GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. -- Bethany Lynn Stephens, a 22-year-old Glen Allen woman found dead in the woods off Manakin Road Thursday night, was mauled to death by her dogs, Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew said.
Stephens' father called 911 Thursday, at about 8:18 p.m., when he went looking for his daughter in an area of Goochland where she often walked her dogs.
He discovered her dogs in the woods, and he told the sheriff's office the dogs appeared to be "guarding" Bethany's body.
Sheriff's deputies arrived and spent 60 to 90 minutes attempted to catch the dogs -- which the sheriff described as pit bull dogs.
Bethany's body was taken to the Medical Examiner's Office.
"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 Agnew said the Medical Examiner's initial report indicated. "The victim had defensive wounds on her hands and arms trying to keep the dogs away from her, which would be consistent with being attacked while she was still alive."
Agnew said it appeared that the first traumatic injury she suffered was to her throat and face.
"It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death," he said.
While the investigation was considered on-going, Sheriff Agnew said there were no strangulation marks on Stephens' body and this was not a homicide.
The dogs are with Goochland Animal Control and the sheriff's office will pursue euthanization.
"It was an absolutely grisly mauling ," Sheriff Agnew said. "In my 40 years of law enforcement I've never seen anything quite like it. I hope I never see anything like it again."
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