Report reveals disturbing details of woman's dog mauling death

Bethany Lynn Stephens was mauled to death by her dogs. (Source: Facebook)
Bethany Lynn Stephens was mauled to death by her dogs. (Source: Facebook)
Published: Feb. 20, 2018 at 8:05 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 20, 2018 at 10:56 PM EST
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GOOCHLAND, VA (WWBT) - The Goochland County Sheriff's Office says the investigation into the death of Bethany Lynn Stephens is complete.

In December, the sheriff's office said the 22-year-old woman was mauled to death by her dogs in a remote area in the 2200 block of Manakin Road in Goochland.

A summary of the death investigation - which included reports from the Medical Examiner's Office, the Division of Forensic Science and the Virginia Department of Agriculture labs - says Stephens "was not raped, and this was not a homicide."

"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. 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 said.

Many have questioned how something like this could happen. A vicious animal specialist says many times, you wont see any signs of aggression until a dog ages. In this case, the pit bulls were three years old.

"It doesn't matter what type of dog it is. It's not about the bully breed. Its not about the Yorkie. It can be any dog," says Jemi Hodge.

In this case, it was two pit bulls. Authorities say they had been recently neglected when their owner Bethany Stephens showed up.

"A lot of times, once you get those two dogs together, you drop into that pack mentality, and so the two dogs are looking at each other and they're like, 'oh my gosh, oh my gosh, we're so excited' and then that excitement turns into all hell breaks loose…Those dogs see red. At that point, they don't care who their owner is. They don't care who anybody is. All they know is they're in the zone to bite, attack and fight," Hodge explained.

A medical report released Tuesday suggests a struggle, that Stephens was trying to get away. It confirms traces of blood and possible human hair in the dog's bodies.

Hodge doesn't know whether the dogs have been aggressive in the past, but she suggests owners always have a way to take control.

"I don't want people to hurt a dog, but when it comes down to your life or the dog's life, you're going to have to take care of yourself," she said.

Those close to Stephens have questioned the investigation, saying she raised those pit bulls since they were babies and that they even slept in bed with her.

"People say 'my dog will never turn on me,' and that's when I say 'don't tell me that' - it happens in my job every day," Hodge said.

Hodge says she gets up to 20 calls a week for dog attacks, but in her 40-year career, she's only seen five cases where the pet killed its owner.

The full report of the investigation is below. GRAPHIC WARNING: Some details may be disturbing to some readers and viewers:

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