Preliminary autopsy results from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation showed Sherry Schweder, 65, likely died of injuries from a dog attack, Oglethorpe County Sheriff Mike Smith said. Autopsy results for her husband, Lothar Karl Schweder, 77, were not yet available, but Smith said it's likely he was also attacked by dogs because the scene was so grisly.
Smith said officials were going to round up at least 11 dogs seen in the area where the couple's bodies were found Saturday morning by five passers-by.
It wasn't immediately clear whether the mixed-breed dogs were feral or someone's pets. There had been no recent complaints about vicious dogs in the area, Smith said.
Stephanie Shain, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the United States, said it was "uncommon" for people to be bitten to death by dogs, citing federal figures that the average number of fatal dog bites each year is 16.
The bodies were found along a dirt road near the couple's home in Lexington and had been there for at least 24 hours before they were found, said Madison County Coroner James Mathews.
A family friend told the Athens Banner-Herald that Lothar Karl Schweder was a retired professor who had taught German at the University of Georgia, which is about 20 miles away in Athens. German Department head Martin Kagel said it might be possible he worked there part time or more than 20 years ago.
Sherry Schweder was a bibliographer at the university's library, where she had worked since 1974, selecting books and journals for the school's humanities collection, said librarian William Potter.
"She was one of my favorite colleagues here," said Nan McMurry, Sherry Schweder's supervisor who had worked with her for about 20 years. "She was really a kind of quiet and self-effacing person, but she was one of the most intelligent and most well-educated people here."
McMurry said Sherry Schweder had many dogs and cats, though authorities don't think her own animals attacked her.
York Schweder, one of the couple's two sons, had left for Georgia after hearing about his parents' death, said his mother-in-law, Toni Mora, who answered the phone at his home in Hutchinson, Kan. York Schweder did not immediately return a message left Monday on his cell phone.