Investigation into the death a Virginia woman ended after a post mortem report revealed that she was not a victim of any rapist or killer, and that her two pit bulls had mauled her to death.
Bethany Lynn Stephens' body was found completely naked, except for one boot on her body, on 14 December 2017 in a wooded area near her house. Her dismembered body was found by her father a day after she went missing while out for a walk with her pets. Authorities said that the "large, brindle-coloured" dogs were found "eating the rib cage of the body".
During initial investigation, it was speculated that the 22-year-old might have been attacked by someone and hacked to death before the dogs, Tonka and Pac-Man, chewed on her face and body. It was also reported that Stephens had received death threats just days before she was found dead.
People close to Stephens had also speculated that she could have been attacked by some dangerous animal in the woods as they refused to believe the pit bulls could have killed her. Her employer, Tori Trent, had described both dogs as "very passive".
"These dogs did not do this especially in the manner it was explained and as one of the top K9 behaviour experts you could ever meet - I want to speak to any news stations and all investigating parties involved by speaking on and explaining K9 behaviour," Trent had said.
But on Tuesday, 20 February, a summary of the death investigation, which included reports from the Medical Examiner's Office, the Division of Forensic Science and the Virginia Department of Agriculture labs, ended all the speculations and stated that Stephens "was not raped, and this was not a homicide", the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
The report added that the investigation has been closed after it was confirmed that there were no gunshot or strangulation marks on the woman's body, and that she had died from "trauma due to mauling by animals".
Investigators have earlier revealed that the dogs were living with Stephens' father for some days on a farm while she dealt with "personal issues". They added that the animals had been a "little bit neglected towards the end".
"A lot of times, once you get those two dogs together, you drop into that pack mentality, and so the two dogs are looking at each other and they're like, 'oh my gosh, oh my gosh, we're so excited' and then that excitement turns into all hell breaks loose...Those dogs see red," the Richmond Times-Dispatch quoted Goochland County Sheriff Jemi Hodge as saying.
"At that point, they don't care who their owner is. They don't care who anybody is. All they know is they're in the zone to bite, attack and fight."
Hodge added that many times she has come across "people who say 'my dog will never turn on me,' and that's when I say 'don't tell me that' - it happens in my job every day".