On the same day he was sentenced to three life terms with no parole for murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters, Chris Watts was named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by his slain wife’s parents, who are seeking $100,000 in damages.
Shanann Watts‘ parents, Frank and Sandra Rzucek, also filed the suit against Watts because he unlawfully terminated his wife’s pregnancy, killing their unborn son, Niko, court documents obtained by PEOPLE confirm.
While Colorado law prohibits such filings by anyone other than the spouse of the deceased, Frank Rzucek was able to bring this civil lawsuit against Watts, 33, because he is the designated representative of the 34-year-old Shanann’s estate, the Nov. 17 filing explains.
After appealing for his family’s safe return when a family friend reported them missing, Watts was arrested on Aug. 15 and charged in their deaths.
He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other charges on Nov. 6 and was sentenced to multiple life terms in prison without the possibility of parole.
The suit alleges Watts endeavored to “[misled] investigators” in the days after the murders and made false claims to the detectives and to the media.
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“Defendant also gave multiple interviews to television and media outlets where he falsely claimed that he missed his family and was hoping they would all come home, so as to end his supposed ‘nightmare’ of life without his wife and children,” the court filing states.
The filing also blasts Watts for initially blaming Shanann for the deaths of their two daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste, saying he “maliciously and fraudulently” misled police.
At the time of the murders, Watts was having an affair with Nichol Kessinger, a woman he met through work. Before he was sentenced, prosecutors cited his desire for a “fresh start” with Kessinger as his motive for strangling Shanann and smothering their daughters.
A review hearing in the civil case is set Jan. 28.