Chris Watts's In-Laws Reveal Girls' Coffins Were Sealed to Keep Bodies from 'Exploding'

Celeste and Bella Watts smile while holding hands inside their family home.
Shan'ann Watts/Instagram

Seven months after the gruesome murders of Shan'ann Watts, her unborn baby, and her two daughters, Bella and Celeste, disturbing details about their deaths continue to pour out. In an interview with Dr. Phil this week, Shan'ann's parents, Frank and Sandy Rzucek, revealed one more tragic detail in the aftermath of their deaths that continues to haunt them.

  • The Rzuceks were not able to see their granddaughters because their bodies were sealed in coffins to avoid explosions.

    Because the girls' bodies had been stuffed into crude oil tanks by their father, Chris Watts, they were in advanced stages of decomposition and encased in the highly flammable material even after being removed.

    "The hardest thing was flying them here, because they were in crude oil for four days," Frank told Dr. Phil. "So they were flammable. So we couldn't cremate them."

    In fact, the girls' bodies had to be sealed in a special wrap so gasses wouldn't leak out and were then laid in larger-than-normal coffins. 

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  • The experience left Shan'ann's family further heartbroken over not being able to say their final goodbyes.

    "That's pretty sad, isn't it?" Frank asked Dr. Phil in the episode. "So we three here never got to say goodbye to our family or see them."

    "Never got to hug them," added Sandy. "Never got to say 'I love you' like most people do."

  • Their father, who's been sentenced to life plus 84 years for the grisly murders, recently shared more unnerving details in a jailhouse interview.

    Investigators met with Chris Watts at Wisconsin's Dodge Correctional Institution on February 18, where he spoke with them for five hours and provided new details about the timeline of the murders, as well as his methods. 

    It was then that police learned for the first time Watts had murdered Shan'ann first, in the early morning hours of August 13.

  • Watts admitted to strangling Shan'ann in their bed, just hours after the couple had sex.

    Watts said it happened around 2:30 a.m., when Shan'ann woke him up by rubbing her hand over him. At the time, he claims it felt like some kind of a "test" because she suspected him of cheating.

    Though Watts denied an affair, it was later proven that he was in fact involved with a coworker named Nikki Kessinger.

    "I felt like, you know, the first time I was with Nikki. I felt weird," Watts recalled of the sex. "And then the last time I was with Shan'ann I felt totally weird."

    Just a few hours later, as he got ready for work, Watts said he and Shan'ann got into a heated discussion, which quickly moved to talk of divorce. He claims that he strangled Shan'ann only after she told him "you're never going to see the kids."

    "It felt like time was standing still," he told investigators. "It was kind of like I just saw my life just disappearing before my eyes but I just couldn't let go." 

  • Moments later, as he wrapped Shan'ann's body in a sheet from the bed, Watts says 4-year-old Bella walked in and asked "What's wrong with Mommy?"

    Watts told his daughter Shan'ann was sick and needed to be taken to the hospital; but as she watched her father drag her mother's body down the stairs, she knew something was wrong and began crying. 

    Those cries woke up 3-year-old Celeste, Watts shared, who came out from her room. Shortly after, Watts loaded Shan'ann's body into the flat bed of his truck and told both girls to climb into the back seat. From there, he drove them 45 minutes to Anadarko Petroleum, where he worked at the time.

  • Watts told police that once there, he smothered Celeste with her blanket and dropped her in a nearby crude oil tank before going back for Bella.

    These next details are perhaps the hardest to read.

    According to Watts, a terrified Bella allegedly asked him "Is the same thing gonna happen to me as CeCe?" Although it's not known whether Watts replied, he says hearing her yell "Daddy, no!" before he smothered her still haunts him to this day.

    He then dropped her body in a second oil tank and buried Shan'ann in a shallow grave nearby.

  • When his family first went missing, Watts claimed to have no idea where they were. But almost immediately, police zeroed in on his curious behavior.

    In addition to appearing calm and relatively unconcerned about his missing pregnant wife and two daughters, Watts's alibi began to fall apart when police found security footage of him loading the back of his truck in the early morning hours of the day they disappeared. 

    Other curious detail began piling up too: Shan'ann's cell phone was found stuffed between two couch cushions; Celeste's EpiPen was left behind on the counter; and most telling of all was the fact that there was no security footage of Shan'ann or the girls leaving on their own that day. 

    A failed lie detector test would later cause Watts's story to come crumbling down, and a subsequent interview with his mistress, Nikki Kessinger, all but sealed his fate. Watts eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced in November.

  • In his most recent jailhouse interview, Watts did show remorse but left his reasoning behind the murders vague.

    "I try to go back in my head ... I didn’t want to do this but I did it," Watts said, adding that nothing that happened could ever have warranted his actions.

    “I just felt like … there was already something in my mind that was implanted that I was going to do it," he told investigators, "and then I woke up that morning and it was going to happen and I had no control over it.”

    According to his lawyers, Watts has allegedly "found God" in prison, which is thought to be responsible for his recent decision to come clean about what happened.