Chris Watts “didn’t snap” during the murders of his wife, Shanann, and their two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, author Cheryln Cadle tells In Touch exclusively ahead of her appearance on Lifetime’s Cellmate Secrets.
“I think there’s a disconnect somewhere that goes way back into his childhood that he had this in him,” Cadle, who wrote The Murders of Christopher Watts and Letters from Christopher: The Tragic Confessions of the Watts Family Murders, speculates about the convicted killer, 36. “Let’s put it that way.”
Cadle corresponded with Watts via letters during his prison sentence, giving her rare insight into the murder case.
“I think it was always in him,” the true-crime enthusiast continues. “I think that through the years and through different things that went on in his life, there were things that kind of caused it to kind of stew … he had been planning this for a while for some time and actually he had been planning the whole thing with Shanann for a couple of weeks, and with the girls.”
The disappearance of Watts’ then-pregnant wife, Shanann, and their daughters gained international attention in August 2018. At the time, he was secretly involved in an affair with Nichol Kessinger, who was a colleague he met at work.
After learning about Shanann’s murder, Kessinger fully cooperated with police and spoke candidly about the man who she thought was single. “He lied about everything,” Kessinger told officials. Watts ultimately pleaded guilty on November 6, 2018, to nine charges in relation to the murders of his expectant spouse and their children. He was sentenced to five lifetime prison terms later that month.
The new series will explore his time behind bars and the relationships that have evolved in his life since confessing to the murders. Cadle says she was always suspicious of Watts ever since the first TV interview aired of him.
“He kept smiling, he kept hugging himself as he was rocking back and forth,” she tells In Touch. “I don’t know. He just, he just looked guilty to me. He acted guilty.”
After meeting him in person, Cadle says Watts still wanted to be viewed in a positive light and not as a murderer or monster but notes it is “too late for that.”
“I had gotten a phone call from his mother one day,” the writer tells In Touch about how she got involved in the case. “[His mother] was very nice, you know, and of course she loved her son and she was completely destroyed over what had happened, but she just told me all the things that he did as a dad and how much he loved his daughters and how much he took care of them. And then as things went along, you know, the dots kind of filled in and I realized there was more to the story, but for [appearance’s] sake, for everyone who knew him, he did appear to be a really good guy [and] spent time with them.”
Cellmate Secrets: Chris Watts premieres on Lifetime on Friday, June 25 at 10 p.m. ET following the enhanced encore of the original Lifetime movie Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer.
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