After his wife and daughters were reported missing on Monday and before his arrest, Watts told reporters that he missed them. He is due back in court next week where he is expected to be formally charged in the deaths of his wife and two daughters.
As stunned friends and neighbors ask how the story of a couple that seemed so picture flawless could end so tragically, bankruptcy filings reveal a family that had struggled financially.
A man who did not give his name announced to those gathered in front of the house that Shanann Watts' parents could not make it to the vigil, but they wanted to extend their gratitude to those who came out to show support.
The year prior to the bankruptcy filing, the couple had a combined income of $91,000 - most of it earned by Chris Watts, who made about $63,000 from his job at Anadarko Petroleum, records show.
The daughters stayed home with Watts in Colorado while Shanann was on the trip, she told police. But they also had tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, along with some student loans and medical bills - for a total of $70,000 in unsecured claims on top of a sizable mortgage. Just two months ago, she sent her husband a picture of her first ultrasound.
Those same documents suggest the victims might have been strangled.
Shanann Watts and her daughters appear to have been killed at their house in Frederick, Colorado, a town of about 8,600 people some 30 miles north of Denver, prosecutors have said.
But in a motion filed on Friday, Merson asked that DNA swabs be taken from the girls' necks.
Watts' defense team went on to request DNA swabs from Shanann Watts, the children's mother.
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The request quotes expert Richard Eikelenboom who believes the oil would not eliminate DNA and said samples can be obtained "after strangulation".
"In my opinion the presence of oil will not destroy the DNA", Eikelenboom said, according to the defense's motion asking that the specific DNA samples be taken.
It wasn't immediately clear if the judge ruled on the motions.
The Frederick Police Department said the coroner's office identified the bodies but hadn't determined the cause of death for each family member.
Police said the mother was found dead on a Frederick property, north of Denver, owned by Anadarko Petroleum - one of the state's largest oil and gas drillers, where Christopher Watts, 33, worked.
The paperwork also notes that the children were found in an oil tank filled with crude oil and had been there for several days. A law enforcement source told 9Wants to Know that Chris Watts confessed to killing his wife and two daughters.
Details about what led police to arrest Watts late Wednesday night on suspicion of three counts of murder and tampering with evidence likely were to be revealed next week.
Formal charges are expected to be filed Monday by Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke.
Earlier this week, Watts' told reporters he had no idea where his family could be, and he pleaded for their safe return. I just want them back.
No motive has been released, leaving family and friends searching for answers.