Shannan Watts’ parents gave emotional testimony at Chris Watts’ sentencing for the murder of his pregnant wife and two daughters. Jacy Marmaduke, firstname.lastname@example.org
Colorado father Chris Watts, who admitted to killing his pregnant wife and two daughters last year, has agreed to pay more than $6 million in damages to his slain wife’s family.
A judge ordered the payout Nov. 18 — almost exactly one year after Watts was sentenced to three life terms plus 84 years in prison for killing his 34-year-old pregnant wife, Shanann, and the couple’s two daughters: 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste.
Shanann Watts’ parents, Frank and Sandra Rzucek, filed the civil lawsuit in Weld County last year on the same day Watts was sentenced for killing his family — a crime the Rzuceks said in the lawsuit has caused them to suffer “extreme emotional stress and damage.”
The Rzuceks claimed Watts mislead investigators from the beginning of the missing-persons-turned-murder investigation by providing “patently false” statements to “conceal his crimes.”
Watts gave television interviews in August 2018 pleading for his family’s safe return just one day before he told investigators he killed Shanann in a fit of rage after she killed their daughters.
However, in a jailhouse interview between Watts and Colorado investigators in February, he admitted to killing his children at the oil site where he dumped all three bodies.
On Nov. 5, Watts agreed to the terms of the Rzuceks’ lawsuit, which include a $1 million payout to the Rzuceks for each of the deaths of Shanann, Bella and Celeste and $3 million for the “grief, pain and suffering, emotional stress, and loss of companionship,” according to the lawsuit. Court documents indicate Watts never fought the lawsuit.
A judge also ordered Watts pay $521.50 in legal costs to the Rzuceks.
The payout comes with an 8% annual interest rate, according to court documents.
Watts is serving his sentence at the Dogde Correctional Institution in Wisconsin.
As part of Watts’ initial criminal sentence, he was ordered to pay more than $41,000 in restitution, including funeral and burial costs for his wife and daughters. It’s unclear if Watts had fulfilled that part of his sentence as of Dec. 10.
About domestic violence
Domestic violence is a pattern of abuse that can include physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, and financial elements where the abuser’s conscious or unconscious goal is to gain or maintain control. There are not always physical signs of abuse.
Girls and young women ages 16-24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence, but the abuse can impact anyone.
Early warning signs of an abusive partner:
- Controlling behavior
- Guilt trips
- Explosive temper
- Mood swings
- Checking your cellphone or email without permission
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, call Crossroads Safehouse for confidential help at 970-482-3502.
Source: Ashley Doolittle Foundation and Crossroads Safehouse
Sady Swanson covers crime, courts, public safety and more throughout Northern Colorado. You can send your story ideas to her at email@example.com or on Twitter at @sadyswan. Support our work and local journalism with a digital subscription at Coloradoan.com/subscribe.
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