Starting a drone search of an oil and gas site, police noticed a patch of ground that looked like it had recently been disturbed.
Then they spotted a bed sheet matching the pattern of pillow cases and a top sheet recovered from a kitchen bin in the Watts’ home.
Shanann’s body was tragically recovered soon afterwards, found in a shallow grave near an oil tank.
Horrifyingly, Bella and Celeste’s little bodies were found stuffed inside oil tanks near their mother.
Pregnant Shanann had been brutally strangled while the girls had been smothered to death, and then all of their bodies had been hidden.
But who would kill such a beautiful mum and her innocent children?
For police, there was only ever one prime suspect - their ‘loving’ dad and known family man.
Chris Watts was arrested on August 16 and charged with three counts of firstdegree murder. At first, he admitted only killing his wife, saying he ‘went into a rage’ and strangled Shanann after he saw her strangling Celeste.
He claimed Bella was already dead on the bed.
But as the investigation gathered pace, it was discovered there was more to Chris’ story.
After initial denials, Chris admitted he’d been having an affair with a colleague who was later revealed as 30-year-old Nichol Kessinger.
When the affair had started two months earlier, Nichol said Chris wasn’t wearing a wedding ring.
Nichol said she believed he was separated and in the process of divorcing his wife.
Searches of Nichol’s Google history showed she was researching wedding dresses, presuming her relationship would get serious. It was only when Shanann went missing that she claimed she learnt the truth.
‘When I read the news, I found out he was still married and his wife was 15 weeks pregnant,’ Nichol told the media.
Calling police to report him, Nichol became instrumental in the investigation.
It was discovered Chris had been googling, When to say I love you for the first time in a new relationship.
He had also been planning weekends away with Nichol.
Disgustingly, it meant his motive for murder could be as simple as a ‘fresh start’ with his mistress.
Months after his arrest, as things continued to unravel, Chris had a change of heart on his plea.
To avoid the death penalty, and with Shanann’s family’s agreement, he pleaded guilty to murdering his daughters as well as his pregnant wife.
At the sentencing hearing, Shanann’s family called Chris a ‘heartless monster’ and said they believed he should spend the rest of his life behind bars.
‘I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them,’ Shanann’s father said to
Chris in court.
In November, he was handed three consecutive life sentences without eligibility for parole.
‘This is perhaps the most inhumane and vicious crime that I have handled out of the thousands of cases I have seen,’ the judge said. ‘Nothing less than a maximum sentence would be appropriate.’
After Chris was jailed, more love interests emerged.
Amanda McMahon came forward saying she had met Chris on the dating app Tinder, which he had used to find someone to play out his ‘rape fantasies’ with.
The pair, she said, met in a car park and he followed her home where they had ‘rough’ and ‘aggressive’ intercourse that she said was humiliating and uncomfortable.
Like Nichol, she had no idea Chris was married and was shocked when she discovered on the news that he was a murderer.
Trent Bolte has also told investigators that he and Chris were in a secret gay relationship in the lead up to the murders.
The 28-year-old claimed Chris gave him money during their 10-month relationship and admitted to him he was, ‘stuck in a loveless marriage’ but stayed for Bella and Celeste.
While Chris’ motive for killing his entire family will never be understood, at least he won’t ever be freed to kill again.
‘I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them’
Shanann was pregnant when she was murdered Bella and Celeste Selfies of Nichol and Chris were found on her phone Drones were used to find earth that had been recently disturbedTrent Bolte also came forward
Chris was sentenced to life Shanann’s brother Frankie and father Frank sobbed in court