Hours after an emotional Chris Watts went in front of TV cameras to plead for the safe return of his pregnant wife and two young daughters, he was arrested for allegedly murdering all of them.
Watts, 33, reportedly admitted to killing 34-year-old Shanann Watts, who was 15-weeks pregnant, and daughters Celeste, 3, and Bella, 4. The disappearance of the toddlers and their expectant mom from their Frederick, Colo., home sparked a massive search earlier this week.
Watts is being held in the Weld County Jail on three counts of first-degree murder and three charges of tampering with physical evidence. He is due in court on Thursday afternoon, FOX31 reported. It was unclear if Watts could face additional charges in connection with the fate of his unborn child.
Shanann Watts and her two daughters were reported missing Monday after Watts didn’t show up for a doctor’s appointment and didn’t answer her phone. A friend called police, who found Watts’ cellphone, purse and keys inside her home during a welfare check.
On Wednesday, as the FBI and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation were brought in to help with the search, Chris Watts told reporters he was traumatized by the disappearance and was hoping for his family’s safe return.
He told The Denver Channel he wanted his wife and children back, adding they were “his life” and their “smiles light up my life.”
Hours later, police executed a search warrant at the Watts home. Investigators were seen removing bags of evidence and towing a pickup truck from the scene, FOX31 reported.
Police tweeted early Thursday that Chris Watts was placed in custody. A news conference was set for 10:30 a.m. local time.
Law enforcement officials told The Denver Channel that Watts had confessed to killing his family and cops believe they know where they can find the remains.
In his interview with The Denver Channel on Wednesday, the man said he had an “emotional conversation” with his wife the night before she vanished, but he didn’t elaborate as to the subject or if it developed into an argument.
Shanann Watts’ Facebook account paints a portrait of a happy family, with a constant feed of photos and videos of her family, friends and herself. Her comments are typically upbeat and say how happy she is, whether she’s running errands, playing with her kids or promoting a health program.
She posted a photo on June 19 of some texts with her husband after sending him a sonogram. He replied that he loved the baby already. She posted: “I love Chris! He’s the best dad us girls could ask for.”
Shanann Watts moved to Colorado from North Carolina with her husband in 2012, according to property records and her social media accounts.
Frederick is about 30 miles north of Denver.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.