Bella Watts would have celebrated her 5th birthday had she not been murdered by her father, Chris Watts

Sweet, shy Bella Watts didn’t like being the center of attention.

Never far from mother Shanann‘s side, the bashful 4-year-old seemed to prefer sharing the spotlight with her more outgoing little sister, Celeste, or Cece, 3, her best friend and constant companion.

On her birthday, though, Bella came of out her shell. She delighted in blowing out the candles on her cake and opening her presents, surrounded by those she loved the most: her parents, Cece and the family dog, Dieter, in the family’s Frederick, Colorado home.

Bella would have turned 5 on Monday. But this year there won’t be any candles to blow out or gifts for her to open.

On August 13, Bella was smothered to death by her father, Chris Watts, 33, who also killed Celeste and Shanann, 34.

Bella Watts, right, with sister, Celeste
| Credit: Facebook

“I have no idea who gave you the right to take their lives, but I know God and his mighty angels were there in that moment to bring them home to paradise,” Shanann’s mother, Sandra Rzucek said in court on Nov. 19, when her son-in-law was sentenced to life in prison without parole for murdering his entire family including his unborn son, Niko.

Shanann and Bella Watts
| Credit: Shanann Watts /Facebook

He killed them, said Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke, so he could start a new life with a woman he’d been having an affair with for little more than a month.

Watts funeral mass
The casket of one of the girls is brought out of the church during the funeral for Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts.
| Credit: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post/Getty

Sandra told ABC’s 20/20 that she considered Bella and Cece to be gifts from God.

“They had a lot of love, they were amazing,” she said. “I couldn’t ask God for more. He really blessed us with them, the children and Shanann. [Shanann] loved everybody. Her love for children and friends was amazing.”

Shanann and Bella Watts
| Credit: Shanann Watts /Facebook

So was Shanann’s love for her husband, who shocked their families, friends and the nation by brutally murdering his family and then hiding their bodies.

After strangling Shanann, who was 15 weeks pregnant and smothering his two little daughters, with Bella putting up a struggle as she fought for her life, he loaded their bodies one at a time into the back of his truck.

He hid them on a remote oil work site where they were found days later.

Chris Watts in prison.
| Credit: CDOC

Chris buried his wife in a shallow grave. He placed the two little girls’ bodies in oil tanks through a hatch that was only eight inches in diameter, said Rourke.

Bella had scratches on her body from being shoved through the hatch. Investigators also found a tuft of blonde hair on one of the hatch openings they believe belonged to Celeste, he said.

Later, Chris told investigators that Bella’s tank seemed emptier than Celeste’s because of the splashes their bodies made into the oil below.

“These were his daughters,” said Rourke at Chris’s sentencing.

What made the murders all the more shocking was the way Chris seemed to dote on his daughters.

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Chris Watts with Celeste, left and Bella, right.
| Credit: Facebook

Neighbor Kelley Trippy remembers seeing Chris playing with the girls when she went to their house for the first time in June for a neighborhood gathering.

“It was like he was a jungle gym for the kids,” said Trippy.

“I thought Chris was such a good dad,” she says. “But I guess everybody has a mask that they put on.”