Distressing images and written report detail process of retrieving bodies of Chris Watts' two daughters from oil tanks
The bodies of Bella and Celeste Watts were removed from 400-barrel oil tanks belonging to Anadarko Petroleum where they had been dumped by their father Chris Watts
WARNING: DISTRESSING CONTENT AND IMAGES
A Hazardous Materials Incident Narrative Report filed by the Colorado State Patrol went into the detail of the process that was involved in retrieving the bodies of Bella and Celeste Watts from two large oil tanks, where their father, Chris Watts, had dumped their bodies after murdering them.
The entire process started at 5 am on August 16 and went on for almost 14 hours, with the report also noting that at 6:45 pm, members of the patrol finally cleared the scene.
The Daily Mail reported that in that time, the oil stored in the 400-barrel tanks at the remote oil site owned by Anadarko Petroleum was manually drained by workers who carefully poured the liquid over metal screens to collect any evidence. Once the tanks were emptied, men donning self-contained breathing gear entered the tanks and removed the bodies of the two children whose skin was coming off as they were passed out of the container.
Shanann Watts, their mother who was pregnant with their unborn baby brother Nico, was found in a shallow grave just 100 yards away. The report also reveals that the diameter of each tank's opening was only 8 inches, which explains why Shanann wasn't put in the tank too as her body wouldn't have fit through the entrance.
The troopers who were tasked with overseeing the retrieval process arrived at the scene by about 9 am on the day. Trooper Wilson wrote in the report: "While the first crude tank was being off-loaded, Trooper Bandy, Reeder and I put rope handles on two containment pools. We anticipated the bodies to be covered in crude oil and were going to use the pools to put each body in, once recovered."
After the oil tanks were emptied of their contents, the bolts on the tank doors at the base were taken off by the team. The report states: "Sergeant Armstrong went up to the top of the tank and looked in the thief hatch. Sergeant Armstrong told me he could see what looked like a body face down on the south side of the tank."
Photographs were taken of the scene and the men started the process of removing the body from inside the tank. Due to the oil sludge and the toxic fumes in the tanks, the men could only be inside for a matter of minutes. This made the entire process even more complicated than it already was.
The report stated: "Trooper Reeder went in first then me close behind. There was a body face down on the south side of the tank with the head facing west. It appeared to be a small female child. Trooper Reeder grasped the upper portion of her right arm to turn her over. Trooper Reeder then lifted her by both upper arms as I held her right leg. Trooper Reeder held her left arm and left leg as we moved the body towards the manway."
The victim was moved out of the tank but it was stated that during the process, her hand had "degloved" of its skin. That skin was then retrieved and handed over to a member of law enforcement who was on the scene. The man then proceeded to the second oil tank to remove the second victim's body.
The report states: "I grabbed her right arm near the wrist area and moved her towards the manway. At this point, Trooper Reeder was able to secure her left arm and left leg. Trooper Reeder and I then passed the body through the manway. Trooper Bandy grasped the left wrist and shoulder area as Sergeant Armstrong did the same on the right side. As the victim was passed through the manway Trooper Bandy and Sergeant continued to support her body as she was placed into a containment pool."
The report also noted: "During this extraction there was some skin slippage where we had to touch the victim’s body. There was also some skin on the plywood where her back made contact." Some of the skin was also said to be lost while the body was being moved to the oil pool.
The report reads: "Trooper Reeder and I then walked around the inside of that tank which also had approximately 4” of crude sludge in it. We did not locate any additional evidence in the tank. We exited the tank and walked over to the field south of the tanks. The body was turned over to the Weld County Coroner."
It continued: "Sergeant Armstrong continued to monitor the second victim, using a four-gas monitor, as the Weld County Coroner and Pathologist attempted to remove the crude oil utilizing several oil absorbent pads. The second victim was then placed into a body bag and taken to the Weld County Coroner’s vehicle."
4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste were murdered by their father, Chris Watts, shortly after Celeste celebrated her 3rd birthday. Watts had told the authorities a day before the bodies were found that it was Shanann, his wife, who had killed their daughters and he had strangled her in rage. Only two months after making this claim, Watts changed the narrative completely and entered a guilty plea for all three murders.
The men who were involved with retrieving the bodies of the children has to undergo an extensive decontamination process even though they were in the tanks only for a few minutes in their SCBA gear.
The report states: "Wiggins Fire again decontaminated both of us with hose spray and firefighting foam. We went off air at 1756 hours. Trooper Reeder and I then went back to our response trucks and removed our PPE. We cleaned up our equipment and began putting everything away. Trooper Reeder and I changed back into our patrol uniform."