FREDERICK, Colo. (CBS4) – It’s been one year since the murders of Shanann Watts, her two young daughters and her unborn son shocked the community and made headlines across the country and around the world. Shanann’s husband, Chris Watts, initially denied involvement in the disappearance of his wife and children, and expressed concern about their well-being to a local news station.
He later confessed to murdering his wife in their home in Frederick, and smothering their children on the property of an oil and gas company he worked for.
In November 2018, a judge sentenced Watts to three consecutive life sentences, along with two other life sentences to be carried out concurrently, in addition to 48 years for unlawful termination of pregnancy for the death of the unborn child, and 12 years each for three counts of tampering with a deceased body. Shanann’s family did not want prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
Investigators found Shanann’s body in a shallow grave on the property of the oil and gas company. The bodies of Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, were found in oil tanks on the same property in Weld County.
Judge Marcelo Kopcow said the most despicable act was the way the bodies were disposed of in this case.
“This is perhaps the most inhumane and vicious crime that I have handled out of the thousands of cases I have seen,” Judge Kopcow told the court.
Watts was moved to the Dodge Correctional Facility in Wisconsin prison for safety concerns.
In a five-hour prison interview, Watts told investigators he has photos of his family on his prison cell walls. He said he reads the Bible to them, talks to them and even reads his daughter’s favorite book to her at night. That sparked the creation of Change.org petition demanding the photos be removed.
“Allowing a murderer to keep a trophy of his victims goes against the purpose and mission statement of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, which emphasizes public safety and victim advocacy,” the petition reads. More than 17,000 people have signed it.
Shanann’s father spoke publicly about the murders last month, saying online trolls have attacked and threatened his family. He made an emotional plea for online bullies to stop harassing his family. He also asked social media platforms to block content which re-victimizes families affected by high profile murder cases.
“It is not fair to the victims. We don’t deserve it,” Frank Rzucek said. “It doesn’t need to be like this. I shouldn’t have to be out here doing this. We just try to ignore it. But, sometimes you just can’t ignore it.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN contributed to this report.)