PINEHURST – Hundreds celebrated a Mass of Resurrection on Saturday afternoon for Shan’ann Watts, daughters Bella and Celeste, and unborn infant Niko, killed Aug. 24 in their suburban Denver home, to which the family had moved from Aberdeen.
Three caskets draped with white palls and bearing the family members stood before the altar of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, a stark recollection of the way the family had died – close together, one after another.
As the Rev. John Forbes alternately sprinkled the caskets with holy water and wafted over them the smoke of scented palm fronds, some mourners quietly snuffled into their tissues. Others, including a couple of pallbearers, wrapped their arms about one another in support.
“For God’s faithful people, life has changed, not ended,” Forbes said in his homily. “When we die, we go to God.”
Forbes summoned the image of a newborn child being placed in the arms of a loving parent, That, he said, was what Watts and her children experiencing. Even unborn Niko, he said, was able to stand face to face and be welcomed to eternal life by God.
Speaking later in the Mass for the family of the deceased, Forbes stressed that they “would like some good to come from this tragedy. They do not desire vengeance and death, but justice and light.”
Programs with the Scriptures to be read and songs to be sung during Mass requested that those who wished to make memorial donations contribute to Lupus research – Shan’ann Watts had the degenerative disease – or to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, or the Missing Persons Department of the Frederick, Colorado, Police Department.
It was officers of the last group who found the Watts family’s bodies – the girls Bella and Celeste stuffed into oil barrels, and their mother, tossed into a shallow grave.
Notably missing from any mention among the survivors of family of the slain family was the husband and father, Christopher Watts, who at first claimed his wife and daughters were missing but later admitted to killing Shan’ann, claiming he had discovered her killing the couple’s second daughter – he said the first was lying blue on a bed — and then strangled her in a fit of rage.
Watts has not entered a plea to murder and other felony charges and is being held without bail.
The foyer of Sacred Heart Catholic Church held numerous photographs of Shan’ann Watts and her daughters, Bella and Celeste, who died in August in Frederick, Colo. The family moved there from Aberdeen, where Shab’ann Watts’s parents still live.