Chris Watts: See the First Photos from Lifetime's Movie About Dad Who Killed Wife and Daughters
PEOPLE can exclusively unveil five first look photos from Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer, which is based on real-life events and taped confessions. The movie will premiere on Lifetime on Jan. 25.
The film stars Sean Kleier (Odd Mom Out) as Chris, Ashley Williams (How I Met Your Mother), as Shanann and Brooke Smith (Bates Motel, Ray Donovan) as FBI agent Tammy Lee. Sony Pictures Television is producing the film for Lifetime.
Following the film, Lifetime will air a companion documentary, Beyond the Headlines: The Watts Family Tragedy. The special will include exclusive never-before-seen footage and new interviews with Lee, who elicited Watt’s confession during an extended polygraph and interrogation session, and Shanann’s close friends Cassandra Rosenberg and Cindy DeRosset.
As part of Lifetime’s Stop Violence Against Women campaign, a PSA will run following the film and documentary, providing resources and information on domestic abuse, crisis help lines and other valuable information.
On Aug. 13, 2018, Chris killed his 15-weeks-pregnant wife and their two young daughters. He first strangled Shanann, then, with her body in the back of his truck, he drove to a remote oil work site with his sleeping daughters — Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3 — in the backseat.
Before burying Shanann in a shallow grave, Watts said he smothered Celeste in the backseat, right next to Bella. After dumping Celeste’s body in an oil tank, he returned to smother Bella, who begged for her life. He then stashed her body in another oil tank.
At the time of the murders, Watts was having an affair with a co-worker, Nichol Kessinger. Kessinger cooperated with police and said she thought Watts was separated while they were dating.
Watts didn’t immediately admit to his actions. According to an arrest affidavit obtained by PEOPLE, Chris allegedly said that after he told Shanann he wanted to split up when she got back from a work trip, he saw her strangling Celeste while Bella lay “blue” and apparently lifeless on her bed. In response, Chris allegedly claimed he “went into a rage” and strangled Shanann.
But authorities didn’t buy his shocking explanation. As the case headed for trial, Chris, now 34, pleaded guilty to all three killings. He is currently serving five life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer will premiere on Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime, followed by Beyond the Headlines: The Watts Family Tragedy at 10 p.m. ET.