Father charged in deaths of his 3 daughters - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Father charged in deaths of his 3 daughters


St. Croix County (WQOW) - More details have been released about the investigation into a triple murder in River Falls as a North Dakota man has been charged.

Aaron Schaffhausen was charged with three counts of murder on Thursday afternoon.  Bond was set at $2 million.  The bodies of Schaffhausen's three daughters, Amara (11 years old), Sophie (8 years old) and Cecilia (5 years old) were found in their River Falls home on Tuesday afternoon.

According to the criminal complaint:  Aaron lives in Minot, North Dakota and was supposed to be there working on a construction job.  Late Tuesday morning, he texted his ex-wife Jessica, saying that he was in St. Paul and wanted to come to River Falls to spend the day with the girls.  Investigators say Jessica told him that would be fine, but that he had to leave the house by 3:30 p.m. because she didn't want to see him.

A babysitter texted Jessica at 1:30 p.m. to let her know that Aaron had arrived.  The babysitter told investigators that the girls rushed to the door, excited to see their father.  She asked Jessica if she should stay or leave and Jessica told her she could go.

Investigators say Jessica received a phone call from Aaron at 3:30 p.m.  She says Aaron told her she could come home because he had killed the kids.

Jessica immediately called police.  Investigators arrived at the home several minutes later and found all three children in separate bedrooms.  Each had blankets covering them up to their necks.  Autopsies show that Amara and Sophie died from a "sharp force injury to the right side of the neck" while Cecilia died from a sharp force injury to the neck and strangulation.  Investigators say they have not found a murder weapon.

Police say there was a strong smell of gas coming from the basement of the home.  They found a gas container under the stairway.  The container was tipped and gas was pouring out of it.  The gas fireplace had also been turned on.

Police say Schaffhausen showed up at the police department around 4:30 p.m. and was taken into custody.  Investigators say he had a red stain on his shorts that appeared to be blood.

Funeral arrangements have not been set.  At a court hearing Thursday, prosecutors asked for the bodies to be released to the family so they could make funeral arrangements.  The defense attorney objected because he had just received the criminal complaint and wanted more time.  A preliminary hearing has been set for July 24th.

Counselors have been on hand at a River Falls school for families and students.  Members of the River Falls Police Department will also meet with counselors on Thursday.


MADISON, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- A North Dakota man is now charged in the killing of his three young daughters in River Falls earlier this week.

St. Croix County District Attorney Eric Johnson filed three counts of first-degree intentional homicide Thursday against 34-year-old Aaron Schaffhausen of Minot.

Police discovered the bodies of 11-year-old Amara Schaffhausen, 8-year-old Sophie Schaffhausen and 5-year-old Cecilia Schaffhausen in the house the girls shared with their mother in River Falls on Tuesday. The Schaffhausens divorced last year.

Authorities have not said how the girls died.

Investigators say Aaron Schaffhausen unexpectedly visited the girls Tuesday while their mother was out, then called her to say he had harmed them. He later turned himself in to police.

Aaron Schaffhausen was expected to make an initial court appearance Thursday afternoon.

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