Nichol Kessinger was once referred to as “the most hated women in America” for her unwitting role in one of the most controversial crimes in recent memory, but today the former mistress of Chris Watts is as far from the spotlight as possible.
Kessinger was thrust into the limelight after Watts was accused of murdering his pregnant wife and their two young daughters. It was revealed that she was having an affair with Chris Watts, her co-worker, though she had no role in the slayings of pregnant Shanann and their the couple’s girls.
Now, there is renewed attention on Kessinger with the release of the Lifetime retelling of the slayings, Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer. There were a series of stories about the killings and the angry reaction of Shanann’s family, with many focusing on Kessinger.
She has since retreated far from public eye — so much that she is reportedly in witness protection and has a new name and identity. As The Daily Mail reported in late 2018, Nichol said that she was afraid to go in public and would need to be completely out of the spotlight “for years” due to the abuse she suffered. She was offered witness protection after the trial, and has now moved into a new life.
As gruesome details of the killings came forward, many turned their anger toward Nichol and saw her as a motivating factor in the crimes.
Despite the abuse she suffered, reports indicated that Nichol was a victim herself. She revealed that Watts told her that his marriage was over and that wife, Shanann, had no desire to try making it work. Both were later proven false, as Watts was lying to her about the state of his marriage, the Daily Mail noted.
As a source later told People magazine, even Chris regretted that Kessinger was pulled into the strong public backlash to the slayings.
“It’s very clear that this wasn’t a healthy marriage for many months before Shan’ann and the girls died,” the source said. “He had checked out, and from what he says, she had checked out, too. Nichol Kessinger showed interest, and in his mind he was single, so it happened. He really regrets that Nichol got pulled into this.”
Kessinger now lives in Colorado with a new name and identity, and has not spoken publicly since the months after Watts was arrested and eventually pleaded guilty to the slayings.