How Chris Watts’ guilt was exposed with a single breath after he killed wife and kids

Chris Watts will never again be a free man after he murdered his own wife and two young daughters in cold blood.

The 35-year-old is serving five life sentences with no chance of parole after he pleaded guilty to killing his pregnant wife, Shan’ann, and the couple’s two children, Celeste and Bella.

Body language expert and psychologist Bruce Durham says the signs of Watts’ guilt were evident instantly – but it was a single deep breath that sealed his fate.

To the outside world, Watts seemed like the perfect father and devoted husband and appeared to be delighted that his wife was expecting their third child, a boy they had planned to call Nico.

But what devoted Shan’ann didn’t know was that her husband was cheating on her and hatched a twisted plot to kill his wife and children.

It was when Shan’ann returned to the family home in Colorado following a business trip that Watts set his plan into motion.

Shan’ann and her husband had a huge row when he confessed to his affair and in the heat of the moment she told him that she would have full custody of their children.

In cold blood Watts then strangled his wife to death – but his brutal actions were witnessed.

Steven Lambert, the lawyer representing Shannan Watts family in a wrongful death lawsuit, told America’s Dr Phil Show: “The night in question Shanann came home.

“She and Chris had got into a fight. They made up. They were getting along really well. Later on, they got into a fight again. In that fight he essentially confessed to having an affair, that he wanted a divorce.

“That it was pretty much over between them, and she had said something to the effect of, ‘well you’re not going to see the kids again’.”

“As a consequence of that conversation he strangled her to death.”

But after Watts murdered her mother and was wrapping Shan’ann’s body in a blanket, little Bella walked into the room and asked “what are you doing to mummy?”

The four year old, who was said to be bright for her age “knew something was up”, according to Mr Lambert.

What happened next was truly chilling. Watts bundled Shan’ann’s body into the boot of the family car, put his two little girls in the backseat and belted them in.

The murderous father then drove 45 minutes to an oil field before carrying out the second part of his horrifying plan.

During the journey, Bella is said to have pleaded with her dad to take 34-year-old Shan’ann to hospital.

When they arrived at the oil field, first smothered Celeste with her favourite blanket. Bella witnessed the murder and begged her father not to kill her before trying to run away.

Mr Lamber explained: “At this point, Bella had unbuckled herself from the vehicle.”

The prosecution at Watts’ court case claimed he had killed the little girl “deliberately and viciously”.

Watts then buried his wife in a shallow grave before disposing of the bodies of his two daughters in an oil tanker before returning to the family home and reporting all three of them missing.

The killer even gave interviews to the press, pleading for his family to come home and claiming he had no clue where they had gone.

Watts even sent his wife text messages, asking her where she was, after he had killed her.

But the net was rapidly closing in on the killer father and within days he had failed a polygraph test and would then spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Body language expert Bruce Durham explains: “He knows he’s guilty – when you’re trying to lie you can’t kid yourself you haven’t done it. Although he thinks he’s in control, as soon as he starts being asked questions he can’t help but react.”

Almost as soon as police arrive at the home Watts shared with his wife and daughters, his behaviour started to show numerous red flags.

Instead of appearing to be nervous or panicking, Watts rushes over to shake the police officer’s hand.

Bruce explains: “He’s trying to paint a picture – he says ‘all the girls blankies are gone, they never go anywhere without them’, that wasn’t needed, the second part.

“There’s also no emotion because he’s trying to control everything in his brain. There are that many plates going on inside his head and that’s why that energy that you would expect in that situation isn’t there.

“When Shan’ann’s phone is found, he does something weird. He goes to pick it up and then stops himself. If I was the police officer I would spot this. Shan’ann’s phone was her lifeline.”

It’s clear Watts is trying to create the illusion that his pregnant wife had decided to take the couple’s children and leave.

But when he presents Shan’ann’s wedding ring to police, his behaviour starts to become really erratic.

Bruce says: “He brings in Shan’ann’s wedding ring in such a weird presentation. It doesn’t go with the situation. It’s overdramatic. It’s everything it shouldn’t be.

“Then they move into the neighbour’s house, this is a dad of two young girls, he goes in and they have CCTV. The neighbour brings it up and he isn’t even looking at it.

“You don’t get any expected reactions. He’s more focused because he knows he backed up the car and put the bodies in.”

Watts then makes another fatal error when he starts describing why he had chosen to park his car in a different place to usual.

Bruce explains: “He’s answering a question that no one has asked.

“When he leaves the neighbour’s they say ‘it’s not him, he doesn’t act like this’. The policeman says he might be nervous but he’s only just started behaving like this and it’s because his neighbour knows he doesn’t usually park his car there.”

And when the police officer investigating Watts’ family’s disappearance hands over a card with his contact details on it, the killer replies with ‘sweet’.

Bruce says: “Most parents in this situation would check the number works – but this sounds like he’s arranging to meet someone for a beer.”

Then, when a reporter outside his home asks Watts if he and Shan’ann had had an argument, he replies that they’d had “an emotional conversation”.

Bruce says: “He says ‘I just want them back’ but he then smiles as if he’s just told a joke in a bar. No one who isn’t guilty would do this. He’s also hugging himself, which shows he’s just trying to protect himself.”

When he’s taken to the police station for questioning, the two officers dealing with him make sure they play specific roles.

The male interrogator leans back and speaks in a monotone in a bid to make Watts trust him and open up about the crime he’s committed.

In contrast, the female interviewer who carries out the polygraph test is the ‘bad cop’.

Just before he takes the lie detector test, she tells Watts: “It would be realy stupid if you did have anything to do with Shan’ann and the girls’ disappearance for you to be taking a polygraph test.”

“Right now, there’s only one person in the room who knows what the truth is but in five minutes, it’ll be two of us.”

He’s then asked “before 2018 did you ever say anything in anger to a loved one”. He at first says yes, and then no.

Bruce explains: “We’ve all been annoyed and frustrated and said things we didn’t want to. He must be the most angelic person to have never done that.”

When the polygraph test is over, the female interrogator walks out of the room and Watts tells her ‘it feels very uncomfortable’, to which she replies, ‘yes, I know’.

Bruce says: “This is where the police take control, and now he knows he’s not in control. He’s failed the polygraph, she tells him he hasn’t passed the test and then ‘I feel you’re probably ready to talk about what happened’.

“Watts tries to give a response and the male investigator tells him to stop and tell him to breathe, to take a deep breath. Watts now knows he has nowhere to run and that’s why he asks for his father.”

Bruce explains: “He knew he was guilty and it’s always hard to push back against that lie and that just shines through. That’s why he wasn’t doing what he should have been doing.”

Watts has never revealed any details about how he killed his whole family and as he pleaded guilty, the details didn’t come out in court.

Last year, Watts spoke with agents from the FBI and CBI as well as a member of the Frederick Police Department about the murders.

Shan’ann’s parents, the Rzuceks, were briefed on what was said and it has been claimed the father murdered his wife Shan’ann in an act of rage after she murdered their two young daughters.

Watts had claimed he saw the couple’s daughter Bella dead in her bed and Shanann in the process of strangling Celeste on the baby monitor.

Local police and the FBI did not believe his story and ultimately charged the father with three counts of first-degree murder.

Watts is currently behind bars in Wisconsin, US, after being sentenced in November to five consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole.

He was only spared the death penalty because he pleaded guilty to all the charges against him.