An Ohio teen admitted he pushed a 74-pound log from a cliff at the Ohio State Park last year but said he never meant to hurt anyone.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Victoria Schafer, 44, was taking senior photographs on Labor Day 2019, for a group of students near the Old Man’s Cave section of the park when the 6-foot log hit and killed her, according to WLTW5.
Investigators indicated early on they did not believe the incident was a natural occurrence, saying they had seen evidence of someone at the top of the cliff.
Two boys, identified as Jaden Churchheus, and Jordan Buckley, both 16 at the time, confessed to police they had pushed the log off the cliff, the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office said. Court documents indicated they later denied the charges at their arraignment and pleaded not guilty.
In November 2019 the boys’ friend, Miranda Spencer, who was with them at the park, said that the boys pushed the log “to be funny.”
Authorities then pushed to have the suspects tried as adults.
*Video contains previous coverage of the case*
“With their lack of remorse, we felt we needed to send a message,” Hocking County Prosecutor Jorden Meadows previously told The Dispatch. “We’ve seen too many deaths out of the caves.”
A plea deal was eventually arranged and last week, Buckley pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. As part of the plea deal, Judge John T. Wallace transferred the teen’s case to juvenile court.
“I understand that my actions that day has caused your family’s life to change,” Buckley told the victim’s family at the hearing. “And my hope from all of this is to use this trauma to learn and live the rest of my life in a way that will honor the Schafers.”
“My hope, from all of this, is to use this trauma to learn and live the rest of my life in a way that will honor Ms. Schafer’s. I would like to use this experience to prevent others from making a similar mistake.”
Jordan was “visibly shaken” during his court appearance. He looked at Schafer’s husband and other family members while speaking, according to The Dispatch.
“Jordan’s response to this tragedy has been as good as it can be,” the teen’s attorney said.
Jaden Churchheusa pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter earlier this year.
Both teens are scheduled to find out their sentencing at the Hocking County juvenile court on October 25. Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Vanessa Schafer/ Handout]