Chris Watts' eldest daughter Bella would have turned 5 on Monday if he hadn't cruelly smothered her to death
The shy 4-year-old was never far away from her mother's side and she preferred being in the spotlight only around her boisterous little sister and best friend, 3-year-old Celeste
Bella Watts, the oldest child of Chris and Shanann Watts, was an introvert when she was still alive. The shy four-year-old was never far away from her mother's side and she preferred being in the spotlight only around her boisterous little sister and best friend, three-year-old Celeste.
The only time that family members ever saw Bella coming out of her shell was when she was celebrating her birthday. It is said that she loved blowing out the candles on her cake and opening her presents surrounded by her mother, father, sister, and the family dog Dieter at her home in Frederick, Colorado.
PEOPLE reported that Bella would have turned five on December 17, but this year there will be no celebration. The little girl and her sister were smothered to death by their father on August 13. Chris Watts also strangled a pregnant Shanann on the same day.
Sandra Rzucek, Shanann's mother, said at her murderous son-in-law's sentencing on November 19: "I have no idea who gave you the right to take their lives, but I know God and his mighty angels were there in that moment to bring them home to Paradise." Watts was sentenced to life behind bars without the possibility of parole for murdering his wife, two daughters, and their unborn son, Niko.
The devastated grandmother told ABC's 20/20 that she considered her granddaughters to be gifts from God. She said: "They had a lot of love, they were amazing. I couldn’t ask God for more. He really blessed us with them, the children and Shanann. [Shanann] loved everybody. Her love for children and friends was amazing."
Remembering Shanann Watts: In an exclusive interview with @ARobach, parents Sandra and Frank Rzucek speak about their daughter Shanann Watts and their granddaughters, who were killed by Chris Watts in August. The full story TOMORROW on an all-new #ABC2020 https://t.co/stTOS73gqh pic.twitter.com/Sd7gMWE6Ve— 20/20 (@ABC2020) December 6, 2018
Shanann's love for Chris was also so strong that both families, friends, and the entire country were left in shock and disbelief when he brutally murdered his family and hid their bodies. After he strangled his 15-week pregnant wife and smothered his daughters, with case files detailing how Bella had also put up a fight while she was being smothered, Chris put the bodies into his truck and hid them in a remote oil field where he was once employed.
The bodies were found days after he was arrested. Chris buried Shanann in a shallow grave and put the bodies of his daughters in oil tanks through a hatch that was only eight inches in diameter. Bella's body had scratches on it from being shoved into the hatch. The investigators also found a tuft of hair on one of the openings that they believe belonged to Celeste.
Chris told investigators later on that the reason Bella's tank seemed like it was more empty compared to the one Celeste was in is due to the splashes both their bodies made into the oil below. Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said at his sentencing: "These were his daughters."
The murders were made worse by the fact that Chris seemed to be the kind of father who doted on his children. Kelley Trippy, one of the neighbors who stayed close to the family, recalls seeing the father playing with his daughters when she went to their home for the first time in June for a neighborhood gathering. She said: "It was like he was a jungle gym for the kids. I thought Chris was such a good dad. But I guess everybody has a mask that they put on."