ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. -- A 38-year-old Accomack County woman charged by police with five felony counts of child abuse and neglect is out on bail on condition that she seek a mental health evaluation and pursue recommended treatment.
An Accomack County Juvenile and Domestic Relations judge changed another condition that had been imposed previously, that Malista Ness-Hopkins was to have no contact with the five alleged child victims.
Judge Croxton Gordon removed that condition after a Sept. 8 hearing, where the judge certified all five cases to a grand jury.
She was arrested and the children were removed from the home on July 28 after social workers and an investigator found the five children living in a filthy, insect-infested house — and found two toddlers confined in makeshift cages in a bedroom.
The home on Gladding Road in Mears where they found the children sat boarded up Monday.
An Accomack County Social Services worker testified at the hearing that she had visited the home after a complaint was made to the agency.
She found a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old confined in two cribs with the tops screwed on them, and a 1-year-old child in another crib with no top on it.
She also found a 5-year-old and a 6-year-old on bare mattresses on the floor in another bedroom.
BACKGROUND: Mom kept toddlers in makeshift cages, police say
The house was filthy, bug-infested and smelled of urine, the social worker said.
A neighbor, who said he did not know the family and who did not wish to be identified, said the home's occupants moved out around three weeks ago.
The house has a fenced-in yard filled with a swing set, plastic slides and other toys, and there is a trampoline in another part of the yard.
The roof of the two-story structure appears to need repairs — several sections were covered with tarps.
Ness-Hopkins told officials when she was arrested that she has been a stay-at-home mother for 17 years and that she resided alone with the children.
Her boyfriend, Tommy Annis, who was the father of some of her children, died in May 2016 at age 33.
Ness-Hopkins has a GED diploma and has attended some college, according to court documents. She was among students who were honored for their academic achievement at Eastern Shore Community College during spring semester 2010, according to a press release at the time.
She has no pending charges other than the current ones, but did have a prior criminal record in connection with a 1999 shoplifting case, according to court documents.