Dogs went through 'drastic lifestyle' changes before mauling owner

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A Virginia sheriff's office investigating the fatal mauling of a woman by her dogs has released graphic new details of the incident, in an effort to dispel online theories that point the blame away from the two pit bulls.

Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew said at a news conference on Monday deputies witnessed the dogs "eating [her] rib cage" last week and found Stephens' body completely naked except for one boot.

Told Agnew via Pix 11, 'Let me cut right to the chase, the most important detail that we did not release because we were anxious about the well-being of the family is that in the course of trying to capture the dogs early Friday morning, we turned and looked...

A man who used to work with Stephens said she loved the dogs and was experienced in working with animals. When deputies found her body, they said she had suffered "severe trauma" and was being guarded by the two dogs. He told the sheriff that her dogs appeared to be "guarding" her body.

The sheriff described the disturbing scene when authorities arrived to find the dogs still attacking Stephens on Thursday. "The victim had puncture wounds in the skull, and this was not a homicide".

The sheriff recommended that the dogs be put down and the family gave their permission and concurrence. Nothing that said she was stabbed.

Stephens' friends have questioned the reason behind the pit bulls attacking their owner, who had raised them since they were puppies. There was no particular bleeding inside the esophagus, which would've been conducive with choking her out. "None of that", an investigator with the sheriff's office, Shawn Whitlock, told reporters. "But. from the evidence that we observed, from the evidence that we collected, that narrative doesn't fit".

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Investigators say that was the dogs' only human contact as Tonka and Pacman grew more isolated and more distant from their owner - although no one can say with certainty that's why the dogs turned on Stephens.

Bethany's friend, Barbara Norris, told a local TV station the dogs would "kill you with kisses" before they'd attack, according to The Mirror.

"Since this has happened, I spent a significant amount of time researching attacks by dogs of this sort and while it is not an everyday occurrence, it is not rare and it happens with some frequency in this country", Agnew said.

Agnew said Stephens' family is convinced with the findings of the investigators. Her father had gone searching for her after she went missing and was the first to discover her body.

"What I observed personally, it was in the community's best interest", Agnew said.

"Just trying to create a little background with what might have occurred with that when they became a little distant from their owner towards the end", he said. Toxicology results on Stephens will not be available for three months. "Once a dog tastes human flesh, it's no longer safe to have that dog around humans".

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