Science

Details Revealed in Dog Mauling of Virginia Woman Found in Woods

Details Revealed in Dog Mauling of Virginia Woman Found in Woods

They were socialized, indoor dogs whose owner, 22-year-old Bethany Lynn Stephens, was said to treat them like her own children., according to KTLA sister station WTVR in Richmond.

"It appeared the attack was a violent attack initiated by the victims' dogs while the victim was out for a walk with the dogs", said James Agnew, the sheriff in Goochland County. "In my almost 40 years in law enforcement, I've never seen anything quite like it", he said.

Initial medical examiner's reports indicated that Stephens, who stood 5-foot-1 and weighted 125 pounds, had defensive wounds on her hands and arms.

The autopsy showed no signs of trauma, that some of the attack injuries were made while she was still alive and that her wounds are consistent with a smaller animal - not a coyote or wolf.

"She was supposed to go take care of her dogs at her dad's house and come back", Barbara Norris, a friend of Bethany Stephens, said.

Although Dr. Amy Learn, a veterinarian at Cary Street Veterinary Hospital, did not know Stephens or her dogs, she said that "dogs don't typically just out of the blue attack their owners, so there is typically some kind of provocation".

"They'd kill you with kisses", Norris told NBC affiliate WWBT, adding that the dogs' kennels looked as though they had been forced open. "I don't want to disparage any particular breed but if you do the research you will find that many of them are perpetuated by pit bulls".

There is no shortage of theories about last week's deadly dog mauling in Goochland County.

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Agnew said he had been withholding the details because he was concerned it would upset Stephens' family.

Agnew said at least one of the dogs had a significant amount of blood on its collar and neck.

"I observed, as well as four other deputy sheriffs observed, the dogs eating the rib cage on the body", Agnew was quoted as saying by the Washington Post. Her father had gone searching for her after she went missing and was the first to discover her body.

"That's not something I would normally see", she said.

Authorities said the bite marks on Stephens, including the ones on her skull, were consistent with canine marks. Authorities said earlier that the dogs were bred for fighting - a piece of information apparently provided by one of Stephens' friends. We're still doing some forensic tests.

The dogs were euthanized Saturday at 11 a.m. and are being preserved until officials can perform a necropsy on them. The report is expected to be complete in 90 days.

Sheriff Agnew said once that takes place it will be about two weeks before results are available and there could potentially be more answers as to what may have happened.

"What I observed personally, it was in the community's best interest", Sheriff Agnew said in the news conference. "Once a dog tastes human flesh, it's no longer safe to have that dog around humans".


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