GREELEY, Colo. – The family of Shanann Watts is pleading with the public to stop online harassment as Lifetime gears up for the movie depicting the killing of their daughter and two granddaughters.
Lifetime will premiere “Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer” on Jan. 25, just weeks after Shanann Watts’ birthday. In November 2018, Watts pleaded guilty to killing his pregnant wife and smothering his two daughters, Celeste, 3, and Bella, 4, and disposing of their bodies in oil tanks. He was sentenced to five life sentences.
The attorneys for the Rzucek family spoke about the family’s fear once the movie comes out during a news conference on Wednesday.
They said the family is afraid the movie will reignite speculations and theories about the case and will lead to more online bullying, which will not only taint their daughter’s name but also prevent the family from grieving their daughter and granddaughters. Back in July, Frank Rzucek’s, Shanann’s father, spoke out about the online harassment they were dealing with in the wake of their daughter’s death.
The family’s attorney, Steven Lambert, said the family has also received a number of anonymous threats.
“Armchair detectives going out there trying to find scraps of evidence, saying, ‘Chris really wasn’t the killer, it was X’ or, ‘His original confession was the true confession and Shanann did have a hand in this’ or ‘There is some sort of conspiracy’ — that kind of stuff bothers them a lot,” he said.
He added the family felt re-victimized after coming across trailers of the Lifetime movie around the holidays. He said the production companies working with Lifetime did not notify the family a movie was in the making or ask for input. Lambert said the family found out about the movie with the rest of the nation on Aug. 21, 2019. He said they reached out to the company days after the Rzuceks read about the movie, but didn’t hear back until months later. And by that time the movie was nearly done.
“It’s not an accurate portrayal of their daughter, of their grandchildren, or even Chris Watts himself,” Lambert said.
The family is asking the public to not purchase any merchandise with the Watts name adding that they do not have any affiliation with the products and do not profit from them. Attorney Brad Hoffman said the Rzuceks also want people to know that they did not profit from their appearance on 20/20 on ABC or Dr. Phil. According to Hoffman, the family donated Shanann’s possessions to nonprofits or charities.
At the family’s request, a team of attorneys at Grant & Hoffman Law Firm are looking into a bill to make it a crime to defame a deceased person.
Lambert hinted that the family is working with other production companies who have reached out. While they did not fully disclose what the project would be, there could be a documentary in the works with the family’s input.