The Most Heinous Crime Of My Career

"Being a prosecutor can be an incredibly rewarding career when we are able to find justice for victims. But many times, it gives us a front-row seat to the very worst humanity has to offer. Offenders who choose to hurt others are the reason prosecutors like me have dedicated our lives to protecting the innocent. 

But in August of 2018, I and so many others in our close-knit law enforcement community were blindsided by a case - a person - so heinous that it left a lasting impact on all our lives. 

As news spread about a pregnant mother named Shanann Watts who had been reported missing along with her two young daughters, police were busy investigating all leads in her disappearance. But when evidence pointed to foul-play at the hands of her husband Christopher Watts, I knew that we would be the ones seeking justice for those four victims. 

Today, the murders of Shanann, Bella, Celeste, and Nico have become sensationalized and splashed across every headline imaginable all over the world. Prosecuting this case was one of the hardest things I've ever encountered in my 23 years as a prosecutor, but Shanann's family was at the center of every choice I made. 

They have asked for donations to be made honoring Shanann to the Lupus Foundation of America at 2121 K Street NW, Suite 200 Washington, DC 20037-1830 and to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on behalf of Bella, Celeste, and Nico. 

For more on the emotional toll this case took on me and our law enforcement community, please read the Denver Post's article entitled 'This Changed All Of Us'. Addressing mental health and vicarious trauma has become an imperative part of this profession and I am humbled to offer my experience in an effort to help others."

-Michael J. Rourke

Weld County District Attorney