GOOCHLAND COUNTY -
A woman who was found dead in a wooded area was mauled to death by her two dogs, according to the Goochland Sheriff's Office.
Bethany Lynn Stephens, 22, was found just after 8:15 p.m. Thursday in a remote area in the 2200 block of Manakin Road in Goochland County.
According to police, the woman's father reported her missing and called 911 saying he hadn't seen his daughter in nearly two days. He went to look for her where she frequently walked her dogs in the woods.
He spotted her but thought she was only hurt. Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew says her body was being guarded by two very large pit bulls. Agnew described the scene as one of the most grisly he had seen in his 40 years of law enforcement.
"The female had suffered severe trauma and was being guarded, for lack of a better word, by two very large, brindle-colored pitbull dogs who were very reluctant to be caught," said Sheriff Jim Agnew.
It took authorities more than an hour to catch the dogs.
"They were big, strong, powerful dogs," Sheriff Agnew said.
Initial reports from the medical examiner’s office said Stephens had a cause of death “consistent with being mauled by these dogs.”
She had defensive wounds on her hands and arms. Agnew says it took deputies hours to wrangle the dogs, which he estimated weighed as much as Stephens.
The dogs are being held at Goochland County Animal Control. Agnew said they were seeking to have the animals euthanized.
No official cause of death has been determined. Friends and family tell NBC News 12 they don’t believe Stephens was killed by her dogs.
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