Hundreds of mourners assembled at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pinehurst, North Carolina, on Saturday to pay their final respects to Shanann Watts and her daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste.
Pallbearers brought the three caskets into the church; they were placed in front of the congregation. Many of the mourners wiped their eyes as the coffins entered the sanctuary.
The funeral started with a congregational singing of Amazing Grace, followed by Scripture readings and additional hymns. The 90-minute long ceremony contained no reference to Shanann’s husband, Chris Watts, who is accused of murdering his entire family.
“Shanann was a woman of love,” Father John Forbes told the mourners. “She loved God, her family and her friends. She was a woman of determination. She had dreams to be fulfilled, and she worked towards to those dreams. She wanted to make a difference. She wanted to be an exceptional wife and mother.”
“Bella Marie and Celeste Catherine were light for all those around them,” he continued. “They were filled with life and joy, and they shared those with all those they encountered.”
Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant. Father Forbes mentioned that the family would like to pass a law to recognize the lives of unborn children like her son, Niko.
Despite the violent deaths of Shanann and the children, the family shared a message of love. “They do not want vengeance and death but justice and light,” Forbes told the mourners.
Father Forbes then read some remarks from Shanann’s family.
“Thank you heavenly father. I know our family is with you in paradise; I can’t thank you enough,” read the statement from Shanann’s mother, Snadra. “Please give every soul on earth who has prayed, cried or reached out to us only your precious blessings. I can only pray to you that this tragedy changes everyone’s soul to be close to you. Please continue to hold us all in your love and protection.”
“Shanann, Bella Marie, Celeste Catherine, and Niko Lee, Mom/Nona loves you with all of my soul,” she said. “May god bless all of you always, love Mommy/Nona.”
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The priest then read a statement from Shanann’s father, Frank Rzucek.
“I have so much to say, but I will make it short,” Rzucek said. “Daddy loves you. You are a wonderful daughter and a great mother. You are nothing but pure love, always caring for everyone. You will always be daddy’s little girl. Until we meet again, I love you with all my heart, see you later. Love you, Dad. Butterfly kisses.”
Then Rzucek addressed the grandchildren. “Dear Bella and Celeste and Niko, You will always be pop pop’s little girls and precious grandson. You make my day filled with smiles, even when I feel bad or sad. Bella, you will always be my ‘silver bells’ Celeste, pop pop will take care of your truck. Throwing kisses and hugs to all of you. See you later, Love you always, your Pop Pop.”
Shanann’s husband — and the childrens’ father — was not at the ceremony; he is being held without bond in the Weld County Jail in Colorado. He is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and multiple additional charges. He has not yet entered a plea.