Text messages show Shanann Watts wanted to salvage her marriage with her philandering husband, who then murdered her

By Jeff Truesdell and Greg Hanlon
November 27, 2018 01:18 PM

In the days and weeks before Chris Watts killed his wife and their two young daughters, a pregnant Shanann Watts tried to salvage the couple’s nearly 6-year marriage.

But while Shanann spent five weeks last summer visiting her family in North Carolina with the girls, her texts to Chris back home in Frederick, Colorado, began to grow more aggrieved, according to newly released documents in the investigation that led to Chris’s conviction and sentencing this month for the August murders.

Three weeks before a friend reported Shanann missing on Aug. 13, leading to the discovery that her and the girls had been murdered, Shanann texted her husband on July 24, writing, “l realized during this trip what’s missing in our relationship! lt’s only one way emotions and feelings. I can’t come back like this. I need you to meet me halfway. You don’t consider others at all, nor think about others feelings.”

Chris — who had courted Shanann for two years before they married, but was having an affair with another woman the summer leading up to the murders — responded that he loved Shanann and was sorry. Their texts are detailed in investigative documents in the case that were released last week by the Weld County District Attorney’s Office and obtained by PEOPLE.

Chris Watts, Shanann Watts and their daughters
| Credit: Facebook

Shanann wrote back: “l try to give you space, but while you are working and living the bachelor life l’m carrying our 3rd and fighting with our two kids daily and trying to work and make money.”

Credit: Facebook

“lt’s not hard texting love you and miss you,” she wrote. “lf you don’t mean it then I get it, but we need to talk. I kept looking at my phone all night and no response from you. Like seriously! We didn’t just start dating yesterday! We’ve been together 8 years and have 2.5 kids together.”

Shanann Watts, at left, and Chris Watts
| Credit: Facebook

On Aug. 5 she wrote: “Being away from you, it’s not the help I missed because I handle that. lt was exhausting, but with school that’s not hard. I missed the smell of you, you touching me when l’m cooking, you touching me in bed, you touching me period! I missed holding you and snuggling with you. I missed eating with you, watching tv with you. I missed staring at you, I missed making love with you. I missed everything about you. I couldn’t wait to touch you, hold you, kiss you, make love to you, smell you, laugh with you. I couldn’t wait to celebrate 8 years with you… ”

“lf you are done, don’t love me, don’t want to work this out, not happy anymore and only staying because of kids, I NEED you to tell me,” she wrote.

She followed up 30 minutes later: “Would you stay with me if we didn’t have kids?”

And then: “l just don’t get it. You don’t fall out of love in 5 weeks.” Minutes later she typed out, “How can you sleep? Our marriage is crumbling in front of us and you can sleep.”

After appealing for his family’s safe return when a family friend reported them missing, Chris was arrested on Aug. 15 in their deaths. He pleaded guilty on Nov. 6, and was sentenced to multiple life terms in prison without the possibility of parole.

In a news conference after the sentencing, District Attorney Michael Rourke said Shanann picked up on “a lot of suspicious behavior” by Chris. He said she received credit card phone notifications when she was in North Carolina for Chris’ restaurant tabs in Colorado that were likely for more than one person.

“We know she confronted him about that numerous times,” said Rourke. “We know that he was never completely forthcoming with her.”

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Rourke said in court that in the weeks prior to her death, Shanann — who was 15 weeks pregnant — focused on saving their crumbling relationship, giving Chris books on self-help and relationship counseling. But Chris had already mentally checked out of the marriage and ignored them, said Rourke, even throwing one of the books “in the garbage.”

Shanann returned home briefly in early August after her North Carolina trip. Subsequently, she traveled to Arizona for a work trip that ended on Aug. 13, after which she and the girls were killed in Colorado, according to prosecutors.

Chris Watts with his daughters
| Credit: Facebook

Rourke said at Chris’ sentencing, “While Shanann texted the defendant over and over again in the days and weeks leading up to her death attempting to save her marriage, the defendant secreted pictures of his girlfriend into his phone and searched and texted her at all hours of the night.”

And while Shanann was caring for her daughters and working at her part-time sales job, Chris spent the time going to bars, restaurants, car museums and sand dunes with his mistress, Nichol Kessinger, as well as “searching the internet for secluded vacation spots to take his new love — and researching jewelry,” Rourke said.

“The stark contrast between the subjects of their internet and text content is absolutely stunning,” he added.