Shannan Watts’ Parents Sue Killer Husband Chris For Wrongful Death Of Their Daughter

Christopher Watts is in court for his arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse on August 21, 2018 in Greeley, Colorado. Watts faces nine charges, including several counts of first-degree murder of his wife and his two young daughters.
RJ Sangosti - Pool / Getty Images

Frank and Sandra Rzucek, the parents of Shannan Watts, filed a civil lawsuit against their deceased daughter’s husband Chris Watts on November 17, the same day he was sentenced to three lifetimes in prison with no chance of parole. In the $100,000 suit, the couple charges Watts with the unlawful death of their daughter and the unlawful termination of 34-year-old Shannan’s pregnancy. People reports that Chris and Shannan Watts had already chosen the name Nico for their third child prior to Chris’s murder of Shannan and their two daughters. Frank Rzucek was able to file the lawsuit despite a Colorado law restricting the filing of such suits to the spouse of the deceased only because he is the designated representative of his daughter’s estate.

The Daily Mail reported details about the final hours of the Watts’ daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste, as revealed in newly released court documents. Those documents indicate that Chris Watts took the girls to a birthday party on the afternoon of Saturday, August 12. While they swam at the party, he texted co-worker Kodi Roberts. At 5:06 p.m., he sent Roberts a text in which he indicated that he was going to drive out to a distant oil field owned by his company, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. The bodies of his wife and two daughters were later found in that field.

Watts told investigators that after he took the girls home, he got them showered, fed, and into bed by 8 p.m. His wife was away from home at the time but was due to return home late that night. The girls were excited about seeing her again soon. Bella was so excited that she had problems sleeping and woke twice to ask her father when her mom would be home. Chris Watts testified that he had assured the girl that she would see her mom the following morning. He killed all three of them later that night – Shannan by strangulation and both of his daughters by smothering them with a pillow. He then loaded their bodies into his truck. Before reporting to work the next morning, he buried his wife in a shallow grave and dumped the bodies of his daughters in an oil tank.

Kodi Roberts told investigators that it was unusual for Watts to text him over the weekend but that his mood seemed fine Monday morning, although he had noticed that Watts had made several trips to his car. Watts worked all day while police embarked upon a search for his wife and children. He texted his girlfriend several times throughout the day, called a real estate agent about selling his home, and contacted the girls’ school to tell them that they wouldn’t be enrolling for the fall semester.

The suit filed by Shannan’s parents charges that he misled investigators and made false claims to investigators and the media in the days between the murder and Chris’s arrest.

“Defendant also gave multiple interviews to television and media outlets where he falsely claimed that he missed his family and was hoping they would all come home, so as to end his supposed ‘nightmare’ of life without his wife and children.”

Within days, Chris Watts was arrested and charged with killing his family. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other charges on November 6. A review hearing is scheduled for January 28.