DENVER, the United States
A U.S. man was charged with five counts of murder Monday for the deaths of his pregnant wife and their two young daughters in the U.S. state of Colorado.
Christopher Lee Watts told police that he killed his wife in "a rage" when he discovered she had strangled their two daughters, according to a police affidavit released late Monday.
Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke told Colorado media that Watts is facing nine felony charges and he is undecided whether to seek the death penalty.
Watts, 33, told police that he loaded all three bodies into his work truck, and then he buried his wife Shanann at an oil work site and dumped the remains of 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste inside oil tanks. The confession and discovery of the bodies come only a week after Watts lamented in interviews with local television stations about missing his wife and daughters.
According to the affidavit, Watts told his 34-year-old wife that he wanted to separate when she returned from a business trip early on the morning of Aug. 13.
Watts told police that he later saw his wife strangling their youngest daughter with their oldest daughter sprawled on her bed, "looking blue," on a baby monitor. He said he then burst into the bedroom, "went into a rage," and strangled his wife.
Watts faces three first-degree murder charges, two counts of murdering a child, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.
The grizzly murders have shocked the small community of Frederick north of Denver where Watts worked as an operator for Anadarko Petroleum, one of Colorado's largest oil and gas drillers.
Court documents filed by defense lawyer James Merson on Friday said the girls had been submerged in crude oil for four days.
Merson had asked the coroner to collect DNA from the necks of the children on Friday, but the local judge denied her request.
Watts is being held without bail and will next appear in court Tuesday.
Family and friends told Colorado media they were shocked by the slayings as the family seemed happy and Watts appeared to be a good father.
Shanann Watts displayed many photos of a happy family, smiling and playing, on social media, as well as posts complimenting her husband and expressing excitement about the couple's expected third child.
But a June 2015 bankruptcy filing showed the family was dealing with financial problems, the Denver Post reported.