Chris Watts Agrees to Pay $6 Million in Civil Suit to His Murdered Wife's Family
On the same day he was sentenced to three life terms with no parole in November 2018 for murdering Shanann and the couple’s two young daughters, Watts was named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by his slain wife’s parents, Frank and Sandra Rzucek.
Now, in closing the civil case, Watts, 34, has reportedly agreed to pay the family for the damages: $1 million for each death plus $3 million for emotional distress, with an 8 percent annual interest rate, according to the Denver Post. Court documents, according to the outlet, say the family suffered serious emotional trauma from the crimes.
“The Rzucek family has not been the same since August 13, 2018,” the documents read, the Post reports. “They have suffered with anger, loneliness, sadness, and depression. For a substantial period of time following the discovery of their daughter and grandchildren’s murders, they were unable to work, leave the house, or even eat.”
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The document in which Watts agrees to pay the family acknowledges his involvement in causing his in-laws’ emotional trauma.
“The Defendant stipulates that the death of Shanann, Bella, and Celeste was a tremendous loss to Plaintiffs Franklin Rzucek and Sandra Rzucek and that they have suffered extreme emotional stress and damage as a result of such loss,” reads the documents, per the Denver Post.
It was reported in February that Watts would not fight back against the wrongful death lawsuit.
On August 13, 2018, the Colorado dad killed his 15-weeks-pregnant wife and their two young daughters. He first strangled wife Shanann, who was carrying the couple’s third child. Then, with her body in the back of his truck, he drove to a remote oil work site with his sleeping girls — Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3 — in the backseat.
Before burying Shanann in a shallow grave, Watts said he smothered Celeste in the backseat, right next to Bella. After dumping Celeste’s body in an oil tank, he returned to smother Bella, who begged for her life. He then stashed her body in another oil tank.
A source familiar with Watts told PEOPLE in August — one year after the crimes — that he has taken responsibility for his actions. “He has nothing to do but think,” said the source. “He thinks about what he did every day. He is tormented by his past and the mistakes he made.”
Another source told People at the time that the surviving family members continue to grapple with the murders.
“It’s all the family thinks about,” the source said. “This has changed their lives forever.”