A woman in the US has been mauled to death by her own pitbulls in an “absolutely grisly” attack.
Bethany Lynn Stephens, 22, was found by her father who went looking for her in a wooded area where she often walked the dogs in Goochland, Virginia.
It was there he found his daughter and her two “very large” pitbulls “guarding” her body.
Goochland County sheriff James Agnew said Stephens’ cause of death was “consistent with being mauled by these dogs”.
Agnew added that he has ruled out murder.
He said it appeared to be a “violent attack initiated by the victim’s dogs while the victim was out for a walk with the dogs”.
“It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death.”
He added: “It was an absolutely grisly mauling. In my 40 years of law enforcement I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
“I hope I never see anything like it again.”
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Barbara Norris, one of Stephens’ best friends, said “I wasn’t able to see the body, so I can’t tell you what happened.
“I can’t tell you if it was a blunt force or if it was a mauling, but I know those dogs didn’t do it.”
Agnew estimated that each dog weighed about as much as Stephens, who was 5 ft 1 and weighed 125 pounds.
Stephens’ father called the sheriff’s office when he hadn’t seen her in a day. He said he found the dogs aggressively protecting her body.
Dr Amy Learn, a veterinarian at Cary St Veterinary Hospital, said she did not know Stephens or her dogs, but says many questions need to be answered.
“I think the investigation needs to be ongoing,” Learn said. “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? Were they being attacked by somebody, were they trying to defend themselves and their owner from somebody else, from a wild animal?
“Was it actually something else that attacked the owner? Were there stray dogs, coyotes [or] something else in the woods,” Learn said.