For friends of triple-homicide suspect Chris Watts, the events of the past month have been shocking and confusing, contradicting their impression of the man they thought they knew.
“It’s beyond belief, really,” says Kris Landon, who has known the Watts family for about four years. “I never saw this coming.”
Watts, 33, was charged with murder Monday in the deaths of his 15-weeks-pregnant wife, Shanann, and the couple’s daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste. According to an arrest affidavit obtained by PEOPLE, Watts was allegedly having an affair with a co-worker.
“His entire persona was as a family man, talking about his wife and his girls,” says Landon. “I believed until the other day that his entire life was those girls, and that he would die for them.”
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Watts made his first appearance in court Tuesday but did not enter a plea. His attorney has not responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
He is charged with three counts of first-degree murder with deliberation, two counts of first-degree murder of a child under the age of 12 by someone who is in a “position of trust” over them, one first-degree count of unlawful termination of pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased body.
Watts was arrested Wednesday, two days after his wife and daughters were reported missing Aug. 13 by another friend, and one day before their bodies were found Thursday on the property of an oil-and-gas company where Watts formerly worked.
Now friends of the Watts family are trying to make sense of the shocking turn of events.
“He’s just a very warm, personable person,” says Landon. “He never seemed like someone with anything to hide, because he is so good at looking you in the eye and talking to you. He’s very gifted with words, like he knew what to say to make you like him and warm up to him.”
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Watts’ charm made those close to him feel like he was trustworthy. “He just seemed so sincere,” Landon says. “There were no real red flags.”
According to the affidavit, Watts allegedly admitted to killing Shanann — but said he only did so after he “went into a rage” after, he claimed, he watched Shanann strangle one of their daughters.
Watts is due back in court Nov. 19.