The fire that destroyed Monica Lamping’s Sullivan Boulevard home on Sunday morning was started by a space heater in an upstairs bedroom, officials say.
“Whether or not the fire was intentionally set is still undetermined, and the investigation remains active,” Virginia Beach Fire Department spokesman Art Kohn wrote in an email.
A neighbor reported the fire in Lamping’s home, located 4932 Sullivan Boulevard, around 3:30 a.m. on Sunday. None of the four people who lived in the home, including Lamping, her children or their roommate, were there when the fire broke out. A dog and cat died in the flames.
Lamping couldn’t be reached, and hours later her parents filed a missing persons report for their daughter, her 7-year-old son, Kai, and her 9-month-old daughter, Oria.
Police searched for the trio for nearly three days before finding them safe and alive in an adjoining state on Wednesday. Investigators said Lamping left Virginia on her own free will.
Her disappearance attracted national attention.
“We’re so happy right now. We are ecstatic. They’re safe and my son is happy and alive,” said ex-husband Kevin Lamping and father of 7-year-old Kai Lamping.
Mayfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.