Chris Watts pleaded guilty to murdering his wife Shanann and their two young daughters

The parents of Chris Watts are speaking out, claiming their son is not a “monster” despite pleading guilty to murdering his wife and two young daughters.

In an interview with local station KMGH, Ronnie and Cindy Watts said their son was once easygoing and “normal.”

“He was in sports from when he was 5 until 17 years old,” Cindy told the station. “He was normal, he didn’t have a temper, he was just easygoing like his dad. He’s not a monster.”

According to KMGH, the couple claimed their son changed when he married Shanann, alleging the couple had an abusive relationship and Shanann isolated Chris from his family.

“It was a very hard relationship,” Cindy Watts said. “It was a very hard relationship with her as far as I’m concerned. I couldn’t do anything right.”

Watts, 33, was arrested on Aug. 15 and charged with murdering Shanann, his wife of nearly six years, as well as the couple’s daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. Authorities found Shanann’s body buried on the grounds of the oil field where Chris worked up until his arrest. The bodies of the two little girls were dumped in a nearby oil tank.

Christopher Watts Arraignment Hearing in Murder Of Wife And Children
Credit: RJ Sangosti - Pool/Getty

Shanann was about 15 weeks pregnant with a son at the time, and her family later said she planned to name him Niko Lee.

Under later police questioning, Chris allegedly said he would “tell the truth” after investigators told him they found out he was having an affair with a co-worker, according to an affidavit supporting his arrest that was unsealed in late August.

Chris then admitted he killed Shanann after flying “into a rage” when, he claimed, he saw her strangling one of their daughters via a baby monitor after he had told her he wanted a separation, according to the arrest affidavit.

But in court earlier this month, Chris pleaded to nine charges: five counts of first-degree murder, one count of unlawful termination of pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a dead body.

In pleading guilty, Chris essentially admitted that explanation was a lie.

‘The Story He Told Me That Night, I Believed It,’ Says Dad

Watts’ parents say that they’re still confused about what happened.

“It’s hard for me to believe that he would hurt them girls no matter what,” Ronnie Watts told the station. “The story he told me that night, I believed it: The way he looked at me, the way he was crying, I believed it.”

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Shan'ann Watts (right) and her daughters
| Credit: Shanann Watts /Facebook

The Watts family says that, despite their son’s guilty plea, they’re not sure exactly what happened. They speculated that he may have pleaded guilty to avoid subjecting his family to a lengthy trial.

“I just want the truth of what really happened,” Ronnie Watts said. “If he did it all, I can live with it. If he didn’t, I want him to fight for it.”

But Shanann’s family slammed Chris’ parents belief that he might not be the killer of their daughter and granddaughters in a statement released to the station Tuesday morning.

“On Monday evening, the parents of Chris Watts gave an interview in which they attempted to defend their son,” the statement said. “In doing so, they felt the need to make vicious, grotesque and utterly false statements about Shanann. Their false statements, however hurtful and inaccurate, will never alter the truth about Shanann, and will never alter the truth about the crimes committed by their son, Chris Watts.”

Chris Watts will be sentenced on Monday. His parents did not immediately return PEOPLE’s call for comment.