Falling log death: Teenagers arrested after tree branch falls of cliff, kills mother of 4


Two teenagers have been arrested in connection to the death of an Ohio woman who died after she was crushed by a 6-foot log, the Chillicothe Gazette reports.

Victoria Schafer, a 44-year-old mother of four kids, was photographing high school seniors at a state park last month when the tree branch fell from a 75-foot cliff and hit her.

Authorities determined at the time that the log was likely pushed or thrown from the cliff, however no arrests were made until last week. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced the arrests on Thursday, sharing that the two unnamed suspects were both 16 years old.

"Investigators were able to determine that the falling log was not a natural occurrence and continued their investigation into the incident," a statement from the Hocking County Sheriff's Office said.

The teens, who officers said confessed to pushing the log that killed Schafer, have been charged with reckless homicide. They are currently being held in a juvenile detention facility.

Schafer, who also left behind her husband of 21 years, Fritz, was a loving family member and passionate photographer, her sister, Cathy Muth, told Today.

"Victoria always had a heart for others," Muth, said. "Whether it was her work in human resources or her photography, her talent lied in seeing the best in others and helping to bring it out in them."

The 44-year-old had turned her love of picture taking into a full-time job, as she owned her own photography company in Chillicothe, Ohio. She was on a job at the time of her death.

"It is impossible to walk through Chillicothe, Ohio, without running into someone who has a story to tell about something Victoria did for them," Muth told Today. "How kind she was to them, or how good she made them feel."

Schafer's friends and family have set up a Facebook page, Friends of Victoria Schafer, where they've shared memories, photos and kind words. Before last week's announcement, the page made multiple pleas for answers regarding her death.

"Please continue to share this page in the hopes that someone who was there that day — someone who has key information — might see it and feel compelled to come forward," a Sept. 30 post read.

The two teenagers had a detention hearing last Friday, where they both denied the charges against them. They will now remain in juvenile detention as the case moves forward into pretrial.

"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.