“It’s Horrific”: Christopher Watts’ Girlfriend Speaks Out for the First Time As Sentencing in Frederick Murders Draws Near
When Nichol Kessinger started dating Christopher Watts in July, he appeared to be a softspoken man and a thoughtful father who was at the end of divorce proceedings.
It wasn’t until the Frederick man’s wife and two daughters went missing in August that Kessinger learned that Watts had never started divorce proceedings with his wife, who was 15 weeks pregnant, and that he had been lying to her for the entire relationship, which lasted less than two months.
Kessinger was shocked by Watts’ arrest. But she has never doubted that he killed his wife, Shanann, and their two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.
“I don’t think there is a logical explanation for what he did,” she said. “It’s a senseless act, and it’s horrific.”
Kessinger approached investigators before Watts’ arrest and participated in multiple police interviews, describing details of their relationship and what he had told her about his missing family.
Now that Watts has pleaded guilty to the murders, Kessinger said in an exclusive interview with The Denver Post that she wanted to share her side of the story. Many people have speculated about their relationship after an arrest affidavit revealed that Watts was having an affair with an unnamed woman.
Watts, 33, is scheduled to appear in court Monday for a sentencing hearing after pleading guilty last week to murdering his wife and two children in August and concealing their bodies on a rural Weld County oil site. If the judge accepts the plea deal, Watts will be sentenced to life in prison for the crimes that drew national attention to the small town north of Denver.
Kessinger, a 30-year-old Colorado native, said the brief affair has turned her life upside down as people have named her on social media and discussed the relationship in online forums.
“We had just met,” Kessinger said. “I barely knew him.”
A brief relationship
Kessinger was working in the environmental department with an Anadarko Petroleum contractor when the two met, she said during a Thursday morning interview in the office of her lawyer, Ed Hopkins.
Every morning, Watts and the other operators would gather in the office break room while they waited to be dispatched to a field site. Kessinger would walk through the group to place her lunch in the fridge, but she never spoke to Watts.
One day in the middle of June, he walked into her office to introduce himself. They continued casual conversations. She noticed that Watts did not wear a wedding ring, and Kessinger, who was single, thought he was attractive.
“When he spoke to me, he was very softspoken. He appeared to be a good listener,” she said.
Watts told her that he had two daughters and, after Kessinger asked, Watts said he was separated and at the end of divorce proceedings, she said.
“I believed him,” she said.
When they first met outside of work in late June, Kessinger asked Watts more questions about his divorce. He told her the mutual divorce was almost final, and they were working out financial details, she said.
The two began a physical relationship in early July and saw each other four to five times a week, Kessinger said. She told him she wanted to take it slow and he should focus on helping his daughters adjust to the divorce.
When Watts went to visit family in North Carolina at the end of July, he called to tell her that his divorce was final, Kessinger said. Later that month, he asked Kessinger to help him find an apartment that would be good for him and his daughters. They never spoke about long-term plans for their relationship.
“He made me believe that he was doing all of the things that a rational man and good father would do,” she said.
Kessinger never met any of Watts’ family or friends.
Shock and sadness
On Aug. 13, the Monday that Shanann and the girls disappeared, Watts texted Kessinger to say that he had been busy. The two chatted like normal throughout the workday.
About 3:45 p.m., Watts texted that his family was “gone,” she said. He told Kessinger that Shanann had taken the girls to a play date and had not returned. He seemed casual and didn’t show any emotion, she said.
Kessinger was worried about his missing family, but she didn’t want to make a big deal out of a situation that Watts seemed calm about. Then, news reporters showed up at the Watts’ family home.
“I was very confused why the media was at his house,” she said.
Later that night, Kessinger learned the full situation: Shanann’s wallet and purse were still in the house; Watts had left work early to let the police into his home; people had been trying unsuccessfully to contact Shanann all day.
“When I read the news, I found out he was still married and his wife was 15 weeks pregnant,” Kessinger said.
She was shocked at his lies and scared for the missing woman and children , she said.
“I thought, ‘If he was able to lie to me and hide something that big, what else was he lying about?’ ” she said.
In a flurry of long calls and texts that night, Watts changed his story about his split with his wife.
Kessinger barraged Watts with questions: Were there signs someone had forced themselves into the home? Were the daughters’ car seats still there? Was one of the girls’ EpiPens still in the house?
Watts didn’t show any emotion during their conversations and tried to change the subject away from his missing family, Kessinger said.
“It seemed off,” Kessinger said.
While at work Aug. 14, she texted Watts, pushing him to tell what he knew about their disappearance and asking what he had done. He told her he would never hurt his family, she said.
“It got to a point that he was telling me so many lies that I eventually told him that I did not want to speak to him again until his family was found,” she said.
Kessinger checked the news in hopes that Shanann and the girls would be found. The next morning, she called the Weld County Sheriff’s Office to tell them about her relationship with Watts and his lies, she said. She met with FBI investigators that day.
“I just wanted to help,” she said. “With a pregnant woman and two children missing, I was going to do anything that I could.”
Her suspicions proved true when police arrested Watts later that night, Aug. 15, for the killings of his wife and two daughters. Kessinger saw it on the news.
“I just felt so, so sad,” she said.
Since his arrest, she has never doubted that he killed them. The story that Watts told police — that he killed Shanann after he saw her strangling one of the girls — is a lie, Kessinger said.
“He’s a liar,” she said. “He lied about everything.”