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Two teens arrested in death of PHS grad

Victoria Schafer killed by a falling log Sept. 2 at Hocking Hills State Park

Victoria Schafer

LOGAN, Ohio — Two teens are accused of causing a log to fall from a cliff at Hocking Hills State Park last month, killing a Parkersburg High School graduate.

According to a release from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, two 16-year-old boys were arrested Thursday and charged with reckless homicide in the death of Victoria Schafer, 44, of Chillicothe.

Schafer was pronounced dead at the scene near Old Man’s Cave where she was taking pictures with high school students. A 74-pound log fell 75 feet onto the stairway where she was sitting, said Jorden Meadows, assistant Hocking County prosecutor.

Investigators found evidence that the incident was not a natural occurrence, the ODNR release said.

They were led to the juveniles after a classmate’s mother called a tip line about the incident, Meadows said.

“The caller indicated one of the juveniles sent a text message to a classmate (stating) that he had done something serious at the park with another kid,” she said.

When questioned by investigators, the boys admitted their involvement in the incident, Meadows said.

“They have admitted that they were involved in forcing the log over the cliff,” she said.

Meadows said she could not comment on whether the boys were aware someone was below when they forced the log over the edge. The case remains under investigation, and additional charges could be filed.

The boys, whose names are not being released due to their ages, are in custody at the Multi-County Juvenile Detention Center in Lancaster, Ohio.

“Both juveniles will be held in detention … until further order of the court,” Meadows said.

ODNR is leading the investigation with the assistance of the Hocking County Prosecutor, Sheriff and Coroner’s offices, along with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Ohio State Highway Patrol, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers.

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

Schafer, who owned and operated a photography business, is survived by her husband, four children, parents and sister.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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