Chris Watts is serving multiple life sentences after pleading guilty to murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters

By Steve Helling
August 13, 2020 03:38 PM
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Chris Watts
RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post/Getty Images

On August 13, 2018, exactly two years ago, Chris Watts killed his pregnant wife and two young daughters.

The details of the crime were brutal: He strangled his 34-year-old wife, Shanann, in their Colorado home, and then killed his daughters — Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3 — at his job site on an oil field.

Watts was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole  Two years later, he is housed at Dodge Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison, in Waupun, Wisconsin. (He was moved out of Colorado for security reasons.)

A jail source who has spoken with Watts in the past month tells PEOPLE that he is resigned to the fact that he will spend the rest of his life in prison — and is "hopeless" that anything will ever change.

"He knows exactly what he did," the source tells PEOPLE. "He's haunted by what he did. He says he can't shake the memories of his family, and they haunt him. He is in his own psychological torment, every day of his life."

"He knows he deserves it," the source continues. "He knows that he made many mistakes in his life, and this is his punishment."

For 23 hours a day, Watts is on lockdown. He can leave his cell for a shower or exercise, but little else. When he is in his cell, he has little to do: He is allowed to have a Bible and family photos. He has photos of his family next to his bed.

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Shanann and Chris Watts
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Last November, a source told PEOPLE that Watts had found religion in prison, and that he reflects on his sins daily. “A day doesn’t go by — a minute doesn’t go by — where he doesn’t think about his family,” the source said. "He's in a hell of his own making."

Shanann Watts /Facebook

Watts proclaimed himself a “servant of God,” writing in a letter to his mother in June 2019, "I’m still a Dad! I’m still a son! No matter what. Now, I can add servant of God to that mix!"

A family friend, who asked to go by her first name of Kim, told PEOPLE last year that Watts was full of regret. “He’s sad that everyone is hurting,” Kim said. “He wishes he could go back in time. He wishes he had handled things differently.”

Despite the fact that he considered filing an appeal to his sentence, he now realizes that release from prison will be unlikely. "This is his life," says the source. "Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Full of regret and remorse for the choices he made."