After Murdering His Wife and Daughters, Chris Watts Texted Mistress Saying 'I Didn't Hurt My Family'

In a newly released police video, Nichol Kessinger shares the last texts she ever received from Watts, the now-convicted killer whom she was secretly dating

Nichol Kessinger and Chris Watts
HLN. Photo: Nichol Kessinger and Chris Watts

For nearly three days after he killed his wife and two daughters and stashed their bodies in an oil field, Chris Watts told police that he didn't know where his family was — and even pleaded on the local news for their safe return.

But privately, Watts was covering his tracks, and even texting his mistress to assure her that he had nothing to do with the disappearance of 34-year-old Shanann Watts and their daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.

A police interview with the mistress, Nichol Kessinger, surfaced on a YouTube channel run by Shanann's family — and PEOPLE has independently verified the authenticity of the video.

Throughout the three-hour video, Kessinger details her relationship with Watts from start to finish. She tells officers that they met through work and that Watts said that he was separated and planning to divorce.

"There were several discussions that we had about his current relationship and where it had gone," she says in the video. "He talked about his kids from time to time. But the thing was that he was never hostile. It was never anything aggressive. It was still very kind. He was just like, 'This is not working.'"

"It wasn't anything out of the ordinary or anything that would scare me," Kessinger says. "Even to this day, even after everything that I've found out, I still look back at that, and I don't see any red lights about the way he spoke about his family."

Shanann Watts /Facebook.

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But Shanann saw red flags. In the days before the killings, she reached out to a friend and shared her growing concerns about her marriage — though she never suspected her life was in danger.

On August 13, 2018, the marriage ended in tragedy. Watts strangled Shanann in their Colorado home. He then drove her body to a job site at the oil company where he worked. He buried his wife's body and then smothered his daughters and put their bodies in oil tanks. After a friend sent police to the family's home for a wellness check, Watts said he had no idea where his family was.

According to Kessinger, she had an intense text conversation with Watts after the family's disappearance hit the news.

"I kept asking him, 'What did you do, Chris? What did you do?'" she recalls. "I asked, 'Where's your family?'"

"I was still in my head. I was stressed out," she continues. "So I texted Chris one last time, and I told him, 'If you did anything bad, you're going to ruin your life and you're going to ruin my life. I promise you that.' And he responded, 'I didn't hurt my family, Nicky.' And that was the last text. I never said another word to him after that."

Watts is now serving five consecutive life sentences at Dodge Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison, in Waupun, Wis. He is not eligible for parole.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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