Authorities on Thursday discovered three bodies they believe to be a missing Colorado woman and her two young daughters, officials said. Police are working to confirm their identities.
Shanann Watts, who was 15 weeks pregnant, was reported missing Monday along with her two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. Her husband, Chris Watts, was taken into custody Wednesday night and is being held in the Weld County Jail, north of Denver, the Frederick Police Department said in a statement.
“At this point we have been able to recover a body that we’re quite certain is Shanann Watts’ body,” Colorado Bureau of Investigation Director John Camper told reporters Thursday.
The same day, Frederick Police said they believed they found the bodies of Bella and Celeste.
Chris Watts was arrested on three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body, a Weld County District Court judge said during Watts’ court appearance on Thursday. Prosecutors have until Monday to formally charge Watts.
The adult woman’s body was found on the property of a petroleum and natural gas exploration company, Camper said. The company said Watts used to work there, but declined to say when his employment ended.
Police declined to say where the children’s bodies were discovered but said they were found “in close proximity to the other body whom officers strongly believe is Shanann’s.”
Authorities have not revealed a possible motive or other details in the case. A judge sealed the arrest affidavit, which might have provided that information.
What Chris Watts told reporter
CNN affiliate KMGH aired video showing Chris Watts’ pickup truck being towed from the family’s home overnight, as well as investigators removing items from the house in garbage bags.
In an interview with KMGH before his arrest, Chris Watts said his wife got home from a business trip about 2 a.m. Monday. The couple lived in Frederick, a town of about 8,600 people around 30 miles north of Denver.
When asked by the reporter whether they argued, Watts said, “We had an emotional conversation, I’ll leave it at that. I just want them back. I just want them to come back.”
Watts said he left for work about 5:15 a.m. that day and wasn’t concerned when Shanann didn’t respond to his texts and phone calls because she was probably busy with her job, having just returned from being out of town.
But he said he became worried when one of her friends contacted him around noon and said Shanann wasn’t responding to messages.
“I walked in the house and — nothing,” Chris Watts told KMGH. “She wasn’t here. The kids weren’t here.”
“She said she was going to a friend’s house with the kids and that’s the last thing I heard, and that was it. It was very vague,” he told reporters.
FBI involved in case
An unidentified friend told CNN affiliate KDVR that she dropped off Shanann Watts at home about 2 a.m. Monday after they returned from a work trip, and watched her go into the house.
The two planned to meet later, but Watts, 34, didn’t answer her phone or show up for a doctor’s appointment, the friend said.
Police have not provided details on the disappearance, but said they conducted a welfare check after Watts’ friend called and requested one.
The FBI and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation were involved in the arrest, Frederick police said.
When asked if other people were involved, Camper said, “In terms of any danger to the community, we’re not concerned about that at all.”
Brother posts on Facebook
Frankie Rzucek, who is identified on Shanann Watts’ Facebook page as her brother, posted overnight on his page saying he just wanted “to know why.”
“I just want 30 seconds alone with that heartless psychopath. May Satan have mercy on his soul,” Rzucek wrote. “Doesn’t take a genius to know who was suspect.”
Le-Vel, a “health and wellness” company Shanann Watts worked for, according to her public Facebook page, has posted a message regarding Watts and her two daughters.
“Our hearts are broken for the loss of our dear friend Shanann Watts and her children. Shanann was an amazing woman, mother, friend, and overall person. She lit up every room and was a joy to be around. … Shanann and her children will be dearly missed. We honor them on this sorrowful day.”
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation spokeswoman Jennifer Brice said Watts is a former employee, but declined to say when he left the company.
“We are heartbroken by this, and our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones and friends of the Watts family. We will continue to support law enforcement in its investigation. He is no longer an employee and given that the investigation is ongoing, please direct all questions to law enforcement.”
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Chris Watts’ legal standing. Watts has been arrested but not yet charged with murder. Previous versions also had the ages of the two young daughters reversed. Bella was 4 years old and Celeste was 3.
–By Faith Karimi and Christine Sever, CNN
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