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Sheriff: Dogs who mauled owner to death euthanized

22 December 2017

According to Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew "various articles of clothing.torn into small pieces" were found around her body. Goochland County Sheriff Jim Agnew said the misinformation, particularly on social media, was widespread and has complicated the investigation.

"We spent a lot of time there at the scene and made some observations that, out of respect for the family, we're not releasing", Agnew said. Investigators say she was first attacked on her throat and face. "As more and more details come out, I think there probably was some sort of outside influence, but not necessarily another animal or anything like that - just something that could have enticed the dogs to get overexcited and react the way dogs will". They were then kept outside "in the cold" in a kennel and only had contact with each other. "None of that", an investigator with the sheriff's office, Shawn Whitlock, told reporters.

"Ms. Stephens was terribly, terribly injured, but it was very apparent to us that she had been dead for quite some time", Agnew told reporters, adding later that the damage to her body "was so extensive that there was nothing left to compare bite marks to".

Investigators had also spoken to witnesses and people known to Stephens, and 'people's movements... don't fit with that particular narrative'.

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"The fact that they are pit bulls doesn't connect to what they did, it is a dog thing", said Paul, who is also owner of the kennel Impawsible Pups.

The sheriff also put to rest the rumor that Stephens' dogs were used for fighting or that Stephens was sexually assaulted.

Investigators said there are no indications that Stephens was attacked or killed by a human prior to the mauling, and no signs that a larger animal might have killed her, contrary to some theories circulating online. Although there are no reliable statistics for South Africa he says he knows most vets put down one dog a month because of a behavioural problem. "We were able to shoo them away".

At the time, discovery of Bethany's mauled body led to an outcry among friends claiming that the her 'beloved pets" would never have killed her, claiming the dogs would "kill you with kisses', while suggesting Stephens may have been murdered. Agnew told The Post earlier that the dogs' combined weight was about twice that of Stephens', which was a little more than 100 pounds.

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Sheriff Agnew said once that takes place it will be about two weeks before results are available and there could potentially be more answers as to what may have happened.

The pitbulls have since been euthanized, with the family's permission.

"What I observed personally, it was in the community's best interest", Agnew said. "Once a dog tastes human flesh, it's no longer safe to have that dog around humans".

Their bodies are being preserved until authorities find a lab that can perform a necropsy, Blackwood said.

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The toxicology report on Stephens will be complete in about 90 days.

Sheriff: Dogs who mauled owner to death euthanized