Earlier this week, American Murder: The Family Next Door (opens in new tab), a documentary about the Watts family murders that occurred in Frederick, Colorado in 2018, hit Netflix. And true crime fanatics have been captivated by the bevy of new information about the tragic case—from previously unseen police footage to home videos and social media posts from Shan'ann and Chris Watts. But even though Chris confessed to killing his pregnant wife and two children and has since been sentenced to multiple life sentences, armchair detectives have plenty to ponder in the form of unanswered questions and unresolved details not addressed by the documentary.
We may never have definitive answers to the more subjective questions surrounding the case—like why, exactly, Chris did what he did—but there are still tons of new details about the case and those involved for amateur sleuths to uncover. Perhaps most pressingly: Who is Nichol Kessinger, Chris' girlfriend at the time of the murders, and where is she now? Here's everything we know about Kessinger, from her involvement in the murder investigation to her possible current whereabouts.
Who is Nichol Kessinger?
Kessinger, a geologist and Colorado native, was working in the environmental department at Anadarko Petroleum when she met Chris, who was then an operator at the oil and gas exploration company. They first met in June 2018 and started a relationship in early July, barely a month before Chris killed his wife and two daughters on Aug. 13. Kessinger told (opens in new tab) The Denver Post in Nov. 2018 that she didn't know Chris and Shan'ann were still married; he told her he was separated and nearing the end of divorce proceedings, she said.
Kessinger claims the lies continued throughout their short-lived romance: She said Chris told her in late July that his divorce had been finalized and later asked for her help to find a suitable apartment for him and his young daughters. She described him as "soft-spoken" and "a good listener."
Was Nichol Kessinger involved in the investigation?
After Shan'ann, 4-year-old Bella, and 3-year-old Celeste were reported missing on Aug. 13, Kessinger said she learned from a news report that Chris had been lying to her about his marriage. After questioning him about his wife and her disappearance via lengthy phone calls and text messages that night and the next day, Kessinger told the Post that Chris was too calm and unemotional about his missing family and "seemed off," prompting her to approach the local police and FBI to share what she knew.
"It got to a point that he was telling me so many lies that I eventually told him that I did not want to speak to him again until his family was found," she told the outlet, adding, "With a pregnant woman and two children missing, I was going to do anything that I could."
Just a few hours after Kessinger met with investigators on Aug. 15, Chris was arrested for the murders of his wife and daughters. He had failed a lie detector test and subsequently confessed to the crimes.
In the Nov. 2018 interview, Kessinger shared that she had no doubt that Chris was guilty of the murders. "He's a liar. He lied about everything," she said. "If he was able to lie to me and hide something that big, what else was he lying about?"
Where is Nichol Kessinger now?
Kessinger did not testify in court at Chris' trial, and has not been heard from since her 2018 interview with The Denver Post. You shouldn't expect to hear from Kessinger any time soon: In interviews with the police, she expressed fears about her name being "slandered," saying, "I would not be surprised if it's going to be hard to go out in public sometimes for a couple of years," according to recordings of the interviews obtained by The Daily Mail (opens in new tab).
Andrea Park is a Chicago-based writer and reporter with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the extended Kardashian-Jenner kingdom, early 2000s rom-coms and celebrity book club selections. She graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism in 2017 and has also written for W, Brides, Glamour, Women's Health, People and more.
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