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Photographer Killed by Falling Branch During Shoot, Foul Play Suspected

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An Ohio-based photographer was shooting senior photos at a state park earlier this month when she was struck by a falling tree branch and killed. Authorities suspect foul play, and now a $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to justice.

FOX8 reports that 44-year-old Victoria Schafer was standing on stairs near Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills State Park and shooting portraits of six high school students when part of a tree fell on her.

Old Man’s Cave at Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio. Photo by Aaron Zhu and licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

After taking a look at the branch and scene, investigators concluded that it didn’t appear to be a natural event, and things went from being an accident investigation to being a criminal investigation.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) says there was a group of people on top of the cave where the branch fell from when the incident occurred, and that those people may have been responsible for Schafer’s death.

“We do have evidence to support that individuals, and we have descriptions of them, were on the top section above where this incident happened and dislodged this section of tree,” ODNR Captain Schaad Johnson tells FOX8.

Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers (phone number 800-222-8477) is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person (or people) responsible.

ODNR and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation are teaming up on the investigation, and they’re asking anyone who was in the area that day to report anything suspicious they may have seen.

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