Colorado dad Chris Watts is accused of murdering wife Shanann and their two young daughters

By KC Baker
August 17, 2018 04:20 PM
Shanann Watts (center) with her daughters

Shanann Watts documented much of her life and the lives of her growing family on Facebook, and it’s on Facebook where she met her husband — the same man who allegedly murdered her and their two young daughters earlier this week.

“I got a friend request from Chris on Facebook and I was like, ‘Oh, what the heck, I’m never going to meet him — accept,’ ” she recalled in one video, obtained by HLN. “Well one thing led to another and eight years later we have two kids, we live in Colorado, and he’s the best thing that has ever happened to me.”

That Facebook post and others across 34-year-old Shanann’s vibrant social media activity paint a bright and happy life for her, husband Chris and their girls, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste.

They also provide a stark contrast to the still-unfolding investigation into the suspected murders of both mother and children.

Chris, 33, was arrested Wednesday night and remains in custody on suspicion of three-counts of first-degree murder and tampering with a body. Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant when she died.

Authorities have said her remains were found Thursday on the property of an oil company where Chris worked while the likely remains of their daughters were found nearby later that day. The three were reported missing by a friend on Monday afternoon, about 12 hours after Shanann returned from a business trip to Arizona.

Videos Shanann posted on social media give an intimate glimpse into the family’s seemingly happy home life before their “storybook” existence — as one friend called it — came crashing down, an entire family nearly wiped out.

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Shanann Watts (center) with her daughters

The couple previously lived in North Carolina, where Shanann still has family. They relocated to Colorado in 2012, the Denver Post reports. They got married around the same time, nearly six years ago, according to ABC News.

Their girls seemed to loved Chris as much as Shanann did. In a June 14 post on Facebook, Shanann captured daughter Bella singing about her love for her father: “My Daddy is a hero, he helps me grow up strong. He helps me snuggle too. He reads me books. He ties my shoes. You’re a hero through and through. My daddy, daddy, I love you.”

Nick Thayer, a close friend of Chris and Shanann, tells PEOPLE that Chris appeared to be a “hands-on dad” — as shown in a social media video of him playing a child-friendly “pie in the face” game with Bella.

In one video from last fall, Chris recited a prayer with Bella as they sat at the table with Celeste, whom they called “CeCe.”

“Thank you for the world so sweet, thank you for the food we eat, thank you for the birds that sing, thank you God for everything,” Chris and Bella said in unison. “Amen.”

Last April, Shanann captured another tender moment between Chris and Bella when he read a book to her about space.

More recently, Shanann posted a video in June showing her surprising Chris with the news that they were expecting a third child. In the clip, she wore a T-shirt saying “Ooops we did it again.” The video showed him walking into a room and spotting the shirt, then laughing. “We did it again? … Really?” he said.

She responded softly: “Really.”

From left: Chris and Shanann Watts with their daughters (middle)

Shanann also recorded her and Chris telling their daughters the happy news that they were getting a little sibling. “Guess what girls? Mommy has a baby in her belly!” she said, as the girls grew excited, saying “yay!” and jumping up and down and running to hug her.

While investigators have not publicly confirmed a motive, a family friend previously told PEOPLE that there was marital discord between Chris and Shanann and public records show they had faced financial issues in the past, including a bankruptcy in 2015.

More recently, it seemed, the family had returned to financial stability, the Post reports, citing social media posts about their extensive travels.

Before his arrest in their deaths, when his family was still missing, Chris gave several news interviews casting himself as a grieving husband and father hoping for their safe return.

During one such appearance, he said that before she disappeared, he and Shanann had an “emotional conversation.”

“But I’ll leave it at that.”

At a court hearing on Thursday, Chris was ordered held without bond. He is next scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday where he will face formal charges.

His attorney did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.