A woman was found dead in the woods in Goochland County, Virginia, mauled to death by her own dogs, authorities said.
The body of 22-year-old woman Bethany Lynn Stephens was found by her father on Thursday at around 8 p.m.
After failing to hear from his daughter, the concerned dad called 911 before looking for her in an area where she often walked her dogs, Pac-Man and Tonka.
Stephens’s father eventually discovered his daughter’s mangled body, which he said was being “guarded” aggressively by the two animals.
Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew said
that once officers arrived at the scene, they spent over an hour trying to capture the large pit bulls, which both weigh as much as their 5-foot-1, 125-pound owner.
Stephens’ body was taken to a medical examiner’s office, where the details of the attack were stated.
“The first traumatic injury to her was to her throat and face,” Sheriff Agnew said after reviewing the medical examiner’s initial report. “It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death.”
“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.”
“It was an absolutely grisly mauling,” he added. “In my 40 years of law enforcement, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I hope I never see anything like it again.”
The two dogs are currently being held at the Goochland Animal Control Center, where they are scheduled to be euthanized.
Despite reports from the medical examiner stating that the dogs were responsible for the attack, friends of the victim have spoken out to advocate for the dogs, claiming details of the story don’t add up.
Barbara Norris, who says she was best friends with the victim, told WWBT that the dogs she knew would never turn on her friend like that.
“Those dogs would not attack her,” said Norris. “They’d kill you with kisses.” A Change.org petition started by Norris on the dogs’ behalf has already racked up thousands of signatures.