Debunking conspiracy theories about deadly dog mauling

GOOCHLAND, Va. (WRIC)  —  There is no shortage of theories about last week’s deadly dog mauling in Goochland County.

Close friends of Bethany Stephens insist there’s no way the young woman’s two pit bulls, Tonka and Pacman, would turn on her.

“Those dogs and her love each other,” says Barbara Norris, one of the victim’s best friends.

Instead, some people speculate a bear or coyote killed Stephens.

But according to the Richmond Medical Examiner, the wounds on her body were made by a smaller animal, like a dog.

Non-believers also questioned if investigators had measured the bite marks on the victim and compared them to the dogs’ jaws. Were they the same size?

Sadly, the sheriff says that wasn’t possible, because the injuries were so extensive, there was nothing left to compare.

Rumors also circulated that Stephens was being threatened and that an ex-husband or boyfriend might be to blame.

Again, the medical examiner found no evidence of that: No signs of strangulation, suffocation, blunt force trauma or sexual assault. The victim had no broken bones. Bruising did show that some of the bites were inflicted while the victim was still alive and others after she passed away.

For detectives working the grisly case, the most compelling evidence was what they witnessed when they arrived at the scene.

“We turned and looked,” explained Sheriff Jim Agnew. “The dogs had gone back over to the body and I observed as well as four other deputy sheriff’s officers, the dogs eating the rib cage of the body.”

8News has also learned that in the month’s before her death, Stephens’ dogs were living in a kennel outside her dad’s house. She would visit five days a week to feed the dogs and take them for a walk.

Investigators say the animals became more and more isolated from their owner.

They have been euthanized and their bodies will be examined as a part of the ongoing investigation.