When Bethany Lynn Stephens failed to return home after taking her two pet pit bulls for a walk, family members grew worried and went looking for her.
What they found was gruesome. Stephens’ dead body was found in the woods, covered in blood and having suffered what authorities said were grievous injuries. The cause of death was even more disturbing — police believe her own dogs mauled her to death.
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, the wounds were consistent with an attack by the two pit bulls, which they said were large and aggressive.
“It appeared the attack was a violent attack initiated by the victims’ dogs while the victim was out for a walk with the dogs,” Sheriff James Agnew said (via WTVR).
Agnew said that Stephens suffered serious injuries to her face and throat. He believes that the 22-year-old Virginia woman was taken to the ground during the attack, lost consciousness, and then was mauled to death.
It was actually the father of Bethany Lynn Stephens who discovered her body after she went missing. He went to a place where she frequently walked with the dogs and found her on the ground, believing at first that she was just injured. But he quickly realized that she had been killed, and the dogs were standing guard over her.
It took authorities more than an hour to catch the dogs, which the sheriff’s office said were large and “trained to fight,” NBC 12 reported.
But some friends don’t believe that Bethany Lynn Stephens was killed by her own dogs. As NBC 12 reported, friends of Stephens said the dogs were not aggressive and could not have turned on their owner as police claim they did.
“Those dogs would not attack her,” said Barbara Norris, a friend of Bethany. “They’d kill you with kisses.”
AWFUL! A Virginia woman, who was found dead in a wooded area, was mauled to death by her two dogs, according to the Goochland Sheriff's Office.
Bethany Lynn Stephens, 22, was discovered just after 8:15 p.m. Thursday in a remote area.
— Newschannel 6 (@Newschannel6Now) December 16, 2017
Norris added that Bethany slept with the dogs at night and that she believes the animals may have been protecting her from an attack when she was killed.
This is not the first pit bull attack to make national headlines in recent weeks. Back in October, a 7-year-old Massachusetts boy was killed in a pit bull attack. Authorities said the young boy entered a fenced area where the animals were kept and they attacked him, causing fatal injuries. The animals were euthanized afterward.
The death of Bethany Lynn Stephens remains under investigation by the Goochland County Sheriff’s Department. Her pet dogs will reportedly be euthanized.