Deputies said that necropsies on the two pit bulls that killed Virginia woman Bethany Lynn Stephens were completed this week, according to a report.
The two pit bulls were euthanized as a safety precaution to the community, local officials said.
The sheriff said that long, wavy hair that appears human was found in a fecal sample of one of the dogs, named Pac-Man, WTVR reported. The results of the necropsies will be sent to a lab for more testing.
Stephens had adopted the other pit bull, Tonka, as a puppy in 2015. A year later, she adopted Pac-Man after he was handed off by several owners.
Pac-Man was not neutered, according to the report, adding that the first owner said she gave him to a friend after he snapped at her while she was pregnant.
The dog ended up back with that woman. She noticed wounds on his neck that indicated signs of abuse.
The woman then put Pac-Man up for adoption and Stephens took him in. She was warned that he was abused and had snapped before.
Her father warned Stephens that the dog was “dangerous,” the WTVR report stated.
Certified master dog trainer Valerie Paul told WTVR that she did not know Stephens, Pac-Man, or Tonka, but she offered potential answers as to why the dogs attacked their owner.
“Most dogs aren’t going to just turn on an owner,” Paul told the station. “As more and more details come out, I think there probably was some sort of outside influence, but not necessarily another animal or anything like that—just something that could have enticed the dogs to get overexcited and react the way dogs will.”
“The fact that they are pit bulls doesn’t connect to what they did, it is a dog thing,” said Paul. She said at the end of the day, dogs are animals, and in extreme circumstances, they can potentially view even their owners as threats or food sources.”
“That’s actually very normal, dogs view people very differently than how we view people, when we see a body, we think of our loved ones and all of the memories that they bring to us, dogs don’t, in general.”
Sergeant Mike Blackwood also said that the dogs were a “bit neglected” before they attacked Stephens. They went from inside dogs to dogs living outside in a kennel.
More than a week ago, officials noted that the woman’s father had called 911 after 8 p.m. saying 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 during a news conference.
It took officials more than an hour to catch the dogs. 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 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.”