GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. — UPDATE: Dec. 18. 2017 8:30 p.m.: The two pit bulls at the center of a gruesome mauling have been euthanized, according to Virginia authorities.
The dogs were put down on Saturday, after viciously attacking and killing their 22-year-old owner, Bethany Lynn Stephens last Thursday, WRIC-TV reported.
Goochland County Sheriff Jim Agnew said there was no mistaking how Stephens died, despite the rumors that she was killed by something larger than a dog.
“This was an absolutely gruesome scene,” Agnew said, and the dogs were still attacking Stephens’ body as law enforcement officials arrived at the scene.
“While we were talking about strategies to catch the dogs, we turned and looked, the dogs had gone back over to the body and I observed, along with four other investigators, the dogs eating the rib cage on the body,” Agnew told WRIC.
Stephens was attacked while she was alive, the medical examiner told local news outlets, and one of the dogs had “a significant amount of blood on his collar and neck.”
A Virginia woman was mauled to death by her own pit bulls Thursday while out for a walk with them in her Goochland County neighborhood, authorities said.
Victim Bethany Lynn Stephens, 22, was found in a wooded area by her father after he went looking for her when she didn't return home from the walk, according to WTVR-TV.
He told told sheriff's officials that her two dogs appeared to be "guarding" her body when he found his daughter.
"It appeared the attack was a violent attack initiated by the victims' dogs while the victim was out for a walk with the dogs," Sheriff James Agnew said, citing the Medical Examiner's initial report indicated, WTVR reported.
"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," Agnew told the TV station.
He said Stephens apparently sustained injuries to her face and throat.
"It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death," he said.
Goochland County Animal control has custody of the pit bulls, which will be euthanized.
The sheriff told WTVR it was a grisley mauling.
"In my 40 years of law enforcement I've never seen anything quite like it. I hope I never see anything like it again," he said.