Kris Landon remembers the first time she encountered Chris and Shanann Watts at a party about three years ago.
“They were just the type that seemed [like] the perfect couple,” Landon, who became close friends with the couple, recounts to PEOPLE.
Over the years, Landon’s initial impression was only reinforced.
“They seemed like partners. Amazing partners,” says Landon. “They were the couple that you’d look at and then turn to your husband and be like, ‘Why aren’t we like that?’ “
But like many who thought they knew the couple, Landon is now in shock after Chris, 33, was accused of killing the 15-weeks-pregnant Shanann, 34, and the couple’s two daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste.
The bodies of all three victims were found last Thursday on the property of an oil-and-gas company where Chris worked until he was fired last Wednesday — the same day he was arrested.
Chris 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.
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Chris was allegedly having an affair with a co-worker, an arrest affidavit obtained by PEOPLE states.
According to the affidavit, Chris 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.
Chris is due back in court Nov. 19.
The image of Chris as a suspected killer belies Landon’s previous impression of him as a loving husband.
“He wasn’t the type to complain about Shanann unless it was in jest. I thought they were really in love,” she says.
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Landon describes Shanann as “an amazing woman” who was “really magnetic” and had lots of friends.
“She was so into her family,” Landon says. “Like, that’s all she talked about.”
She adds that Chris and Shanann “seemed so supportive of each other, it was their public face. I had no idea what was going on behind closed doors, and I don’t think many people did.”