FREDERICK, Colo. (CBS4) – For the first time since learning new details about the Watts family murder, Shanann Watts’ parents opened up about the night they lost their daughter and two young granddaughters. In an exclusive interview with Dr. Phil, Frank and Sandy Rzucek said their son-in-law’s actions have traumatized more than just their family.
The Rzuceks based their interview with Dr. Phil off Chris Watts’ recent prison interview in Wisconsin. In a five-hour recording, Watts opened up fully to investigators about the events leading up to the murders, and the murders themselves.
Watts said that he was intimate with his wife, Shanann, shortly after she returned from a business trip. However, after she fell asleep Watts returned to the room and sat on top of her. There, he told her he wanted a divorce and admitted to an affair.
“The argument started all over again. She said she knew he was cheating on her,” Frank Rzucek told Dr. Phil. “With that, he jumped on her and he strangled her. He said he couldn’t take his hands off her because he felt like something was holding him there.”
Watts told investigators Shanann did not fight back, and laid on the bed as he strangled her.
“Our daughter watched her husband kill her,” Sandy Rzucek said.
The prison confession revealed more details in the killings. Watts said his daughter, Bella, entered the room as he was attempting to move Shanann’s body. He told his daughter that she was sick and needed medical help. He put her body in the back of the truck and had his daughters sit in the back seat as well.
“Their feet were on their mommy. But, they thought she was sleeping, or sick,” Sandy Rzucek told Dr. Phil.
“I’ve been doing this 45 years, there is no category for this,” Dr. Phil McGraw told the Rzuceks.
“It is the work of the devil,” Sandy Rzucek responded.
Sandy Rzucek said she knew something was wrong with her daughter the moment she died.
“I woke (Frank and my son, Frankie Jr.) up, and said ‘Something is wrong with Shanann,’” Sandy Rzucek said.
“We didn’t even know she was missing yet,” Frankie Jr. said.
She said she woke up with that fear on Aug. 13, 2018, the morning Shanann died. Hours later, she would receive a phone call that her daughter and granddaughters were reported missing.
Sandy said the following night, she felt the presence of her daughter, who at the time was still considered a missing person.
“That night, I was lying in bed, and I just felt a presence. I heard my daughter. I felt her, and I heard her say, ‘I love you, mommy. And, I am sorry,’” Sandy Rzucek said. “(Shanann) told me she was at peace. I finally fell asleep with my daughter at my presence.”
Soon after, the bodies of Shanann, Bella, and Celeste “CeCe” were located at an oil site. Bella and Celeste’s bodies were pulled from crude oil bins, while Shanann’s was dug out of a shallow grave nearby.
“I dream about it all the time,” Frank Rzucek said.
The Rzuceks said they received a phone call from law enforcement, who described the recoveries of the bodies over the phone. The Rzuceks recalled learning graphic details about the conditions of the bodies.
“It was hard for (law enforcement) to even tell us,” Frankie Jr. said.
“Everybody needed so much therapy after that. Our hearts go out to all of them that worked so damn hard on this case,” Sandy Rzucek said.
Wiping tears from her face during the Dr. Phil interview, Sandy Rzucek said her faith in God is one of the only things that has kept her alive since losing her family.
“There were many times I felt like giving up. If it wasn’t for God, I wouldn’t be here,” Sandy Rzucek said. “I could just end my life and go find my daughter.”
The Rzuceks said details from the new prison confession were difficult to process. Especially knowing their granddaughter, Bella, watched as her father killed her younger sister.
“Every second of my life, (I know) they were screaming for their mom, and us. There is no doubt in my mind,” Sandy Rzucek said.
A lawyer representing the Rzuceks told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas the Rzuceks wanted to speak with Dr. Phil about the new confession for many reasons. One of the biggest was to clear Shanann’s name and squash any speculation that she injured the children.
Watts originally told investigators he killed his wife after she hurt the children. The prison confession changed that story, as he admitted to smothering his daughters at the oil site.
The Rzuceks also specifically asked to speak with Dr. Phil in hopes that he could provide them needed therapy and assistance after going through the tough situation they were pulled in to.
Watch the entire interview with the Rzucek family on CBS4 at 4 p.m. Monday on Dr. Phil.