With no motive made public in the case of a husband accused of heinously murdering his pregnant wife and their two young daughters, friends and family have been left wondering whether financial stress, marital strife or some other factor may have played a role.
The couple had had financial difficulties in the past, including a bankruptcy, but Shanann Watts, 34, boasted of the lavish perks from her job doing direct sales of health supplements – including a Lexus and paid trips to Mexico and Puerto Rico – before her husband Christopher Watts confessed on Wednesday to killing her and their two daughters Celeste, three, and Bella, four.
The mother and children were killed in their home in Frederick, Colorado and their bodies moved to the Anadarko oil and gas drilling property where Watts worked, police say. Investigators haven’t revealed when or how the murders were committed.
Christopher Watts, 33, was ordered held without bail on Thursday in the murders.
Though some close to the family suggested that Watts and Shanann were headed for a split prior to the murders, many in the family remained baffled at a motive, with Shanann’s brother Frankie Rzucek asking on Facebook: ‘I just want to know why.’
Shanann Watts, and their daughters Celeste, three, and Bella, four, were found dead in Colorado on Thursday after Christopher Watts allegedly confessed to the murders
Watts (left) was ordered held without bail on Thursday. Family are baffled at the murder and are left piecing together a possible motive at police remain mum on the case
‘My precious family, my one and only sibling, my sister Shanann, 2 adorable nieces, Bella and Celeste, and her soon to be found out unborn son Niko,’ Rzucek wrote.
As investigators remain extremely tight-lipped, a timeline of the couple’s relationship does offer some clues about the tragic case.
Shannan grew up in Aberdeen, North Carolina, and attended nearby Pinecrest High School.
Watts graduated from Pine Forest High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 2003. According to his high school year book, he into automotive repairs and appeared on the patriotic page.
The couple were married in Charlotte in 2012. Public records show that they were each arrested multiple times in North Carolina – he three time and her 15 times – but the charges in the arrests are not known.
Shanann and Watts are seen at their wedding in Charlotte in 2012. They both grew up in North Carolina but moved to Colorado shortly after they were married
Shanann and Watts at their wedding. The couple is said to have left North Carolina in a hurry in 2012, with Shanann selling her house with all the furniture still inside
Watts and Shanann are seen together in a family photo. The couple filed for bankruptcy in 2015, when Watts was making $61,500 as an operator for Anadarko
Watts and Shanann appeared to be going through a rocky patch when they moved to Colorado in 2012, shortly after marrying.
Byron Falls, who bought Shanann’s house in Belmont, west of Charlotte, said on Thursday that the Watts family had been in a hurry to sell and left behind the furniture as part of the sale.
The August 2012 deed transfer shows that Shanann signed it while already living in Colorado. Records say she had bought it in 2009.
In Colorado, Watts took a job with Anadarko, one of the largest oil and natural gas drilling companies in the state. He was employed with Anadarko until his arrest on Wednesday, at which point he was fired, a company spokeswoman told DailyMail.com.
In 2015, the couple filed for bankruptcy, with court filings painting a picture of a family caught between a promising future and financial strain.
The June 2015 filing notes that Watts had gotten a job six months earlier as an operator for Anadarko, and paystubs indicate his salary was about $61,500 per year.
Shanann gushed about her life in frequent posts of Facebook, and appeared to have an idyllic family life – but all may not have been as it seemed. The family is seen above
Shanann poses with a magazine spread featuring her family in May. It’s not clear what the publication is, but it likely had to do with job selling health supplements
Celeste, three, and Bella, four are seen together in May. Police say the girls were killed in their house along with their mother, and the bodies were moved to an oil field
Shanann was working at the time in a call center at a children’s hospital earning about $18 per hour. Combined, they had earned $90,000 in 2014.
But they also had tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, along with some student loans and medical bills – for a total of $70,000 in unsecured claims on top of a sizable mortgage.
They said their nearly $3,000 mortgage and $600 in monthly car payments formed the bulk of their $4,900 in monthly expenses.
At some point following the bankruptcy filing, Shanann began working for Le-vel, a multi-level marking company that sells health supplements and weight loss patches under the brand Thrive.
On Facebook, where she was extremely active, Shanann gushed about her success in the program, which awarded her a Lexus for her prowess in selling the products.
The company also sent her and Watts on ‘earned lifestyle getaways’ to New Orleans, Toronto, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, Las Vegas and San Diego.
‘All inclusive, no work, all fun vacations,’ she boasted.
Shanann and Watts became frequent travelers thanks to her job selling health supplements
Watts and Shanann are seen together in San Diego in June on an ‘earned lifestyle getaway’ through her work selling ‘Thrive’ health supplements for Le-vel
The couple appeared to have bounced back from their financial struggles three years ago – but there were other signs that the relationship may have been heading for a split
In June, Shanann announced her third pregnancy to the world, posting an ultrasound on Facebook along with the note: ‘I love Chris! He’s the best dad us girls could ask for.’
One of Shanann’s close friends in Colorado, Ashley Bell, says she never noticed anything wrong between the couple.
Bell says she became close friends with Shanann after she visited Bell’s tanning salon two years ago.
But there are hints that the relationship was beginning to fracture, and may have been headed for divorce.
On July 12 of this year, the Wyndham Hill Master Association in Frederick filed a civil $1,500 claim in Weld County District Court against the couple, and they were due in court next week.
In late June, Watts, Shanann and their daughters traveled to North Carolina to visit her family. The mother and daughters stayed for six weeks, but he appears to have returned to Colorado earlier.
Shanann is seen left in late June while on vacation visiting family in North Carolina, and right in a recent pregnancy announcement photo. She sold ‘Thrive’ weight-loss patches
While she was in North Carolina, Shanann confided in her mother, Sandi Onorati, that the marriage was on the rocks.
‘She mentioned about them having problems, Shanann and Chris,’ Onorati’s coworker Danell Search told WRAL. Search said Onorati told her the two were planning to separate.
Shanann and the girls returned to Colorado on August 7. Her last post on social media was around 4.30pm on August 9.
On August 10, traveled to Scottsdale, Arizona for a Le-vel event. A photo on August 11 from the Yard House in Scottsdale of Shanann and her co-workers shows that she did make the trip.
Shanann (second from right) is seen on August 11 in a group photo with coworkers during a trip to Scottsdale, Arizona. Watts says she returned home around 1am on August 13
The two children stayed at home with Watts, he told police. Watts said that Shanann returned from her trip at about 1am on Monday August 13, and that they both stayed up having an ’emotional conversation’ until he left for work at 5.15am.
Watts claimed that was the last time he saw his wife or daughters, until on Wednesday he allegedly admitted to the murders.
Shanann’s family members have said in public statements that they do not want to be bothered by the media in the wake of her death.
Watts is being held without bail in the Weld County Jail. He is next due in court on Tuesday. While formal charges have not yet been filed, he faces three counts of murder, and three counts of tampering with evidence.