Shanann and Chris Watts Claimed $448,820 Debt in 2015 Bankruptcy Filing, With Dog as $5 Asset

Accused killer Chris Watts and his pregnant wife, victim Shanann Watts, sought protection in 2015 from debt totaling $448,000


Three years before Colorado dad Chris Watts was accused of killing his pregnant wife Shanann and their two young daughters, the couple filed for bankruptcy, PEOPLE confirms.

Documents obtained by PEOPLE reveal the couple sought Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in July 2015, claiming liabilities that totaled $448,820.

At the time Chris, 33 — who was charged Monday with the killings — reported earning a monthly salary of around $5,400 from Anadarko Petroleum, on whose property investigators discovered the three bodies Thursday after a family friend reported Shanann and daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, missing and Chris gave media interviews calling for their safe return.

Shanann Watts /Facebook

When the couple filed for bankruptcy, Shanann worked at Children’s Hospital Colorado, earning a monthly salary of $2,977. But for reasons not made clear in the filing, the couple’s reported combined income was tumbling — from $147,256 in fiscal year 2013, down to $90,789 in fiscal 2014, and then to $40,491 at the time of their 2015 filing.

Medical and credit card debt had combined with mortgage payments on their $400,000 home in Frederick, Colo., to undermine their financial stability, the record shows.

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A Chapter 7 filing in Colorado, if approved by the court, allows debtors to hold onto and keep making payments on assets such as a house and car but offers a “fresh start” by eliminating other debts, according to

At the time of the filing, Chris and Shanann, who married on Nov. 3, 2012, were the parents of only one daughter, Bella, who was 1 year old at the time.

Shanann later would take a job in direct marketing as a seller of health supplements, a move that gave her the independence to work from home or anywhere she wanted while caring for and traveling with her kids, according to her posts on Facebook and Instagram.

Shan’ann Watts (right) and her daughters. Shanann Watts /Facebook

Her job change also allowed for work travel to destinations such as New Orleans, Toronto and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, she wrote. Last June she and Chris traveled to San Diego on their sixth paid-for vacation in two years from direct-selling company Le-Vel, she wrote on Facebook. An October 2018 work trip to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico was planned.

“I am in LOVE with this lifestyle of just living and enjoying every moment with my family … I’m addicted to creating memories and living life to its fullest,” Shanann wrote on a June 16 Facebook post.

The couple listed debts in July 2015 that included $11,245 in student loans; $740 to Choice Recovery in Columbus, Ohio, for health and chiropractic services; $1,301 to Kaiser Permanente for medical services; and $2,612 to Good Samaritan Medical Center.

The couple had met on Facebook in 2010 after Shanann was diagnosed with a health condition that her brother identified as lupus, and after Shanann said she quit her job of nine years as a consequence of her condition. She later credited Chris for lifting her out of her despair.

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Other debts claimed by the couple in July 2015 included $1,547 to Macy’s, $3,038 to Nordstrom’s, and $18,968 to Sharonview Federal Credit Union.

Assets listed at the time of their bankruptcy filing included a 2006 Ford Mustang valued at $8,275; weddings rings valued at $1,000; and a dog, which they valued at $5.

It was not clear whether the bankruptcy protection sought by the couple was granted.

Chris was “actively involved in an affair with a coworker” before he allegedly killed Shanann and their two children, court documents obtained by PEOPLE allege.

He was arrested Wednesday, a day before the three bodies were located, and he remains in custody without bond. He is due in court Tuesday to be advised of the charges against him.

He has not entered a plea and his public defender has not responded to PEOPLE’s multiple requests for comment.

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