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Former FBI profiler: Suspect's televised plea for slain family's return shows "arrogance"

Expert analysis of family murder suspect
Expert analysis of Colorado dad accused of killing his wife and kids 06:49

FREDERICK, Colo. -- A Colorado man's televised plea for the return of his wife and young daughters, who he is now accused of killing, shows arrogance and a lack of empathy, says a former FBI profiler. 

After his wife and daughters were reported missing, and before he was arrested, Chris Watts stood on his porch and lamented to reporters how much he missed them, saying he longed for simple things like telling his girls to eat their dinner and gazing at them as they curled up to watch cartoons. 

"This house isn't the same. Last night was traumatic. Last night -- I can't really stay in this house again like, with nobody here," Watts said. "I wanted that knock on the door. I wanted to see those kids running, just barrel rush me and give me a hug and just knock me on the ground, but that didn't happen."

Speaking to local television station 9News Tuesday, Watts described an "empty house," saying he had "no inclination" where his pregnant wife, 34-year-old Shanann Watts, and daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, could be.

"I have no idea like, where they went," Watts told the station. "It's just earth-shattering. I don't feel like this is real right now. This is like a nightmare I can't wake up from."

Colorado dad arrested after allegedly confessing to killing wife, kids 03:10

Police said Shanann Watts was found dead Thursday on property owned by Anadarko Petroleum, one of the state's largest oil and gas drillers, where Chris Watts worked. Investigators found what they believe are the bodies of Bella and Celeste nearby on Thursday afternoon. 

Chris Watts is expected to be formally charged Monday on murder and evidence tampering charges.

CBS Denver reported that he confessed to the slayings and led investigators to the bodies. CBS News has not independently confirmed that.

Speaking Friday on CBSN, former FBI senior profiler and forensic behavioral expert Mary Ellen O'Toole said Watts' interview speaks to what he thinks is his ability to be persuasive.

"When somebody kills their own family and then they go on TV to say 'But I didn't have anything to do with it,' that ability to be so very sure of your own interpersonal skills that you can attempt to fool a national and international audience is very unusual," said O'Toole. "That's a lot of arrogance and confidence that you could pull this off, and that's not typical."

O'Toole said Watts' insistence that he didn't know where his family members were shows an attempt to push the investigation away from himself. "If I don't know anything, obviously I can't have anything to do with it," O'Toole said, describing the implication of Watts' comments.

But O'Toole said he also contradicted himself by calling the situation a "nightmare," while at the same time maintaining he didn't know what happened.

Police are "quite certain" they found the bodies of Shanann Watts and her daughters 03:29

O'Toole noted that during one portion of the interview, Watts talked about himself and didn't show emotion or empathy for Shanann and the girls.

"There is a noticeable absence of emotional behavior or words of emotion like, 'I'm so scared,' 'I'm so worried about them,'" O'Toole said. "He talks about the house being empty, but that's not the same as expressions of empathy. There is an absence of that."

O'Toole noted that Watts took a defensive posture during the interview by crossing his arms over his body. 

She also noted several possible motives for the killings, including the family's financial struggles, reports of infidelity or his wife's pregnancy. However, she said: "All of these issues could have been addressed in a pro-social way -- borrowing money, getting a divorce, it could have been handled in ways that did not result in murder."

"Nothing these little girls did, nothing that mother did ever could have been deserving of this," O'Toole said.

O'Toole said the interview demonstrates Watts' "selfish" thinking style, indicating he was likely demonstrating similar behavior before the murders and didn't "snap." 

She said forensic evidence at the crime scenes along with behavioral analysis will be crucial for prosecutors in bringing their case against him.

Investigators have not offered any possible motive or said how the family was killed.

Watts appeared in court on Thursday and was ordered held without bail. His attorney, James Merson with the Colorado State Public Defender's Office, left the hearing without commenting to reporters and did not respond to a voicemail left at his office Thursday by The Associated Press.

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