Skip to main content

Schaffhausen trial: parents testify; doctor calls him depressed, not insane

  • Author:
  • Updated:

The parents of the man who has admitted killing his three daughters last summer in River Falls, Wis., testified about his often-troubled childhood Monday. The trial of Aaron Schaffhausen also featured a former psychiatrist's determination that while the defendant suffers from a major depression disorder, he was not insane at the time of the killings.

Roger Schaffhausen and Suzanne Allen testified Monday in the insanity trial of their 35-year-old son, which is now in its second week. Roger Schaffhausen said Aaron had been a colicky baby, had run out of school in third grade, been bullied in fourth grade and later became a rebellious and belligerent teen, KARE 11 reported.

Roger Schaffhausen testified that his son was involved with a skinhead group in high school, stole a gun and brought it to school, and was expelled, KARE reported.

Allen said her son didn't interact well with others and didn't have many friends, KSTP and the Associated Press reported. Allen said that in his 20s, Aaron Schaffhausen was energetic and fun-loving, but had an "undercurrent of sadness."

Both parents said their son had showed signs of being a loving father, KSTP and the AP reported. But Roger Schaffhausen said he began worrying about his son's well-being in November 2011, when he cut off contact with family.

Roger Schaffhausen didn't see his son again until January 2012 when Aaron Schaffhausen's divorce from his wife, Jessica, was finalized. "He wanted to do terrible things to Jessica’s boyfriend and wanted to hurt the girls to show Jessica how much pain he was in," Roger Schaffhausen said.

Later in the day, a former psychiatrist and medical director at a Wisconsin mental institution testified about his interview with Aaron Schaffhausen. KARE 11 reports Dr. Ralph Baker met with the defendant for nearly four hours on behalf of the prosecution and concluded that while Schaffhausen has a major depression disorder, he was not insane at the time of the killings.

Also Monday, a former co-worker of Schaffhausen's made his first court appearance stemming from his arrest at the courthouse on Friday, when he testified in the trial. The Hudson Star Observer reports Joseph Rollag faces charges including threatening a witness and carrying a concealed weapon.

Rollag allegedly called a psychiatric nurse from his pickup truck outside the courthouse and alerted her that he was having homicidal thoughts. Once inside the courthouse, a pat search found he was carrying two knives.

Schaffhausen has pleaded guilty to killing his three daughters, 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia, in July in the River Falls, Wis., home where the girls lived with their mother, his ex-wife. His lawyers are trying to prove to a jury that he was insane at the time of the killings.

Next Up


Hero dad who stopped carjacker who fled with his kids identified

A GoFundMe has been set up to support Derek Gotchie and his family following the incident.

Screen Shot 2022-12-03 at 4.35.18 PM

Watch: New London-Spicer wins 3A championship on incredible walk-off TD

New London-Spicer defeated the unbeaten Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in remarkable circumstances.


Suspect in woman's killing in Moorhead is arrested

James Kollie Jr. was arrested Friday evening.

Jennifer Carnahan

Former chair Jennifer Carnahan sues Minnesota GOP, which is suing her back

Carnahan stepped down under a cloud of controversy in August 2021.

Minneapolis Fire Department

One injured after leaping from burning vacant building in Minneapolis

Authorities say the building is known to be used by squatters.


Head-on crash leaves two drivers dead in southeastern Minnesota

The crash happened in Houston County just before 4 p.m. Friday.


Charges: Armed man made death threats at Minneapolis LGBTQ bar

The man allegedly used derogatory terms while threatening to kill someone.


FDA pulls last COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment as new variants rise

A therapy used to treat more than 11,000 Minnesotans is no longer authorized amid a surge in the latest COVID-19 variants.

Austin Robert LeClaire

Charges: Plymouth man shot girlfriend in head after birthday party

The 23-year-old victim is in critical condition as of Friday.


State announces $2.5M in grants for child care providers

Child care providers in roughly a dozen communities will receive funds to help grow the supply of affordable, quality child care.


Probe of Golden Valley police uncovers racism, alleged misconduct

One officer was terminated for alleged racist comments and violations of state law.

blowing snow

Blowing snow Friday in Minnesota; will it snow next week?

Winds could gust up to 50 mph Friday afternoon and night.


Lawyer: Schaffhausen was depressed, on meds

The father accused of killing his daughters was battling serious depression and had been for some time, and was taking medications, which may have played a role in the killings, Aaron Schaffhausen's public defender John Kucinski said, the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reports.