The revelation that two pit bulls were spotted eating the rib cage of a 22-year-old woman found dead in Virginia late last year wasn't enough to convince some that the victim's own dogs had killed her. But Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew hopes an autopsy will. The report from the state medical examiner finds Bethany Lynn Stephens died from "trauma due to mauling by animals" while walking her dogs near her father's home, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "Stephens was not raped, and this was not a homicide," the report states, referencing wounds consistent with an animal mauling, including defensive wounds, and "extensive postmortem animal predation at the face, torso and arms."
Agnew previously revealed similar gruesome details to combat theories that Stephens' pit bulls—since euthanized—might have been trying to protect her from an attacker. The autopsy "substantiated what we observed," says Agnew, noting the police investigation into Stephens' death is now closed. "There are going to be those who aren't going to believe [the report]" but the investigation will remain closed "unless somebody steps forward with some really strong evidence," he adds. A friend of Stephens tells WRIC she still has doubts, though an animal behaviorist tells WWBT that it's entirely plausible the dogs got into a "pack mentality" and pounced. "At that point, they don't care who their owner is. ... All they know is they're in the zone to bite, attack and fight."