Woman killed by her own dogs while on a walk, police say

Phillip Butler
December 21, 2017

The two dogs who authorities say mauled their 22-year-old owner to death have been euthanized, according to the Goochland County Sheriff's Office. When he found his daughter, investigator say the young woman's two pit bulls Tonka and Pac-man were standing guard over her body.

"It was an absolutely grisly mauling", sheriff Jim Agnew said. "In my 40 years of law enforcement I've never seen anything quite like it".

While she had a Glen Allen address, Agnew said, Stephens grew up in Goochland and frequently walked the dogs in the wooded area where her body was found, which was near an old family farm. He told The Washington Post earlier that investigators don't suspect foul play and that evidence recovered from the scene, including defensive wounds on her hands and arms, showed that the dogs were responsible for her death. It took officials about an hour to capture the dogs, reports say.

Meanwhile, one of the Stephens' best friends said she does not believe the animals would have done anything to hurt her, considering that she had raised them since they were puppies. She suggested that something may have happened to Stephens after walking the dogs, and the dogs then forced themselves out to help her. "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".

The dogs are being held at Goochland County Animal Control.

Agnew said it appeared that the first traumatic injury she suffered was to her was to her throat and face.

Police said the dogs appeared to be guarding Bethany's body and officers spent 60 to 90 minutes trying to catch them.


The dogs had previously been indoor dogs and with her coming home maybe five times a week, they became more isolated. She offered WTVR some potential answers as to how and why the dogs allegedly went from adoring their owner to feeding on her body.

Authorities said the bite marks on Stephens, including the ones on her skull, were consistent with canine marks. "It's very possible there was something else that scared them, and unfortunately either they got into a fight with one another, and she was trying to break it up, or one or both redirected towards her in the moment". Detectives do not believe foul play is involved in her death, and the medical examiner concluded there was no sexual assault involved in the incident.

It was not a homicide, Agnew said.

Agnew said Stephens' family is convinced with the findings of the investigators.

The dogs were euthanized Saturday, with the family's permission.

Veterinary experts have also said that it's is extremely rare for a dog to just attack at random. "Once a dog tastes human flesh, it's no longer safe to have that dog around humans". A toxicology report is being run on Stephens and is expected to be completed in about three months.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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