Dad accused of killing 3 daughters called mom and said, ‘You can come home now because I killed the kids,’ she says
Published July 12, 2012
Police say Amara, 11, Sophie, 8, and Cecilia Schaffhausen, 5, were
killed by their father in the Wisconsin home they shared with their
July 12: Aaron Schaffhausen, right, appears with his public defender
John Kucinski via teleconference from jail for his initial court
appearance at the St. Croix Co. Courthouse in Hudson, Wis. (AP)
MADISON, Wis. – A North Dakota man
killed his three young daughters after they rushed to greet him during a
surprise visit and left their bodies tucked in their beds, Wisconsin
authorities said in court documents released Thursday.
St. Croix County prosecutors filed a criminal complaint charging
Aaron Schaffhausen, 34, with three counts of first-degree intentional
homicide. Each count carries a mandatory life sentence.
Circuit Judge Howard W. Cameron set Schaffhausen's bail at $2 million
Thursday and ordered him to have no contact with the girls' mother or
her immediate family. Schaffhausen's attorney, listed in online court
records as public defender John Kucinski, didn't immediately respond to a
telephone message left at his office.123 Minneapolis News and Weather KMSP FOX 9
River Falls mourns loss of girls
Autopsy results showed 11-year-old Amara Schaffhausen, 8-year-old
Sophie Schaffhausen and 5-year-old Cecilia Schaffhausen died from "sharp
force injury" to the neck. Cecilia also had been strangled, according
to the complaint.
The girl's mother, Jessica Schaffhausen, and Aaron Schaffhausen
divorced this past January. He lived in Minot while the girls lived with
their mother in River Falls, a city of 15,000 about 30 miles east of
the Twin Cities, in a house she rented from her ex-husband, according to
Investigators wrote in the complaint that Aaron Schaffhausen texted
his ex-wife around noon Tuesday and asked for an unplanned visit with
the girls. The mother thought he was supposed to be working a
construction job in Minot but agreed, telling him to be gone by
mid-afternoon because she didn't want to see him.
A Minneapolis Star Tribune report said Aaron Schaffhausen was fired
from his job at a St. Paul construction firm on July 5 after he failed
to show up for work. The firm had hired him to work on projects in
western North Dakota, the newspaper reported. The firm's sales manager
did not respond to an Associated Press email inquiry seeking details.
The girls' baby sitter told detectives the girls were so excited to
see him when he arrived they rushed to him and took him upstairs to show
him their things. The baby sitter followed them upstairs, hugged the
girls goodbye and left, the complaint said.
About two hours later, Aaron Schaffhausen called his ex-wife.
"You can come home now because I killed the kids," Jessica Schaffhausen said he told her.
She immediately called police, who found no one home when they
reached the house. They discovered the girls tucked into their beds,
blankets up their necks. All three had what appeared to be dried blood
on their faces and a large amount of blood covered the carpet in a
Officers detected an odor they thought at first was natural gas. They
later discovered a gasoline container had been tipped over in the
basement, spilling its contents.
About an hour after he contacted his ex-wife, Aaron Schaffhausen
drove into the River Falls Police Station parking lot and surrendered.
Officers noted his shorts were stained with what appeared to be blood.
Detectives tried to interview him, according to the complaint, but he
The complaint did not say where Jessica Schaffhausen was on Tuesday.
Dawn Simonson, executive director of Metropolitan Area Agency on
Aging, a nonprofit organization in St. Paul that helps the elderly live
independently, said during a brief telephone interview Thursday morning
that Jessica Schaffhausen has worked there since 2009. Schaffhausen, she
said, helps people return to their own homes after stints in nursing
Simonson declined to comment further, saying she wanted to respect
Schaffhausen's privacy. She didn't immediately return a telephone
message later Thursday asking if Schaffhausen had been at work Tuesday.
"We're just so sad and so devastated by this loss," Simonson said Thursday morning.