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Memorial Service Planned for 3 River Falls Sisters | Crime

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Memorial Service Planned for 3 River Falls Sisters

The community of River Falls is mourning the loss of three girls who were found dead in their beds Tuesday.

A memorial service for 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia Schaffhausen is planned for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Kilkarney Hills Golf Club in River Falls.

It will follow a visitation that begins at 4 p.m.

The girls father, 34-year-old Aaron Schaffhausen is charged in their deaths.

He made a court appearance Thursday in St. Croix County, Wis., and was charged with three counts of first degree intentional homicide in the deaths of his daughters.

Police say he’s barely said a word since turning himself in Tuesday afternoon. Schaffhausen’s bail was set at $2 million, and he’ll be back in court in two weeks.

In River Falls, where the girls lived, the community is trying to reconcile their loss with a summer celebration as River Falls Days are underway.

Carnival rides are set up, but there’s also a strange mixture of sadness and celebration in River Falls.

Yesterday, merchants lined up to sell their goods downtown, food vendors sold brats and cheese curds, and the carnival was in full flair. Today, there will be more of the same – but the smiling faces of 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie, and 5-year-old Cecilia Schaffhausen won’t be a part of the festival.

That has affected the whole community – even people who don’t know the family at all.

“You can see the sadness in their eyes,” said River Falls resident Elly Johnson. “They are not as jovial as they normally are. You can sense a real calmness, just a sadness from most people.”

Along with Aaron Schaffhausen’s court appearance, the criminal complaint was released for the first time Thursday. It revealed disturbing new details about the sisters’ deaths.

Officers say Schaffhausen, who lived in North Dakota at the time, unexpectedly stopped by the River Falls home to see his girls. A babysitter said the girls were excited to see their dad, and she left them in his care around 1:40 p.m. The girls' mother had asked her ex-husband to leave by 3:30 p.m. because she was coming home and didn't want to see him.

Two hours later, investigators say the girls died a brutal death. Officials say their bodies were in their beds, covered with blankets up to their necks – and their throats were slit.

Police say Schaffhausen called the girls’ mother and said, “You can come home now because I killed the kids.” The girls' mother said she immediately called the police.

Schaffhausen drove to the River Falls Police Department after the girls' deaths and was taken into custody.
According to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office, Amara's cause of death was a sharp force injury to the right side of the neck. Sophie's cause of death was also a sharp force injury to the right side of the neck. Cecelia's cause of death was sharp force injury to the neck and strangulation.

Judge Howard W. Cameron, Jr. scheduled Schaffhausen's preliminary hearing for July 24 at 10 a.m.

In court, the state asked if the girls' bodies could be released to the family for a funeral. Defense attorney John Kucinski said he could not agree to that due to evidentiary issues.

Warning: Criminal complaint may be graphic and disturbing. Click here to read the criminal complaint.


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