Teenager pleads guilty in killing of photographer at Hocking Hills State Park in 2019

Teenager pleads guilty in killing of photographer at Hocking Hills State Park in 2019
Jordan Buckley, left and Jaden Churchhreus, middle, accused in the death of Victoria Schafer at Hocking Hills State Park. (Courtesy / Brittany Bailey of 10TV)

LOGAN — A 17-year-old pleaded guilty Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter in the Labor Day 2019 killing of a photographer at Hocking Hills State Park.

Jaden Churchheus, one of two juveniles charged, admitted his part in the crime as part of a plea agreement in Hocking County Common Pleas Court that including the dismissal of murder and reckless homicide charges, our news partner WBNS-TV (10tv.com) reported.

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Victoria Schafer, 44, a Chillicothe photographer, was killed almost instantly when Churchheus and co-defendant Jordan Buckley, now 17, forced a 6-foot, 74-pound log off a cliff at Old Man’s Cave. Schafter was taking photos of area students when she was struck, investigators said.

Both initially pleaded not guilty charges filed at the time. But now, Churchheus has changed his plea to guilty.

The judge accepted the recommended sentence of 3 to 4-and-a-half years with time served, but said he would delay imposing sentence so the case can be moved back to juvenile court. That hearing is set for Oct. 15.

Buckley also has a similar change-of-plea hearing set for Sept. 25. His final sentencing also would be scheduled for Oct. 15 if the case proceeds in the same way as the Churchheus case.