Aaron Schaffhausen's mother speaks out after sentencing - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Aaron Schaffhausen's mother speaks out after sentencing

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For the first time since her son was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences in prison without parole for killing his three daughters, the mother of Aaron Schaffhausen is speaking out.

Even though Sue Allen hates what her son has done, she said she will always love him -- and she still believes he did not know what he was doing when he committed those horrible crimes.

Allen told FOX 9 News she wants to make it clear that she is not looking for sympathy for herself or for her son, saying she is horrified and outraged like everyone else at her son's actions. Even so, she believes her son is mentally ill and she wanted to make it clear that she tried to get him help.

"It's a horrible nightmare that I wake up to every day," Allen told FOX 9 News, describing what it is like to know her three granddaughters were killed by her son's hands. "I loved them dearly and I was very close -- and it's a deep, deep grief that I experience at their loss."

Allen said she is at a loss as to why the jury did not believe mental illness lead to her son's actions because she says he has been suffering in silence for most of his life. At age 8, he was diagnosed with ADHD, but she always suspected there was something more.

During the divorce, she said the signs began to surface more clearly.

"He describes the year or two before the murders," she said. "He was in a living hell."

In November 2011, Schaffhausen's brothers tried to intervene, Allen said. The family suggested counseling, but Schaffhausen refused. By March 2012, he had stopped communicating with his family.

"We had no clue until March that things were as bizarre as they were," Allen said.

Mere months later, he traveled from North Dakota to Wisconsin and killed his three girls. Although Allen told FOX 9 News she was concerned about her son's condition, she never saw it coming.

"I've never felt he was capable of this," she said. "It didn't even register as a possibility."

During sentencing, the judge pointed out Schaffhausen's stoic demeanor in the courtroom, saying that while he showed no emotion in the courtroom, he changed once the cameras were off. Prosecutors believed it was all a ruse in an attempt to prove mental illness, but Allen said that's not the case.

"People with mental illness cannot be characterized as evil," she said. "They must be characterized as ill and must be helped."

Allen spoke with her son after the sentencing, and she said his first concern was for the girls' mother and her family.

"He has expressed acceptance of what he did," she said. "He has expressed deep regret."

When asked why her son did not express that regret openly with an apology during his sentencing, Allen said it was because whatever he did say would be misinterpreted.

"His anger, his actions -- everything has been misinterpreted throughout the trial," she contends.

Allen said regardless of perception, she knows her son is sorry and has been "from the very beginning;" however, she acknowledges that he has not said it verbally yet.

Since his arrest, Allen has been visiting her son weekly. She continues to do so and to push for the help she says he needs. In the end, Allen said she hopes to raise awareness of mental illness will in the hopes that others will get help before tragedies occur.

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