Shanann Watts, 34, and her daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3,
were reported missing from their home in Frederick, 25 miles
north of Denver, by a family friend on Monday afternoon,
touching off an exhaustive search by law enforcement agencies.
Chris Watts was taken into custody on Wednesday on suspicion of
murder, a day before the bodies of his wife and children were
found. Watts, 33, had pleaded for the safe return of his
pregnant wife and two young daughters while the search was
About 200 people gathered in front of the family's two-story
home, where they created a makeshift memorial with flowers,
stuffed animals and toys. They sang "Amazing Grace" and prayed
during a candlelit vigil as the sun set.
"I call it a highway to heaven," said neighbor Mary Ann Bogner,
64, fighting back tears as she arranged candles in the form of a
Authorities have declined to confirm media reports that Watts
had confessed to killing his family. The warrant for his arrest
was sealed by a judge.
The two young girls were strangled and their bodies were found
inside an oil tank, the Denver Post reported, citing a motion
filed in court by an attorney for Watts. The remains of all
three victims were found at Anadarko Petroleum oil field where
Watts worked until his arrest, the newspaper reported.
Watts is being held at the Weld County jail on three counts of
first-degree murder and three counts of tampering with physical
evidence, jail records show.
Prosecutors will formally charge him on Monday, District
Attorney Michael Rourke said.
The killings have shaken the commuter community of Frederick, a
former mining town of 13,000 people.
"This is what small towns do. We support each other and unite
whether it is in tragedy or joy," said Rusty O'Neal, 42, town
trustee, during the vigil.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Frederick, Colorado; additional
reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Dan
Whitcomb; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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