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Chris Watts admits wife’s murder, but blames her for daughters’ deaths

According to Watts’ account, Aug. 13 began with an intense conversation. He said he told his wife that he wanted a separation, then walked downstairs.

When he returned, he said he spotted a baby monitor on his wife’s nightstand and saw her “actively strangling” Celeste. He said it also showed their other daughter, Bella, “sprawled out on her bed and blue.”

“Chris said he went into a rage and ultimately strangled Shanann to death,” the document said.

Police found surveillance video from a neighbor showing Watts’ truck backing into the driveway at 5:27 a.m. and then driving away from the house in Frederick, a small town on the grassy plains north of Denver where fast-growing subdivisions intermingle with drilling rigs and oil wells.

Watts, who worked as an operator for Anadarko Petroleum, said he loaded his wife and daughters’ bodies into the backseat of his truck and drove to an oil work site about 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of the family’s home. He buried Shanann’s body and “dumped the girls inside” oil tanks, according to court documents.

Separate documents filed by Watts’ defense attorney last week said the girls’ bodies were submerged in crude oil for four days before police found them late Thursday. Their mother’s body was found in a shallow grave nearby, prosecutors said.

The court filing says Watts gave police an aerial photograph and identified three areas where he placed the bodies. Investigators searched with a drone and spotted a bedsheet that matched other linens in the family home and fresh dirt.

Shanann’s social media accounts are filled with photos and videos of the girls playing with their father and the couple smiling. They married in North Carolina nearly six years ago and moved to Colorado soon afterward.

District Attorney Michael Rourke said Monday that it was too early to discuss whether he will seek the death penalty. Watts will next be in court Nov. 16

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