“You’re making these decisions fast and furious with just the tip of the iceberg of information,” said Utah Third District Juvenile Court Judge James Michie, who has adjudicated child welfare cases for more than 12 years. The affidavit states that Watts' story then changed. Police said her "purse, wallet and medication were all located in the house". ", "Its truly an honor and a blessing to be a part of this family," he continued. RJ Sangosti/Pool/Getty, Credit: In custody proceedings, family courts often see a parent’s allegation of child abuse as no more than a tactic to undermine the other parent’s custodial rights to the child — and therefore not a credible accusation, said Russell. She wanted to make a difference. But I just want them back. That’s horrendous. You can unsubscribe at any time. Credit: That was the last time she was seen alive. During the past decade, at least 98 children in 40 American states have been killed by a parent or parental-figure after a family court allowed them unsupervised contact with the child, according to the Center for Judicial Excellence. “I think our system does bend over too far backward to allow children in an abuser’s lives, without sufficient proof that they have changed.”. If you would like to opt out of browser push notifications, please refer to the following instructions specific to your device and browser: Pregnant Mom Vanishes, Husband Pleads for Help — Then 3 Bodies Turn Up: How Watts Family Murder Case Unfolded. this link is to an external site that may or may not meet accessibility guidelines. Tracing a Tragedy: A Timeline of the Killings of Shanann Watts and Her Daughters, Shanann Watts' Father Sobs as Names of His Daughter and Grandchildren Are Read in Court, Murder Suspect Says He Killed Wife After Seeing Her Strangle Daughter: Affidavit. However, A source close to the investigation told PEOPLE that Chris' alleged defense is not plausible: "There is absolutely no evidence that she killed her children. That’s because the parent can hurt the child as a means of controlling or punishing the partner or spouse that the parent no longer has access to, she said. It doesn’t always work out that way.”. Joshua Polson/AP/REX/Shutterstock, Credit: ", Two days after his family's disappearance, authorities arrested Chris. Kayden’s father had been granted unsupervised visitation despite the fact that he had a felony conviction for aggravated assault and after a court-ordered mental-health evaluation had revealed he suffered from a depressive disorder with suicidal tendencies. Starring Odd Mom Out’s Sean Kleier and Hallmark's Ashley Williams, it's based on the real-life tragic events outlined here. He ties my shoes. "From best friends and family to people from all over THE WORLD. Watts has been charged with the murder of his pregnant wife Shanann and their daughters Bella, and Celeste, Our free email newsletter sends you the biggest headlines from news, sport and showbiz. But it wasn’t until Nov. 6, 2018 that Chris pleaded guilty to killing his entire family as part of a plea deal to avoid the death penalty. Authorities took the bodies to the medical examiner's office for autopsy. Many family court professionals — judges, lawyers, psychologists — point out that in their experience, the problem isn’t as simple as judges not believing a litigant’s abuse allegations, or a bias against mothers or fathers. But he has little hope of convincing a judge to revoke visitation rights. For a brief period, Tagle felt optimistic that something would change. Copyright © 2020 Deseret News Publishing Company. It’s gut-wrenching.”. There is absolutely no evidence that she killed her children.". Every year on Jan. 31, the anniversary of Wyatt’s death, Katie Tagle gathers all of her friends, her boyfriend of four years, and her two children, Dakota, 14, and Karlee, 8, and go to a park. "My blood is boiling," Frankie had written on Facebook in the days before the hearing, adding, "I just want 30 seconds alone with that heartless psychopath. News Corp is a network of leading companies in the worlds of diversified media, news, education, and information services. He had recently petitioned the court successfully for shared custody of their 9-month-old baby, Wyatt. In a June 14 post on Facebook, she captured daughter Bella singing about her love for her father: "My daddy is a hero, he helps me grow up strong. “This is not a father’s rights issue, this is not a mother’s rights issue, this is a child safety issue.”. “I thought everything was going to change,” she said. The risk that mothers will lose custody goes much higher when the father invokes “parental alienation” as a defense. The officer called Watts, who came to the house and let him inside, reports People . “The courts believe people can change, and so the judge will order the batterer to undergo treatment or counseling, and sometimes that works. In the document, investigators revealed they had discovered Chris' alleged affair with an unidentified co-worker, which he initially denied. Bella’s mother had been awarded physical custody of the child, despite the fact that the father, Nathan Younkin, had told a Michigan court that she had a history of mental illness and had abused Bella in the past. She completely shut me down.”, His father, Ronnie, chimed in adding, “If he didn’t kill the children, I want him to face that and let them prove it.”. “But I don’t feel there’s been any kind of change.”. Their attorney read a letter that said: “We are not here to ask for leniency and are not in any way condoning or tolerating the crime that has occurred or the pain that has been caused…”, Cindy said during her son's trial: “I have always loved you and I still do. “The #MeToo movement has broken open the ways society has denied women’s true reports of sexual abuse on the job,” she said. He initially told police that Shanann arrived home at 2am and he told her he wanted to separate at 5am. Chris Watts' next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 19. What happened to Tagle and her late son Wyatt was not an isolated incident. While Chris' legal team has not officially offered an explanation of the deaths, an arrest affidavit obtained by PEOPLE outlines a startling confession. “How many more must die before we get meaningful leadership here?”. RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post/Getty, Credit: He confessed to killing his wife but concocted a false story that she had killed their daughters before her own death. In cases in which the court believed that the mother was an “alienator,” the mothers lost custody 73% of the time, the study found, including cases in which the court acknowledged that the father had a history of abuse. Shanann’s parents addressed the courtroom that day, with her father, Frank Rzucek, telling Chris: “I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them. But Wyatt’s death did give rise to at least one important shift that has catalyzed the beginnings of a newly emerging national movement for family court reform. He’s not a psychopath.” Cindy told the news station. In addition, experts point out that the system is overloaded. SALT LAKE CITY — On a bone-chilling January morning in Yucca Valley, California, 23-year-old Katie Tagle woke up to an email that made her heart stop. In his Utah courtroom every day, Michie sees cases in which one parent has a proven history of physically abusing the child, and said his decisions are guided by a fundamental tension between parent’s rights and child welfare at the heart of juvenile court law. He faces nine charges, including several counts of first-degree murder. “I’m not saying it never happens. In November 2018, Chris pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree murder, three counts of tampering with a deceased human body, and one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy. Lifetime is airing a movie about the shocking Watts family murders. Then he "went into a rage" and killed Shan'ann, later hiding all three bodies at the oil work site. And the change she thought might give meaning to her son’s death never materialized. Chris will serve two additional life sentences for first-degree murder of a child under the age of 12, and 36 years for three charges of tampering with a deceased body.

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