Teens Accused of Killing Photographer Will be Tried as Adults, Could Face Life in Prison

A judge in Ohio has decided that the two teenagers charged with killing 44-year-old photographer Victoria Schafer in Hocking Hills State Park two months ago will be tried as adults. If convicted, they could face life in prison.

In an update to the story of Schafer’s tragic death, local news station NBC4i is reporting that 16-year-olds Jaden Churchheus and Jordan Buckley are being charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault, and reckless homicide, and will be tried as adults in the Court of Common Pleas.

Schafer was killed in Hocking Hills State Park on September 2nd, when a large section of tree fell and hit her during a photo shoot near Old Man’s Cave. But what initially seemed like a tragic accident was quickly ruled foul play, when investigators discovered evidence that the falling tree may not have been “a natural occurrence.”

Ohio Crime Stoppers offered a $10,000 reward for any information that might lead to arrest and conviction of the responsible parties, and the incentive seems to have worked. On October 10th, Churchheus and Buckley were arrested and confessed to playing a part in Schafer’s death.

According to WLWT, the teens were arrested after authorities received a tip about a text message one of the teens sent to a classmate saying that “he and a friend did something serious.” Once arrested, the teens admitted to “forcing a 74-pound log off a cliff,” which fell more than 75 feet, hitting and killing Schafer while she was taking senior portraits for a group of students.

The teens appeared in court today, where a Hocking County judge decided that they would both be tried as adults and issued each a bond of $100,000. According to NBC4i, if convicted on all four charges mentioned above, they could face life in prison.

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