An 8-year-old boy who died last week in Long Island did not fall on his driveway as his father claimed, but was kept overnight in a car garage when temperatures outside fell to 19 degrees Fahrenheit, police have said.
Thomas died last Friday after his father claimed he had fallen in the driveway of their home. According to a Newsday report, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said at a news conference Friday that Michael Valva told police on January 17 that Thomas had fallen while waiting for the school bus. But when emergency responders came to the home, the father was performing CPR on his son in the basement of their Center Moriches home.
The commissioner said at the news conference that investigators examined surveillance video and audio from inside and outside the home and found that the boy was never in the driveway last Friday morning but instead had been kept in an unheated garage overnight. Thomas’s body temperature was 76 degrees when he arrived at the hospital.
A medical examiner reportedly determined the boy’s death was a homicide with hypothermia as a major contributing factor.
CrimeOnline has identified a Twitter account believed to belong to the child’s mother, Justyna Zubko-Valva, but we have not yet received verbal confirmation from the mother. The account has posts dating back to January 2018 in which the mother claims that her ex-husband was harshly punishing her children and was trying to alienate them from her. She shared multiple videos of her sons speaking; in one, a boy says his father “didn’t want me to have breakfast” because he had accidentally wet himself.
The divorced couple reportedly had three sons, who lived with Valva, Pollina, and Pollina’s three daughters.
In a Twitter private message, the account user who identified herself as Zubko-Valva told CrimeOnline she is “completely devastated, and heartbroken because the death of my little angel Thomas was so preventable,” and claimed that county agencies failed to protect her children from their alleged abuser.
Shortly after his son’s death, Michael Valva launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funeral expenses. The campaign remained active until Friday afternoon when it was taken down. As of Friday morning, it had raised roughy $14,000 of its $10,000 goal.
CrimeOnline will provide further updates when more information is available.
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