Cop and fiancee charged over ‘murder’ of ‘starved’ autistic son, 8, ‘kept in garage’ and siblings could have been abused – The Sun
AN NYPD officer and his fiancee are facing murder charges after their eight-year-old autistic son froze to death when he was allegedly left in a freezing garage overnight.
Little Thomas Valva died last Friday – and cops suspect he and his 10-year-old brother may have also been starved and abused by their dad.
Police said today Thomas died of hypothermia and they believe he was locked in a freezing garage the night before he died.
Cops were called to NYPD officer Michael Valva's home on Long Island, New York around 9.40 am on January 17 to a report of a child who fell in the driveway.
It's now feared that Thomas and his older brother were abused, according to Suffolk County Deputy Commissioner Geraldine Hart.
"We believe that the 10- and eight-year-old boys were subjected to punishment including food deprivation and exposure to extremely frigid temperature," Hart said.
"We are still investigating the extent of the abuse and if it extended to all the children."
Thomas' body temperature was said to be 76 degrees when he was found.
The veteran officer Valva, 40, had three boys, aged six, eight, and 10 – from a previous relationship.
His fiancee Angela Pollina, 42, had three daughters of her own, 11-year-old twins and a six-year-old.
All eight family members lived at the Center Moriches home where they family portrayed a happy image, reports the New York Post.
Former nanny Amanda Wildman, who babysat the six kids from 2017 to 2018, claimed "the boys were constantly being yelled at."
"The girls were always treated better than the boys," Wildman claimed. “If [the boys] weren’t eating their food, [Pollina] didn’t care if they had to pee, they had to sit there.
"They would get yelled at for not going to the toilet. It was very disturbing,."
Thomas – described by his birth mother Justina Zubko-Valva as a "loving, happy boy" – was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Hard told attendees at Friday's press briefing Valva and Pollina were charged with murder in the second degree.
"They engaged in conduct that created a grave risk of death to this child," Hart said.
"We believe that he was kept in the garage overnight preceding his death," Hart said, per the local Patch.
During the press update, she said cops are investigating possible "exposure to extremely frigid temperatures" as well as malnourishment, which is also "part of the investigation."
Around the time Thomas died, police say Valva performed CPR on him in the unheated and unfinished garage attached to the house.
Valva is known to have been an NYPD officer for the past 15 years. He allegedly had to hand in his gun and badge while the investigation is ongoing.
Around the time he died, Valva released a GoFundMe page that has raised $14,000 toward the costs of Thomas' funeral.
He wrote on the fundraising page: "It is with great sadness that I must bury my 8-year-old son. He passed recently due to a tragic accident."
"At this time I am not able to handle these unforeseen costs on my own and if there is any help anyone can provide we would greatly appreciate it.
"In lieu of floral arraignments, we ask that a donation be made instead. Thank you for your help and sympathy."
Following Valva's arrest, his lawyer said: “As with any tragedy, our office and Mr. Valva are shocked and saddened to learn of the horrible accident that took the life of young Thomas Valva."
"We mourn his death with family and friends. Since Thomas’ parents are in a divorce we are unable to make any further comments at this time.”
In tragic Facebook posts, Zubko-Valva, who is currently divorcing Valva, posted pictures of her and her son from September 2017, when she says “he was taken away from me.”
“He always showed me so much love,” she wrote of the second-grade boy, who she said had a mild form of autism.
Zubko-Valva, a corrections officer on Rikers Island, told NBC New York Michael allegedly tortured her kids, beat them and locked them in the garage.
She said a Nassau County Supreme Court judge took custody of Thomas and his siblings away in September 2017, which was the last time she saw them.
The mother-of-three said she had been worried for her children, who were in their father’s custody since then.
She wrote online: "My 3 loving children, whom 2 of them have special needs were taken away from me and deprived from any form of communication and contact with me.”
“The Judge punished my children for their love towards their mommy, and I was punished by the Judge for loving my children unconditionally.
The mom told Newsday Thomas had a mild form of autism and "was just a joy of everybody’s life.”
Thomas “had such an amazing good heart. Everybody who knew him, they instantly fell in love with him.”
She added to CBS New York Thomas' death “is not going to go in vain.”
“Thomas was this little eight-year-old boy, my baby, who always was joyful, always stands for the truth, play his cars, read books, loved songs.”
“No one did anything to help” Zubko-Valva said, according to NBC New York.
"I just really want justice for my son. He deserves it. This should never have happened.”
"I just keep praying for this case to be fully resolved and my little angel Thomas to rest peacefully in heaven."
Zubko-Valva, said the children would allegedly go to school soiled and wearing diapers, even though all had been potty trained by age 2.
They looked for food in the school garbage and on the floor, Justyna Valva said as she choked back tears, claiming "no one did anything" to help.
Zubko-Valva, said she fought in the court system for years and now her 8-year-old boy has lost his life.
Zubko-Valva says she fought for five years to get help for her children, who are now reportedly in her custody following Valva’s arrest.
She told WCBS 880 she saw his body in the medical examiner’s office and prays that “one day we're just going to meet again in heaven.”
“I know he's in heaven. I know he's my angel and I'm going to miss him so much."
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