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Criminal investigation underway in death of woman at Hocking Hills State Park

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HOCKING HILLS, Ohio - An investigation is underway into the mysterious death of a woman who was taking photos at Hocking Hills State Park.

She was killed by part of a falling tree, but authorities say it appears it didn’t fall naturally.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) says photographer Victoria Schafer, 44, of Chillicothe was taking senior pictures of six high schoolers near Old Man's Cave in Hocking Hills when part of a tree fell on her, killing her.

Authorities won’t say how the branch fell, or if it was already cut, but say it does not appear to be natural.

“I would say we have information to support that the section of the tree that struck the victim did not fall by natural means,” said Captain Schaad Johnson of ODNR.

Schafer’s family says investigators told them a loose log fell onto her.

ODNR now says a group of people may have been responsible because there were people on top of the cave, which is where the section of the tree fell from.

“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,” Johnson said.

They are now asking anyone who was in Hocking Hills on Labor Day and saw anything suspicious to please contact them. Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is assisting in the investigation.

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