River Falls community comes together after killings - FOX 35 News Orlando

River Falls community comes together after killings

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The community of River Falls is still coming to grips with the sudden deaths of three young sisters, but residents in the area are coming together to heal -- reaching out to counselors and sharing memories with one another in the wake of the tragedy.

The memorial at Greenwood Elementary School kept growing on Thursday, with classmates and friends leaving flowers and happy memories as they try to cope in whatever way they can with the losses of 11-year-old Amara Schaffhausen, 8-year-old Sophie Schaffhausen, and 5-year-old Cecilia Lee Schaffhausen.

Parents and students trickled in and out of the school on Thursday for counseling, and others struggling with the savage slayings came to City Hall, where counselors were offering help to anyone who needed it.

Representatives from the domestic violence support group Turning Point came to give their support. Though they could not say whether they worked with the Schaffhausen family in the past or not, they say situations like this tragedy are all too common.

"Usually, the abuser or the perpetrator is trying to find something the person they are trying to get at loves most," explained Jen Rhead. "In this case, it happened to be the kids. Unfortunately, it happens all the time -- kids are in the middle, a parent uses them against the other one to get attention."

Aaron Schaffhausen, who is accused of slitting the throats of his three daughters, made his first court appearance on Thursday. He is now facing three counts of first-degree murder.

Also on Thursday, the girls' mother, Jessica Schaffhausen, issued her first public statement since the deaths of her daughters. It read:

"Our family deeply appreciates the outpouring of support and love shown to honor the girls' memory. We understand the community's desire to help and assist. At this time, the family has two approved avenues to offer your support. There is a memorial fund at First National Bank of River Falls and the River Falls Wildcat Soccer team will be selling bracelets. At this time, the family DOES NOT endorse any other sales of T-Shirts, memorabilia or websites. When the time is right, the family will use the generosity and support to honor and memorialize the girls in the best way possible. Again, we thank you for your support, however we ask for privacy and respect at this time. Thank You."

A memorial service for the sisters will be held on Tuesday, July 17, at the Kilkarney Hills Golf Club starting at 7 p.m. Visitation will also take place on Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Those wishing to assist the family with monetary donations make those to the Benefit Account for Schaffhausen Children at First National Bank of River Falls, which will be handling a fund. To contribute, call 715-425-2401.

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