Victoria Schafer stood on September 2 at the Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio and portrayed six high school seniors near Old Man's Cave.
For Ms. Schafer, a 44-year-old photographer, it was one of her favorite projects, according to friends. The scenery was idyllic: the sprawling park in Logan, about 80 kilometers southeast of Columbus, offers waterfalls, green groves and more than 48 kilometers of trails.
One photo from that day showed six young men and women standing shoulder to shoulder, not quite ankle-deep in the water, with a waterfall in the background.
The investigators found evidence that the fallen trunk was not "a natural occurrence. "
Weeks passed without clues as to what had happened. A $ 10,000 reward was offered to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of those in charge.
Then came a tip.
Authorities on Thursday accused two 16-year-old boys of ruthless murder in connection with Ms. Schafer's death, the Hocking County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
Investigators interviewed the two teenagers, which led to a confession, the sheriff's office said.
The Chillicothe Gazette reported that one of the adolescents sent a text message to a classmate explaining that he had done something serious with another teenager in the park.
Mary Mertz, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, who made the arrests and collaborated with the sheriff's investigators,  said in a statement, "I appreciate the valuable contributions the public made to this case and the Persistence and Determination of Investigators. "
The identity of the teens was not right Because of their age, the sheriff's office said. They were detained at the Multi-County Juvenile Detention Center in Lancaster, Ohio.
The newspaper reported that the youths held a detention hearing on Friday rejecting the charges.
The size of the tree trunk and the height from which it fell were not available on Sunday. Ms. Schafer, the owner of Victoria Schafer Photography, was declared dead at the scene.
Her death shook Chillicothe about 50 miles south of Columbus, where she lived. A Memorial Facebook page described her love for family, work, and community.
"One thing I know to be true is the following: Victoria simply wants the result of all these measures to be safer and more attentive in all the parks," reads a post by the group with photos Mrs. Shepherd made on the day she was staying has died. "She would never have endangered the lives of these children – or any other human being."
Woman. Schafer's son John told The Dayton Daily News, "If there's anyone who understands teens make mistakes, it's my mother and me." If it were really just some kids who did not know better or just stupid kids, and not anymore, my mother would understand. "