A woman in rural Virginia is believed to have been mauled to death by her two dogs, however some close to the victim say her dogs never would have attacked her, and that she had recently received death threats.
As authorities in Virginia continue their investigation into the death of 22-year-old Bethany Stephens, many people online are questioning the manner in which she died.
There are photos of Stephens on her Facebook page with a brindle pitbull, one she had written was named "Tonka".
WTVR reports he discovered her dogs in the woods, and he told the sheriff's office the dogs appeared to be "guarding" Bethany's body.
The victim's cause of death was "consistent with being mauled by these dogs", according to Goochland County sheriff James Agnew who described her as petite and 5ft 1in tall.
Sheriff Agnew said a post-mortem examination found her first traumatic injury was to her throat and face.
Barbara Norris, tells NBC12 Richmond she was friends with Stephens and says she didn't know the dogs to be violent and would never turn on her friend.
Catherine Brooks, an owner of two pit bulls, said she's stunned by what Goochland County investigators said happened to Stephens. Stephens had been attacked and killed by her own pit bulls, police say. "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".More news: Ex-wife of National Basketball Association star Lorenzen Wright charged with his murder
The animals, which were later tranquilised, are being held at Goochland County animal control and authorities want to put the canines down.
"Those dogs would not attack her", she said.
Because of the defensive wounds on her arms police believe that the attack began while Bethany was alive and proved fatal when she suffered trauma to the throat. He added, "In my 40 years of law enforcement I've never seen anything quite like it".
Deputies spent eight hours collecting more than 60 pieces of evidence, Agnew said.
"That's not something I would normally see", she said.
The pair of pit bulls, which are now being held at Goochland Animal Control, were found guarding Stephen's body in the woods, according to investigation reports.
"...you would suspect [the dogs] were bred for fighting, just in looking at them", Sheriff Agnew said.