Horrified police officers discovered two Pit Bulls ‘eating the RIB CAGE of their dead owner’, it has emerged – as claims surfaced that the animals were ill-treated by her father.
MirrorOnline reported yesterday how Bethany Lynn Stephens, 22, had been mauled to death by her two beloved dogs – after police confirmed they do not suspect foul play.
She had been taking the animals for a walk when she was attacked in woodland near her home in Virginia.
The victim was discovered by her father who called police who then discovered the gruesome scene.
Sgt Mike Blackwood said the Pit Bulls were ‘a little bit neglected’ after they were left with Bethany’s father, Fox News reports.
He said that the dogs – which were used to being inside – were kept in an outdoor kennel.
Blackwood said: “[Stephens’ father] wasn’t taking care of them – it wasn’t his responsibility.”
Describing the horror scene officers encountered County Sheriff James Agnew said Bethany’s body was found being “guarded by two very large, brindle-coloured pit bull dogs”.
A post-mortem showed injuries which suggested Bethany had tried to fight back as she was tackled to the ground.
But following news of the grisly death, some refused to believe the dogs, Tonka and Pac Man, were responsible.
Barbara Norris, a friend of Bethany, told a local TV station the dogs would “kill you with kisses” before they’d attack.
And vet Amy Learn told Fox 5 San Diego: “I think the investigation needs to be ongoing.
“Dogs don’t typically just out of the blue attack their owners, so there is typically some kind of provocation. […]
“Was there somebody else there?”
A change.org petition to save the dogs from being euthanised was launched.
After long discussions with Bethany’s family, Sheriff Agnew decided to reveal further details to end the conspiracy theories.
At a news conference he said: “Let me cut right to the chase, the most important detail that we did not release because we were worried about the well-being of the family is that in the course of trying to capture the dogs early Friday morning… we turned and looked… I observed, as well as four other deputy sheriffs, the dogs eating the ribcage of the body.
“The injuries were very severe.”
He confirmed the dogs were euthanised after they were caught.
The Sheriff was also forced to confirm there was no evidence of human foul play whatsoever.
“There were no strangulation marks, the victim had puncture wounds in the skull and this was not a homicide,” he said.
The Sheriff’s deputies spent 60 to 90 minutes attempting to catch the pit bulls
While some friends said Bethany had a close bond with the dogs that she had raised from birth, she hadn’t actually been looking after them for some time before the attack, the Sheriff added.
They had previously lived indoors but had recently been in an outdoor kennel at her father’s home with very little human contact.
He added: “Since this has happened, I spent a significant amount of time researching attacks by dogs of this sort and while it is not an everyday occurrence, it is not rare and it happens with some frequency in this country.
“I don’t want to disparage any particular breed, but if you do the research you will find that many of them are perpetuated by pit bulls.”
It took investigators around eight hours to collect more than 60 pieces of evidence after the savage attack.