News that a 22-year-old woman was mauled to death by her two pit bulls in Virginia Thursday night was met with sadness—and plenty of doubt. Amid a sea of cries that the dogs would not have harmed Bethany Lynn Stephens, and perhaps were indeed trying to protect her from an attacker, Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew says he received Stephens' family's permission to reveal some of the more stomach-turning details that had been withheld out of sensitivity for them in order to put to rest the speculation.
"Let me cut right to the chase," said Agnew at a Monday press conference. "The most important detail that we did not release ... 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 ribcage on the body."
As for reports that there was a threatening figure in Stephens' life, Agnew said that after constructing a timeline and confirming people's movements, "they don't fit with that particular narrative." No strangulation marks were noted on her body and she was not sexually assaulted; forensic tests are ongoing, WTVR reports. Agnew also addressed the theory that she was perhaps attacked by a bear, saying the bites didn't puncture her skull, as would be the case with a bear. Sgt. Mike Blackwood added that the formerly indoor dogs were a "little bit neglected towards the end of this" in that Stephens left them in an outdoor kennel at her father's place, visiting them once every day or so, and they became more isolated. Though the Richmond Times-Dispatch notes a Change.org petition asking that the dogs be spared got nearly 17,000 signatures, they were euthanized Saturday. (Read more pit bull stories.)