This is the photo that let police know where the bodies of Shanann Watts, her unborn son Nico and daughters Bella and Celeste were buried after they were murdered by killer dad Chris Watts.
It was Watts who marked up the photo for investigators, writing a ‘B’ and ‘C’ over the oil tanks were he disposed of his daughters’ bodies and an ‘S’ over the shallow grave where he buried Shanann and their unborn son.
This image and the drone footage were obtained by DailyMail.com after filing a request under the Colorado Open Records Act.
Bella was 4 and her sister Celeste had just turned 3 at the time they were murdered by their father.
Watts had told authorities just one day prior that it was his wife Shanann who killed the girls, claiming that he in turn murdered her in a rage.
Two months alter, Watts changed his story and entered a guilty plea to all three murders.
Final resting: The photo that Chris Watts used to alert authorities where he buried the bodies of his wife Shanann and two young daughters Bella and Celeste (above)
Noted: He wrote a ‘B’ and ‘C’ over the oil tanks were he disposed of his daughters’ bodies (left) and an ‘S’ over the shallow grave where he buried Shanann (right)
Affirmation: Watts signed the photo as well (above), though at the time he still claimed his wife had killed the girls
Victims: Police and investigators were already on the scene after receiving the GPS information from his truck on the morning of the murders
In addition to marking the location of the bodies, Watts also signed his name at the bottom of the photo.
Unbeknownst to him at the time, police and investigators were already on the scene after receiving the GPS information from his truck on the morning of the murders.
Once investigators arrived on the scene, the difficult process of removing the bodies got underway.
A drone first flew overhead, and the video from that clearly shows where Shanann had been buried, with a white sheet marking her grave.
The process of retrieving Shanann’s body began first, followed by the harrowing ordeal of getting Bella and Celeste out of the oil tanks.
It began at 5am on the morning of August 16, and would go on for almost 14 hours, with the report noting that at 6:45pm that evening members of the Colorado State Patrol cleared the scene.
This happened the day after Watts identified the location on the image.
In order to hey started, the oil from the two 400-barrel tanks on the scene were manually drained by workers, who carefully poured the liquid over metal screens to collect any possible evidence.
Then, once the tanks were emptied, men in self-contained breathing gear entered and removed the bodies of Bella and Celeste, whose skin came off their bodies as they were passed out of the tanks.
Their mother and unborn baby brother Nico were found just 100 yards away in a shallow grave.
The report reveals that the diameter of the oil tank’s opening was only 8 inches, meaning it would have been too small to fit Shanann’s body.
The troopers who headed up the retrieval process arrived on the scene around 9am on the morning of August 16.
‘While the first crude tank was being off-loaded, Trooper Bandy, Reeder and I put rope handles on two containment pools,’ wrote Tropper Wilson.
‘We anticipated the bodies to be covered in crude oil and were going to use the pools to put each body in, once recovered.’
Once the tanks were emptied, the bolts on the tank doors at the base of the barrell were taken off by the team on the scene.
‘Sergeant Armstrong went up to the top of the tank and looked in the thief hatch,’ states the report.
‘Sergeant Armstrong told me he could see what looked like a body face down on the south side of the tank.’
Photos were taken and then the men began the process of removing the body from the tank.
Because of the level of oil sludge and toxic fumes, the men could only remain in the tank for a matter of minutes, making the process that much more complicated and difficult.
‘Trooper Reeder went in first then me close behind. There was a body face down on the south side of the tank with the head facing west. It appeared to be a small female child,’ reads the report.
‘Trooper Reeder grasped the upper portion of her right arm to turn her over. Trooper Reeder then lifted her by both upper arms as I held her right leg. Trooper Reeder held her left arm and left leg as we moved the body towards the manway.’
The victim was then moved out of the tank, but during the process hand her hand ‘degloved’ of its skin.
Awful day: The process of retrieving Shanann’s body began first, followed by the harrowing ordeal of getting Bella and Celeste out of the oil tanks (above)
Other woman: Watts had been having an affair with Nichol Kessinger (above) at the time of the murders
That skin was retrieved and given to a member of law enforcement on the scene.
The men next went about removing the body of the second victim, which was found in the second oil tank.
‘I grabbed her right arm near the wrist area and moved her towards the manway. At this point, Trooper Reeder was able to secure her left arm and left leg. Trooper Reeder and I then passed the body through the manway,’ reads the report.
‘Trooper Bandy grasped the left wrist and shoulder area as Sergeant Armstrong did the same on the right side. As the victim was passed through the manway Trooper Bandy and Sergeant continued to support her body as she was placed into a containment pool.’
The report also notes: ‘During this extraction there was some skin slippage where we had to touch the victim’s body. There was also some skin on the plywood where her back made contact.’
Some skin was also lost while the body was being moved to the oil pool.
‘There was also some skin on the plywood where her back made contact,’ reads the report.
‘Trooper Reeder and I then walked around the inside of that tank which also had approximately 4” of crude sludge in it. We did not locate any additional evidence in tank. We exited the tank and walked over to the field south of the tanks. The body was turned over to the Weld County Coroner.
‘Sergeant Armstrong continued to monitor the second victim, using a four-gas monitor, as the Weld County Coroner and Pathologist attempted to remove the crude oil utilizing several oil absorbent pads.
‘The second victim was then placed into a body bag and taken to the Weld County Coroner’s vehicle.’
The men who retrieved the bodies had to undergo an extensive decontamination process from the few minutes they spent in the tanks wearing SCBA gear.
‘Wiggins Fire again decontaminated both of us with hose spray and fire -fighting foam. We went off air at 1756 hours,’ states the report.
‘Trooper Reeder and I then went back to our response trucks and removed our PPE. We cleaned up our equipment and began putting everything away. Trooper Reeder and I changed back into our patrol uniform.’