A woman's mysterious death has been ruled a death by her dogs. Bethany Lynn Stephens, 22, of Virginia was found dead on December 15. Initially, the cause of death was unknown, and there was speculation that foul play was involved.
She was reportedly found by her father, naked and dismembered in the woods. Friends were shocked by the findings and suspected foul play. The autopsy report now shows that she was mauled by her two pit bulls, reported People.
Goochland Sheriff’s Office released the medical examiner’s ruling, which stated that Stephens “was not raped, and this was not a homicide.”
The victim was described as a dog lover who was on a walk in the wooded Glen Allen area when the incident happened. She did not have alcohol or drugs in her system. Authorities said that they saw one of the dogs eating a portion of Stephens’ body upon discovery, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Initially, her friends suspected foul play because they felt the dogs were harmless.
“I know those dogs didn’t do it,” Barbara Norris told WRIC. “Those dogs would not attack her.”
The autopsy dismissed those assertions.
“Most likely Stephens was taken to the ground, lost consciousness and then mauled to death. There were no strangulation marks, but there were puncture wounds to the skull in keeping with animal bites,” the report stated.
Friends also added that Stephens had received death threats prior to the attack.
Her wounds are said to be due to the fact that she fought off her pets when they attacked her and not a person.
“She had defensive wounds on her hands and arms from trying to keep the dogs away from her. It appeared the first traumatic injury was to the face and throat,” the report explained.
Sheriff Jim Agnew said that the autopsy report closes the investigation.
“The medical examiner’s report substantiated what we observed,” said Agnew, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I hope that the family can get some peace now. There are going to be those who aren’t going to believe and pick apart all the things that we’ve done, and that’s their prerogative, but unless somebody steps forward with some really strong evidence, we’ve closed this.”