Woman found dead in woods mauled by dogs

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Sheriff James L. Agnew said in a news conference on Friday, Bethany's dead body was discovered guarded by "two very large, brindle-colored pit bull dogs who were very reluctant to be caught". Authorities says 22-year-old Bethany Lynn Stephens had been missing for a day when her father found her body in a wooded area where she often walked the dogs, People reports. There were various articles of clothing, under clothing scattered about the area not far from the body and torn into small pieces, there were patches of blood.

"She had walked the dogs there in the past", Agnew said.

Initial reports from the medical examiner's office said Stephens had a cause of death "consistent with being mauled by these dogs".

The sheriff says they were huge and trained to fight. What he found was two dog guarding what he first believed was an animal carcass.

Pike said, "I don't know anything about these dogs or her personal relationship with them, but there are likely to have been precursors to this, I suspect, either in terms of fear and anxiety or potentially aggression issues in either one of these dogs to have happened this way". Were they being attacked by somebody, were they trying to defend themselves and their owner from somebody else, from a wild animal? If this is truly the case, how could these loving pit bulls have attacked their owner so viciously?

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"It was an absolutely grisly mauling", sheriff Jim Agnew said. "You have specific sub-populations that have been used over time in the illegal pursuit of dogfighting, but they really can't be held up as the standard for all pit bulls in America".

Learn did not know Stephens or her dogs. "In my 40 years of law enforcement, I've never seen anything quite like it. Hope I'd never see anything like it again". He estimated that each dog weighed about as much as Stephens - she was 5-foot-1 and weighed 125 pounds.

Authorities believe the dogs, named Pac-Man and Tonka, were bred for fighting. "When we looked at the kennels, they looked like they had been broken open and went to go help her".

There were no signs of strangulation, leading Agnew to say Stephens probably wasn't killed in a homicide, according to WTVR.