Details Revealed in Dog Mauling of Virginia Woman Found in Woods

Warning: Includes graphic details
December 19, 2017 Updated: December 19, 2017    

Sheriff’s deputies who discovered a Virginia woman mauled by her pit bulls revealed more details on her death.

Bethany Stephens, 22, was found dead at around 8:20 p.m. local time off Manakin Road, Goochland, Virginia, on Thursday night, Dec. 14, WTVR reported. The woman’s father had called 911 after 8 p.m. after he found her in the woods. He told the sheriff that her dogs appeared to be “guarding” her body.

“Let me cut right to the chase, the most important detail that we did not release because we were worried 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…I observed, as well as four other deputy sheriffs, the dogs eating the ribcage on the body,” Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew said on Monday during a news conference.

It took officials more than an hour to catch the dogs—which were her pets. They were later put down.

“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 James Agnew said of the preliminary findings from the Medical Examiner’s Office, WTRV reported. “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.”

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

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

“The injuries were very severe,” Agnew added. “The most prevalent damage…the damage was so extensive [on the body] that there was nothing left to compare the bite marks to.”

Authorities don’t suspect foul play in the death of the woman.

“We had a number of witnesses came forward and we were able to put a time frame together and people’s movements together and they don’t fit with that particular narrative,” the sheriff noted. “Having said that, we are still following up on those; we are still doing forensic tests.”

A man who used to work with Stephens said she loved the dogs and was experienced in working with animals.

Sgt. Mike Blackwood said the dogs were left with Stephens’ father, and the indoor dogs were held up outside “in the cold” inside a small kennel. “[Stephens’ father] wasn’t taking care of them — it wasn’t his responsibility,” Blackwood said.