During a frantic search for Shanann Watts and her two young children on August 13th, 2018, Shanann Watts and her two children were reported missing. Before 2 a.m. that morning, Shanann had come back from a business trip to Arizona. She was 34 years old at the time of the accident. As Nickole Atkinson drove her home, she told her that she’d been at a party.
Afterward, Shanann, who was 15 weeks pregnant, didn’t show up for an OB-GYN appointment because she didn’t want to be late. She couldn’t be reached by phone or text for most of the day. Atkinson came back to the Watts house around noon, after her friend and coworker didn’t show up for a business meeting and didn’t call. It looked like no one was home.
Atkinson became worried, so he called Shanann’s husband, Chris, and the police. An officer came to see what was going on, and Chris let them search the house. This is what happened: There was no sign of Shanann or the couple’s two young daughters. They were both four years old.
People found Shanann’s purse and car keys at home. Her car was parked in the garage. Her wedding ring was also found on the master bed. It was clear that something was wrong, so the FBI got involved the next day. Chris said he didn’t know where his wife and daughters were, and that he hadn’t seen his wife since 5:15 a.m. on August 13th, when he left for work.
On August 16, the bodies of Shanann and both of her daughters were found. Chris confessed to killing all three of them and led police to their bodies. They were on the property of Chris’s company, Anadarko Petroleum. Afterward, the bodies of Shanann and both of her daughters were found in oil tanks. It wasn’t until Shanann died that the couple had a third child. Nico Lee Watts was born at that time.
With a man who seemed to be a kind and gentle family man at the center of the case, the triple homicide was all over the news. The case made people more aware of a type of crime called family annihilation, which is very important and scary. These crimes usually involve a parent killing their whole family. Most family annihilation crimes make the perpetrator take his own life afterward, but not in this case. Chris didn’t do that.
A lot more information about Chris came out after the tragic news that Shanann Watts and her two daughters were killed by a trusted family member. He had been having an extramarital affair. Chris said that he strangled Shanann in their bed. After that, he put his daughters and his wife’s body in his truck and took them to work. His wife and the girls were killed there.
It hasn’t been easy to figure out what happened to these people. ABC aired a segment in which both of Shanann’s parents were asked about their daughter. Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer is a movie that Lifetime made about the murders. During an episode of Dr. Phil, he made Chris Watts the main subject and invited four crime experts to look into his reasons for killing. American Murder: The Family Next Door will be on Netflix in September 2020, and it will keep people interested in the Watts case even more.
And that’s not even looking at the written record to see if there are any books about Chris Watts. So recently, it can be hard to cut through the noise to find out what happened to this family. You don’t have to worry: The Lineup has found the best books just for you. They are some of the best descriptions of the truth behind the crime that I’ve seen so far.
The Perfect Father: The True Story of Chris Watts, His All-American Family, and a Shocking Murder
By John Glatt
If you want to read about how Chris Watts went from being a handsome, but somewhat aloof, husband to a murderer, with a psychological edge like the best true crime writing, John Glatt’s book is the one to read. On August 13th, Shanann came home from a business trip and the book shows how the case turned bad. All the media and investigative reports that Glatt looks at are combined to make one coherent story that runs right through the heart of why so many people both love and hate the Watts murders, even though they’re not even close to being solved.
My Daddy is a Hero: How Chris Watts Went from Family Man to Family Killer
By Lena Derhally
Is it possible that you’d like to learn more about how the murders were done? With this book, you can learn a lot about Chris’s reasoning (or lack thereof) as he did the most heinous of crimes, like rape. What did Chris want to get out of this act, besides the anger and desire to start a new life with a different woman? For this piece, Derhally talks about Chris Watts and how she uses her knowledge of attachment theory, Imago relationship theory, and psychopathology to make it a perfect match for Glatt’s masterful summation of all the events.
In Cold Blood: Discovering Chris Watts: The Facts – Part One
By Netta Newbound & Marcus Brown
Is there something in your heart that wants to do the kind of sleuthing that you’d get from looking up a ton of different reports and essays? There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from reading the simple facts and getting into the details on your own terms. The Discovering Chris Watts trilogy is a very detailed, hard-hitting series that looks at every part of the murder case. It doesn’t leave anything out. You’ll be able to flip through each book like a textbook so you can learn more about what fascinates, scares, or confuses you about the subject matter. If you like to do your own research and don’t like to be told, this trilogy is for you.