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Shanann Watts' family files wrongful death suit against Chris Watts
The family of Shanann Watts files a wrongful death suit against her husband, Chris Watts, who is accused of killing their daughter, two granddaughters and an unborn grandson in August. (RJ Sangosti - Pool/Getty Images)

Shanann Watts' family files wrongful death suit against Chris Watts

The family of Shanann Watts is suing their estranged son-in-law, Chris Watts, for killing their daughter, two granddaughters, and unborn grandson.

Watts, 33, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced last week in Greeley, Colorado. He received life in prison without the possibility of parole in three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the murders of Shanann, and the couple's two daughters, Celeste and Bella.

Watts received two additional concurrent life sentences for two other murder charges for different theories in Bella and Celeste’s deaths, and 48 years for the unlawful termination of a pregnancy. He also received 12-year sentences for three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.

Watts was also ordered to pay restitution to Shanann's family, to include the costs of the victims' funerals and burials.

What are the details of the family's lawsuit?

The Coloradoan reported that Shanann's parents, Frank and Sandra Rzucek, are seeking over $100,000 from Watts in a wrongful death suit of their daughter and granddaughters' deaths, and for unlawfully terminating their daughter's pregnancy.

The suit also alleges that Watts "mislead investigators" during the investigation into the disappearance of Shanann and the girls, and lied to both the media and public about their whereabouts.

The family filed the complaint the same day Watts was sentenced in Weld District Court.

A hearing for the case is scheduled for Jan. 28.

During last week's sentencing, Shanann’s parents testified. In a tearful delivery, her father called Watts a “monster” and said that Watts had taken his family out like trash.

“I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them. And they also trusted you,” he said.

District Attorney Michael Rourke recounted the manner of the deaths — Shanann was strangled, and the couple’s two young girls were smothered.

“Prison for the remainder of his life is exactly where he belongs for murdering his entire family,” he said.

You can watch Watts' reaction to the sentencing in the video below.

What's the background?

Police charged Watts with multiple felonies on Aug. 20 after Shanann — who was then 15 weeks pregnant — disappeared along with the couple’s 3- and 4-year-old daughters from their home in Frederick, Colorado.

Three days after Shanann and the girls were reported missing, police discovered Shanann’s body buried in the ground at a petroleum company where Watts worked. Authorities later discovered the remains of the couple’s daughters, which were submerged in two nearby oil tanks.

Shanann returned home to Frederick, Colorado, from a business trip in the early hours of Aug. 13. Upon her return, the couple reportedly held an emotional conversation about their marriage. During the conversation, Watts reportedly told Shanann that he wanted a divorce.

Local police performed a welfare check on Shanann and her young daughters after the 34-year-old mom didn’t show up for an afternoon doctor’s appointment.

On Aug. 15, police arrested Watts and took him into custody.

In an unsealed court affidavit, police alleged that Watts was having an affair — a claim he initially denied. Watts admitted to killing his wife in a fit of rage, and said that his wife had strangled their daughters after he revealed he wanted a divorce.

Watts pleaded guilty to all charges earlier in November to avoid the death penalty.

You can read more about the case here.

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