An apologetic Accomack County woman was sentenced on Thursday to five years in prison for abusing and neglecting five young children found living in squalor in their home in the community of Mears in Accomack County.

Malista Ann Ness-Hopkins also was given three years of post-release probation in Accomack Circuit Court. She faced 25 years in prison.

She pleaded guilty last year to five counts of willfully acting to abuse and neglecting her children. Her defense attorney said he had taken full responsibility of the conditions inside the home.

During her guilty plea, the court heard Ness-Hopkins found herself overwhelmed after her boyfriend died with five children younger than 5 years old in a dilapidated home with no income.

Children were found in a crib converted to a cage and with insect bites and lice. Children were found in soiled diapers. An older child reported they were locked into their rooms for hours as punishment.

The conditions were found during a visit by the Accomack County Department of Social Services.