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Updated: 07/16/2013 12:46 PM
Created: 07/14/2013 4:03 PM KSTP.com | Print |  Email
By: Jennie Olson

Family Relieved Schaffhausen Won't Leave Prison

A man who killed his three daughters to get back at his ex-wife will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of supervised release.
    
A jury found in April that 35-year-old Aaron Schaffhausen was sane when he killed 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia at their River Falls, Wis., home. A sentencing hearing took place Monday in St. Croix County.
    
Schaffhausen will serve a mandatory sentence of life in prison for each death. The judge had to decide if that sentence would include the possibility of supervised release after at least 20 years or if Schaffhausen would stay behind bars forever

The judge sentenced Schaffhausen to consecutive life sentences, without parole eligibility, which is the absolute maximum he could have received.

Eryn Shlotte, the cousin of Amara, Sophie and Cecilia, spoke during the sentencing and said Schaffhausen doesn't deserve another chance.

“There are evil people and they shouldn’t be in society,” Eryn said. “He took away three very special people and they could have changed the world. They could have made it better ... People say everyone deserves a second chance, but I don’t believe that. I believe that sometimes people shouldn’t be allowed to smell the fresh air or see the sunshine or feel the rain again."

Jessica Schaffhausen’s sister, Mary Elizabeth Stotz, also read a statement to the court during the sentencing. Jessica is the ex-wife of Aaron.

“Aaron should rot in hell in this world and eternity with his evilness and cowardly ways,” Stotz said in the statement. “Aaron is not mentally ill – just an extremely evil coward.”

Stotz said every child deserves a parent but not every parent deserves a child.

“As parents, we protect them, love them, and show them that the dark is not bad, the Boogie Man doesn’t exist, and there are no monsters under the bed,” Stotz said. “Amara, Sophie and Cecilia learned there is a Boogie Man and that the monster under the bed hides in even more sinister places … it’s an emotional place that we hope no one ever sees.”

But Aaron Schaffhausen’s aunt, Patti Fix, argued in her statement that her nephew isn’t a coward. “He desperately needed intervention and none came,” Fix said. “No one.”

Similarly, Aaron Schaffhausen's father, Roger Schaffhausen, told the court he believes everyone shares some responsibility for not reaching out to Aaron sooner to prevent the killings. "I believe that Aaron loved those girls and that those girls loved him," he added.

Aaron Schaffhausen admitted he killed the girls last July to get back at his ex-wife, Jessica. Jurors found he had a mental defect but knew the killings were wrong.

During the sentencing, Aaron Schaffhausen’s mother, Sue Allen, said his daughters would have wanted him to get treatment. “You are a good man who did a horrible thing for whatever reasons,” she said. “You have a good heart.”

She added that when he dies, his three girls will greet him with smiles. “Your life continues to have meaning,” she said.

Just after she left a St. Croix County courtroom for the last time, Jessica Schaffhausen expressed relief at the legal process finally coming to an end.
 
"I was incredibly touched that the judge made a point of giving him a sentence for each girl individually, and recognizing that they were each a unique person. Each one of them deserved justice," she said.
 
She said the lack of eligibility for supervised release made her feel truly safe.
 
"I can now just forget about him, and focus on honoring my girls," she said. "I'm just looking to be able to move forward and to be able to heal."
 
"Every day is its own day. Some days are harder than others. I have received a tremendous amount of love and support," Jessica Schaffhausen said.
 
When asked to speak about her three daughters, Schaffhausen replied, "I don't know. If you start down that road you might have to do a mini-series."
 
"They were so kind and curious and funny," she said. "They were little monkeys. They climbed just about everything. We lived in a housing development that didn't have mature trees, so they would climb the stop sign in front of the house."
 
"Making sure that the world was a better place was, I think, what they all wanted to do," Jessica Schaffhausen said. "As much as it hurts to not have them, and sometimes it hurts very badly, and I miss them incredibly. But I would never give up those years I had them."
 
"There's a lot of times in life where it's this battle between love and hate, and in my mind, love has won out in this. And that's also my goal -- is that love continues to win out," she said.
 
Events to Help Family Memorialize Girls

An event this weekend could help in that healing process. The Tri-Angels 5k Fun Run will be held this Saturday at 7 a.m. at Hoffman Park in River Falls.
     
All the money raised will help pay for a new playground in honor of the three sisters. You can register online or on the morning of the race.

Also, the girls' mother, Jessica Schaffhausen, is organizing an art show to honor her daughters. The show will feature more than 100 pieces of framed artwork made by her daughters.

The event will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Aug. 9 at Gallery 120, 120 N. Main St. in River Falls, Wis.


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