Woman Charged With Abusing Five Children

By Linda Cicoira — Five of her children are in protective custody, her dog was seized and after being held for an unspecified time, she was recently freed from the county jail on an unsecured $10,000 bond.

Malista -Ness-Hopkins, 38, of Mearsville, was charged with five counts of child abuse and neglect “so gross and wanton as to show a reckless disregard for human life.” The charges were brought on July 28 and involve her keeping two of the toddlers in cribs that were made into cages. The other kids were reportedly filthy and covered with bug bites and bugs.

Judge Croxton Gordon, of Accomack Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, found probable cause last week to certify the charges to a grand jury that will meet in October.

After receiving a complaint regarding the children’s well-being, Kate Bonniwell of Accomack’s department of social services, went to the Gladding Road home on July 26. She “told the suspect … to get the children out of the (cage) cribs. Kate advised it took the suspect 20 minutes using a battery operated drill and Phillips screwdriver to take the screws out from the top section” of the cage, according to a court document. “Bonniwell … has been employed with this agency for eight years and has investigated several cases related to this incident.”

The children were taken that day. The sheriff’s office got a report of the incident at 10:30 a.m. July 27, and began its investigation which included a search of the premises, according to Lt. Anthony Bright. Investigator Meghann Patterson is handling the case.

The children’s father, Tommy Arnold Annis, died in May 2016, according to an obituary. Ness-Hopkins also has four older children who don’t live with her. Her Facebook page stated, “I am a stay-at-home Mama of nine amazing babies, whom are my very reason for being alive.”

She initially announced on the social media page she was in a relationship with another man on July 22. David Williams, who is from Temperanceville, but lives in Lancaster, Va., posted the same as recently as Tuesday and asked a mutual friend to “take care of my girl.” 

A “dog that was showing signs of neglect was removed from the home during the execution of the search warrant,” according to a press release made by Sheriff Todd Godwin. The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call 757-787-1131 or 757-824-5666. Tips may also be submitted through Godwin’s website at accomackcountysheriffsoffice.

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