A Wisconsin father was under arrest Wednesday after police found his three young daughters dead in a house that officers said smelled of gas.
Aaron Schaffhausen turned himself in to River Falls police late Tuesday afternoon and was being held on suspicion of first degree intentional homicide, city administrator Scot Simpson said Wednesday. The district attorney has yet to file formal charges, Simpson said.
Officers discovered the bodies of 11-year-old Amara Schaffhausen, 8-year-old Sophie Schaffhausen and 5-year-old Cecilia Schaffhausen after their mother called the city police, Simpson said. Jessica Schaffhausen said she had received a phone call from her ex-husband that made her concerned for the safety of their children, he said.
Police said they could smell gas when they arrived at the house, but Simpson provided no details about how the children died or what their mother told police. Court records show that Aaron and Jessica Shaffhausen divorced last year.
No one else was in the River Falls house when the girls' bodies were found, and it was not immediately clear who lived at the property. The city of 15,000 is about 30 miles east of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Wednesday morning, police blocked off the street preventing access to the house with tape and barricades.
Julie Matzke said her 7-year-old daughter was in Girl Scouts with Sophie.
"She was an energetic, beautiful little spirit. It breaks my heart that they were taken so early," Matzke said. She has created a Facebook page to honor the girls and was planning a Wednesday evening vigil at a local park.
AP writer Gretchen Ehlke contributed to this report from Milwaukee.