Jessica A. Ray (Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail, Virginia Gazette / April 3, 2014)

WILLIAMSBURG — Convicted of making a bomb threat at TJ Maxx in January and neglecting a child while doing it, a Newport News woman will be sentenced Wednesday in Circuit Court.

Jessica A. Ray, 27, pleaded guilty in May to felony charges of threats to bomb or burn and child neglect, according to court records. Two additional charges of felony child neglect were dropped.

Around 5:35 p.m. on Jan. 8, James City Police initially responded to a report of child neglect at Monticello Marketplace, according to police. A man heard a child crying and saw a woman, later identified as Ray, placing an infant beneath a delivery van in the parking lot. As the man approached, Ray fled.

The man reported there were cuts on the child's face and the child's head and feet were cold, police said. The police report stated that Ray attempted to communicate through gestures while he called police, then she began screaming the infant would kill them before attempting to take the child from his arms. Ray then ran toward Martin's supermarket.

Prior to placing the infant under the van, police said Ray abandoned two children, ages 5 and 6, at a nearby Burger King. Alyssa Brooks, mother of the children, left her kids with Ray at about 4:45 p.m., according to her testimony at a preliminary hearing, and did not see them again until 7 p.m. when they were in the custody of Social Services.

Ray entered TJ Maxx screaming the store would blow up in 29 seconds, according to police. Georgia Mullins, a store employee, testified at preliminary hearing that during the incident Ray moved robotically, then headed for the store's back room. Police said once there she began climbing the shelves.

After repeatedly screaming the store would explode, Ray exited through the front doors where police were waiting. Police said she began disrobing before she was taken into custody.

Cathy Black, deputy commonwealth attorney, said at the time of Ray's plea that Ray had consumed alcohol and taken Ambien, a prescription sleep aid, before the incident occurred.

Robertson can be reached at 757-345-2342.