GOOCHLAND COUNTY, VA (WRIC) — A medical examiner has determined that the 22-year-old woman who was found dead in a wooded area of Virginia was mauled to death by her own dogs.
The Goochland County Sheriff’s Office says deputies received a call at 8:18 p.m. Thursday from a man who discovered the woman’s body in a remote area. Deputies investigated the area overnight for several hours into Friday morning.
On Friday, police identified the woman as 22-year-old Bethany Stephens. Goochland County Sheriff Jim Agnew described Stephens as ‘petite,’ and said the dogs were between 100 to 120 pounds.
When deputies found her body, they said she had suffered ‘severe trauma’ and was being guarded by the two dogs.
Police said Stephens grew up in Goochland but lived in Glen Allen. She was in the area visiting with her father.
The medical examiner said Stephens had defensive wounds on her hands and arms from fighting off the dogs. The examiner said this proves she was alive when she was attacked.
One of Stephens’ best friends says she does not believe the animals would have done anything to hurt her, considering that she had raised them since they were puppies.
“I wasn’t able to see the body, so I can’t tell you what happened. I can’t tell you if it was a blunt force or if it was a mauling, but I know those dogs didn’t do it,” Barbara Norris said.
Friends say Stephens had recently been receiving death threats prior to the incident, which is another reason why they question whether the dogs were to blame.
Police do not believe this was a homicide but are waiting on toxicology reports to make a determination.
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office is working to have the dogs euthanized.