He’s my rock! He takes care of us girls unconditionally! Thank you baby, for holding down the fort this weekend! Love you, she wrote on Facebook during a work trip.
Despite making her proud wife comments, Shanann had an inkling things weren’t okay.
Chris, a petroleum company worker who she’d been with for eight years, had become distant – and there were other things...
Shanann had been getting alerts from her credit card for money spent in restaurants – amounts too high for one person.
After speaking with Chris about it she suggested couples counselling, but he refused.
Sadly, just as they discovered their baby was a boy they were going to call Niko, it looked like they were over.
He has changed, she texted a friend in August. I don’t know who he is.
Admitting that her, ‘eyes burn from crying so much,’ there was speculation of an affair – but Shanann didn’t want to believe it.
Chris was her soulmate, the father to her kids… What would she do without him?
And then on August 13, she disappeared. Shanann seemed to have had enough and walked out with her girls.
At first Chris didn’t seem concerned. A friend, Nickole Atkinson, phoned him to say Shanann wasn’t responding to calls or texts, but Chris said she was at a playdate.
Gravely concerned, Nickole went to the Watts’ home and noticed Shanann’s car was in the garage.
Nickole reported her missing. Then the next day, Chris, now worried about his wife and daughters, made an emotional plea.
‘If you’re out there, just come back,’ he said on TV. ‘If somebody has her, just please bring her back.’
But it didn’t take the police long to reveal that would never be the case…
Starting a drone search of an oil and gas site, police noticed a patch of ground that looked like it had recently been disturbed.
Then they spotted a bed sheet matching the pattern of pillow cases and a top sheet recovered from a kitchen bin in the Watts’ home.
Shanann’s body was tragically recovered soon afterwards, found in a shallow grave near an oil tank.
Horrifyingly, Bella and Celeste’s little bodies were found stuffed inside oil tanks near their mother.
Pregnant Shanann had been brutally strangled while the girls had been smothered to death, and then all of their bodies had been hidden.
But who would kill such a beautiful mum and her innocent children?
For police, there was only ever one prime suspect - their ‘loving’ dad and known family man.
Chris Watts was arrested on August 16 and charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
At first, he admitted only killing his wife, saying he ‘went into a rage’ and strangled Shanann after he saw her strangling Celeste.
He claimed Bella was already dead on the bed.
But as the investigation gathered pace, it was discovered there was more to Chris’ story.
After initial denials, Chris admitted he’d been having an affair with a colleague who was later revealed as 30-year-old Nichol Kessinger.
When the affair had started two months earlier, Nichol said Chris wasn’t wearing a wedding ring.
Nichol said she believed he was separated and in the process of divorcing his wife.
Searches of Nichol’s Google history showed she was researching wedding dresses, presuming her relationship would get serious.
It was only when Shanann went missing that she claimed she learnt the truth.
‘When I read the news, I found out he was still married and his wife was 15 weeks pregnant,’ Nichol told the media.
Calling police to report him, Nichol became instrumental in the investigation.
It was discovered Chris had been googling, When to say I love you for the first time in a new relationship.
He had also been planning weekends away with Nichol.
Disgustingly, it meant his motive for murder could be as simple as a ‘fresh start’ with his mistress.
Months after his arrest, as things continued to unravel, Chris had a change of heart on his plea.
To avoid the death penalty, and with Shanann’s family’s agreement, he pleaded guilty to murdering his daughters as well as his pregnant wife.
At the sentencing hearing, Shanann’s family called Chris a ‘heartless monster’ and said they believed he should spend the rest of his life behind bars.
‘I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them,’ Shanann’s father said to Chris in court.
In November, he was handed three consecutive life sentences without eligibility for parole.
‘This is perhaps the most inhumane and vicious crime that I have handled out of the thousands of cases I have seen,’ the judge said. ‘Nothing less than a maximum sentence would be appropriate.’
After Chris was jailed, more love interests emerged.
Amanda McMahon came forward saying she had met Chris on the dating app Tinder, which he had used to find someone to play out his ‘rape fantasies’ with.
The pair, she said, met in a car park and he followed her home where they had ‘rough’ and ‘aggressive’ intercourse that she said was humiliating and uncomfortable.
Like Nichol, she had no idea Chris was married and was shocked when she discovered on the news that he was a murderer.
Trent Bolte has also told investigators that he and Chris were in a secret gay relationship in the lead up to the murders.
The 28-year-old claimed Chris gave him money during their 10-month relationship and admitted to him he was, ‘stuck in a loveless marriage’ but stayed for Bella and Celeste.
While Chris’ motive for killing his entire family will never be understood, at least he won’t ever be freed to kill again.