The home in Frederick where Chris Watts killed his pregnant wife, Shanann, in August 2018 before taking the lives of Celeste and Bella, their two young daughters, is currently being viewed by more people than ever before. But although the property, located at 2825 Saratoga Trail, spent well over a year for sale, it's now been taken off the market — and that's just as well, since a disturbing new movie about the tragedy creates even more doubts that anyone would ever want to live within its walls again.
On September 30, Netflix launched American Murder: The Family Next Door, a documentary about the slayings that's assembled almost entirely of video or images shared online by Shanann or footage from the investigation into her disappearance, including body-camera clips that seem to capture every inch of the living space. The house is practically another character in a film that chillingly transforms the roomy, tastefully appointed suburban spread into a backdrop for evil at its purest.
In other words, it's not exactly a great advertisement for potential buyers, who've passed up many chances to purchase the place to date.
Here's the trailer for American Murder: The Family Next Door.
The property was originally supposed to be auctioned on April 17, 2019, but a postponement moved the event to July 17 to that year. The house didn't land on the block then, either, but a slew of articles and reports marking the one-year anniversary of the crimes announced a third date, September 18, 2019.
That turned out to be wishful thinking, as predicted by attorney Jessica Hale, whose law firm, McCarthy Holthus, LLP, represented the seller, JPMorgan Chase Bank. "Unfortunately, we cannot provide any detail as to why the sale has been postponed," Hale wrote in an August 2019 email to Westword. "I predict the sale will not be taking place 9/18/2019."
She was right. The website of Weld County Public Trustee Susie Velasquez soon listed the next auction date as January 8, 2020 — which came and went without any action. The auction was rescheduled for February 12, shortly after the debut of Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer, a Lifetime movie about the tragedy that essentially blamed Shanann for her own slaying; she peddled weight-loss pills and patches that were portrayed as changing Chris from a doting husband into a homicidal sociopath.
February 12 proved to be a false promise, too. The Weld County Public Trustee page moved the auction to April 15, and Velasquez suggested that additional postponements probably wouldn't be allowed.
"Pursuant to [state statute] C.R.S. 38-38-109(1), no sale shall be continued to a date later than twelve months from the originally designated date...with certain exceptions," she maintained. "The original sale date was 4/17/2019. Consequently, the latest possible sale date is 4/17/2020. However, this office holds sales once a week on Wednesdays, so the latest date that it could be continued is 4/15/2020."
But instead, the Weld County Public Trustee page for the house on Saratoga Trail reveals that it was withdrawn from auction on June 24.
This doesn't mean the house will sit vacant forever. Witness what happened with the residence on the 700 block of 15th Street in Boulder where six-year-old JonBenét Ramsey was murdered in December 1996.
The sprawling mini-mansion was unoccupied until 2004, when Carol Schuller Milner and her husband, Timothy, bought it with the idea of replacing dreadful memories with positive ones. But after subsequently relocating to California, they put it up for sale in 2008, then again in 2009, and once more in 2011, when the price was set at $2.3 million. Three years later, in early 2014, the home wound up on the block again at a lower price, $1.95 million, but no transaction went through — and it was de-listed that July.
Today the home remains unavailable for purchase, but not because no one wants to live there. Instead, Carol and Timothy are residing there again, and enjoying it immensely.
"We actually had offers on it — decent offers," Schuller Milner told us last year. "But we didn't take any of them, more out of our attachment to the house. It's our home, and we really, really love it."
Whether a future owner will ever say something similar about the Watts house in Frederick is unclear. But given the impact of the Netflix doc, the chances of that happening anytime soon aren't good.
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