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Update: Missing Virginia Beach mom and tots found safely

by Ellen Killoran

Family and friends are relieved — but many questions remain

A Virginia Beach mother who disappeared with her two children over the weekend has reportedly been found safely. On Wednesday, police reportedly told a local ABC affiliate that Monica Lamping, her 7-year-old son, Kai and her 9-month-old daughter, Oria, were found in another state, there the family is believed to have traveled voluntarily.

“Investigators have determined that they left on their own free will,” police said in a news release obtained by the Virginian-Pilot. 

Questions still surround the disappearance, as friends and family told the newspaper this weekend that Lamping is never out of communication for as long as she was, and there were reportedly several attempts to contact her. But as of Sunday morning, a friend told the Virginian-Pilot that she believed the Lamping’s phone had gone dead or had been manually turned off.

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Further concerning was the fact that Lamping’s home burned down on Sunday. Authorities have not said that the fire was suspicious, and that it may have been started by a space heater, but it is reportedly still under investigation. While no one was home, including another tenant in the house, four pets were left behind, and a dog and a cat died in the fire. Lamping owned some of those pets but it is not yet known which ones belonged to her.

Before Lamping was found, questions arose about a man she had gone on a first date with on Saturday afternoon. In a text message exchange later that night with her friend Anne Shell, Lamping said that a man named “Chad” had agreed to fix her car, and asked Shell if she would drive her to Chad’s home in the morning to retrieve it. Shell presumed that Chad was the same man Lamping had met for the earlier lunch date.

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On Tuesday, police said that a license place matching Lamping’s was captured heading through the city’s Downtown Tunnel, and her ex-husband Kevin Lamping, who is Kai’s father, told the Virginian-Pilot that he was told the car was heading west.

“For her to uproot the baby and Kai in the middle of the night and go through the Portsmouth tunnel – that’s weird,” he said. “None of this makes sense.”

There is yet no explanation for why Lamping left with her children and did not communicate her plans to friends or family. Police told the Virginian-Pilot that Lamping will not be charged with any crime.

“The investigation was to locate them to make sure they were safe,” Virginia Beach Police spokeswoman MPO Linda Kuehn told the newspaper. “It’s not a crime to go to leave somewhere.”

 

Photo: Virginia Beach Police

Ellen is a seasoned journalist and former media & entertainment reporter with a taste for true crime. Formerly a senior editor at IBTimes, her work has appeared in Forbes, Rolling Stone, Maxim, NYMag, Indiewire, and more. She co-produced the HBO documentary "Youth Knows No Pain" and appeared in a documentary series that aired alongside the Lifetime movie "Manson's Lost Girls."