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Juvenile enters plea in Parkersburg native’s death

One of two suspects arrested after Victoria Schafer’s death in 2019
Victoria Schafer, 42, a 1992 PHS graduate, was killed in September, 2019 when a portion of a tree fell on her at Hocking Hills State Park.
Victoria Schafer, 42, a 1992 PHS graduate, was killed in September, 2019 when a portion of a tree fell on her at Hocking Hills State Park.(WTAP)
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 6:50 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2020 at 12:56 PM EDT
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LOGAN, Ohio-(AP) - A teenager has admitted helping to push a log off a cliff that struck and killed a married mother of four who was taking photographs at an Ohio state park.

Jaden Churchheus, 17, pleaded guilty Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter in the death of 44-year-old Victoria Schafer. Under terms of a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped murder and reckless homicide charges against him.

Schafer was taking photos at the foot of the stairs at Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills State Park on Sept. 2, 2019 when Churchheus and another teen pushed the log, which weighed 74 pounds (33 kilograms), off a cliff at the top of the stairs, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said.

A judge recommended Churchheus serve a minimum of 3 years in a juvenile detention facility when he is sentenced.

The other teen charged in the case is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 25.

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CHILLICOTHE, Ohio-(WTAP, AP) - One of two teenagers charged in the September, 2019 death of a Parkersburg native has pleaded to reduced charges.

Jaden Churchheus pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to involuntary manslaughter for the death of Victoria Schafer on Sept. 2, 2019.

Schafer, a 44-year-old Chillicothe photographer, was was struck and killed by a tree that fell on her while she was near Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills State Park near Logan, Ohio.

Schafer was a 1992 graduate of Parkersburg High School.

Churchheus and another teen, 16-year-old Jordan Buckley, were accused of pushing a section of a six-foot tree off a cliff at Hocking Hills while Schafer was doing a professional photo session.

Churchheus has been sentenced to three years in prison, but, according to a member of Schafer’s family who spoke to WTAP, he must also appear on the charge in juvenile court.

Both Churchheus and Buckley were arrested after Schafer’s death, when investigators determined the fallen tree was not an accident. They were initially charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter and felonious assault.

Buckley is scheduled for a plea hearing September 25.

Copyright 2020 WTAP. All rights reserved.

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