Virginia Beach mom accused of setting house fire, killing pets faces sentencing
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va — A mother who disappeared for three days with her two children after a house fire in January 2017 was charged with arson and animal cruelty and now faces sentencing.
Monica Lamping will serve 6 months in jail after taking an Alford plea.
Lamping originally planned to plead guilty to the two animal torture charges if the Commonwealth agreed to nolle prosequi, or drop, the arson charge.
After presenting the deal to the judge, he asked both the Commonwealth and defense to reconsider. Following some deliberations, Lamping agreed to take an Alford plea for the two animal torture charges. An Alford plea means the defendant maintains their innocence, but understands that there is significant evidence against them and they could be found guilty.
Monica Lamping and her two children went missing on January 21, 2017. Her vehicle had been tracked going through the Portsmouth Downtown Tunnel at 2 a.m. that morning.
At 3:15 a.m. January 22, fire officials were called to a fire at Monica Lamping’s home. Firefighters searched the home and found one dog and one cat deceased inside. Two other cats were found alive and eventually reunited with their owner. Lamping and her two young children, were not home at the time of the fire.
Investigators originally believed the cause of the fire may be linked to an electrical space heater.
Lamping was found days later with her children in an eco-village in North Carolina.
After being brought back to Virginia Beach, she was charged with arson and two counts of animal torture causing death.
Lamping had been out on bond since her arrest, and her trial was scheduled to begin January 15, 2019. Instead of the trial, she agreed to take a plea deal.
Lamping did not want to comment after her proceeding. Her attorney, James Broccoletti, said that this ordeal has been extremely difficult for her.
“This has been very traumatic. She is very remorseful, very apologetic, and she’s concerned about her children. She’s concerned about her life with her children,” said Broccoletti.