“Absolutely Grisly Mauling,” Police Say of Virginia Woman Killed by Her Dogs

December 15, 2017 Updated: December 15, 2017

A 22-year-old woman found dead in the woods off Manakin Road, Goochland, Virginia, on Thursday night, Dec.14, was mauled to death by her own dogs, Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew told WTVR reporters.

Bethany Lynn Stephens’ body was reportedly discovered by her father who went out looking for her in a wooded area where he knew she often walked her dogs.

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Bethany Lynn Stephens, a 22-year-old Glen Allen woman, was found dead in the woods off Manakin Road, Goochland, Virginia, on Thursday, Dec. 14. She was mauled to death by her dogs, police say. (Screenshot via Google Maps)

The woman’s father called 911 shortly after 8 p.m. on Thursday, after discovering his daughter’s body in the woods. He told the sheriff the dogs appeared to be “guarding” her body.

The incident occurred in the 2200 block of Manakin Road, with officials dispatched to the scene to investigate overnight.

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Bethany Lynn Stephens, Jun. 11, 2017. (Screenshot via Facebook/Bethany Lynn Stephens)

It reportedly took the deputies over an hour to catch the canines, said to be pit bulls.

Stephens’ body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office, Agnew told reporters, and said that the evidence points to a mauling by the dogs as the cause of death.

The sheriff described the woman as ‘petite,’ while the dogs were said to weigh over 100 pounds.

“It appeared the attack was a violent attack initiated by the victims’ dogs while the victim was out for a walk with the dogs,” Sheriff Agnew said of the preliminary findings from the Medical Examiner’s Office.

“The victim had defensive wounds on her hands and arms trying to keep the dogs away from her, which would be consistent with being attacked while she was still alive.”

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Bethany Lynn Stephens, Jan. 28, 2017. (Screenshot via Facebook/Bethany Lynn Stephens)

It is reported that the first traumatic injury the woman sustained was to the head area.

“It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death,” Agnew said according to a WTVR report.

Agnew indicated that the investigation has yet to be concluded, but has ruled out foul play as the cause of Stephens’ death.

The dogs have reportedly been remanded to animal control authorities, and will likely be put down, Agnew told reporters.

“It was an absolutely grisly mauling,” Agnew said. “In my 40 years of law enforcement I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I hope I never see anything like it again.”

An outpouring of sympathy is being expressed on social media for the tragically deceased woman.

According to Kristin Smith of WRIC news,  tranquilizer guns had to be deployed to control the canines.

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