A woman was mauled to death by her dogs after taking them for a walk near her home in rural Virginia, police said.
Officers said they initially thought the two pit bulls were guarding an animal carcass, and that they were eating it. But the body turned out to be Ms Stephens’.
Police held a second press conference to describe the details of her death and refute any speculation of foul play.
Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew said: In the course of trying to capture the dogs early Friday morning… we turned and looked… I observed, as well as four other deputy sheriffs, the dogs eating the ribcage on the body.
He said they did not release the graphic details at first out of concern for the victim’s family.
The first traumatic injury to her was to her throat and face, he added.
It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death.
Authorities later put down the dogs, named Tonka and Pacman, after gaining permission from Ms Stephens’ family.
According to local reports, Ms Stephens had raised the dogs since they were puppies and they were both normally gentle.