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Grisly New Details Revealed About The Death Of Bethany Stephens — And Why Police Are Certain Her Own Dogs Killed Her

Bethany Stephens

Virgina police are revealing more details about the death of Bethany Lynn Stephens after her friends suggested that foul play or possibly a larger animal was involved. Officers, however, are certain that it was the 22-year-old's own dogs — two pit bulls — that killed her. 

After the news of her death was released, the Goochland County Sheriff Department said they received multiple phone calls and questions on social media about the information. With the permission of Stephens' family, new information was released in hopes of ending any speculation that her death was suspicious or that the dogs were innocent. 

"I observed, as well as four other deputy sheriffs, the dogs eating the ribcage on the body," said Sheriff James Agnew. "The injuries were very severe. It was quite apparent that she had been dead for quite some time." 

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Sheriff Agnew said Stephens had wounds on her arms, chest, and face. 

"The victim had defensive wounds on her hands and arms trying to keep the dogs away from her, which would be consistent with being attacked while she was still alive," he said. 

He also confirmed that police did not suspect foul play, but the death investigation is still ongoing. 

Because her body was found in the woods, there was some speculations that the woman was attacked not by her dogs, but a wild animal like a bear or a coyote. The Sheriff said the nature of Stephens' wounds ruled that possibility out. 

The medical examiner… made it pretty clear that it was not a large animal because the bite wounds didn’t puncture her skull,” Sheriff Agnew said. “There were also scratch marks consistent with a smaller animal than something like a bear.”

The sheriff also put to rest the rumor that Stephens' dogs were used for fighting or that Stephens was sexually assaulted. Something a friend of hers suggested. The idea that someone may have murdered her and then framed her dogs "didn't fit."

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After her friends said Stephens had received death threats prior to her actual death, police looked into it and did find that there was a person considered to be a threat. But the investigation eliminated any suspicion of that person, who isn't being named. 

“A number of witnesses came forward and we were able to put a time frame together and people’s movements together, and they don’t fit with that particular narrative,” Agnew said. “Having said that, we are still following up on those. We are still doing forensic tests.”

Those tests include a toxicology report of the dogs, who were both euthanized. Agnew said that should give them more clarity on why they attacked Stephens, though it will take several months to get the results. 

Sergeant Mike Blackwood revealed that the dogs were a little neglected in the weeks leading up to Stephens death. 

The woman left them with her father. While they were used to being inside, her father kept them outside in a kennel in his yard and they "became more isolated." Her family gave police permission to euthanize the dogs on Saturday. 

“What I observed personally, it was in the community’s best interest,” Sheriff Agnew said. “Once a dog tastes human flesh it is not safe to have that dog around humans.”

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Emily Blackwood is an editor at YourTango who covers pop culture, true crime, dating, relationships and everything in between. Every Wednesday at 10:20 p.m. you can ask her any and all questions about self-love, dating, and relationships LIVE on YourTango’s Facebook page. You can follow her on Instagram (@blackw00d) and Twitter (@emztweetz).