Chris Watts' body language told detectives that he had murdered his wife and children

Police found Watts displaying classic guilt signs like offering too much info to fill conversation gaps and distracting himself on phone


                            Chris Watts' body language told detectives that he had murdered his wife and children

It has been a little over a year since Chris Watts became arguably the most infamous man in the country after he killed his 15-week-pregnant wife, Shanann, and his two daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, at their Frederick, Colorado, home and then went on national television and pleaded for their return.

In what became one of the most widely followed cases of the year that attracted relentless media attention and scrutiny, Watts eventually confessed to their murders, revealing that he had dumped his daughters' bodies in oil tanks and buried his wife in a shallow grave at his worksite.

On November 6, 2018, Watts pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to four life sentences -  three consecutive and two concurrent - without the possibility of parole. He also received an additional 48 years for the unlawful termination of his wife's pregnancy and 36 years for three charges of tampering with a deceased body. 

The case is now the subject of REELZ documentary 'Capturing Chris Watts', which will include clips from more than 200 hours of never-before-seen police bodycam and surveillance footage from security cameras around Watts' home.

There are also clips from Watts' interviews with the police, the FBI, and his polygraph examination which highlights how law enforcement officials picked up body language cues that convinced them that he was responsible for the deaths of Shanann, Bella, Celeste, and Nico.

Watts killed his wife Shanann and his two daughters Belle and Celeste on Aug 13, 2018 (Source: Facebook)

Journalist Dyan Howard, body language expert Susan Constantine, and Assistant District Attorney and Homicide Prosecutor Jarrett Ferentino explain how officials broke down what they saw as comprehensive evidence which linked Watts to the murders, starting right from his first encounter with the police.

For one, on August 14, 2018, the day after anyone last saw Shanann and the kids alive, it wasn't Watts who reported them missing. It was his neighbor Nickole Utoft Atkinson, who had picked her up and dropped her off home the previous night after she had come back home from a trip to Arizona. 

Atkinson also clued in the police to the fact that Watts was having trouble in his marriage, and that he had planned to file for separation, something that gave him the motive to commit the crime.

From there on out, without him realizing it yet, Watts had become the number one suspect in a triple homicide, and his bizarre behavior only convinced authorities further that he was their culprit.

He was displaying all the classic signs of someone guilty - he would offer up lots of useless, irrelevant information in a bid to fill conversational gaps, he was distracting himself on his phone while others frantically worked to help police, and most importantly, he showed absolutely no signs of panic.

Watts admitted to cheating on Shanann with Nichole Kessinger (Source: Frederick Police Department)

There was also another major clue that indicated Shanann had not left on her own volition: her house keys, her purse with all her money and cards, and her car were all still at the house.

Even his neighbors quickly caught on to the fact that something was awry in the case when they invited Watts and the police to comb through surveillance footage they had captured of his house the previous night.

At no point can Shanann or the girls be seen leaving the house. The only activity caught on camera was Watts suspiciously backing his pickup truck way into his garage at around 5:30 in the morning and then leaving the residence, which indicated that his family must have left in his vehicle one way or the other.

Furthermore, as the neighbors and the officials closely studied the footage, Watts was looking away from the screen and staring intently into his phone, only glancing up now and then for a quick peek. 

Watts dug his own grave further when he spoke to the media which had gathered around his house. During his entire interview, despite speaking about intensely personal and intimate moments with his family, he showed no emotion whatsoever. 

How could anyone whose wife and two young daughters had been missing for well over two days display such calm and cool?

Watts eventually confessed to murdering all three (Source: AP)

By this point, law enforcement was all but convinced that Watts was their man, and the question became about how they could break him down. And just like any guilty person, Watts tried to distract detectives by trying to appear honest and leading them in a different direction. 

He told them he had cheated on Shanann and that he and his mistress Nichole Kessinger had been together for the entire week his wife had been in Arizona. But that information just cemented the suspicion that he had a strong motive to kill her. 

It would be a polygraph examination that finally broke Watts. He failed the examination spectacularly and realizing that the walls were closing in, asked to speak to his father, to whom he would confess to murdering Shanann.

Watts said he and Shanann argued about his cheating that night and that, afterward, she choked and killed Celeste and Belle. He claimed he choked and killed her in anger after seeing her murder his beautiful daughters.

Little did he know, however, that the idea that he killed Shanann because she acted out against him first had been planted in his head by the FBI officials who been grilling him for the last several hours. They had repeatedly asked if she had done something that angered him, an excuse he would later use in his confession.

They made him lead them to the bodies, but still had no concrete proof that Celeste and Belle had died at his hands and not Shanann's. Luckily, they didn't need any. A few days later, he confessed to murdering all three, though the reason why he did so is not clear to this day. 

'Capturing Chris Watts' premieres on REELZ on September 15, at 8 pm ET.

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