N.D. man accused of killing daughtersThree young sisters are dead and their father, who recently relocated from River Falls to Minot, N.D., has been charged in their deaths.
By: By Phil Pfuehler , Forum Communications , The Jamestown Sun
RIVER FALLS, Wis. — Three young sisters are dead and their father, who recently relocated from River Falls to Minot, N.D., has been charged in their deaths.
The victims are Amara Schaffhausen, 11; Sophie Schaffhausen, 8; and Cecilia Lee Schaffhausen, 5.
Their father, Aaron Schaffhausen, 34, was booked into St. Croix County Jail in Hudson, Wis., at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday on three counts of first degree intentional homicide. He allegedly left his three daughters behind in their home with the gas fireplace activated on the first floor and the odor of flammable liquid coming from the basement.
Schaffhausen and his wife, Jessica, were divorced earlier this year. He lived in Minot, but had visiting rights.
River Falls Police Chief Roger Leque said Aaron Schaffhausen, either by text or phone call, alerted his wife that he was coming to see the kids Tuesday. She apparently was OK with that “spontaneous visit.”
Leque said a babysitter was at the house but left after Aaron Schaffhausen arrived.
Later Jessica Schaffhausen got a call from her ex-husband that indicated he’d harmed the children. She alerted police about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, and asked them to check the welfare of her children.
Police entered the home and apparently detected the heavy smell of natural gas.
A short time later, they put out an urgent call for an ambulance for an unconscious person and asked for firefighters. Ambulance personnel were at the scene for about 30 minutes but left without transporting anyone.
Officers obtained Aaron Schaffhausen’s cellphone number and were able to get an approximate location in the area through the service provider. At 4:45 p.m. a sheriff’s dispatcher told officers the suspect had turned himself in.
Court records indicate the couple filed a joint petition for divorce in August 2011. The divorce was finalized in January, and the couple had joint legal custody of children.
Public records indicate Jessica Schaffhausen continued to reside at the home on 2790 Morningside Ave. The couple had bought the large two-story home in 2007 for $248,000.
Aaron Schaffhausen relocated in January to Minot. He will be arraigned in circuit court at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
A Facebook entry indicates Jessica Schaffhausen has been a social worker in North St. Paul since February 2009.
A Linkedin entry for Aaron Schaffhausen said he worked as a foreman at Tappe Construction in the Twin Cities for 11 years until July 2009.
Phil Pfuehler is a reporter at the River Falls (Wis.) Journal, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.