Did Shanann Watts's sudden financial success drive a fatal wedge into her marriage with Chris?
The 34-year-old mother had recently enjoyed major success in her career, and her life boasted a new Lexus and paid trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic
Friends and family of the Watts family have been left wondering whether financial stress, marital issues or something else made Chris Watts brutally murder his pregnant wife and their two young daughters, with authorities yet to go public with the motive of the crime.
The couple reportedly had financial troubles in the past, including filing for bankruptcy. However, 34-year-old Shanann Watts had recently enjoyed major success in her career, and her life boasted a new Lexus and paid trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
The young mother got an $80,000 job selling health supplements, and her work took her away from the family quite often, leaving Chris alone with the children at their home. Even the weekend before she, along with her daughters Celeste, 3, and Bella, 4, was killed, Shanann was out on a work trip.
Chris confessed to the crimes on August 15, and the bodies of the victims were found on Thursday evening.
The major question that seems to be on everyone's minds, till the authorities release the actual motive, is was he jealous of his wife's success which gave her a luxury car and allowed her to go on expensive trips while he stayed at home with the children?
The authorities have said that Shanann and the children were murdered in their home in Frederick, Colorado, and their bodies had been moved to the Anadarko oil and gas drilling property where Chris worked before. The investigators are yet to reveal when and how Chris had committed the murders. The 33-year-old has been ordered to be held without bail on August 16 in connection to the murders, the Daily Mail reported.
Family members are still puzzled over the motive of the heinous crimes, with Frankie Rzucek, Shanann's brother, summing up their sentiments in a Facebook post: "I just want to know why."
Though investigators are yet to reveal the motive for the murders, a closer look into the relationship between the couple could provide some answers.
After the Wattses filed for bankruptcy in 2015, Shanann started working for Le-Vel, a multi-level marketing company that sells health supplements and weight loss patches under the brand name Thrive. She was very active on Facebook and most of her posts were about her increasing success with the new job, which gave her a Lexus for her skill at selling products. She wrote on her profile in March: "Did you know Le-Vel gives an $800 a month car bonus for hitting only the SECOND rank in the company?! How amazing is that!!!"
She wrote on her profile on August 1: "Our team is having lots of success, growth both personally and business, several new friends starting their Thrive Experience and lots of new Promoters who decided to change their life! Lots of excitement, Lots to be Thankful for!" The company had also sent the young mother on "earned lifestyle getaways" to New Orleans, Toronto, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, Las Vegas, and San Diego. She had written: "All inclusive, no work, all fun vacations."
Even though Chris went with her on the trips sometimes, he was often left behind to look after the children, while she went on holiday and posted plenty of pictures in an apparent bid to draw potential new supplement sellers to sign up with the company.
Shanann had frequently gushed about her husband and wrote in April while they were on a road trip to New Orleans: "He’s my rock! He takes care of us girls unconditionally! Thank you baby for holding down the fort this weekend! Love you."
She had posted an ultrasound on Facebook of her third pregnancy in June along with the caption: "I love Chris! He's the best dad us girls could ask for." The couple got married in 2012 and public records show that each were arrested multiple times in North Carolina; the charges are not known. Chris had been arrested three times before and Shanann had 15 arrests to her name.
The couple hit rock bottom financially after they moved to Colorado in 2012 shortly after they got married.
Byron Falls, the man who bought Shanann's home in Belmont, west of Charlotte, said on August 16 that the Watts family had been in quite a rush to sell the home and had even left behind all the furniture as a part of the sale. The property deed transfer from August 2012 showed that Shanann had signed it while already living in Colorado. Records indicate that she bought the house in 2009.
Once in Colorado, Chris took up a job with Anadarko, one of the largest oil and natural gas drilling companies in the state. A spokesperson for the company told the Daily Mail that he had been an employee of the company until August 15 when he was fired.
The couple filed for bankruptcy in 2015 with the court filings describing them as a family that was caught between a promising future and financial burden.
The filing notes from June 2015 showed that Chris had taken up the job as an operator for Anadarko six months before and payslips indicated that he had been earning about $61,500 per year. Shanann had been working in a call center at a children's hospital and had been earning about $18 per hour. In 2014, they had been earning a combined $90,000.
The couple also had thousands of dollars in credit card debt, as well as student loans and medical bills which amassed to $70,000, besides a large mortgage. They had said that their almost $3,000 mortgage and $600 monthly car payments were the major portion of their $4,900 monthly expenses.
One year after the couple filed for bankruptcy, Shanann landed her $80,000 a year job with Le-Vel and in May of this year, she had been in an interview for the company's in-house magazine where she revealed that she had gone from being a "caretaker for everyone else" to being happier with her new job. She said: "My role was as a caretaker and to make people feel better, yet I was wiped out."
The company said in a statement after Shanann's death: "Our hearts are broken for the loss of our dear friend Shanann Watts and her children. Shannan was an amazing woman, mother, friend and overall person." It is believed that as Shannan's job satisfaction soared as evident by her posts on Facebook, her seemingly happy marriage looked like it was starting to feel the strain.
In late June this year, the couple and their children had traveled to North Carolina to visit Shanann's family. As it was planned, Chris went back to Colorado after a week but, according to her posts on social media, Shanann and their children stayed back for another six weeks. She confessed to her mother, Sandi Onorati, when she was there that her marriage was in trouble.
Danell Search, Onorati's coworker, told WRAL: "She mentioned about them having problems, Shanann and Chris." Search also said that the concerned mother had told her that Shanann and Chris were planning to separate. She said: "(Shanann) was one of those people, when she walked in the room it was just like sunshine. Chris was very standoffish. He didn't really say anything. I said, 'Hi,' to him, and he kept his head down."
The young mother and the children went back to Colorado on August 7. Her last post on Facebook is said to have been around 4:30 pm on August 9. She traveled to Scottsdale, Arizona, for a Le-Vel event on August 10 and a photo that was taken from the Yard House in Scottsdale shows Shanann with her coworkers on the trip. Cristopher had told the authorities that the two children had been at home with him.
According to him, Shanann had been dropped off at the family home at around 1:45 am Monday by a co-worker and the couple had been up for most of the night having an "emotional conversation" until he left at 5:15 am for work. He claimed that this was the last time he saw his wife and children. On August 15, Chris allegedly confessed to the authorities that he committed the murders. It is still unclear when the mother and children died.
Chris is being held without bail in the Weld County Jail. He is due to appear in court again on August 21. Formal charges have not been filed as of yet but he faces three counts of murder and three counts of tampering with evidence.