The NYPD transit cop accused of murdering his 8-year-old son was heard mocking Thomas Valva the morning after he was forced to sleep in an unheated garage the night before he died.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Michael Valva, a 40-year-old NYPD transit officer, and his fiancée, Angela Pollina, 42, were charged with the murder of his 8-year-old son Thomas Valva, who died on January 17 after being forced to spend the night in the unfinished garage when temperatures outside fell to 19 degrees.
Thomas, his two brothers, and Pollina’s three children lived together in Center Moriches on Long Island. A medical examiner ruled that Thomas’s death was a result of homicide, with hypothermia as a major contributing factor.
Citing police sources, the New York Post reports that investigators examined audio and video surveillance captured on a home security system, and found recordings of Michael Valva appearing to mock Thomas when he was unable to walk the morning of his death after being left in the garage overnight.
Referring to the recordings, Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcombe reportedly said at Valva’s arraignment that Thomas was “face-planting” and another child was heard asking why Thomas couldn’t walk.
“Because he’s hypothermic,” Pollina reportedly said to the child.
“When you wash with cold water and it’s freezing out you become hypothermic.”
Pollina then reportedly asked Michael Valva why he thought his son couldn’t walk.
“Because he’s cold. Boo f–king hoo,” Valva replied.
The recording also reportedly showed that both Thomas Valva, who reportedly had autism, and his brother were left the sleep in the garage without mattresses, blankets, or pillows on the Wednesday before Thomas’s death.
The boy’s mother Justyna Zubko-Valva told CrimeOnline that it was her 10-year-old son Anthony who was in the garage with Thomas that night. The mother said she has been granted temporary custody of Anthony and his 6-year-old brother Andrew.
The New York Post reviewed records showing that New York state’s Office of Children and Family Services received a complaint in February 2019 about suspected abuse at the home. It is unclear who filed the complaint.
“For the past week, Anthony (9) has been coming to school with his clothes and backpack soaked in urine,” the record reportedly reads.
“Anthony has been staying in the garage and is not allowed in his room due to him urinating in his bed … Step mother (Angela) and Father (Michael) are aware that the child is arriving at school soiled and fail to adequately address the concern.”
According to the report, the OCFS closed the complaint after a daylong investigation, citing that it was a “duplicate.”
Zubko-Valva said she had not seen any of her sons since January 2018, after her ex-husband filed a CPS complaint against her, which she claimed was based on false allegations. As a result, according to Zubko-Vavla, her ex-husband was granted full custody of the children.
Zubko-Valva said she had made numerous complaints to multiple agencies over the years about her suspicions that her husband was abusing her children. She said when she attempted to file a police report with the Suffolk County Police Department, “they just laughed at me.”
The mother said that an officer with the department “kept telling me that you are allowed to spank your children.”
But Zubko-Vavla’s concerns went far beyond spanking. She claims that her husband and his fiancée withheld food from the children as a form of punishment. The mother said that after she was reunited with her boys, at least one of her sons was ravenous and consumed two large bowls of cereal before asking when he might be able to eat again.
“It could have been stopped so long ago and it never was,” Zubko-Valva said.
According to the New York Post, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said that authorities attempted to perform at welfare check at the residence in May 2019, but no one was home. The report does not indicate that authorities made a second attempt.
Thomas’s grieving mother now says she wants to ensure that no other children suffer the way hers did, and is willing to share the documentation of her many attempts to intervene on behalf of her sons “if we can save the life of other children.”
“I could not understand they protected the abuser of children,” she said. “They did absolutely nothing.”
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