Dad claims he killed pregnant wife ‘in a rage’ after she strangled their daughters

Days after pleading for his ‘missing’ wife and daughters’ safe return, a Colorado man has been charged with murdering them.

But Chris Watts (33), from the small town of Frederick in Colorado, US, claims it was his wife Shannan (34) who killed one of their young daughters.

In a police affidavit, Watts alleges Shannan, who was 15 weeks pregnant, strangled Bella (4) after he told her he wanted to separate, reports CNN.

Watts claims he then “went into a rage” and killed Shannan.

The bodies of both girls and their mother were found on Thursday 16 August at Anadarko Petroleum, where Watts worked, according to local TV station KUSA.

In the court papers, Watts claims he sat his wife down on 13 August to tell her he wanted to separate.

"It was a civil conversation and they were not arguing but were emotional," the documents read.

Afterwards, Watts says he saw Bella "sprawled" on her bed and blue via the baby monitor. He claims he then saw Shanann strangling Celeste (3), which is when he killed her.

Watts was taken into custody by police on 15 August, two days after Shannan was reported missing by a friend.

"I just want them back,” Watts had told local media before his arrest on Wednesday. “I just want them to come back. If they're not safe right now, that's what's tearing me apart.”

Shannan’s body was uncovered in a "shallow grave near an oil tank" the next day. Bella and Celeste were found "inside oil tanks located near the grave of their mother”, state prosecutors said.

According to People, the documents also state Watts was “actively involved in an affair with a coworker”, although he initially denied this to police.

Watts faces nine charges including two counts of murdering a child, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.

He is due to appear in court today.

Sources: KUSA, BBC, People, CNN