September 21, 2014

Three girls dead, father in custody

School officials in River Falls have identified three sisters who were apparently murdered in their mother’s home Tuesday. Amara Schaffhausen was going to enter sixth grade this fall; her sister Sophie was planning to start the third grade; and Cecilia Schaffhausen was going to start kindergarten.

The girls’ mother called police after having a conversation with her ex-husband that raised concerns about the children’s safety. Police found all three dead in a home which had a natural gas odor. Officials have not said how they died.

The children’s father, 34-year-old Aaron Schaffhausen, turned himself into police. Saint Croix County jail staffers said he was booked late last night for first-degree intentional homicide but prosecutors were still said to be considering possible charges today.

Meanwhile, authorities say the mother, Jessica Schaffhausen, is safe and is aiding officers in the investigation.

State court records show that Aaron and Jessica filed for divorce last summer, and it was granted in January. Aaron’s address at that time was listed as Minot, North Dakota. The couple was given joint legal custody of their children.

The mother of one of the victims’ friends, Julie Matzke, has set up a Facebook page to honor the youngsters and she’s setting up a vigil tonight.

Jeff Petersen, WIXK