Colorado couple had deep financial troubles years before alleged murders

Shanann Watts called her husband “my ROCK!” and the “best dad us girls could ask for” in what appeared to be an idyllic life on social media.

However, behind the scene, it was a different picture that ended with her and her daughters’ lives this week.

Watts and her husband Chris – who is accused of killing her and their two girls – appeared to be in dire financial strain.

Three years ago, they jointly filed for bankruptcy, citing more than $70,000 in debt, KDVR-TV reported.

The couple had a combined income of $90,000 in 2014. But they also had tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, along with student loans and medical bills — for a total of $70,000 in unsecured claims on top of a sizable mortgage.

They said in the filing their nearly $3,000 monthly mortgage payments and $600 in monthly car payments formed the bulk of their $4,900 in monthly expenses.


On Wednesday, Chris Watts, 33, was arrested and held on three counts of first-degree murder for allegedly killing his 34-year-old wife and their daughters Celeste, 3, and Bella, 4. He was held without bond on Thursday with charges expected Monday.

The body of Shanann Watts, who was 15 weeks pregnant, was found Thursday on a property owned by Anadarko Petroleum, the company where her husband worked as an operator. Colorado authorities said they “have strong reason to believe” they have also found the bodies of her two daughters.

They have not released any information about a motive or how the three were killed.

Although the bodies were found at Anadarko, prosecutors said they believe the three were killed inside their home, The Denver Channel reported.

Chris Watts began working at Anadarko as an operator six months ago, earning $61,500 annual, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, Shanann Watts was working in a call center at a children’s hospital, earning about $18 an hour.

On Monday, Shannan Watts and her daughters were first reported missing – just days after returning from a 6-week trip to visit her family in North Carolina.

A friend said she last saw her around 2 a.m. Monday after they returned from a business trip. She said she called the police after Shanann didn’t answer her phone or show up to a doctor’s appointment.

Police conducted a welfare check and found her purse, keys and cell phone.

A massive search for the three was launched with the FBI and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation joining in on Wednesday.

In an interview that day, Chris Watts stood on his porch and lamented to reporters how much he missed them, saying he longed for the simple things — like telling his girls to eat their dinner and gazing at them as they curled up to watch cartoons.

Hours later he reportedly confessed to killing his family and was arrested.


Joe Beach, who lives next door to her parents in Aberdeen, North Carolina, said he recently talked to her when she was in town.

“We were talking about general things, about how her two girls were doing and how life was out in Colorado,” Beach told The Associated Press. “She didn’t give me an indication that there was anything wrong. She seemed pretty happy.”

Fox News’ Elizabeth Zwirz, Lucia Suarez Sang and Stephen Sorace and the Associated Press contributed to this report.