RIVER FALLS, Wis. — The mother of three young girls killed by their father is selling their artwork to raise money for a playground honoring them.
Aaron Schaffhausen killed his daughters, 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie, and 5-year-old Cecilia, last year in the River Falls home the girls shared with their mother, Jessica Schaffhausen.
Aaron Schaffhausen and Jessica Schaffhausen are divorced. Prosecutors say Aaron Schaffhausen killed the girls in an act of revenge against Jessica. He tried to claim he was insane but was ultimately sentenced in July to life in prison with no chance of parole.
Jessica Schaffhausen is trying to raise money to build a playground dedicated to the girls. Unlimited Play of St. Louis is designing the 7,000-square-foot facility based on the girls' hobbies and interests. The company and Jessica Schaffhausen are expected to discuss the project at a news conference Thursday afternoon at Hoffman Park in River Falls.
The playground won't be cheap; it's expected to cost $550,000. The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reports http://bit.ly/16qQSWR about $80,000 has already been raised, including $50,000 from a 5-kilometer run-walk in River Falls held last month.
The newspaper reports the next step in the fundraising effort calls for putting more than 100 pieces of the girls' artwork up for sale. The art will be on display at a River Falls art gallery on Friday. They'll be sold through a silent auction that will run through Aug. 21.
"It has been a very emotional experience for the people who framed the art, in part because the mother has wanted to be involved and had to leave and pull herself back together because of the emotion connected to the artwork," said the gallery's owner, Ila June Brown-Pratt. "This will be emotional because anyone who has ever been a parent or taken care of young children will be affected by it."