Schaffhausen mostly silent in 3-hour police interview

  • Article by: PAM LOUWAGIE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 3, 2013 - 6:09 AM

A River Falls police officer asked Schaffhausen numerous times what happened to the three little girls.

– After he walked into the River Falls Police Department on the day he killed his daughters, Aaron Schaffhausen sat motionless and unresponsive for most of a three-hour interview.

Leaning back in an armless chair in a tiny beige room, hands cuffed behind his back, Schaffhausen looked straight ahead most of the time. He cried a little when an officer read him his Miranda rights. He shook his head no when a paramedic asked to check on him.

Jurors in Schaffhausen’s insanity trial viewed the entire interview Wednesday, watching as a River Falls police officer tried without success to get Schaffhausen to admit to killing 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia. Schaffhausen pleaded guilty to the killings last week, and his attorneys are trying to convince the jury he should go to a hospital for long-term treatment instead of spending his life in prison.

For well over an hour in the initial interview, he didn’t respond to questions about whether he understood his rights or whether he needed anything. He didn’t react when an officer asked what had happened.

“Did you kill your kids, Aaron?” River Falls police officer Charles Golden asked in the video. “Did you kill the girls?”

The video gave the jury a chance to see Schaffhausen’s demeanor, watch his long silences and eventually hear a few of his words. Later Wednesday, Schaffhausen’s ex-wife, Jessica Schaffhausen, took the stand, giving calm and composed testimony about the couple’s history and marriage. Tears came only when an attorney showed her pictures of her daughters.

“Those are my babies,” she said, crying.

The video, however, showcased Aaron Schaffhausen’s lack of reaction.

Emotional questions

More than 1½ hours into the interview, Golden started softly asking emotional questions, remarking that he could see pain on Schaffhausen’s face.

“No one is going to convince me that you have no feelings for these girls. No one. I can see it,” Golden told him. “If you know what happened to them I think that you owe it to them to tell me ... who’s going to be their voice, Aaron?”

When Golden talked about how the girls were found in their bedrooms, Schaffhausen leaned forward, sobbed and put his head down on the desk.

“You put them in bed together and you covered them up ... because you wanted them to have peace,” Golden said, adding later: “The devil doesn’t put his kids in the bed and cover them up. A father does.”

Golden asked if police needed to be looking for someone else, and Schaffhausen shook his head no.

“Did you kill them, Aaron?” Golden asked.

“I don’t know,” Schaffhausen responded.

As Golden continued to ask questions, Schaffhausen remarked that he was asking a lot without a lawyer.

“Do you want a lawyer?” Golden asked.

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  • Aaron Schaffhausen and jurors watched a video as River Falls Police Detective Charles Golden did the initial interrogation during the second day of trial at a St. Croix County Courtroom in Hudson, Wis., Wednesday, April 3, 2013.

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