Chris Watts’ Prison Letters Tell Different Story To Police Confession In Netflix Documentary

by : Julia Banim on : 05 Oct 2020 14:35
Chris Watts' Prison Letters Tell Different Story To Police Confession In Netflix DocNetflix

Netflix viewers have been left shocked by American Murder: The Family Next Door, a true crime documentary telling the story of a Colorado man who murdered his two children and pregnant wife.

Shanann Watts and her daughters, four-year-old Bella and three-year-old Celeste, were reported missing on August 13, 2018, after a concerned friend of Shanann’s wasn’t able to contact her.


Shanann’s husband, Chris Watts, initially claimed he had no idea where his family was, taking part in televised appeals and telling police that he hoped they would return. However, his story soon began to unravel, revealing the chilling truth.

You can watch the trailer for American Murder: The Family Next Door below:


It emerged that Watts, who’d been having an affair at the time, had in fact murdered his family and dumped their bodies at an Anadarko Petroleum site.


Watts pleaded guilty to all nine counts against him, which included five counts of first-degree murder, three counts of tampering with a deceased human body and one count of unlawful termination of pregnancy.

In November 2018, Watts was given five life sentences for his crimes. He was able to avoid the death penalty after agreeing to a plea deal.

Watts maintained that he had murdered his family while in a fit of rage. However, letters he wrote while serving his sentence give a notably different account.

American MurderNetflix

Letters sent to author Cheryln Cadle detail how Watts allegedly attempted to smother his two little girls before strangling Shanann, failing to end their lives on this first attempt. This was not something Watts had told police at the time, and appears to contradict his fit of rage narrative.

August 12th when I finished putting the girls to bed, I walked away and said ‘That’s the last time I’m going to be tucking my babies in.

[…] August 13th, morning of, I went to the girls’ room first, before Shanann and I had our argument. I went to Bella’s room, then Cece’s room and used a pillow from their bed (to kill them).

That’s why the cause of death was smothering. After I left Cece’s room, then I climbed back in bed with Shanann and our argument ensued.

Chris WattsNetflix

The letter continues:

After Shanann had passed, Bella and Cece woke back up. I’m not sure how they woke back up, but they did. Bella’s eyes were bruised and both girls looked like they had been through trauma.

That made the act that much worse knowing I went to their rooms first and knowing I still took their lives at the location of the batteries.

Watts also apparently admitted that, before the murders, he had tried to poison Shannan to make her miscarry their unborn child. He explained that he had ‘thought it would be easier to be with Nichol if Shannan wasn’t pregnant’.

You can find out more about Cadle’s book here.


You can stream American Murder: The Family Next Door on Netflix now.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Film and TV, Chris Watts, Netflix