In text messages to his mistress just hours after he had killed his pregnant wife and children, Chris Watts denied having anything to do with their disappearance, according to previously unreleased footage of his the woman’s interview with police.
In the video, Nichol Kessinger, who worked with Chris and had a two-month affair with him, can be seen speaking candidly with investigators about the last time she spoke to Watts after his family vanished.
On August 13, 2018, Chris strangled his wife Shanann – who was 15 weeks pregnant with their son – inside the couple’s Frederick, Colorado, home. He later smothered their daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.
‘I was still in my head. I was stressed out,’ Kessinger told authorities three days later, according to footage posted on March 2 by Frankie Rzucek, Jr., Shannan’s brother.
‘So I texted Chris one last time, and I told him, “If you did anything bad, you’re going to ruin your life and you’re going to ruin my life. I promise you that.”
And he responded, “I didn’t hurt my family, Nicky.” And that was the last text. I never said another word to him after that,’ she said.
Chris, 36, is serving serving five life sentences plus 48 years in prison without the possibility of parole at the Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin.
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Newly released footage shows mistress Nichol Kessinger (right) telling police about the last time she spoke with Chris Watts before he was arrested for killing his family in August 2018
Kessinger, who has since changed her name and gone into hiding, told police that Watts texted her, ‘I didn’t hurt my family,’ after she pressed him for answers
On August 13, 2018, Chris strangled his wife Shanann (right), who was 15 weeks pregnant with their son, before smothering their daughters, Bella, 4 (left), and Celeste, 3 (center)
Watts is currently serving five life sentences plus 48 years in prison without the possibility of parole for the murders of his pregnant wife and two daughters
Last year, DailyMail.com exclusively revealed that Kessinger – who has since changed her name and gone into hiding – is still in touch with Chris, according to a fellow inmate and a prison pen pal.
In the footage released this week, some of which has already been seen and reported on, Kessinger speaks to authorities for three hours.
She details the start of their relationship and how they met while working at Anadarko Petroleum. She was a health and safety worker in the office, while Chris was an oil well operator who worked on the field but occasionally spent time in the building.
‘There were several discussions that we had about his current relationship and where it had gone,’ she says.
‘He talked about his kids from time to time. But the thing was that he was never hostile. It was never anything aggressive. It was still very kind. He was just like, “This is not working.'”
‘It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary or anything that would scare me,’ Kessinger added.
‘Even to this day, even after everything that I’ve found out, I still look back at that, and I don’t see any red lights about the way he spoke about his family.’
The killer’s mistress revealed that in one of their discussions after the murders Chris told her that Shannan had left her wedding ring at the house.
‘How much do you think it’s worth?’ he allegedly asked.
‘And I remember hearing him say that and being like, “What the f***?”‘
She suggested pawning it, but he said he would probably have it appraised.
‘It was like really awkward,’ Kessinger said.
Kessinger applied for a name change in Jefferson County, Colorado in October 2020 and hasn’t been seen since she spoke to police.
Watts killed his wife after she came home from a business trip to Arizona.
The killer’s mistress said Chris wondered how much he could get for Shannan’s wedding ring after he killed her. She said: ‘I remember hearing him say that and being like, “What the f***?”‘
Watts strangled Shannan and put her body and their two daughters in his truck and drove to isolated oil storage tanks owned by Anadarko. Above, in court three days after the murders
At his trial, Watts pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty, which has since been abolished in Colorado
He strangled her and then put her body and their two daughters in his truck and drove to isolated oil storage tanks owned by Anadarko.
Watts buried Shanann in a shallow grave and then smothered his two daughters and placed their bodies inside the storage tanks. ‘He told me he thought the oil would disintegrate the bodies,’ Carter told DailyMail.com.
For two days Watts claimed that he had nothing to do with his family’s disappearance and went on television to plead for them to come home. After his arrest he initially claimed that Shanann had killed the girls after he had told her he wanted a separation, and then he had strangled her in anger.
At his trial, he pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty, which has since been abolished in Colorado.
The murders and subsequent investigation were profiled in-depth in the Netflix documentary American Murder: The Family Next Door.
Despite the murder and his initial denial of the incident, Kessinger apparently wrote to him inside the Dodge Correctional Institution in under her new name, fellow inmate David Carter revealed in an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com last year.
‘He told me she said that she needed to speak to him to clear some things up,’ Carter said. ‘He wouldn’t tell me exactly what she had said.’
Fellow inmate David Carter revealed that Kessinger has apparently stayed in touch with Watts while in prison. ‘[Watts] told me she said that she needed to speak to him to clear some things up,’ Carter said. ‘He wouldn’t tell me exactly what she had said’
Carter showed DailyMail.com a letter that Watts had sent him last July when Carter had been transferred to another prison in Wisconsin. It was full of Biblical references. ‘Chris has turned to God in a big way,’ he said
Watts told pen pal Cheryln Cadle in 2019 that he was still in love with Kessinger and believed that some of the letters he received in prison were from her writing under assumed names. Cadle went on to write a book about their correspondence called Letters From Christopher.
Now Carter has backed those claims that Kessinger does write to the man whose crime shocked the nation — or at least that Watts believes she does.
Carter, who was released from Dodge on February 27, said it was back in September last year that Watts, 35, first told him Kessinger was writing to him.
And Watts claimed that prison authorities discovered what was happening and punished him by suspending his email account carefully monitoring all his mail.
‘He wasn’t supposed to have any contact with her, but she initiated it by writing to him.’
Carter shared a ‘mental note’ from Watts dated in December 2019 that quotes the bible
Chris Watts claims if he hadn’t met his mistress Nichol Kessinger (pictured above), he wouldn’t have killed his wife Shanann and their two little girls. Kessinger, 32, took on a new identity and moved from her home in Arvada, Colorado, after Watts was arrested
There was never any suspicion that Kessinger knew that he intended to kill his family but she was inundated with hate mail despite believing their affair was just a harmless fling. She is still living in hiding, more than three years after the murders.
Carter, 34, said Watts had told him that he killed Shanann because he didn’t want to pay child support, he didn’t want the son that she was expecting, and feared his wife would take their house in Frederick, Colorado, in a divorce.
‘I don’t buy any of that though,’ said Carter, who was jailed for meth possession and for stealing money from his employers, the restaurant chain, Arby’s.
‘I couldn’t ever kill my entire family just because I didn’t want a child or didn’t want to pay child support.
‘I have a lot of things going on in my life, but I have never wanted to stop and kill my entire family because I wanted certain things to go my way.’
Carter, who is now living in a halfway house in Green Bay, Wisconsin, said that Watts keeps pictures of his two daughters pinned up in his cell. ‘But there are no pictures of Shanann,’ he added.
‘He told me he has nightmares every night, always the same, of his two girls standing in his cell playing catch.’