SECOND UPDATE: Father booked on first degree counts of homicide in the deaths of his daughters
About two hours after he allegedly killed his three children at the home where he once lived, a former River Falls man turned himself in to police at their station, soon after officers had begun searching for him. Aaron Schaffhausen, 34, was booked into St. Croix County Jail at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, on three counts of first degree intentional homicide.
His daughters, the alleged victims, have now been positively identified as Amara Schaffhausen, 11; Sophie Schaffhausen, 8; and Cecilia Lee Schaffhausen, 5. The two older sisters attended Greenwood Elementary School in River Falls.
Aaron, the father, had a last known address listed for Minot, N.D.
Aaron's ex-wife called police at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, and asked them to check the welfare of her children at 2790 Morningside Ave. -- a neighborhood of single- and multi-family homes in the Highview Meadows subdivision on River Falls' east side.
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, presumably to ventilate the house. Ambulance personnel were at the scene for about 30 minutes but left without transporting anyone.
Meanwhile, police set up a perimeter around the neighborhood, apparently looking for a suspect. Assistance was also requested from Pierce and St. Croix County deputies.
Officers obtained the suspect'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.