A Wisconsin mother continues her work to memorialize her three young daughters who were murdered by their father, but she tells KSTP in an exclusive interview that she has a new name, a new husband and is expecting a new baby.
Jessica Peterson – formerly Jessica Schaffhausen – is seven months pregnant. Her daughters Amara, Sophie, and Cecilia were killed at their home in River Falls, Wisconsin, on July 10, 2012. Peterson and Schaffhausen had divorced in January 2012.
"The key to much of my life is this balancing dual emotions, having to always be a little sad and a little happy at the same time," Peterson tells the station. "It definitely helps in my process of trying to keep going, to bring some more love back into this world."
Peterson has continued her work to build an accessible playground in honor of her three daughters. She hopes for a late summer ribbon cutting for the Tri-Angels Playground. Her family and friends and others in the River Falls community have brought in money for the space; already $247,000 has been raised for the playground cost of $550,000. Peterson said Bremer Bank is matching donations up to $50,000, and there are more fundraisers in the works.
"I really wanted to focus putting something positive back out there," Peterson said. "Something people could interact with and make their own memories, and in that way, keep my girls' memories alive."
The Pioneer Press reported that Aaron Schaffhausen, 36, was ordered to pay restitution in the case. He appeared at a restitution hearing in Hudson, Wisconsin, last week and St. Croix County Circuit Judge Howard Cameron ordered the convicted father to pay costs from his prison account, including $14,661.28 to Peterson to cover medical and counseling services, lost wages and lost paid time off.
He was also ordered to pay $10,704.65 for witness costs and the cost of a court-appointed mental health expert. The restitution to Peterson must be paid first. He is incarcerated in the Waupun Correctional Institution, serving three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of release.