VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A mother charged with arson who disappeared for three days after a house fire in January was granted bond in court on Wednesday.
She appeared in a courtroom through a video monitor for her arraignment on Tuesday. Her attorney, Otis Forbes, pushed for a bond hearing, but prosecutors argued that they needed to notify the owner of the home that caught fire first.
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, which belonged to her roommate.
Lamping and her two young children were not home at the time of the fire. After unsuccessful attempts to find Lamping and the children, the Virginia Beach Police Department launched an 'endangered persons' investigation fearing for the safety of the family.
The Commonwealth argued on Wednesday that Lamping acknowledged to investigators that she was at the home when the fire started, but she never contacted anyone to let them know that happened.
Days later, Lamping, her 7-year-old son, Kai, and now 10-month-old daughter, Oria, were found safely in North Carolina. The father of Lamping's 7 year-old son said they were found in an ecovillage near Asheville.
Lamping's father testified in court that he does not have any ties to Asheville.
The Commonwealth suggested that Lamping's custody issues over Kai led all of this, and there are concerns as to whether or not she would do this again.
They also noted that the pets belonging to Lamping's roommate were the only animals that died. They were shut in her bedroom.
Courtney Bullock, Lamping's former roommate, was inside the courtroom and told News 3 she normally kept her pets in her bedroom when she was gone. She says she truly believed that everything was an accident until recently.
"I was like she couldn't have done it on purpose, because at least what I got from her she was a good, caring person," says Bullock, who lived with Lamping for about six weeks. "Now I really want justice. I don't want her to get away with it."
Bullock lost her 9-month-old husky puppy, Nevada, in the fire, along with a cat named Boss who she only had for two weeks.
"They were my furbabies," she says. "It's been really hard."
Investigators originally believed the cause of the fire may be linked to an electrical space heater. The commonwealth stated on Wednesday that it could have ignited from an oil lamp.
"I didn't think she ever actually used it I thought it was something cool she picked up," says Bullock.
Forbes said Lamping is still breastfeeding Oria, who is very attached to her.
He also argued that Lamping is seeing a licensed clinical social worker and taking anti-depressant medications, which she is not receiving in jail.
Lamping's father testified that since her meetings with the social worker she has "really improved" and having her away from Oria has been "traumatic."
A judge ultimately agreed, saying Lamping's circumstance is different given her support from her family and the community.
The $25,000 secured bond issued by the judge on Wednesday came with several conditions. Lamping cannot leave Virginia, will be required to wear a GPS monitoring device and must live with her parents in Chesapeake. She will only be allowed to travel in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.
She cannot have any contact with Bullock and must remain on good behavior and continue mental health treatment.
Bullock says Lamping never gave her any indication that she was dealing with personal or mental health issues.
"I never got the vibe that something could be going on," she says.
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