Investigators in Goochland, Virginia, a rural community about 30 miles outside of Richmond, say the petite, 5-foot-1 young woman, who weighed a little more than 100 pounds, was mauled to death by her dogs, which had a combined weight of about twice hers, while out on a walk earlier this week.
Bethany Lynn Stephens' father called 911 Thursday, at about 8pm when he went looking for his daughter off Manakin Road in Goochland, where she often walked her dogs. She also claims that the kennels had been broken open, as if the dogs had tried to escape to help Bethany, and that the dogs were aggressively guarding her body when John found her.
There are photos of Stephens on her Facebook page with a brindle pitbull, one she had written was named "Tonka". She said Stephens babied the dogs that she had raised since they were puppies. "Were there stray dogs, coyotes [or] something else in the woods", she said.
Sheriff Agnew said, "It was an absolutely grisly mauling".
Agnew said that while he did not know the dogs' background, "they would be dogs that you would suspect would be bred for fighting".
However, Stephens' friends say the pit bulls would never have harmed their owner.
'Those dogs would not attack her, ' she said. "I can't tell you if it was a blunt force or if it was a mauling, but I know those dogs didn't do it".
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The Goochland County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate the incident.
The Sheriff says it appears the young woman had plenty of defensive wounds, meaning she desperately tried to fend off the dogs before her death.
"Either something frightened them or there was an altercation between the two dogs that [Stephens] happened to be in the middle of", Paul said. According to a Medical Examiner's report, Stephens was mauled to death by her two pit bull dogs. The bloody scene was littered with her shredded clothing, and police bagged 60 items of evidence.
Agnew said: "It appears the first traumatic injury she suffered was to her was to her throat and face".
"In my 40 years of law enforcement, I've never seen anything like it", Sheriff Agnew said.
According to Agnew, the area was covered in blood from where the local authorities found Bethany's dead body guarded by the dogs.