Two pit bulls turned on their owner in Virginia last week in what the local sheriff has called "an absolutely grisly mauling." Authorities says 22-year-old Bethany Lynn Stephens had been missing for a day when her father found her body in a wooded area where she often walked the dogs, People reports. Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew told reporters that when police arrived they found "various articles of clothing … torn into small pieces" around Stephens' body. She also had defensive wounds on her hands and arms that "would be consistent with being attacked while she was still alive,” Agnew said. Stephens' father said he found the dogs "guarding" her body when he arrived on the scene.
Animal-control and sheriff's department officials spent an hour trying to tranquilize the animals, which are now with Goochland Animal Control and likely to be euthanized, per the family's request, the Washington Post reports. Not everyone is convinced the pit bulls are responsible for Stephens' death, however. One of her friends, Barbara Norris, told a local news station that the dogs, which Stephens had raised since they were puppies, would only "kill you with kisses." She suggested that something may have happened to Stephens after she returned from her walk and that the dogs may have forced their way out of their kennels to help her.