Authorities shed light on the circumstances surrounding the horrific death of a 22-year-old Virginia woman who was reported missing by her father and found the next day in a wooded area near her home.
Bethany Lynn Stephens was reported missing on Wednesday by her father when he didnâ€™t see her for a day. He was the one who found his daughterâ€™s body â€“ and the dogs that are believed to have taken her life.
â€ś(Her body) was being guarded by two very large, brindle-colored pit bull dogs,â€ť Goochland County Sheriff James L. Agnew said during a news conference on Friday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
Agnew confirmed that the dogs belonged to Stephens and were likely bred for fighting. Reading from an initial autopsy report, he described the cause of death as â€śconsistent with being mauled by these dogs.â€ť
â€śThe first traumatic injury to her was to her throat and face,â€ť Agnew said. â€śIt appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death.â€ť
Stephens was alive when the animals attacked her and sustained defensive wounds on her hands and arms. Investigators have ruled out homicide.
â€śIt was an absolutely grisly mauling,â€ť Agnew said. â€śIn my nearly 40 years in law enforcement, Iâ€™ve never seen anything quite like it. I hope I never see anything like that again.â€ť
It took deputies several hours to get the dogs â€“ each of which weighed as much as Stephens â€“ under control. Animal control officers from a neighboring county were called in and forced to use tranquilizers on the pit bulls, which are now being held by Goochland County Animal Control and are expected to be euthanized.