An autopsy report officially ruled that a Virginia woman was killed by her two pit bulls while she was taking them out for a walk.
Goochland Sheriff’s Office released the medical examiner’s findings as authorities closed the investigation into the death of 22-year-old Bethany Lynn Stephens, ruling she “was not raped, and this was not a homicide.”
The Dec. 13 mauling gripped the nation amid speculation the dog lover was murdered. Police took the unprecedented step of releasing graphic details about the dog attack to try to prove there was no foul play involved.
The autopsy confirms what police have always maintained, she died from “trauma due to mauling by animals.”
Bethany Lynn Stephens
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“She had defensive wounds on her hands and arms from trying to keep the dogs away from her. It appeared the first traumatic injury was to the face and throat,” the report read.
“Most likely Stephens was taken to the ground, lost consciousness and then mauled to death. There were no strangulation marks, but there were puncture wounds to the skull in keeping with animal bites,” the report continued.
The report also ruled out any drugs or alcohol in Stephens’ system.
Closing the investigation, Sheriff Jim Agnew said he hoped this would give Stephens’ family some closure, Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“The medical examiner’s report substantiated what we observed,” Agnew said. “I hope that the family can get some peace now. There are going to be those who aren’t going to believe and pick apart all the things that we’ve done, and that’s their prerogative, but unless somebody steps forward with some really strong evidence, we’ve closed this.”
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Stephens had recently moved out of her parents home but returned daily to walk the dogs. Authorities have suggested this life change may have stressed the dogs leading them to turn on their owner.
On Dec. 13, Stephens took the two dogs for their daily walk but when she did not return her father contacted authorities.
The following day, responding to reports of an unconscious female in a field, sheriff’s deputies discovered her body.
The two dogs were standing guard over her body and would not let anyone near. It would be hours before police could get to Stephens and during that time one of the animals was eating part of the body, the report released by police states.
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