Shanann Watts' dad sobs as accused son-in-law Christopher Watts appears in court

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Clatyon Sandell has the latest on the Colorado man formally charged with murder in the deaths of his wife and two young daughters.

It was an emotional day for the family of Shanann Watts Tuesday as her husband and accused killer Christopher Watts appeared in court.

Shanann Watts' father, Frank Rzucek Sr., and her brother cried as the judge read aloud the charges the 34-year-old faces -- three counts of murder, three counts of tampering with a deceased body and one count of unlawful termination of pregnancy. Two of the murder charges were also enhanced because the victims were under the age of 12.

Christopher Watts, who stoically answered "Yes sir" as the judge asked whether he understood the murder and other felony charges against him and the penalties they carry, including the death penalty, is being held without bond.

Timeline: What happened before Shannan Watts, daughters went missing

In an affidavit released Monday, Christopher Watts offered a glimpse into his defense.

Police say he admitted that he killed his pregnant wife in "a rage" but said it was only after he discovered she had strangled their two daughters because he was seeking a separation.

Related: Slain Colorado mom on Facebook: Suspect husband 'best dad us girls could ask for

According to the affidavit, early on the morning of August 13, Christopher Watts told his wife that he wanted to separate. She had returned from a business trip a few hours before their conversation.

Watts told police that he walked downstairs, leaving his wife in their bedroom. When he returned, Watts said he checked a baby monitor on Shanann's nightstand and saw his wife strangling their youngest daughter. He said the monitor also showed their oldest daughter sprawled on her bed, looking blue.

Watts said he then "went into a rage" and strangled his wife.

He told police that he loaded all three bodies into his work truck and then buried his wife at an oil work site before dumping the bodies of Bella and Celeste inside oil tanks.

The bodies were found on property owned by Anadarko Petroleum, one of Colorado's largest oil and gas drillers, where Watts had worked as an operator. He was fired on Wednesday. Court documents said the girls had been submerged in crude oil for four days.

The affidavit says Watts gave police an aerial photograph of the area and identified three areas where he placed the bodies. Investigators used a drone to search the area and spotted a bed sheet that matched other linens found in the family home, along with fresh dirt.

According to the affidavit, an investigation revealed that Christopher was having an affair with a co-worker. Police noted that Watts denied having an affair in previous interviews.

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Watts family murderdomestic violencemurderColorado
(Copyright ©2018 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved - The Associated Press contributed to this report.)