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WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Shanann Watts & Daughters’ Gruesome Autopsies Released


After Chris Watts was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murders of his wife, Shanann Watts, and two daughters, exclusively obtained their gruesome autopsy reports.

According to the documents released by Michael A. Burson, MD PhD, the Forensic Pathology Consultant in Loveland, Colorado, Shanann died of “asphyxiation due to manual strangulation,” at the hands of her husband.

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Her daughter Bella, 4, suffered the most, with the autopsy revealing she died from “asphyxiation due to smothering and blunt force trauma of the frenulum and gingival mucosa of the maxilla,” which the District Attorney said in court was the area “between her upper lip and gum.”

Shanann’s autopsy stated she died of “asphyxiation due to manual strangulation by another individual. The manner of death is homicide.”

Her report described her injuries as “bruising of the anterior strap muscles of the neck,” and noted she was in her second trimester of pregnancy.

“Largely decomposed fetus and placental unit,” the autopsy said about the child she was expecting.

The autopsy stated her body was “found unresponsive in an obvious state of death in a shallow grave.”


Shananns’ blood alcohol concentration was listed as 0.128g/100mL according to the documents obtained exclusively by

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Shanann’s body was found wearing “A purple t-shirt, a pair of blue underwear, a black bra.”

Her injury was listed on the autopsy. “A 1 cm area of probable bruising on the anterior subcutaneous neck tissue. Bruising of the superior aspect of the right sternocleidomastoid muscle. Bruising of the soft tissue and fascial tissue of the surface of the right thyroid cartilage. Bruising of the soft tissue associated with the right horn of the thyroid bone, which is intact.”

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Bella, 4, had her death listed as “asphyxiation due to smothering,” and her “manner of death is homicide.”

The little girl was found “in an obvious state of death within an oil tank battery.”

According to the autopsy obtained by, Bella was found wearing “An oil-soaked pink pajama-type top with images of hearts and butterflies and a pair of oil-soaked underwear.”

The external evidence of injury listed: “A 13 x 3 cm area of vertical excoriations on the left buttocks,” which the DA announced in court was from when Bella was forced through the eight-inch opening in the oil tank.

Chris Watts
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“An at least 1.5 cm laceration of the frenulum and upper gumline with associated pink-purple contusions. Superficial probable bite wounds of the mucosal surface of the tongue,” which the DA said revealed she “fought back for her life,” at Chris’ sentencing.

“A 9 x up to 4 cm yellow-tan possible abrasion on the left torso, A 3 x 1.5 cm faint yellow-tan discoloration on the superior aspect of the left shoulder.”

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The gruesome autopsy for Bella obtained by described the condition of her body. “There is postmortem artifact consisting of bloating, marbling of the abdominal surfaces and areas of skin slippage. Unfortunately, the body was found in an oil tanker containing oil and aqueous fluid. This resulted in abundant skin slippage upon washing.”

Celeste, 3, had “no significant trauma,” but her cause of death was also listed as “asphyxiation due to smothering,” according to her autopsy.

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She was found wearing “A pink and black t-shirt, a diaper, a pair of underwear.”

“The toxicology results likely represent decomposition and an artifact of being submerged in an oil tank for several days. The manner of death is homicide.”

Chris’s attorney read a statement in court from him that said: “He is devastated by all of this. Although he understands that words are hollow at this point, he is sincerely sorry about all of this.”

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