Virginia woman found dead in woods, mauled by her two pit bulls

Muriel Hammond
December 21, 2017

Despite insistence from friends that Bethany Lynn Stephens was not killed by her dogs, police are certain there was no foul play involved in her death.

Stephens had been living elsewhere and had left the dogs with her father.

Her wounds, which also included puncture wounds in her skull, were consistent with having been mauled. Investigators also found bloody articles of clothing scattered in the area. He found the two dogs near Stephens' body, which they appeared to be "guarding", according to WTVR. Bruising did show that some of the bites were inflicted while the victim was still alive and others after she passed away.

Agnew said Stephens' family is convinced with the findings of the investigators. "Dogs don't typically just out of the blue attack their owners, so there is typically some kind of provocation".

Investigators said she had no injuries that would have led them to believe she was beaten, choked, stabbed, or shot. But she wonders if there is more to the story.

"Was there somebody else there?"

After news of the grisly incident broke, Stephens' friend and a veterinarian questioned Agnew's explanation of her death. "Were there stray dogs, coyotes [or] something else in the woods", Learn asked.

"Since this has happened, I spent a significant amount of time researching attacks by dogs of this sort and while it is not an everyday occurrence, it is not rare and it happens with some frequency in this country", Agnew said.


Sheriff Agnew said that several witnesses came forward and helped them put a time frame together, they do not believe Stephens was attacked by another animal and do not believe the dogs were trying to "protect her". "It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death", he added.

Norris says the dogs even slept in bed with Stephens at night.

"The first traumatic injury to her was to her throat and face", Agnew said, reading from the initial autopsy results. On Thursday he went looking for his daughter.

Close friends of Bethany Stephens insist there's no way the young woman's two pit bulls, Tonka and Pacman, would turn on her. "I observed, as well as four other deputy sheriffs, the dogs eating the ribcage on the body", Agnew said. "In my almost 40 years in law enforcement, I've never seen anything quite like it", he said. "I wasn't able to see the body, so I can't tell you what happened". He added that it took investigators eight hours to collect over 60 pieces of evidence.

Agnew estimated that each dog weighed about as much as Stephens, who was 5 ft 1 and weighed 125 pounds.

While the investigation was considered ongoing, Sheriff Agnew said there were no strangulation marks on Stephens' body and this was not a homicide.

The dogs were euthanized Saturday at 11 a.m. and are being preserved until officials can perform a necropsy on them.

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