Pet 'pit bull dogs' maul woman to death on bushland walk
POLICE who found a Virginia woman's bloody, badly-mauled body in bushland after she took her pet dogs for a walk say they believe the dogs are definitely responsible for her death.
Police have reluctantly released the grisly details of what they saw when the found the body of Bethany Stephens, 22, in bush at Goochland, Virginia, late last week, in the hope of ending speculation of over her death.
Bethany's father discovered the grisly scene of her body "guarded" by "two very large, brindle-coloured pit bull dogs," who were Stephens' pets, when she failed to return from taking them for a walk.
At the time, discovery of Bethany's mauled body led to an outcry among friends who said her beloved pets would never have killed her, claiming the dogs would 'kill you with kisses'. Others suggested Stephens may have been murdered.
But Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew has repeated his initial claim Stephens was mauled by her pets, insisting that there was no foul play in Bethany's death, reluctantly revealing police saw when they got to the scene, WTVR reported.
"Let me cut right to the chase, the most important detail that we did not release because we were worried about the wellbeing of the family is that in the course of trying to capture the dogs early Friday morning … we turned and looked … I observed, as well as four other deputy sheriffs, the dogs eating the rib cage on the body," he said in a news conference.
He said he had only released the details after a long discussion with Bethany's family.
"The injuries were very severe," he said.
"The most prevalent damage … the damage was so extensive [on the body] that there was nothing left to compare the bite marks to."
He says the size of bite marks ruled out that a larger animal, such as a bear, was to blame for the attack.
The dogs were caught by police, and later euthanised, with Bethany's family's permission.
It remains unclear what led to the deadly mauling, but a man who used to work with the Stephens said the pet owner loved the canines and was very experienced working with animals.
Others said the dogs were social, passive and had a "significant bond" with Stephens.
But in the time leading up to the attack, the dogs were a "little bit neglected," Sergeant Mike Blackwood said.
He said Stephens had left the dogs with her father.
The indoor dogs were then held up outside "in the cold" in a small kennel and Stephens would return home about five times a week to see them.
"[Stephens' father] wasn't taking care of them - it wasn't his responsibility," Sgt Blackwood said.
This article first appeared in the New York Post and is republished with permission.