Shanann Watts' death was a 'result of unlawful termination of pregnancy', according to court documents

Chris Watts was formally charged with nine felony counts for the murders of his wife and two daughters

                            Shanann Watts' death was a 'result of unlawful termination of pregnancy', according to court documents
Chris Watts (Source:Getty Images)

Colorado man Chris Watts who had allegedly confessed to the murder of his pregnant wife Shanann Watts and their two young daughters has formally been charged with nine felony counts as of Monday, Denver Channel reported.

Weld County prosecutors charged 33-year-old Chris with three counts of first-degree murder after deliberation, two counts of first-degree murder—victim under position of trust, one count of first-degree unlawful termination of a pregnancy, and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body, according to Colorado court records and documents. 

Shanann Watts is said to have been 15 weeks pregnant when she was murdered. The documents say: "The woman died as a result of the unlawful termination of the pregnancy."

The case has more than 72 witnesses, the majority of them being police officers. District Attorney Michael Rourke did not discuss the case any further.

Shanann Watts' father Frank Rzucek said in his statement, "We would like to thank everyone in the Frederick Police Department and all the agencies involved for working so hard to find my daughter, granddaughters and [unborn child] Nico," Rzucek said holding back tears. "Thank you everyone for coming out to the candlelight vigil and sending all your prayers. They are greatly appreciated. And keep the prayers coming for our family. Thank you very much.”

Chris is scheduled to appear in court on Monday after being charged with the murders of his wife, who was 15-weeks pregnant with baby son Nico at the time she died, and two children, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste.

After he was arrested on August 15, his lawyer filed a motion requesting for DNA swabs to be taken from the necks of deceased daughters. It was then revealed on August 17 that the request had been refused by a judge who said he "won't tell experts how to do their job". Watts was seen on TV last week as he cried and appealed for the return of Shanann and the children before he allegedly admitted to murdering them. The cause of their death has still not been made public.

The bodies were discovered on the property of Anadarko Petroleum, which is one of the largest oil and natural gas drilling companies in the state of Colorado. Chris worked at Anadarko Petroleum as an operator before he was fired. The court documents that were filed by James Merson, the defense lawyer, said that the two daughters were found immersed in crude oil after being there for four days, Mirror Online reported. 

The lawyers said that the DNA taken from the children would be then tested by Richard Eikelenboom, a forensic expert who was also known for working on the JonBenet Ramsey trial. Megan Ring, Chris' lawyer, said in a two-page filing to a Weld County, Colorado court that a "coroner, pathologist, or anyone working on behalf of the prosecution team in autopsy" are not planning to take DNA swabs from the necks of the daughters.

The Prosecutors are also believed to be weighing whether or not they should ask for a death penalty, which is rare in Colorado, reports Dailymail. Ring had also asked that Eikelenboom be allowed to do further testing on the samples because they believe that the DNA would still be there on the necks of the children "in spite of the fact that the remains were in oil for four days".

It was also revealed on Monday that the police have kept the bodies in an unknown place. The post-mortem examinations were conducted on August 17 and an official cause of death has still not been revealed. It is believed that a request from the defense team of lawyers suggests that the victims had been strangled.

Speaking of his wife and two daughters, Chris had told KMGH, a local TV station, outside the family home on August 14. "If somebody has her and they’re not safe, I want them back now. That’s what is in my head. If they’re safe right now, they’re going to come back. But if they’re not safe right now, that’s the not-knowing part. Last night I had every light in the house on, I was hoping that I would just get ran over by the kids just running in and barrel-rushing me, but it didn’t happen. And it was just a traumatic night trying to be here." Chris was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder the next day. 

Mary Ellen O'Toole, a former profiler with the FBI, also said that Watts showed arrogance and a lack of empathy in his interviews. She said, "When somebody kills their own family and then they go on TV to say 'But I didn't have anything to do with it,' that ability to be so very sure of your own interpersonal skills that you can attempt to fool a national and international audience is very unusual. That's a lot of arrogance and confidence that you could pull this off, and that's not typical." O'Toole said that Chris stressing that he did not know where his wife and children showed an attempt on his part to nudge the investigation away from himself.