CHARLOTTE, NC — "He stole my whole world and treated them like they were trash," said Frankie Rzucek Friday morning in a Facebook post. "My sister and nieces meant the absolute world to me. They made me strive to be an even better man."
Rzucek, of Aberdeen, N.C., posted the message hours after the bodies of his missing nieces, Celeste Watts 3, and Bella Watts, 4, were recovered from oil tanks, in Frederick, Colorado, where they had been dumped, possibly to hide the smell, sources told Denver7.
Investigators found the bodies "in close proximity" to their pregnant mother — Rzucek’s sister — Shanann Watts, 34, the Town of Frederick announced Thursday.
Christopher Watts, 33, was arrested Wednesday and appeared in bond court Thursday before Weld District Court Judge Marcelo Kopcow, accused of killing his wife and daughters and hiding their bodies. Watts, who was an employee of Andarko until Wednesday, is being held on no bond.
A statement released by the family of Shanann Watts said: "It is with deep hurt, confusion and anger to confirm our beautiful cousin Shanann Watts, her unborn child, and her two angelic daughters, Bella and Celeste, were viciously murdered by husband Chris Watts; who confessed to the killings," according to CBS. "Please keep Shanann’s parents and brother in your prayers."
A fundraising campaign was launched earlier in the week to assist Shanann Watt’s family in North Carolina travel to Colorado. "A lot has changed, especially the needs of the family," the campaign, started by Watts’ friend Lauren Arnold, said. "We need everyone here helping, especially Shanann’s family. I can’t imagine being so far away in this situation. Help me ease the financial burdens they may face and get them to Colorado to get their beloved girls!"
As of Friday morning, $54,584 had been raised for the family.
At Thursday’s hearing, prosecutors hinted that they believed Christopher Watts killed his wife and two young daughters in their home, but did not elaborate why, Denver7 reported.
Friends told 9NEWS that Christopher Watts had stayed at their home after his wife disappeared. Amanda Thayer said Shanann had confided to her that she feared her husband was cheating.
In a press conference earlier Thursday in Frederick, the Frederick police lead investigator, and representatives of the Colorado Bureau of Investigations and the FBI confirmed that Watts and her daughters were dead. They did not specify at which Andarko location Shanann Watts’ body was found. Watts once worked for Andarko, one of Colorado’s largest oil and gas drillers.
Christopher Watts is being held in Weld County Jail facing three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of tampering with physical evidence. District Attorney Michael Rourke said the office would likely be filing formal charges Monday. The 19th Judicial District Attorney asked for the arrest affidavit to be sealed.
The case turned Wednesday night when police announced Christopher Watts had been arrested.
On Monday, a friend of Shanann’s contacted police after Shanann did not show up for a doctor’s appointment. Frederick police swarmed the neighborhood and issued alerts for Shanann and the girls, saying they might be endangered. On Wednesday morning, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the FBI announced they were assisting with the search.
Christopher Watts issued an emotional plea for their return on multiple television stations, before allegedly confessing to killing his three family members, Denver7 reported.
"I just want them back. I just want them to come back," he told the station. "If they’re not safe right now, that’s what’s tearing me apart right now."
According to sources, Shanann Watts was away in Arizona for a business trip, leaving the girls with their father for the weekend. She arrived home around 2:30 a.m. from the airport, Christopher Watts told multiple television stations. He claimed he last saw his wife and the girls around 5:30 a.m., when he left the home.
Investigators would not speculate publicly Thursday whether Shanann died at the same time as her daughters, or if the girls had died earlier, while their mother was away. They did not confirm that he had confessed, nor would they comment on whether he was cooperating with authorities.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, before being taken into custody, Christopher Watts gave interviews with multiple news stations. He said Shanann and his daughters had disappeared with his wife leaving her purse and keys on the table.
"I walked in the house and nothing. Just vanished. She wasn’t here, the kids weren’t here," he told Denver7. Watts claimed he and his wife had "an emotional conversation, I’ll leave it at that."
The family had moved to Colorado from Moore County, North Carolina, according to television reports.
Police declined to say if they know the motive for the killings, saying the investigation is ongoing.
Public records showed the family had financial difficulties, including a bankruptcy in 2015, when the couple reported they were $448,000 in debt. They were also sued by their homeowner association, Wyndham Hill Master Association Inc., in July, 2018.
Photos: courtesy of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation