IInterested buyers from as far away as Germany call weekly to inquire about the Colorado home where convicted murderer Chris Watts and his wife, Shanann, built their lives – before he killed the pregnant mother and their two young girls, says a local lawyer. The Independent.
“It’s hard for me to tell what it is,” says bankruptcy attorney Clark Dray. “It’s partly a morbid curiosity; some of them are just people struggling to find a home in this market – and they’ll do whatever it takes.
At present, the home — located in a quiet subdivision half an hour north of Denver — remains in legal limbo. And while potential buyers clamor to move down the street, neighborhood residents are tired of the attention.
Some have already sold and left.
“We’re fed up,” says a neighbor, who only moved in after the infamous 2018 murders.
Another, who lived there at the time, says some neighbors innocently gave interviews about the case – and were then “hounded”, forcing them to flee. Others are fed up with tragic tourists who constantly walk past and stop to take pictures; not only is Watts’ empty house padlocked and dotted with signs warning that the police will be called, but nearby neighbors have also posted similar warnings on their doors or properties.
Watts – who is serving his life in a Wisconsin prison after pleading guilty to murdering his family – is still the named owner of the home, according to property records. But his wife’s parents settled a $6 million wrongful death lawsuit with him in 2019, causing a lien to be applied to the Frederick, Colorado home, meaning the proceeds from any sale would be returned to them. The neighborhood homeowners association also holds a lien on the property, which was unsuccessfully auctioned by the bank last year.
“They started to seize, but then they realized – it’s me interpreting what they’re doing – they thought this privilege was there and they thought, ‘We don’t want this,'” Ms. .Dray. The Independentdescribing “HOA maintenance and everything else and also keeping squatters out.
“If they seized, they would be stuck on this dramatically underwater property.”
He was not personally involved in the Watts case but, after being cited about bankruptcy and foreclosure proceedings in connection with the home, he found himself constantly answering phone calls from interested parties. He even had to write a note to his staff explaining why they were getting so many calls, he says The Independent.
Watts and Shanann bought the newly built home in 2013 for just under $400,000; it is now valued at nearly double. The 4,200 square foot home features five bedrooms and four bathrooms, just around the corner from the local school, playground and, sadly, a borehole monument. Frederick is dotted with oil wells, and Watts not only worked for Anadarko Petroleum, but also buried his wife in a shallow grave at the site, hiding the bodies of his infant daughters in oil tanks.
Watts, who turns 37 next month, killed his wife in August 2018 during a fight when he told her he was having an affair and wanted a divorce. After strangling Shanann – who was pregnant with a son they had named Nico – he suffocated daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.
The oil worker initially tried to blame the girls’ murders on Shanann before confessing to killing his entire family. Shannan’s parents, Sandra and Franklin Rzucek, filed suit against their son-in-law the same day he pleaded guilty.
They’re unlikely to see anything close to $6 million, if they get even a penny – although they know that, their lawyer said following the civil suit.
“It’s pretty obvious that Chris Watts has no money,” Steven Lambert said in 2018. “It’s not OJ Simpson. We’re not going to take millions from him.
Mr. Lambert did not immediately return a call for comment from The Independent. But when the complaint was filed, he said the family’s goal was to prevent Watts from profiting from the brutal murders.
“Just in case in 20 years he decides to write a book, we can come and get that money,” he said.
According to the lawsuit, Shanann’s parents were unable to eat, sleep or even leave the house after the murders – particularly after Watts’ initial claims that his wife killed their daughters sparked conspiracy theories and harassment.
“As Sandy Rzucek says, she feels like she’s dying every day and is still missing and crying for her precious family,” the lawsuits explained. “Even to this day it is difficult for the Rzucek family to get out of bed, they cry all the time, every day and every night.”
Watts didn’t write a book, but the TV specials and shocking callousness of the murders kept the case at the forefront of public consciousness – especially the Netflix documentary American Murder: The Family Next Doorwhich was created in 2020.
In it, Watts is depicted pleading for his family to come home before finally breaking down and confessing to killing them. The details that emerged about exactly how he killed the three were hard to digest; the girls watched Watts load his dead wife’s body, wrapped in a sheet, into the car before tying them up.
Then Bella – old enough at four to realize something was seriously wrong – watched as Watts smothered Celeste. She asked him if the same would happen to her and, as he killed her, retaliated, shouting, “Dad, no.”
All of these heartbreaking details were relayed by Watts himself.
While true crime documentaries chronicled the horror, a neighbor went viral when it was revealed he had shown damning security footage to authorities – and was apparently the first person to report that Watts was acting suspiciously.
According to the records, the house of this neighbor, Nathan Trinastich, was sold last year. It could not be reached by The Independent.
Watts, meanwhile, is serving his life in Wisconsin for murder and bodily alteration. Looky-loos continues to drive and even attempts to break into the family home; anyone approaching the property is warned by several signs that the police will be called. They are also warned not to leave anything; a neighbor says The Independent that the house had been invaded since the murder by people leaving everything from flowers to, inexplicably, food.
“I get calls once a week from people who want to buy this house — calls from people in Germany and people here locally,” says Dray, who has several offices in the greater Denver area.
“People want to buy it, but it can’t be bought…it’s not on the market.”