- Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2014

RIVER FALLS, Wis. (AP) - A mother whose three daughters were murdered by their father in northwestern Wisconsin is working to honor their memory, has remarried and is expecting another child.

Jessica Peterson said she is focused on bringing something positive to the River Falls community where Aaron Schaffhausen took the lives of his daughters in July 2012.

“I miss the girls still a lot,” Peterson said. “That’s a pain I think I’ll always carry. But I try to do it in a way that would make them proud of me, in much the way I would want them to carry on if they’d lost me.”

Peterson, family, friends and the greater River Falls community have raised nearly $250,000 so far for the Tri-Angels Playground in memory of Amara, 11, Sophie, 8 and Cecilia, 5. The fundraising goal is $550,000 for a playground accessible to all children.

“Something people could interact with and make their own memories, and in that way, keep my girls’ memories alive,” Peterson said. She hopes “to bring something back into this world to balance out the great evil that was done,” Peterson told KSTP-TV (https://bit.ly/1fpGuFc ).

Schaffhausen is serving three life sentences for slashing his girls’ throats, then tucking their bodies into bed, in what prosecutors described as a revenge attack against his ex-wife. The defense claimed insanity; a jury found that he had a mental defect but still understood he was doing wrong.

Peterson has married again and is seven months pregnant.

“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 said. “It definitely helps in my process of trying to keep going, to bring some more love back into this world.”

Peterson said Bremer Bank is matching all playground donations up to $50,000, and that more fundraisers are planned. Peterson is hoping the playground will be finished by summer next year.

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