HUDSON, Wis. - Formal charges were filed on Thursday against Aaron Schaffhausen, a father who is facing three counts of first-degree intentional homicide in connection to the death of his three daughters.
Schaffhausen appeared in St. Croix County Court, making his initial appearance by video link through the jail. The court proceedings lasted less than 10 minutes and a cash bail was set at $2 million.
Schaffhausen is accused of killing his three daughters on Tuesday. Two days later, the disturbing details on how the lives of Amara, Sophie and Cecilia were taken were released in the criminal complaint.
"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 and there were also other injuries," St. Croix County District Attorney Eric Johnson said.
"I've been a prosecutor for 30 years and this is by the far the worst case that I have seen," he added.
According to the complaint, Jessica Schaffhausen gave her ex-husband Aaron permission to see his daughters. She also told the babysitter she could go home. The babysitter told police that the three girls, ages 5, 8 and 11, were very excited to see their father, who was visiting from North Dakota.
According to police, the suspect called his ex-wife two hours later and said, "You can come home now because I killed the kids."
Schaffhausen turned himself into police a short time later.
"We live in a safe community but no question in my mind that this is way more common than most people think," Turningpoint Director Kim Wojcik told KARE 11.
Turningpoint serves victims of domestic violence in St. Croix and Pierce Counties in Western Wisconsin. Despite being located in a rural community, the organization helped almost 800 women last year.
Wojcik says she has a hard time processing what happened not far from her office, as three young lives were taken far too soon.
"They are now that voice that, we could get people to spend all their time and energy trying to get people to listen, but now people are listening," Wojcik concluded when talking about domestic violence awareness.
Police officers continued to process the scene two days after the initial call.
Two days later, they also began receiving their own grief counseling. "It's hard to keep your ... It's not hard, it's impossible to keep emotions out of it," Johnson said.
Schaffhausen will make his next court appearance on July 24.
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 p.m. at Kilkarney Hills Golf Club. Visitation will also be Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Kilkarney Hills.
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