RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU, AP) -- Authorities say a man suspected of killing his three young daughters called their mother out of the blue and asked to see them.
Police found the girls dead in their mother's River Falls house on Tuesday.
Aaron Schaffhausen, 34, has been arrested in connection with the deaths. Formal charges are expected at his court appearance set for Thursday at 1:00 p.m.
Police said at a news conference Wednesday that Schaffhausen and his wife were divorced and he lives in Minot, North Dakota.
They said he contacted his ex-wife Tuesday and asked for an unplanned visit with the girls. The mother gave her permission, Schaffhausen showed up at the home and the girls' baby sitter left.
Police say the father later called his ex-wife and told her he had harmed the children.
Police sidy a baby sitter had been watching the girls but left when Aaron came to the home. Police said he's had some history of making domestic threats including one incident in Aug. of 2009 and alleged threats to at least one of the girls by Aaron Schaffhausen in Mar. 2012.
As the murder investigation continues, neighbors said they want answers but offered support for the girls' family.
"I cant understand why would you kill your own children, it doesn't make sense to me," neighbor Dale Jorgenson said.
"My son was in the same grade as the middle child, Sophie ... (the girls) were all happy go-lucky kids, full of energy and life," neighbor Heather Johnson said. "My kids don't want to even live in our house anymore. Not because they feel in danger, they just feel so uncomfortable ... I don't know how we'll deal with it all," she said.
Neighbors shared hopes of justice and help for Aaron Schaffhausen and healing for Jessica Schaffhausen.
"I'd like to see that he gets the help that he needs, obviously he's not well," Johnson said.
"Our family, we pray for her, that's horrible and I can't even imagine going through what she went through," neighbor Emily Kuhn said.
"The community's putting their arms around her collectively. It's just a terrible tragedy for her and the community," Jorgenson said.
RIVER FALLS, Wis. (AP) -- Neighbors are remembering the three young sisters found dead in a River Falls house as "normal, happy girls."
Heather Johnson lives a few doors down from the house where the girls' bodies were found Tuesday. Johnson says her son would ride bikes, skateboard and play at a neighborhood park with the girls, who she says were "cute, sweet little girls."
Authorities on Wednesday identified the victims as 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia Schaffhausen. Their father is being held on possible charges of first-degree intentional homicide.
Police said they could smell gas when they went to check on the girls at the direction of their mother. But, they provided no details on how the children died. Their parents are divorced.
VIGIL SET FOR THREE YOUNG SISTERS FOUND DEAD:
RIVER FALLS, Wis. (AP) -- A vigil is planned Wednesday night for the three young sisters found dead in their home in River Falls.
Julie Matzke's 7-year-old daughter was in Girl Scouts with one of the sisters. Matzke describes the girl as an energetic, beautiful, little spirit who was taken too soon. She has created a Facebook page in the girls' honor. Matzke has also set up a vigil at Glen Park in River Falls at 7 p.m.
The bodies of the girls, ages 5 to 11, were found Tuesday afternoon when police were asked by their mother to check on their welfare. Officers say there was an odor of gas when they entered the house. Their father was arrested and remains in jail pending charges.
Court records show the mother and father were divorced last year.
STORY FROM 7/10/12
RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- The River Falls Police Department says three children were found dead in a home in River Falls Tuesday afternoon.
Police were called to the home on Morningside Avenue around 3:30 by the kids' mother who was concerned about their safety, after she said the father made statements about their well being.
When officers got there, they noticed the smell of gas in the home and found the bodies of three girls between the ages of five and eleven.
Police say the father, identified as 34-year old Aaron Schaffhausen, turned himself into police.
Police Chief Roger Leque says, “All of us are saddened by this tragedy. At this time, there is no danger to the greater community arising out of this incident.”
The mother of the children, who was not home at the time, is safe and is assisting police in the investigation.