Colorado man hears murder charges in death of wife, two children

Colorado man hears murder charges in death of wife, two children

By Keith Coffman

GREELEY, Colo. (Reuters) - A Colorado man accused of murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters appeared in court on Tuesday to hear the charges against him, days after his family members' bodies were discovered at the oil field where he worked.

Chris Watts, 33, barely spoke and did not formally enter a plea to the charges during his court appearance in Greeley, Colorado, about 60 miles (100 km) north of Denver.

The sensational case began in the nearby community of Frederick last week when Watts' wife, Shanann, and their two daughters, ages 3 and 4, were reported missing in the former mining town. Watts gave an interview to a Denver television station pleading for their return.

The next day, on Aug. 15, police arrested Watts and on Monday he was formally charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.

A Weld County judge read the charges to Watts on Tuesday during his court appearance. Watts, who was wearing glasses and an orange jail uniform, quietly responded with "yes" or "yes, sir" each time a charge was read.

Shanann Watts' father sat hunched over and sobbed silently in court as he heard the charges related to the deaths of his daughter and two granddaughters.

Watts told investigators that he was having an affair with a co-worker and announced to his wife he wanted a separation, according to an arrest affidavit made public on Monday.

Shanann Watts, after hearing her husband wanted to leave her, strangled the couple's two daughters, Chris Watts told police. Watts said he saw his wife on a baby monitor as she throttled one of the girls and that he went into a rage and strangled Shanann.

Prosecutors, in charging Watts with murder in the deaths of all three family members, have discounted his claim that his wife slayed their daughters, Celeste and Bella.

Watts has been ordered jailed without bond and faces the possibility of life in prison or the death penalty if convicted of murder.

Shanann's body was discovered in a shallow grave and the couple's daughters had been stuffed into tanks at the oil field north of Denver where Watts worked, prosecutors said.

Watts gave police the location of the remains, telling detectives he loaded the bodies into his pickup truck and drove them to the field, according to the affidavit filed in court.

(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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Updated Date: Aug 22, 2018 00:10:12 IST

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