A friend of the Virginia woman who was killed by her pet dogs can’t believe what happened.
Bethany Stephens, 22, was found dead in a wooded area last week at around 8:20 p.m. local time off Manakin Road, Goochland, Virginia, according to local broadcaster WTVR. Her father had called 911 after 8 p.m. to report that he found her in the woods.
Deputies who responded to the incident described a grisly scene, saying the dogs were eating her, a local sheriff said.
“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, Dec. 18, in an update.
But a friend, Barbara Norris, told WWBT in Richmond that it’s unexpected that her dogs would attack Stephens.
She said, “Those dogs would not attack her. They’d kill you with kisses … 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… The only time they got aggressive is if they thought there was a threat going towards her.”
Friends told WRIC that Stephens had been receiving death threats before the attack.
The family of Stephens gave permission for the pit bulls to be put down.
“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.”
— Laura French (@lfrenchnews) December 18, 2017
Officials do not suspect foul play in Stephens’ death.
Investigators are still evaluating statements made by other witnesses.
“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 local police official, Sgt. Mike Blackwood, stated that the dogs were left with her father. They were, as he put it, held up “in the cold” inside a small kennel before the attack.
“[Stephens’ father] wasn’t taking care of them — it wasn’t his responsibility,” Blackwood alleged.
Shawn Whitlock, who is an investigator with the sheriff’s office, told the Washington Post that there were no signs that she was killed any other way.
“Nothing that said domestic violence. Nothing that said she was stabbed. Nothing that said she was shot. No bones, no injuries to the throat area. . . . There was no particular bleeding inside the esophagus, which would’ve been conducive with choking her out. None of that,” Whitlock told the Post.
But officials noted the questions surrounding details of the case.
“I don’t think there’s any way we can definitively say what caused the attack,” Agnew told the Post.