WELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– The man accused of murdering his pregnant wife and two small children appeared in court Tuesday morning where he was advised of the charges against him.
Watts faces three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of murdering a child under 12, unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts tampering with deceased human body.
Watts appeared in Weld County District Court in an orange jumpsuit with his wrists in handcuffs, chained to a belt around his waist. His ankles were also chained together.
The judge read the charges against Watts in court Tuesday morning and asked Watts if he understood the charges with Watts responding, “Yes” each time.
The judge also went over court details and future dates for hearings. Watts did not enter a plea.
The judge set the next hearing for Nov. 19.
The body of Shanann was found buried in a shallow grave near an oil tank where the bodies of her daughters were found on Anadarko Petroleum property.
Court documents suggest Bella and Celeste were killed between Aug. 12 and Aug. 13. Shanann returned home on Aug. 13 from a business trip.
Police arrested Chris Watts, 33, late Wednesday on suspicion of killing his wife and children.
The bodies of the pregnant mother and her daughters were discovered days after they were reported missing from their home in Frederick.
Shanann Watts and her daughters’ bodies were found Thursday on property owned by Andarko Petroleum, one of Colorado’s largest oil and gas drillers, where Watts worked as an operator.
Autopsies were completed Friday on Shanann Watts, 34, and her daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste.
According to court documents, the girls had been submerged in crude oil for four days.
Police went to the Watts home in Frederick on Aug. 13 after a friend asked officers to check on her. She hadn’t been answering texts or calls and had missed a doctor’s appointment.
According to court documents, Chris Watts allowed officers to enter the home where they found Shanann’s cellphone in between the cushions of a couch. Officers also observed a purse in the kitchen and a suitcase at the bottom of the stairs.
That’s when Watts told officers that he and his wife had an “intense” conversation about separating just hours after she returned from her business trip. Then he said that she planned to go to a friend’s house.
When she did not return home the next day, Aug. 14, the FBI and CBI joined the investigation.
After two days of investigating, detectives learned Chris was having an active affair with a co-worker which he denied in earlier interviews.
In court documents, Watts said on Aug. 15 he would tell the truth after he spoke to his father.
He told police that after Shanann returned home from her trip and they had the conversation about separating, he saw her on the baby monitor “actively strangling” their 3-year-old daughter. He said the video feed showed his other daughter “sprawled out on her bed and blue.”
Watts said he went into a rage and strangled Shanann to death.
Her body was found in a shallow grave on Anadarko Petroleum property near the oil tank where the girls’ bodies were found. Watts worked for Anadarko but was fired on Aug. 15.
According to GPS coordinates provided in court documents, on Tuesday morning, Copter4 flew over the site where the bodies were found last week.
“(The murders were) heart wrenching,” said Stacy Hanson, who traveled from Cheyenne, Wyoming to pay her respects for the family at their home. She did not know the Watts family. “I wanted to show respect from Wyoming, and for the mother and children that didn’t deserve this.”
Partially observing portions of the growing memorial at the Watts family home, is a security camera on a neighbor’s home. The camera has an obstructed view of the family’s driveway. Law enforcement said they obtained video from the morning Shanann was likely murdered. An affidavit said the video showed Chris Watts backing his vehicle in to the garage in the early hours of August 13, shortly after Shanann returned from a trip. The video also shows Watts’ truck driving away soon after.