A Virginia woman was mauled to death by her pair of pit bulls while taking them out for a walk in the woods.
Bethany Lynn Stephens, 22, was found dead in a 'grisly' scene on Thursday night, two days after she was last seen heading out to walk her dogs in the woods near her Goochland, Virginia home.
Authorities said she was found by her father, John, who was searching for her in an area where she was known to take the dogs out for walks.
Bethany Lynn Stephens, 22, was found mauled to death two days after having taken her dogs out for a walk. Her two pit bulls were found aggressively guarding her body in the woods
The dogs — described as being 'very large, brindle-colored pit bull dogs' — were said to be aggressively guarding her body when Stephens' father came across them, according to Goochland County Sheriff James L. Agnew, the Richmond-Times Dispatch reported.
Her father John (above) found her body two days after she went missing
It's believed that the dogs had been bred for fighting.
Initial medical examiner's reports indicated that Stephens, who stood 5-foot-1 and weighted 125 pounds, had defensive wounds on her hands and arms.
Her wounds, which also included puncture wounds in her skull, were consistent with having been mauled.
'The first traumatic injury to her was to her throat and face,' Agnew said, adding that, 'It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death.'
Agnew said that in his 'nearly 40 years in law enforcement, I've never seen anything quite like it.'
After discovering his daughter's body and the dogs guarding it, Stephens' father called 911.
Stephens was 5-feet-1 and 125 pounds, weighing roughly the same amount as her dogs. The brindle-colored pit bulls were said to have been bred for fighting
Stephens' friend doesn't think the dogs would have attacked her, noting they slept in the bed with her at night. The friend said it looked like the dogs had escaped their kennels to help her
It took officers more than an hour to remove the dogs from the scene. They were tranquilized and are now in animal control's custody. Authorities are likely to euthanize the pit bulls
It took the sheriff's deputies more than an hour to wrangle the dogs, which were said to weigh about as much as Stephens did.
The dogs were eventually tranquilized and removed by animal control, who are now in possession of the dogs. Agnew is likely to request that they be euthanized.
Sheriff's deputies then collected more than 60 pieces of evidence from the scene of Stephens' death, which was covered with blood and shredded pieces of her clothing.
Stephens' friend, Barbara Norris, told NBC12 that she didn't believe the dogs would kill Stephens and that they slept in her bed at night.
'Those dogs would not attack her,' she said. 'They'd kill you with kisses.'
Norris said that the dogs' kennels appeared to have been broken open, as if the dogs had escaped to help Stephens.
Agnew noted that Stephens' death was not a homicide and that there were no strangulation marks on her body. The investigation is said to be ongoing.
Authorities are continuing to investigate Stephens' death. Stephens (pictured with Great Dane, Drogo) showed no signs of homicide or strangulation, police said