Kids found in Colorado oil well may have been strangled, filings suggest

Shanann Watts planning gender reveal party before her alleged murder

Colorado girls’ bodies were submerged in crude oil 4 days

Shanann Watts and her daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, were reported missing Monday and found dead on Thursday.

As People reported, forensic profiler Dale Yeager saw parallels between Chris Watts' appeal prior to his arrest this week and the actions of Scott Peterson almost two decades ago.

Their bodies were found on Thursday on property owned by Andarko Petroleum, one of Colorado's largest oil and gas drillers, where Watts worked as an operator.

Shanann Watts, 34, posted the photo of the shrouded doll on August 9, days before police say she and her daughters Celeste, three, and Bella, four, were killed in their Frederick, Colorado home, on the northern outskirts of Denver. Shanann's body was found at the oil and gas refinery where Chris worked in Colorado.

The cause and manner of their deaths are pending the results of laboratory testing.

Thirty-three-year-old Christopher Watts was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of three counts of murder. A makeshift memorial with flowers and stuffed animals was growing outside the Watts' house. A sign reading "Choose Love" stands to the side, decorated with a purple ribbon associated with lupus awareness, an autoimmune disorder Watts reportedly struggled with.

Tributes grow outside the home of the Watts family near Denver.

While children yelled and played outside, the mood inside the building was more solemn and tense. They also were using the meeting to sign poster boards thanking the law enforcement officers who have been working the case.

The coroner's office announced Friday it is has positively identified the victims as Shanann, Bella, and Celeste Watts, Denver's KMGH-TV reported.

Neighbors left a cross and teddy bears near the home.

"Very surprised. Very shocked", said Tim Sunderland of the homeowner association, who described the area as peaceful and quiet. They struck a deal with their creditors, and Shanann Watts got a new job doing direct sales for a "lifestyle system" called Thrive. However, police who arrived at the scene explained that it was legal for Merson and his team to enter the home.

That motion was filed at 9:55 a.m. Friday.

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According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Colorado is among 12 states without such a law.

Those same documents suggest the victims might have been strangled. The request quoted Richard Eikelenboom, an expert who believes the oil would not eliminate DNA and said samples can be obtained "after strangulation".

In a second motion, Merson did not ask for DNA of Shanann's throat, but asked for DNA of her hands and nails and the children's hands and nails. "If they're safe right now, they're going to come back", Watts said.

One of the defense motions expressed the fear that no one planned to swab the necks of the childrens' bodies for DNA.

A Weld County District judge denied the requests.

Watts is being held without bail.

Chris will be formally charged next week.

After his wife and daughters were reported missing on Monday and before his arrest, Watts told reporters that he missed them.

The couple had previously experienced financial difficulty, but didn't show any signs of current financial stress on social media. Watts was sacked Wednesday, the same day he was arrested, the company said.

"I love Chris! He's the best dad us girls could ask for", Shanann Watts wrote in a Facebook post sharing the text exchange with her husband. "Please bring them back".

"You don't know what, when, why, where or how everything goes weird", Jeremy says. Sorry uncle couldn't save you. "We had an emotional conversation, I'll leave it at that".

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