HUDSON, Wis. - A former Wisconsin man is now officially charged with murdering his three daughters in their River Falls home Tuesday.
Prosecutors charged 34-year-old Aaron Schaffhausen with three counts of first degree intentional homicide Thursday in the deaths of 11-year-old Amara Schaffhausen, 8-year-old Sophie Schaffhausen and 5-year-old Cecelia Schaffhausen.
Each count carries a maximum possible sentence of life in prison.
Schaffhausen, who made his bond appearance via video conferencing, refused to answer the judge when questioned at first. When ordered to, he used only one word responses.
A criminal complaint issued Thursday says police responded to the family home Tuesday afternoon after receiving a call from Jessica Schaffhausen, who told them her ex-husband had called and said he had killed the kids.
St. Croix County District Attorney Eric Johnson said Aaron Schaffhausen allegedly used a knife or sharp object to kill his three daughters. "Two of the children were killed by sharp force injury to the right side of the neck, the other one was killed by sharp force injury to the right side of the neck," Johnson said.
When officers entered the home they found Amara, Sophie and Cecelia dead in separate bedrooms. All three were laying on their beds, dried blood on their faces and blankets covering their bodies up to their necklines. Preliminary autopsies show 5-year-old Cecelia had also been strangled.
Johnson said he's been a prosecutor for 30 years and called the triple murder "by far the worst case that I have ever seen." Johnson also said it has been tough on some of the law enforcement handling the case.
Aaron Schaffhausen moved to Minot, North Dakota, following a divorce from the girls' mother, Jessica Schaffhausen, in January. His visit to the home Tuesday was unexpected, but Jessica agreed to let him see the children as long as he was gone by the time she got home.
Schaffhausen turned himself in at the River Falls police station 30 minutes after the children's bodies were discovered. Investigators say blood was visible on his clothing.
No motive has been established, Johnson said.
In a statement, Jessica Schaffhausen said, "Our family deeply appreciates the outpouring of support and love shown to honor the girls' memory. We understand the community's desire to help and assist. At this time, the family has two approved avenues to offer your support. There is a memorial fund at First National
Bank of River Falls and the River Falls Wildcat Soccer team will be selling bracelets. At this time, the family DOES NOT endorse any other sales of T-Shirts, memorabilia or websites. When the time is right, the family will use the generosity and support to honor and
memorialize the girls in the best way possible. Again, we thank you for your support, however we ask for privacy and respect at this time. Thank You."
Hundreds gathered in a River Falls park Wednesday night at a vigil to mourn the young Schaffhausen girls and mark their promising young lives.
A memorial service for the three girls will be held Tuesday, July 17, at 7:00 p.m. at Kilkarney Hills Golf Club. Visitation will also be Tuesday from 4-7 p.m. at Kilkarney Hills.
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