Experts said the killing of a young woman by her dogs in rural Goochland County last week may have resulted from misdirected aggression and unlikely had anything to do with them being pit bulls.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Bethany Lynn Stephens' body was found by Goochland County deputies around 8:18 p.m. Thursday in a wooded area.
"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". But while he waited for them to arrive, he went searching for his daughter in the woodlands and quickly found her mangled body.
Agnew said that while he did not know the dogs' background, "they would be dogs that you would suspect would be bred for fighting". "Those dogs would not attack her", Barbara Norris told NBC 12.
She said dogs can redirect aggression toward their owners or other dogs nearby when they are threatened. Was it actually something else that attacked the owner?
The pair of pit bulls, which are now being held at Goochland Animal Control, were found guarding Stephen's body in the woods, according to investigation reports.
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"A lot of people are saying [the dogs] wouldn't guard if they killed, but the reality is if it's a resource, they may guard that as their food source or their toy the same way that a dog might guard a bone on a blanket", Paul explained.
"It was an absolutely grisly mauling", Sheriff Agnew said.
Learn did not know Stephens or her dogs.
For reference, Agnew said Stephens is "petite" and weighed around 125 pounds. Agnew described the scene as one of the most grisly he had seen in his 40 years of law enforcement.
"It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death", Sheriff Agnew said of the Medical Examiner's initial report indications.
"That's not something I would normally see", said Valerie Paul, the master dog trainer from Richmond, adding that it's hard to determine what exactly happened without knowing Stephens' dogs.
Goochland County Sheriff's Office is working to have the dogs euthanized.