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Memorial playground dedicated to late Schaffhausen sisters opens in River Falls

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The community of River Falls, Wisconsin, gathered Saturday to dedicate a memorial playground to honor three sisters – Amara, Sophie and Cecilia Schaffhausen – who were killed by their father in July 2012.

The Tri-Angels Playground was built at Hoffman Park in River Falls – the three girls are being honored with customized pieces of play equipment that represent what they were interested in. The playground also includes artwork created by the girls, according to KARE 11.

Amara was 11, Sophie, 8, and Cecilia-Lee, 5 at the time of their deaths.

The girls' mother, Jessica Peterson, has remarried and has two young children. She told the River Falls Journal she is excited to have her older daughter Trinity, who is 15 months old, play on the new playground.

“It’s going to be amazing just to see her climbing all over those things," she said.

Peterson led the efforts to raise more than $500,000 to build the playground; the nonprofit organization Unlimited Play helped organize the project.

Construction on the playground began in late June.

The playground is a way to remember the girls for the way they lived, not the way they died, playground organizers have said.

“Hoffman Park is really going to be turned into a place of remembering the girls,” Samantha Jensen, who helped organize the fundraising effort for the playground, told WCCO when construction began.

The playground is also unique in that it is designed to be accessible to children who have disabilities, or who use a walker or wheelchair, the River Falls Journal notes.

Aaron Schaffhausen pleaded guilty to killing his three daughters, but maintained he was insane at the time of the crime. He was sentenced to life without parole.

Last year, Schaffhausen’s attorney filed an appeal, requesting a second insanity trial – but a Wisconsin appeals court denied his request last month.

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In River Falls, Wis., there is a tremendous outpouring of support for Jessica Schaffhausen, who on Tuesday will mourn with others at a memorial service for her three daughters. The girls — 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie, and 5-year-old Cecilia — were killed a week ago today. Their father, 34-year old Aaron Schaffhausen, has been charged in the slayings.