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Chris Watts' attorneys request for DNA samples suggest daughters were strangled

Cause and manner of death not officially released
Posted: 8:04 PM, Aug 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-18 17:26:24Z
Watts' defense motion suggests strangulation

FREDERICK, Colo. — Newly released court documents in the Chris Watts case obtained by KMGH suggest his two young daughters may have been strangled.

The suggestion came in a motion filed by defense attorneys in Weld County court to compel the coroner to take DNA from the necks and throats of the remains of 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste Watts, whose bodies were found inside oil and gas tanks Thursday. The court document also said the bodies were submerged in crude oil for four days.

The bodies of the two young girls were found in close proximity to the other body positively identified as Shanann Watts, the girls’ mother.

In the motion filed Friday, DNA expert Richard Eikelenboom concludes that DNA evidence “would remain on the necks of the decedent children,” after they were submerged in the oil. Eikelenboom is quoted in the motion as saying he believes the oil would not eliminate DNA and said samples can be obtained "after strangulation."

The motion also asks that DNA samples be taken from the hands and nails of the body of the girls' mother.

Eikelenboom writes:

“This DNA can be retrieved with a double swab technique. DNA scientists are familiar with this technique and an experienced person should take this samples. In my opinion the presence of oil will not destroy the DNA. The hands wand nails of the mother should be sampled as well. After samples are taken the nails should be cut preserved. I have a lot experience taking samples from dead bodies getting good results after strangulation. The hands of the children should be sampled as well.”

Eikelenboom is a forensic scientist who has claimed to be a DNA expert in trials in Colorado and across the United States, but was discredited two years ago in a 2013 sex assault case in Denver District Court.

“I would be shocked if the defense tried to use him front of a jury after he has been discredited as an expert witness,” said former Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, who led the charge against Eikelenboom.

The motion was dismissed by the judge.

On Friday, the coroner's office announced they have positively identified the victims of the Frederick case as Shanann Watts and her two daughters. The manner and cause of death of all three bodies are pending further laboratory results and will not be released at this time.

Chris Watts remains in the Weld County Jail on suspicion of murder his family. He was taken to jail at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday after he was detained for questioning. Two law enforcement sources told KMGH Watts had confessed to killing his wife and daughters. He faces investigation on one count of first-degree murder after deliberation; two counts of first-degree murder – position of trust; and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.

All three were reported missing Monday around 2 p.m. after Shanann did not arrive to a scheduled meeting. In addition to having two daughters, Shanann was also 15 weeks pregnant. The FBI and CBI were brought in to help Frederick police in the investigation.

Weld County prosecutors said they believe Shanann and the girls were killed inside of the family’s home but did not say why they believe that.