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Awful Details About Why A Virginia Mother Said She Locked Her Kids In Bug-Infested Cages

Photo: Miami Herald 
Malista Ness-Hopkins

When social workers in Accomack County, Virginia walked into the home of 38-year-old Malista Ness-Hopkins' and her five children July 28, 2017, they were stunned the conditions. 

Plates of food decomposing in the sink and bathtub, dirty diapers and broken glass were strewn around the house — and two of the children were trapped in makeshift cages. 

According to the Miami Herald, it took 23 minutes for the social workers to unscrew just one of the lids that had been put on the top of the cages. 

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And when they were finally able to free the 2- and 3-year-old trapped inside, they reacted in a very unusual way. 

Kate Bonniwell, one of the social workers, said the 2-year-old hissed and made animal noises. They also found bite and claw marks inside the makeshift cribs. 

“The children didn’t act like normal children,” she said. 

Officials also found a 1-year-old in a crib without a top on it, and two other children, ages 5 and 6, lying on dirty mattresses on the floor.

All the children were unbathed and had flea bites across their bodies. 

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Ness-Hopkins said she locked up two of her children because they had once run off and played with a bottle of Drano. She also said she had been a stay-at-home parent for 17 years. 

“Outside, there was trash and debris,” said Meghann Patterson, an investigator for the Accomack County Sheriff’s Office. “Inside, the smell was overwhelming. The kitchen was littered with trash and cockroaches were all over the floor.”

Ness-Hopkins' lawyer argued that there wasn't any evidence the state of the home was "directly harmful to the children."

She was indicted Monday by a grand jury on charges of child abuse and neglect. 

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Emily Blackwood is an editor at YourTango who covers pop culture, true crime, dating, relationships and everything in between. Every Wednesday at 10:20 p.m. you can ask her any and all questions about self-love, dating, and relationships LIVE on YourTango’s Facebook page. You can follow her on Instagram (@blackw00d) and Twitter (@emztweetz).