In Frederick, CO…
In what I consider a SHOCKING turn of events, Chris Watts has pleaded guilty to the August 2018 murders of his wife, 34-year-old Shanann Watts, and two daughters, 3-year-old Celeste and 4-year-old Bella. He actually pleaded to nine different criminal counts: five counts of first-degree murder, one count of unlawful termination of pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a dead body. With this plea, Chris will avoid the death penalty, an arrangement signed off on by Shanann’s family. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 19.
To recap this case: On August 13, 2018, Shanann Watts’ friend and co-worker Nikole Utoft went to the Watts’ home to check on her. Shanann had missed a doctors appointment, a work meeting, and hadn’t responded to any of Nikole’s texts. Nikole had dropped Shanann off at home early that morning, around 2:00 AM, following a work trip. Nikole couldn’t raise anyone at the Watts’ home, so she contacted Chris Watts and the police who came to the home and performed a welfare check. Police found Shanann’s phone, purse, car, and the children’s car seats at the home, but no sign of her or the children.
On August 15, 2018, Chris Watts’ was fired from his job at Anadarko Petroleum. The next day, the bodies of Shanann and her two daughters were found on Anadarko Petroleum property; Shanann had been buried in a shallow grave and the little girls were found in nearby oil tanks. Chris initially denied all involvement in the murders, but once he was confronted by investigators with knowledge of an affair he’d been having with a former co-worker, he “confessed” to murdering Shanann after witnessing her on their baby monitor strangling their daughters. Sure.
Interesting note here, at least to me: while researching this case I stumbled across the fact that many, if not most, cases of familicide (murders or murder-suicides in which the perp kills multiple family members in a single event) occur during the month of August which is right before children go back to school.
In Orlando, FL…
The family of Christine Franke may finally see some justice, as an arrest has been made in the 17-year-old cold case thanks to a public DNA database. 38-year-old Benjamin Holmes was arrested this past Friday after his DNA was matched to DNA found at the scene of the 25-year-old woman’s murder. 3 members of Holmes’ family had submitted DNA to the Gedmatch database, and investigators were able to narrow down suspects from there to Holmes and his brother. After tailing the two men, investigators collected a cigar and beer can from Holmes which held DNA matching that found at the 2001 murder scene.
Christine was reportedly shot and killed in 2001, during a burglary in her apartment. We’re likely to continue to see more cold cases solved through the matching of public DNA databases to old crime scenes, a technique that came to the public’s attention in April 2018 when DNA from multiple crime scenes linked to the Golden State Killer was linked to 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo.