Professor allegedly pushed over cliff by friends who thought they were in his will

Danelle Geier and George Ishler Jr

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) – A woman has been charged along with a man in the death of a Penn State professor who police say was pushed off a cliff at a quarry and fell 80 feet.

Danelle Geier, 32, of Lemont, was arraigned Saturday night on charges of first- and third-degree murder, conspiracy, aggravated assault and evidence-tampering, The Centre Daily Times reported.

George Ishler Jr., 39, of Pennsylvania Furnace, had previously been charged with first- and third-degree murder in the death of Ronald Bettig, 56, an associate professor of media studies whose remains were found last week.

Authorities said Ishler and the professor were friends and Geier was living with him, and they allege that the two plotted to kill Bettig because they believed they would gain financially from a will Bettig recently signed.

According to WJAC, authorities allege in court documents that the two originally plotted to have Ishler drown Bettig in the ocean during a trip to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, and later came up with the plot to kill him at Blackhawk Quarry in Potter Township. During the trip to Rehoboth Beach, authorities allege, Geier texted Ishler, and made an alleged reference to being ready to kill Bettig because she was angry that he had criticized how she was raising her son.

Authorities allege that the pair persuaded Bettig to travel to the quarry by telling him they could harvest marijuana there. They allege that Geier told police that Ishler told her that the plants were so close to the edge that Bettig might fall, but if he didn’t, Ishler would “help” him. Authorities allege that Ishler pushed Bettig, who fell 80 feet to his death, police said.

Authorities allege that Geier told police that she and Ishler also agreed to stage the scene with items such as Bettig’s car to make it appear as if he was alone, and they agreed to report him missing three days later. The two told police Aug. 15 that Bettig and his vehicle had been missing for three days and suggested that he may have gone to California, authorities said in court documents.

According to Penn State’s website, Bettig joined the College of Communications in 1988 and was an associate professor of media studies. He taught courses on the political economy of communications and wrote at least two books on the subject.

Court documents don’t list an attorney for Geier; a listed number for her couldn’t be found Sunday. Attorney information for Ishler also wasn’t available. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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