DENVER — For the first time, the parents of Chris Watts are speaking out about their son’s case. Ronnie and Cindy Watts spoke from their home in Spring Lake, North Carolina to Denver7 Monday.
The interview comes nearly a week after their son pleaded guilty in a Weld County courtroom to killing his pregnant wife, Shanann Watts, and young daughters Celeste and Bella in Frederick, Colo. in August. The victims’ bodies were found at an oil work site in Weld County owned by Anadarko Petroleum Company, where Chris Watts worked before he was fired following his arrest.
The couple said they are devastated about the deaths of their grandchildren and daughter-in-law but are still not convinced the world has been told what they say is the full story.
“He’s not a sociopath. He’s not a psychopath,” Cindy Watts said of her son.
The North Carolina couple said they are just trying to find the truth and are frustrated because they say they weren’t allowed to get those answers before their son's plea agreement.
“I asked Chris, ‘If you did not do this, do not confess to something you didn’t do,'" said Cindy Watts. "(Chris Watts' defense attorney) shut me down. She completely shut me down."
When asked if they feel Chris Watts was coerced into taking the plea deal, the couple said they're not sure.
“I don’t know. I have no idea," Mrs. Watts said. "To me, all they wanted to do was save his life, just save his life. Save his life and life in prison — to me there’s no difference. He’s going to die in prison. I just want him to fight. I don’t want him to take this plea deal. I want him to plead not guilty to the children.”
His parents said they had many questions after he confessed to killing Shanann, claiming he saw her strangle their kids to death beforehand.
“He said, ‘I’m sorry. I lost — I went into a rage, and I killed her.’ And he said, ‘I am so sorry. I ruined your life. I ruined my life,’" Mrs. Watts said.
“After the fact with the bodies, he said, ‘Dad, I could not put the girls with her after what she did — I could not put her with her,’” Ronnie Watts said.
Denver7 asked why then he decided to put the girls in oil tanks.
“I don’t understand. I don’t understand,” Mr. Watts said.
Watts' parents also question what the trigger was that led to the murders to which their son confessed and pleaded guilty.
A day after Shanann and the girls were reported missing, Chris Watts told Tomas Hoppough with Denver7 that the Frederick couple was having problems.
“It wasn’t like an argument, but we had an emotional conversation. I’ll leave it at that,” Chris Watts said in August.
Mrs. Watts said if this actually happened, and that he killed the three of them, there had to have been a trigger. She said she wants to know what that was.
“If he didn’t kill the children, I want him to face that and let them prove it,” Mr. Watts said.
Chris Watts’ parents acknowledge Shanann’s family’s frustration and loss and said they are pleading for the truth from their son.
“There’s a whole lot of unanswered questions about the case. Everything happened too quick there, from a case status to a plea,” Mr. Watts said.
“It has been so overwhelming. And I feel like I have to do something to help my son,” Mrs. Watts said. “I just need to do something. If he’s not going to fight, I’m going to fight for him.”
Shanann's family responds
Early Tuesday morning, the parents of Shanann Watts — Frank and Sandra Rzucek — responded to the Watts' family interview. Their statement reads:
“Shanann Watts was a faithful wife, and the most gentle and loving mother in the world to her children Bella, Celeste, and Nico. She was also the best daughter any parent could ever hope for. Shanann was a wonderful soul.
Everyone who knew Shanann knows this to be true. Even Chris Watts knows this to be true. Yet Chris Watts still chose to murder Shanann, Bella, Celeste, and Nico. Chris Watts still chose to dump the bodies of his own family in oil tanks. And Chris Watts still chose to lie about it until he could lie no more. He pled (sic) guilty to murdering his family because he is guilty.
Monday evening, the parents of Chris Watts gave an interview in which they attempted to defend their son. In doing so, they felt the need to make vicious, grotesque and utterly false statements about Shanann. Their false statements, however hurtful and inaccurate, will never alter the truth about Shanann, and will never alter the truth about the crimes committed by their son, Chris Watts.
Shanann’s memory and reputation deserves to be protected. And her family is fully prepared to do so.”
Sentencing hearing awaits
In a deal that will allow him to avoid the death penalty, Chris Watts pleaded guilty last week to all nine counts he was originally charged with in August. Watts is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday, Nov. 19.