Mauled by dogs: Sheriff offers gruesome details to end speculation

Bethany Lynn Stephens

Bethany Lynn Stephens

"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".

Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew says her body was being guarded by two very large pit bulls.

Many have expressed doubt that Stephens was mauled to death, even as police said the grisly scene was conclusive.

"The first traumatic injury to her was to her throat and face", Sheriff Agnew said after reviewing the medical examiner's initial report. He told The Washington Post earlier that investigators don't suspect foul play and that evidence recovered from the scene, including defensive wounds on her hands and arms, showed that the dogs were responsible for her death.

The two dogs together weighed twice as much as Stephens, who authorities described as "petite" and weighing 45kg.

At the time, discovery of Bethany's mauled body led to an outcry among friends claiming that the her 'beloved pets" would never have killed her, claiming the dogs would "kill you with kisses', while suggesting Stephens may have been murdered.

Those who knew Stephens and her dogs said the situation was mystifying. She left them with her father and visited about five times a week to take the dogs out.

"The breed in and of itself is a high energy breed, they like to have a lot of structure and a lot of exercise, so by keeping them in a pen, alone, under-socialized, away from people - that energy is just building up and building up and building up and that's when you start to see dogs fighting more regularly, that's when you start to see more negative scenarios", Paul said.

Authorities said the dogs were euthanized shortly after the attack.

Agnew held a news conference Monday and released the details on Stephens' death after a long discussion with her family about releasing he information, according to WTVR.

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Everyone has said the dogs were socialized, passive and had a significant bond with Stephens.

Tonka and Pac-Man were brindled pit bull brothers from the same litter, born about two and a half years ago.

Again, the medical examiner found no evidence of that: No signs of strangulation, suffocation, blunt force trauma or sexual assault.

Stephens' family agreed to let the sheriff reveal the new details in hopes that everyone - including those who speculate she was killed another way - would understand what happened.

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

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

However, police are still investigating and are carrying out forensic tests.

It was not a homicide, Agnew said.

The investigation is said to be ongoing.

The sheriff recommended that the dogs be put down and the family gave their permission and concurrence. The report is expected to be complete in 90 days.

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