The notorious murder suspect must spend 23 hours per day in his cell

Chris Watts, the man accused of killing his pregnant wife and two young daughters, is under suicide watch in jail — and is under constant surveillance to ensure that he doesn’t harm himself.

A source at the Weld County Jail confirmed to HLN’s Crime & Justice with Ashleigh Banfield that the 33-year-old murder defendant is under “Close Watch Protocol” — a technical name for suicide watch. PEOPLE has independently confirmed the report.

Under Close Watch Protocol, Watts spends 23 hours a day in his jail cell, where he sits in protective custody. He does not have a cellmate.

Guards must check on Watts every 10-15 minutes to ensure his well-being and must make visual contact with him. Additionally, Watts is not allowed the same privileges as other people at the jail, including no access to weights, reading material and television.

Christopher Watts court case, Greeley, Colorado, USA - 16 Aug 2018
Chris Watts
| Credit: Joshua Polson/AP/REX/Shutterstock

In addition to being physically searched several times per day, each day there is a complete cell inspection to ensure that Watts is not hiding any contraband that would allow him to harm himself.

One hour per day, he is allowed to leave his cell; he is taken to a small room where he is allowed to shower and make phone calls to his family or to counsel. The room — known as the “hour out room” — is not occupied by any other prisoners during the time he is there. He is also not allowed any commissary privileges.

According to a source who has spoken with Watts, the severity of the situation is beginning to sink in.

The Watts family

Watts was arrested on Aug. 15 and charged with first-degree murder, among other crimes, in the deaths of his wife and daughters.

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.

In a document obtained by PEOPLE, investigators revealed they discovered Chris’ affair with an unnamed co-worker, which he initially denied. The document also alleges that he confessed to killing Shan’ann.

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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.

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.