Teens Sentenced in the Death of Photographer After They Pushed Log Over the Cliff Where She Took Portraits Below

The two teenagers who caused the death of a photographer after pushing a log over a cliff edge have been sentenced. Pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter, they have both been sentenced to three years in a juvenile detention center.

On Labor Day last year, Jaden Churchheus and Jordan Buckley, both 17, pushed the log that landed on and killed Victoria Schafer, who was photographing seniors at the bottom of the cliff, in Ohio’s Hocking Hills State Park.

Originally being charged as adults despite their age, the young men were handed less severe sentences due to calls from Schafer’s family to be lenient. A plea deal also took place, meaning the charges changed from murder and reckless homicide to involuntary manslaughter. Both received three years in juvenile detention. An adult sentence has been put on hold and will remain so if the juvenile detention proves successful.

Videos from the trial were posted online by Brittany Bailey of WBNS. Within one, Schafer’s husband recalls their last night together, and in another, he details the injuries she sustained, including to her head, spine, chest cavity, and her ribs.

A third teen involved in the incident, Miranda Spencer, now faces charges of obstruction of justice. Her case continues.

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Charles J's picture

Their sentences are nowhere in line with what they did to that woman.

Grant Watkins's picture

*whispers, it's because they're white.

Jim Bolen's picture

BINGO! Black or brown and they'd be serving at least 10 years.

Stefan Brink's picture

There is a difference between justice and revenge.

T Van's picture

Interesting contrast with the kids who killed NOLS Instructor Peter Absolon. DA in Wyoming decided charges were not in order.

Daniel Watson's picture

If it was my wife I would wait to these kids get out of jail and push them off a cliff, hell you could always plead involuntary manslaughter !

Alex Reiff's picture

That's not how it works. You can only plea guilty to a lesser charge if the prosecutor specifically offers it to you as part of a deal. Considering what you've described is cut and dry first degree murder, you'd be hard pressed to find any prosecutor in their right mind who would offer that.

Arthur q's picture

I understand that "pesticide" is the correct legal term.

$10,00 per hour basic fee.

Alex Reiff's picture

I've said this on other articles about this case, but I'll say it again. Nothing in the reporting I've seen has said whether they actually knew someone was below them when they pushed the log, and considering the charge/sentence they got, I'd be willing to bet they didn't. Everyone who's acting like they're stone cold killers is almost certainly overreacting.

From a pragmatic standpoint, I don't disagree with the sentence. They're probably no more a danger to society than anyone else at this point, they'll certainly have learned their lesson with any amount of jail time, and the victim's family asked for leniency. Keeping them in longer won't do anyone any good.

Chris Rogers's picture

Thank you for your perspective. That is definitely something that should be thought about and considered even given how tragic this whole situationt has been.

Arthur q's picture

These killers were old enough to know that somebody could have been below them and know what their behaviour could have caused.

Alex Reiff's picture

The US criminal justice system is clear on the fact that a person's intention and state of mind determine their legal culpability in a case like this. Hence why they got a "should have known better" sentence instead of a "did it with intention and malice" sentence.

But, I'm sure you know at least a few people who have engaged in equally reckless behavior like texting and driving, but consider them fine people because they've been fortunate enough not to kill anyone so far.

Tony Clark's picture

Does anyone think the sentence fit the action/crime? No one but the husband can forgive the two, he is a better man than I.

Joel Manes's picture

Wow, they got away with murder!

Timothy Turner's picture

If you do something that causes the death of another person, that is murder.

Stefan Brink's picture

No its not. There is a HUGE difference between killing somebody intentionally (murder) or somebody dieing because of something you did, while you didnt realize the grave outcome of your doing.

Timothy Turner's picture

Well in this case if you are in a forest that other people visit it stands to reason that someone might be at the bottom of a hill that you just pushed a log off of. You have therefore created a hazardous situation which makes it murder.

Stefan Brink's picture

By definition murder requires the intent to kill somebody, or it must be obviously highly likely that somebody is going to get killed because of your actions. Usually a forest is not densly populated and pushing a log over something wont harm anybody most of the time, much less kill somebody. That is the reason why there is intentional manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Considering the circumstances the court ruled that it was not intentional and not as obvious as you try to represent.
You should open your mind and have a look past simple revenge. Hell even Mrs Schafers family pleaded for a lenient sentence.

Timothy Turner's picture

You give people too much credit

Timothy Turner's picture

I am not talking about revenge, I believe in forgiveness second chances and redemption, I also believe in being held accountable for your actions.

Stefan Brink's picture

So what is your goal in calling this murder if not looking for a harder sentence?

Timothy Turner's picture

read my last post.

davidlovephotog's picture

I was there at Hocking Hills the year before so this hits. Question is whether they saw her down there before they pushed the log. If they did, this slap on the hand doesn't fly.

Jim Bolen's picture

I grew up not too far from there. Can't tell you how many times I've hiked all around there. Stunning countryside.

T Lewis's picture

The death was not intended. It was a stupid stunt pulled by kids that had a very bad result. The punishment is about right considering, I’m sure all of you wanting a harder punishment were perfect little angels when you were kids. And of course bring race in to it .

Timothy Turner's picture

None of us is perfect, however I was never stupid enough to push a log down a hill because I thought there might be someone at the bottom of said hill who might be negatively "impacted" by the log. I have been in many parks and forests, and I see the same sign posted "leave only foot prints, take only photos"