A pregnant woman found dead in Colorado last week had suspected her husband, who was arrested in connection with her death, may have been cheating on her in recent weeks, according to a friend of the woman.
Nickole Atkinson told ABC News that her friend Shanann Watts’ marriage to Chris Watts had been strained when she and their two daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, went missing on Aug. 13. Two days later, Chris Watts was arrested. Local news outlets and family members reported that he had confessed to killing his wife and children.
“He wasn’t being the loving Chris that he normally was,” Atkinson said in an interview that aired on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday. “He wasn’t touching or hugging or doing stuff like that.”
Despite posting positive messages about her husband on Facebook, Shanann Watts had “entertained the idea” that her husband was cheating on her recently, Atkinson said.
Atkinson was the last friend to see Shanann Watts, 34, before police recovered her body, along with the bodies of her two daughters, days later on the property of Anadarko Petroleum, where Chris Watts had worked. The girls’ bodies were found submerged in oil tanks, while their mother’s body was recovered from a shallow grave nearby, according to court documents obtained by CBS News.
Atkinson had dropped Watts off at her home in Frederick, Colorado, around 2 a.m. Monday after a business trip, she told ABC News.
“She went inside, turned around and waved at me, and shut the door,” Atkinson said. But she became concerned hours later when her friend hadn’t responded to her messages and when she missed a doctor’s appointment.
“She was going to get to hear the baby’s heartbeat and see how she or he was doing,” Atkinson said. Shanann Watts had shared on Facebook that she hoped her third child was a boy for her husband.
Atkinson wasn’t the only friend Shanann Watts allegedly confided in about her fears of her husband cheating. “It came to her mind that possibly he could be cheating,” Amanda Thayer told CBS News on Friday.
Chris Watts told police on Aug. 13 that he had no idea where his missing family members were.
“My kids are my life. Those smiles light up my life,” Chris Watts told local news station ABC 7 the next day. “I just want them to come back. If they’re not safe right now, that’s what’s tearing me apart. Because if they are safe, they’re coming back. But if they’re not, this has got to stop. Like, somebody has to come forward.”
On Aug. 15, police arrested Chris Watts. Family members of Shanann Watts said they were told he had confessed to police that he killed his wife and children, and agreed to show investigators where he had dumped their bodies.
Police have not commented on a potential motive. Chris Watts is being held in a Colorado county jail. Formal charges are expected to be filed against him Monday.