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Dogs went through 'drastic lifestyle' changes before mauling owner

21 December 2017

By holding a late night press conference on Monday, police in Virginia have released new disturbing details about the grisly death of a 22-year-old woman who was killed by her own dogs.

Bethany Lynn Stephens' father called 911 Thursday, at about 8:18 p.m., when he went looking for his daughter off Manakin Road in Goochland, where she often walked her dogs. But the body was Stephens' and police say the pit bulls were eating her, he said. "I observed, as well as four other deputy sheriffs, the dogs eating the ribcage on the body", Agnew said, according to local media outlet WLWT. "In my almost 40 years in law enforcement, I've never seen anything quite like it", Agnew said, according to

A Carytown Veterinarian said it's highly unusual for a dog to attack its owner, and she has a lot of questions about what actually happened when a Goochland woman was allegedly mauled to death by her dogs. Bruising did show that some of the bites were inflicted while the victim was still alive and others after she passed away.

The two dogs together weighed twice as much as Stephens, who authorities described as "petite" and weighing 45kg.

A man who used to work with Stephens at a dog training facility told said she was very experienced working with animals, and loved her dogs.

Norris said the dogs' kennels looked as though they had been forced open and suggested that something may have happened to Stephens after she walked the dogs, so the animals forced themselves out to help her. She left them with her father and visited about five times a week to take the dogs out.

Agnew said that they also didn't believe she'd been killed by a person. Agnew is likely to request that they be euthanized.

He said Stephens' relatives have requested for the dogs to be euthanized.

"Ms. Stephens was terribly, terribly injured, but it was very apparent to us that she had been dead for quite some time", Agnew told reporters, adding later that the damage to her body "was so extensive that there was nothing left to compare bite marks to".

Stephens suffered wounds to her face, throat and hands. Agnew said at least one of the dogs had a significant amount of blood on its collar and neck. "I've seen more non-pit bull breeds be aggressive towards people than pit bulls". "We are still doing forensic tests".

Agnew said the investigation is ongoing but there were no strangulation marks on her body and the incident was not ruled a homicide. "Dogs don't typically just out of the blue attack their owners, so there is typically some kind of provocation". "Once a dog tastes human flesh it is not safe to have that dog around humans".

The Richmond SPCA released a statement Tuesday morning saying that they support law enforcement, and also urge the community to not "take a tragedy as an occasion to make unwarranted and unfounded generalizations about types of dogs". The report is expected to be complete in 90 days.

Dogs went through 'drastic lifestyle' changes before mauling owner