GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Virginia -- Bethany Stevens' father went looking for her Thursday night. When he found his daughter, investigator say the young woman's two pit bulls Tonka and Pac-man were standing guard over her body.
A medical examiner says the 22-year-old woman who was found dead in a wooded area was mauled to death by her own dogs.
Goochland County Sheriff Jim Agnew described Stephens as "petite" and said the dogs were between 100-120 pounds.
When deputies found her body, they said she had suffered "severe trauma" and was being guarded by the two dogs.
The medical examiner said Stephens had defensive wounds on her hands and arms from fighting off the dogs. The examiner said this proves she was alive when she was attacked.
Police do not believe this is a homicide, but are waiting on toxicology reports to make a determination.
Meanwhile, one of the Stephens' best friends said she does not believe the animals would have done anything to hurt her, considering that she had raised them since they were puppies.
"I wasn't able to see the body, so I can't tell you what happened. I can't tell you if it was a blunt force or if it was a mauling, but I know those dogs didn't do it," Barbara Norris told WIRC.
Friends said Stephens had recently been receiving death threats prior to the incident, which is another reason why they question whether the dogs were to blame.
Meanwhile, the sheriff's office is working to have the dogs euthanized.
Send a breaking news alertReport a correction or typoWant to comment?Learn more about the 6abc apps