A 22-year-old Virginia woman was mauled to death by her dogs while walking them in the woods near her home, authorities said Friday.

Bethany Lynn Stephens’ body was found “guarded by two very large, brindle-colored pit bull dogs” Thursday, Goochland County Sheriff James L. Agnew said during a news conference, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.



Agnew said the dogs belonged to Stephens and suspected that they had been bred to fight, according to the report.

Reports from the medical examiner’s office said Stephens’ cause of death was “consistent with being mauled by these dogs,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

“The first traumatic injury to her was to her throat and face,” Agnew said. “It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death,”“It was an absolutely grisly mauling. In my nearly 40 years in law enforcement, I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” he said. “I hope I never see anything like it again.”


Stephens’ father called the sheriff’s office when he hadn’t seen her in a day. He searched for his daughter, and found the dogs aggressively protecting her body, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Agnew said deputies spent hours trying to wrangle the dogs. He estimated that each dog weighed about as much as Stephens — she was 5-foot-1 and weighed 125 pounds.

There was blood at the scene, and Stephens’ clothing was strewn about.

Deputies spent eight hours collecting more than 60 pieces of evidence, Agnew said.

Goochland County Animal Control took possession of the dogs, which Agnew suspects will be euthanized.