Friends of a Virginia woman who authorities believe was mauled to death by her own dogs while out for a walk are raising doubts about that theory, telling the news media they suspect foul play, and that the victim had previously received death threats.
According to the New York Post, the woman’s father began searching for her after he hadn’t seen her for a couple of days. He found her body Thursday night in the woods.
The dogs were reportedly “guarding” the woman, 22-year-old Bethany Lynn Stephens, Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew told WTVR-TV.
“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 television station.
“It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death.”
“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 added.
The dogs are named Pac-Man and Tonka and reportedly each weigh 125 pounds, about the same that the 5-foot-1 Stephens weighed.
Police believe that the dogs may have been bred to fight.
There were no strangulation marks identified on the body, and although the investigation is still active, Agnew has ruled out homicide.
However, Stephens’ friends say the pit bulls would never have harmed their owner.
“I know those dogs didn’t do it,” Barbara Norris told WRIC-TV.
“Those dogs would not attack her,” she said.
“They’d kill you with kisses.”
Stephens also had been receiving death threats, her friends told WRIC-TV, but did not specify the nature of the alleged threats.
[Feature image: Facebook/Bethany Stevens]