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Virginia woman killed in 'grisly mauling' by her dogs, cops say

17 December 2017

Bethany Lynn Stephens' father called 911 Thursday, at about 8pm when he went looking for his daughter off Manakin Road in Goochland, where she often walked her dogs.

Although Dr. Amy Learn, a veterinarian at Cary St Veterinary Hospital, did not know Stephens or her dogs, she believes many questions still need to be answered.

"I think the investigation needs to be ongoing", she said.

It reportedly took the deputies over an hour to catch the canines, said to be pit bulls.

"(Her body) was being guarded by two very large, brindle-colored pit bull dogs", Sheriff James L. Agnew said during a news conference Friday. "It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death". Agnew said they were seeking to have the animals euthanized.

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However, Agnew did note that it appeared the dogs had been bred for fighting.

According to the medical examiner's office, the 22-year-old had defensive wounds on her hands and arms, which indicated that she was attacked while still alive. Agnew says it took deputies hours to wrangle the dogs, which he estimated weighed as much as Stephens.

Stephens's friend, Barbara Norris, was not convinced by the authorities' account of her death, saying the dogs, which Stephens had been raising since they were puppies, would never turn on her, ABC affiliate WRIC reported.

Agnew said Stephens was a petite 5-foot-1, no match for her burly 100-125 pound dogs.

Her wounds, which also included puncture wounds in her skull, were consistent with having been mauled.

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"There were various articles of clothing, underclothing scattered about the area, not far from the body and torn into small pieces".

"We spent a lot of time there at the scene and made some observations that, out of respect for the family, we're not releasing", Agnew said.

The sheriff says they were huge and trained to fight. But she wonders if there is more to the story. "In my 40 years of law enforcement, I've never seen anything like it".

"I wasn't able to see the body, so I can't tell you what happened".

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Virginia woman killed in 'grisly mauling' by her dogs, cops say