An unnamed man on Tuesday night came forward claiming to have been a former lover of triple-murder suspect Chris Watts, who is accused of killing his pregnant wife, 34-year-old Shan’ann Watts, and their two young daughters in their Frederick, Colorado, home earlier this month.
The man — whose face was not shown — described the purported relationship in an interview on HLN’s Crime & Justice with Ashleigh Banfield.
A motive in the murder case has not been confirmed as allegations of Chris’ infidelity draw greater scrutiny. Those who know the Watts family have described a seemingly happy union possibly beset by mounting tension.
“It’s beyond belief, really,” friend Kris Landon told PEOPLE. “And it makes you wonder about other people you know. If this couple who seemed so perfect was like this, what are the other couples like?”
Chris’ purported ex-lover, whom HLN said had been sought out by their team, said that he and Chris were allegedly in an approximately 10-month relationship after meeting online last June.
They saw each other off and on through the spring, ending things in March or April, the man said.
His story has not yet been independently corroborated by news outlets, including PEOPLE, but his account of an alleged relationship with Chris does contain details about Chris’ life that are not readily available online and in public documents. Identifying information about Chris’ truck and his home matches PEOPLE’s reporting.
A source close the investigation tells PEOPLE that Chris has had relationships with both men and women outside of his marriage.
PEOPLE could not immediately reach the man who spoke to HLN.
While one friend told PEOPLE that Chris appeared to be a selfless father, a friend of Shan’ann’s told ABC News that he had grown distant before his wife was killed: “He wasn’t touching or hugging or doing stuff like that.”
A family friend echoed that, previously telling PEOPLE that Chris and Shan’ann “were having marital problems” before the killings.
Speaking on HLN, Chris’ alleged former lover said that “you never really know someone and you never really know what someone is capable of.”
“The way he [Chris] portrayed himself, as this victim, and the way he just made me feel empathy for him for living this life and living this lie and going through all this … [he] told me that if it were to ever come out [about his sexuality] that he would be shunned and he wouldn’t be allowed to see his girls,” the man said.
The man contended that Chris had told him he had children but otherwise acted as though he was single. The man said he learned about Chris’ wife in January or February, when Chris brought his daughters along with him on an outing and 4-year-old Bella asked if she could sleep in her parents’ bed that night.
“Sociopaths can easily lead two different lives and feel two different emotions,” the man said, “and he [Chris] could have been telling me what I wanted to hear or what he thought I wanted to hear.”
They were reported missing on Aug. 13 and their bodies were found on the property of Chris’ former employer Anadarko Petroleum not long after he was taken into custody. Anadarko fired Chris the same day as his arrest.
Under police questioning after investigators revealed they had discovered Chris’ affair with a co-worker — which he had denied — he confessed to killing Shan’ann, according to allegations in an arrest affidavit obtained by PEOPLE. (The affidavit does not further identify Chris’ co-worker.)
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However, the affidavit shows, Chris allegedly said he only strangled his wife after watching her kill 3-year-old daughter Celeste when he told her he wanted to separate.
Chris claimed that, at the same time, he saw Bella apparently lifeless nearby, according to the affidavit. Then he “went into a rage” and killed Shan’ann, later hiding all three bodies at an oil work site, he said.
A source close to the investigation disputed Chris’ defense and, in charging him with murder, prosecutors have also dismissed his explanation.
“There is absolutely no evidence that she killed her children,” the source tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “None at all. And there is physical evidence to tie him to their murders. Strangulation is a very personal way to kill someone, with a lot of physical contact.”
Chris has not yet entered a plea. His lawyer did not respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment but, according to a statement from the state’s public defender’s office, their attorneys are barred from discussing ongoing criminal cases.