GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Goochland County Sheriff’s Office has concluded its investigation into the death of Bethany Stephens after a medical examiner ruled she was mauled to death by her two pit bulls in December.
Bethany Stephens’ body was found in a wooded area of Goochland County on the night of Thursday, December 14. The following day, deputies with the Goochland County Sheriff’s Office declared the 22-year-old Glen Allen woman had been mauled to death by the two dogs, Tonka and Pacman, during a walk.
The case has garnered national attention and the circumstances surrounding Stephens’ tragic death drew much speculation from friends who said there was ‘no way’ the two dogs turned on their owner.
A final report from the medical examiner’s office, however, has ruled Stephens’ death as accidental.
“It appeared this was a violent attack initiated by Stephens dogs upon Stephens,” the Medical Examiner stated in their report. “She had defensive wounds on her hands and arms from trying to keep the dogs away from her.
“There were no strangulation marks, but there were puncture wounds to the skull in keeping with animal bites. Stephens was not raped, and this was not a homicide.”
A death investigation summary released by the Louisa County Sheriff’s office indicates that when deputies located Stephens’ body at around 8:30 p.m., the two dogs appeared to be guarding the body and would not permit anyone to get closer than approximately 20 feet from or they would lunge and bark.
At one point, deputies observed one of the dogs eating a portion of Stephens’ body.
Stephens’ boyfriend eventually responded to the scene and assisted law enforcement and animal control officers with securing the dogs.
8 News spoke with one of Stephens’ friend, who wished to stay anonymous, about the loss of her friend.
“There’s been a lot of nightmares, there’s been a lot of just…you know wishing that I had been there. What ifs going through my mind.”
Despite the report, Stephens’ friend remains skeptical about the events that lead to her death.
“If it’s a possibility okay, maybe the dogs did do it but I still feel like there is a third thing going on that we’re not seeing.”