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Dogs who mauled their owner to death were euthanized as experts try to understand what happened

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The Goochland County Sheriff's Office in Virginia held a press conference Monday, Dec. 18 on the investigation into a 22-year-old, who they said was mauled to death by her two dogs. Our affiliate WSET News reports.

Sheriff James Agnew said after talking with Bethany Stephens' family, they have decided to release more details to the public.

Agnew said the sheriff's office got a call around 8:15 p.m. Thursday from Stephens' father who found the woman's body.

When deputies got to the scene, they said Stephens had suffered "severe trauma" and was being guarded by the two dogs.

While trying to capture the dogs Agnew said officers saw the dogs eating Stephens' rib cage.

After that incident, officials were trying to decide whether to either capture or shoot the dogs. However, a friend of Stephens came forward and said he would try to capture them, said Agnew.

Agnew said after the dogs were captured, that's when he said he finally saw Stephens' body and investigators were able to start collecting evidence. He reiterated how much of a gruesome scene it was.

Investigators said it was evident that Stephens had been dead for quite some time.

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The medical examiner said her injuries were very severe. The autopsy revealed there were wounds to her face, arms, hands and chest area.

Several witnesses have came forward and helped the police put a time frame together. The authorities do not believe Stephens was attacked by another animal and do not believe the dogs were trying to "protect her."

The sheriff said there was blood on at least one dog, with a significant amount on the dog's collar and neck.

Investigators said there is no evidence Stephens' death was caused by a larger animal. The bite wounds on Stephens' head did not penetrate her skull, and if it were a larger animal that would have happened.

They also said the scratch marks on Stephens were consistent with a smaller animal and her injuries were consistent with bite marks from a canine. She also had no injuries that would have led them to believe she was beaten, choked, stabbed, or shot.

The dogs were euthanized on Saturday and are being preserved until officials can perform a necropsy on them. The sheriff's office said the family did give permission to euthanize the dogs.

It will be about 90 days before toxicology reports will become available and officials will be able to release the cause of death.

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