"I don't know anything about these dogs or her personal relationship with them, but there are likely to have been precursors to this, I suspect, either in terms of fear and anxiety or potentially aggression issues in either one of these dogs to have happened this way", Pike said.
Goodland County Sheriff James Agnew says her body was being guarded by two very large pit bulls.
Agnew noted that Stephens' death was not a homicide and that there were no strangulation marks on her body.
"We did hear from the medical examiner that Ms. Stephens was in her menstrual period", Agnew said when asked, but he emphasized he doesn't think "there is anyway definitively that we can say what caused the attack".
Sheriff's deputies then collected more than 60 pieces of evidence from the scene of Stephens' death, which was covered with blood and shredded pieces of her clothing. "I observed, as well as four other deputy sheriffs, the dogs eating the ribcage on the body", Agnew said.
Agnew said that in his 'nearly 40 years in law enforcement, I've never seen anything quite like it'. "I've seen more non-pit bull breeds be aggressive towards people than pit bulls".
A man who used to work with Stephens said she loved the dogs and was experienced in working with animals.
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But despite reports from the medical examiner stating that Stephens' injuries were consistent with being mauled, friends of the victim have spoken out to advocate for the dogs, claiming details of the story don't add up.
Stephens' friend, Barbara Norris, told that she didn't believe the dogs would kill Stephens and that they slept in her bed at night. A Change.org petition started by Norris on the dogs' behalf has already racked up thousands of signatures. Agnew said there were requests to have the animals euthanized. The woman's father had called 911 after 8 p.m. after he found her in the woods.
Agnew said he and the deputies chose to capture the dogs, who were later euthanized, after the family gave permission.
Sgt. Mike Blackwood said the dogs were left with Stephens' father, and the indoor dogs were held up outside "in the cold" inside a small kennel. There are many dogs that may be identified as being of the "pit bull" type that are wonderful and loving family pets.
"What I observed personally, it was in the community's best interest", Agnew said. "Having said that, we are still following up on those; we are still doing forensic tests".
Agnew said Stephens' family is convinced with the findings of the investigators. A local veterinarian told WTVR in Virginia that animals don't just normally attack their owners unprovoked. A toxicology report is being run on Stephens and is expected to be completed in about three months. "Once a dog tastes human flesh, it's no longer safe to have that dog around humans".