Netflix’s American Murder: The Family Next Door is not the first documentary on the 2018 killing of Shanann Watts and her two children, or Chris Watts’s confession to the three murders. Late last year, Oxygen network aired Chris Watts: Confession Untold, and just before that another documentary, Capturing Chris Watts, appeared on the REELZChannel.
The Netflix take on the Watts murders stands apart in that the entire documentary entails only primary source video footage—taken from police body cameras, interrogation footage, court footage, social media pages, and text. As many of these documents are already public knowledge, viewers might wonder what purpose another documentary about the killings actually serves. (Netflix’s recent history includes other questionably produced true crime documentaries.) From what we can see: none.
In general, the documentary’s format allows viewers to participate in the investigation and no doubt come to their own conclusions about the case, a gross open-endedness, which partially entertains online claims that Shanann Watts murdered her children and Chris covered for her. We’ll stop any discourse here and remind readers that the law holds Chris Watts guilty of all three murders, a conviction attained through evidence and his own confession.
But as with most true crime documentary work, American Murder leaves open the question of why. Why did Chris Watts murder his wife and two children? And why should the public believe the killings were a crime of passion and not something premeditated?
As of now, there’s not enough research or evidence to answer these questions. Here’s what we do know about Chris Watts’s current situation.
Where Is Chris Watts now?
On Monday, November 19, 2018, Chris Watts was given three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. Watts had entered into a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty. He was sentenced on three counts of first-degree murder, one for his wife Shannan, and one for each of his daughters, Bella and Celeste. Watts was also convicted for the unlawful termination of a pregnancy and tampering with a deceased human body.
In December, Watts was transferred to Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin due to security concerns, the Colorado Department of Corrections reported.
He is currently serving out his life sentences at the maximum security prison. He is 35.
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