attention of national media in the United States, with true crime blogs picking up the story.
Those reports were bolstered by the public life Shannan portrayed on social media for friends and family, where she frequently posted photos of the family smiling and seemingly happy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report