April 22, 2018

Virginia woman mauled to death by her pit bulls

21 December 2017, 01:07 | Francis Delgado

Woman Found Dead After Her Own Dogs Maul Her While on a Walk

Two pit bulls mauled their owner to death during a walk in the woods in Virginia, sheriff says

"I observed, as well as four other deputy sheriffs observed", Goochland County Sheriff Jim Agnew said, "the dogs eating the rib cage on the body". But the body was Stephens' and police say the pit bulls were eating her, he said.

"It was an absolutely grisly mauling", Agnew said.

Agnew said that in his 'nearly 40 years in law enforcement, I've never seen anything quite like it'.

Agnew confirmed the medical examiner said Stephens was on her "menstrual period", but added: "But I don't think there's any way we can definitively say what caused the attack". She had defensive wounds on her hands and arms, and it appears that she was alive when the animals attacked.

Barbara Norris, one of Stephens' best friends, said "I wasn't able to see the body, so I can't tell you what happened".

Despite insistence from friends that Bethany Lynn Stephens was not killed by her dogs, police are certain there was no foul play involved in her death.

"It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death", he said. "They'd kill you with kisses".

There is no shortage of theories about last week's deadly dog mauling in Goochland County.

He said small bite marks were found on the body and the wounds didn't puncture Stephens' skull, ruling out that a larger animal, such as a bear, was to blame for the attack.

After talking with the family, Agnew said, "Let me cut right to the chase, the most important detail that we did not release because we were anxious about the well-being of the family is that in the course of trying to capture the dogs early Friday morning. we turned and looked ..."

Two firefighters injured on Thomas Fire
The firestorm destroyed them. "We're definitely not out of the woods yet; there's a lot of heat up on the hill", he said. Crews also will construct fire lines and control the fire's perimeter, while monitoring and protecting structures.

Dog owners at a Carytown pet supply store fear this investigation feeds into the stigma surrounding pit bulls.

There were no signs of strangulation, leading Agnew to say Stephens probably wasn't killed in a homicide, according to WTVR. At the time, he said, they do not believe the death was foul play.

Friends explained that Stephens was going through certain personal events and she no longer had the dogs with her.

"That's not something I would normally see", she said.

8News has also learned that in the month's before her death, Stephens' dogs were living in a kennel outside her dad's house.

The dogs were euthanized Saturday at 11 a.m. and are being preserved until officials can perform a necropsy on them.

Sheriff Agnew said once that takes place it will be about two weeks before results are available and there could potentially be more answers as to what may have happened.

"We spent a lot of time there at the scene and made some observations that, out of respect for the family, we're not releasing", Agnew said.

Agnew said Stephens' family is convinced with the findings of the investigators.

Veterinary experts have also said that it's is extremely rare for a dog to just attack at random. "Once a dog tastes human flesh it is not safe to have that dog around humans". The report is expected to be complete in 90 days.

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