"American Murder: The Family Next Door" began streaming on September 30

By Steve Helling
October 05, 2020 03:41 PM
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Chris Watts, the man who murdered his pregnant wife and two daughters, went to "some dark places" after hearing about the new Netflix  documentary about his infamous case, a source close to him tells PEOPLE.

The documentary, entitled American Murder: The Family Next Door, began streaming on Netflix on September 30. It includes rarely-seen text messages and letters between Watts and his wife.

Sitting in a Wisconsin prison for the rest of his life, the 35-year-old Watts understands that he'll never get to watch the documentary — but its very existence has caused him anguish, the source says.

"Just knowing that the documentary is out there has sent Chris to some dark places," says the source, who talked to Watts as recently as last weekend. "He hates knowing that it's out there, but realizing that he will never see it."

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On August 13, 2018, Watts strangled his wife, Shanann, in their Colorado home. Then he drove her body to a job site at the oil company where he worked. He disposed of his wife's body and then smothered his daughters — Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.

Chris Watts, at left, with Shanann Watts

Authorities said Watts went on his murderous spree because he was having an affair with a co-worker who thought he was already separated. In the days before the killings, Shanaan Watts reached out to a friend and shared her growing concerns about her marriage — but she never suspected her life was in danger.

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The documentary paints a picture of a marriage that was falling apart -- and alleges that while Shanann was ready to fight to save their union, Chris had already checked out and was looking for a chance to escape.

While Watts has not seen the documentary, a second source tells PEOPLE that employees in the prison have seen the 83-minute film. "There's a lot of curiosity about him in prison," says the source. "He's the most high-profile inmate and what he did is incomprehensible, so everyone wants to know more about the case."

Credit: Shanann Watts/Netflix/2020

American Murder: The Family Next Door also includes police bodycam footage, Shanann's social media posts, and police interrogation video to tell the story of their deteriorating marriage and Shanann's murder.

The documentary has forced Watts to think about his heinous actions, says the source.

"He’s reliving a lot of what happened, and he hates not knowing what people are seeing about his private communications," says the source. "Not that he wants to spend that time watching the darkest days of his life, but he wants to know what the documentary looks like and how it tells the story.”