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Chris Watts' heinous crime involving his family thrust his former mistress Nichol Kessinger into the spotlight. Many people have wondered what happened to Kessinger after Watts' conviction. Here's what we learned about Kessinger's life recently.
Thousands of viewers have been scandalized by Chris Watts' treatment of his wife and children since the documentary "American Murder: Family Next Door" was released on Netflix. Nichol Kessinger added to the viewers' frustration.
Kessinger was Watts' mistress outside of his marriage to Shanahan. Kessinger once revealed her affair with Watts and highlighted his positive qualities to the point where she believed everything he said. The shocking truth changed her feelings for Watts.
Since many have been familiar with Watts and his family through the Netflix documentary, little is known about Kessinger, although she made a few appearances in the show. Kessinger was born in Colardo in 1988.
After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Geology from Colorado State University, Nichole continued her education at Community College of Aurora, where she earned her Associate of Science degree.
It wasn't until June 2018, a few months after she started working for Tasman Geosciences, that she became acquainted with Watts. She met Watts because the latter's company, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, had contracted the company she worked for.
She noticed Watts was not wearing a wedding ring and assumed she was single and attractive. When they spoke, she described Watts as a soft-spoken man who was also a good listener.
Kessinger and Watts hit it off immediately and began a whirlwind romance, eventually surpassing Watts' familial bond. She then became aware that he had a family and that he and his wife were already separated.
Unfortunately, Kessinger realized that her assumptions about Watts' pleasant personality and the fact that he had split from his wife were wrong. Watts allegedly murdered his whole family to be with her.
As soon as Kessinger became aware of the alleged heinous acts Watts committed to his own family, she distanced herself from him. After that, she began to suspect he was involved in his family's disappearance.
Not only did she alienate herself from Watts, but she also contacted the police. Kessinger worked closely with several law enforcement officials throughout the investigation, and she promptly shared information with them.
Kessinger was placed in witness protection and given a new identity and address by the law enforcement officials involved in the case. In addition, she resigned from her job at Tasman Geosciences.
Once Kessinger entered witness protection, her whereabouts were kept secret. She also needed to get rid of her old persona because she had received public criticism and insults as a result of her ties to Watts.
However, in 2019, Watts wrote to his pen pal Cheryln Cadle and confessed that he was still in love with Kessinger. He also revealed that he received letters from Kessinger under different aliases while in prison.
Cadle later published her book "Letters from Christopher," which disclosed the alleged letters of Kessinger and Watts. But authorities were not sure if Kessinger herself was penning the letters because any hard proof did not support Watts' assertion.
In March 2021, Watts' fellow inmate, David Carter, also revealed that Watts received letters from Kessinger under a different name. He claimed that Watts told him about receiving such letters back in September 2020.
Kessinger said that even after everything she had learned, she still looked back and couldn't spot any warning signs from how he talked about his family.
Carter said authorities had also learned of the letters and suspended Watts' email account since he was not permitted to communicate with Kessinger. According to Carter, Watts told her that Kessinger kept in touch with him to clarify certain things.
However, Carter said Watts refused to tell him in detail what she had said. Even still, it seems improbable that Kessinger will ever re-encounter Watts because he is presently serving five life sentences.
Watts is currently at the Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin. He was sentenced to additional 48 years for wrongful pregnancy termination and 36 years resulting from his three convictions for tampering with a dead body.
Christopher Watts at the Weld County Courthouse for his sentence hearing on November 19, 2018, in Greeley, Colorado. | Source: Getty Images
Kessinger described the entire course of her relationship with Watts in a video recorded during a police interview. She told the police that they met at work and eventually became close to the point that Watts disclosed his plans to divorce from his wife.
According to Kessinger, Watts, who occasionally brought up his children, never showed a hit of violence despite his failing marriage. Even after everything she had learned, she looked back and couldn't spot any warning signs. She said:
"I don't see any red lights about the way he spoke about his family."
Kessinger's remarks appeared to be in stark contrast to the previous observations made by Shanahan about her then-husband just days before she and her children met their tragic deaths.
Reportedly, Shanahan earlier recognized red flags and even addressed her challenging marital situation with a close friend at one point. On the other hand, she was unaware that her life was in danger.
Kessinger remembered texting Chris one final time, warning him that if he did something awful, he would ruin his and her life. He responded by denying that he had harmed his family.
It was his last text message to her, Kessinger said. Watts' crime was just one of many incidents that people will never forget. Similarly, another tragic event has disturbed the public.
Betty Broderick's murder case involving her husband, which affected her youngest son Rhett Broderick, continues to pique the public's interest to this day.
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