Rumors swirled across the dying of Bethany Lynn Stephens, a younger girl from rural Virginia who, authorities mentioned, was mauled to death by her dogs whereas out on a stroll final week.
Many suspected that another person killed her and doubted that the canines had been accountable. Goochland County Sheriff Jim Agnew mentioned the misinformation, significantly on social media, was widespread and has difficult the investigation. So he determined to reveal one ugly element that he had been reluctant to reveal out of concern for Stephens’ household – in hopes of reassuring the general public that there is not a killer on the free.
Shortly after officers discovered Stephens’ physique, guarded by her two canines, they started speaking about the best way to catch the animals. After they turned again round, they noticed that the canines had walked over to the physique.
“I noticed, in addition to 4 different deputy sheriffs noticed,” Agnew mentioned, then paused earlier than persevering with, “the canines consuming the rib cage on the physique.”
A pal of Stephens’ was later in a position to seize the canines, the sheriff mentioned.
Agnew held a information convention Monday afternoon, 4 days after Stephens’ father discovered her in a wooded space a few half-mile from a foremost street in Goochland, Virginia, a group about 30 miles exterior Richmond. Authorities mentioned the 22-year-old had been gone for a few day since leaving to stroll her canines, so her father went out to search for her within the space she frequented. There, he discovered the canines, guarding what he first thought was an animal carcass.
“Ms. Stephens was terribly, terribly injured, however it was very obvious to us that she had been useless for fairly a while,” Agnew informed reporters, including later that the injury to her physique “was so in depth that there was nothing left to check chew marks to.”
Agnew mentioned many have inundated his workplace and social media with calls, emails, assaults and false narratives about how Stephens died. He informed The Washington Publish earlier that investigators do not suspect foul play and that proof recovered from the scene, together with defensive wounds on her arms and arms, confirmed that the canines had been answerable for her dying.
Investigators even have seemed into statements from different witnesses, together with the chance that Stephens was killed by somebody or one thing else and that the canines had been making an attempt to guard her. However investigators do not consider that’s what occurred. Agnew mentioned a minimum of one of many canines had a major quantity of blood on its collar and neck.
“Now, having mentioned that, we’re nonetheless following up on these. We’re nonetheless performing some forensic exams. We’re nonetheless doing interviews,” Agnew mentioned. “However . . . from the proof that we noticed, from the proof that we collected, that narrative would not match.”
Authorities mentioned the chew marks on Stephens, together with those on her cranium, had been in keeping with canine marks. Had she been attacked by a much bigger animal, comparable to a bear, Agnew mentioned, the bites would’ve punctured her cranium.
Shawn Whitlock, an investigator with the sheriff’s workplace, mentioned there was no signal that she was killed every other method.
“Nothing that mentioned home violence. Nothing that mentioned she was stabbed. Nothing that mentioned she was shot. No bones, no accidents to the throat space. . . . There was no specific bleeding contained in the esophagus, which might’ve been conducive with choking her out. None of that,” Whitlock informed reporters.
There’s additionally no proof that she had been sexually assaulted, authorities mentioned.
Nonetheless, a minimum of one query stays. Why did these canines, who mates mentioned had a robust bond with Stephens, activate her?
“I do not assume there’s any method we will definitively say what brought about the assault,” Agnew informed reporters.
Sgt. Mike Blackwood, of the sheriff’s workplace, has a principle.
Stephens had been residing elsewhere and had left the canines along with her father. The canines, which had been beforehand indoor animals, had been left in a kennel exterior with little human contact, apart from a go to from Stephens about 5 occasions per week, Blackwood informed reporters.
“Simply making an attempt to create somewhat background with what may need occurred with that once they turned somewhat distant from their proprietor in the direction of the tip,” he mentioned.
Stephens’ pal Barbara Norris was amongst those that weren’t satisfied by authorities’ account of her dying, saying the canines, which Stephens had been elevating since they had been puppies, would by no means activate her, ABC affiliate WRIC reported.
“They’d kill you with kisses,” Norris informed NBC affiliate WWBT.
Norris mentioned the canines’ kennels seemed as if they’d been pressured open and prompt that one thing might have occurred to Stephens after she walked the canines, so the animals pressured themselves out to assist her.
Agnew did appropriate some misinformation that had come out of his workplace. Authorities mentioned earlier that the canines had been bred for combating – a chunk of data apparently offered by one among Stephens’ mates.
“We’ve got been in a position to observe that up at the moment, and we have now decided that that’s false,” Agnew mentioned.
Earlier estimates that the canines every weighed as much as 125 kilos additionally had been overstated, he mentioned, including that he doesn’t have the precise weight of the animals. Agnew informed The Publish earlier that the canines’ mixed weight was about twice that of Stephens’, which was somewhat greater than 100 kilos.
“They had been very giant canines. . . . They weren’t fairly that giant, no,” Agnew mentioned.
Throughout an earlier information convention, he had described the canines as “very giant brindle-colored pit bulls.”
The canines had been euthanized Saturday, with the household’s permission.
“I believe it was in the most effective curiosity of our group and for public security to do this,” Agnew mentioned. “As soon as a canine tastes human flesh, it is not protected to have that canine round people.”
Their our bodies are being preserved till authorities discover a lab that may carry out a necropsy, Blackwood mentioned. Toxicology outcomes on Stephens won’t be obtainable for 3 months.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)