HOCKING COUNTY, Ohio — Two Logan teens who were charged with reckless homicide in the death of a Chillicothe woman at Hocking Hills State Park could potentially be charged as adults, according to Hocking County Prosecutor Benjamin E. Fickel.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced the arrest of the 16-year-olds on Thursday. The teens were charged in connection to the death of 44-year-old Victoria Schafer, who was struck and killed by a 74-pound, 6-foot long log while sitting on the stairs at Old Man’s Cave on Sept. 2. She was with a group of about five students taking photos for them.
On Friday, the two teens appeared in court via video. They are both being held at the Multi-County Juvenile Detention Center in Lancaster. They were assigned court-appointed attorneys, entered denials to their charges and were ordered to remain in custody.
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“What I’ve been told by law enforcement is that they did not show any kind of remorse,” Fickel said. “One of the two actually did a walk-through of the park last night, where he did break down crying, but there’s some other information that kind of negates that as well that maybe that they were not remorseful.”
Fickel would not elaborate more on that lack of remorse, but he did say much more evidence will “come out” to prove that.
“If you just look at the fact that this is over 30 days since this has happened, and these kids have not come forward, to me, that shows that they’re not remorseful, they’re trying to cover something up, they’re trying to hide this,” he said.
It was not until this past Tuesday, Oct. 8, that a tip to Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers started to unravel the case.
Fickel says the mother of a student who had seen or heard about an incriminating text message made the call. A $10,000 reward had been offered in this case, but it is not yet clear if that payout will go to the tipster.
That text message was reportedly sent by one of the accused teenagers, according to Fickel. It said the teen had done something “serious” at the park.
Fickel said, on Sept. 2, the two boys were with two teenage girls, ages 14 and 19, and were either trying to show off or scare them. The boys took the log from a pile that, evidence shows, had been there about eight years. They were piled there after routine clearing of the park.
But, Fickel said the boys had to lift, push or roll that log 44 feet, over or around other downed trees, to get it to the edge of the cliff. From there, it is not exactly clear what happened because the boys’ stories do not match right now.
Fickel said they did admit to forcing the log off the cliff during an interview but did not say why.
The two teenage girls who were with the boys are not being charged. But others who had knowledge of what happened and did not come forward could potentially face charges.
“Being a busy holiday weekend, we just kind of assumed that it was somebody from out of town,” Fickel said. “And then to find out that it was not just in our backyard, but our own community has known about this, or at least certain people in our community have known about this and known about their responsibility, or their connection to it, is very frustrating.”
Fickel said because of the serious nature of the crime, the lack of remorse and other evidence that has yet to be revealed, the teenagers could face even more serious charges. He said many feel the current charges are “not enough” for the teens.
10TV did reach out to the attorneys for both boys. Only one replied, saying he was just assigned the case on Friday and that it was too early to comment.