Teens arrested after 6-foot log is pushed off cliff, woman killed at Ohio state park

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – Two Ohio teenagers were arrested Thursday on charges of reckless homicide in connection with the death of a 44-year-old woman.

Victoria Schafer was killed by a falling tree branch on Sept. 2 near Old Man's Cave in Hocking Hills State Park. At the time of her death, officials at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said that there was evidence of individuals being on the top section of the park when it happened.

ODNR investigators determined early on that the 6-foot log was pushed or thrown off the cliff, according to a news release from the Hocking County Prosecutor's Office on the arrests.

Schafer was the owner of Victoria Schafer Photography and well-known in the community for her contributions to various causes.

Victoria Schafer is shown here at the Worth-a-Tri mini-triathlon, one of the last events she attended and sponsored, on August 17.
Victoria Schafer is shown here at the Worth-a-Tri mini-triathlon, one of the last events she attended and sponsored, on August 17.

The teens are in custody at the juvenile detention center in Lancaster, according to the ODNR. Their names are not being released, the ODNR said in a news release.

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On Oct. 8, a tip from a caller allegedly indicated that one of the juveniles sent text messages to a classmate stating he had done something serious at the park with another juvenile.

Further investigation by ODNR and the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office led them to the two juveniles in custody, who allegedly admitted that they were involved in forcing the log over the cliff, according to the release.

“I appreciate the public’s valuable contributions to this case and the perseverance and determination of the investigators,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said in a news release.

According to a Facebook posting from the Hocking County Sheriff's Office, the authorities obtained a confession in an interview with the two suspects.

The two juveniles had a detention hearing Friday afternoon, Hocking County Juvenile Court Administrator Jamie Green said.

Both denied the offenses at the hearing, according to the complaints.

The Hocking Juvenile Court classifies them as serious youth offenders.

The two will be held in juvenile detention until further order of the court. The case has been continued for pretrial.

Follow Justin Reutter on Twitter: @jayreutter1

This article originally appeared on Chillicothe Gazette | Chillicothe | The Chillicothe Gazette: Ohio State Park death: Log pushed off cliff kills woman, police say