The 8-year-old boy who froze to death in Long Island after he was forced to spend the night in a garage was repeatedly deprived of food and spoke of harsh punishments at the hands of his father, according to newly obtained court records.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Thomas Valva died on January 17, the day after he spent the night in an unheated garage when temperatures in Center Moriches dropped to 19 degrees. Thomas’s father Michael Valva, a NYPD transit officer, and his fiancée Angela Pollina have been arrested and charged with murder.
Thomas’s mother Justyna Zubko-Valva has two other sons with Michael Valva, and told CrimeOnline that she long suspected her husband was abusing their children, but that her frequent reports to law enforcement and social service agencies were ignored or dismissed. She said she hadn’t seen the boys in two years, as her husband was granted full custody of the children after making what she said was a false complaint about her to CPS.
“I could not understand why they protected the abuser of children,” she said. “They did absolutely nothing.”
Records of abuse complaints and custody hearing transcripts obtained by CBS New York appear to corroborate Zubko-Valva’s claims.
According to the report, the mother attempted in family court to submit a flash drive containing audio and video files of the children speaking about the treatment at the hands of their father.
In one of the videos, Thomas Valva says, “Daddy said to me that I can’t listen to you and I can’t hug you and I can’t say ‘I love you mommy,’ and ‘I miss you mommy,’” and “Daddy’s going to put me outside.”
But according to the court records, the judge appeared to wave the mother away when she attempted to submit the flash drive.
A court transcript from 2017 also shows that the judge told the mother to “stop talking” when she complained that her ex-husband had failed to pick up the boys 29 times. In September of that year, a judge awarded Michael Valva temporary custody of the boys and granted him a restraining order against Zubko-Valva. CBS New York reports that there was no explanation given for the order of protection.
“They did not have any evidence against me, so they would have claimed that I have mental illness, or that I am drinking, or I have erratic behavior,” Zubko-Valva told the news station.
The report states that 21 911 calls were placed to Nassau County police from a Valley Stream home since 2014, but does not provide any further details. Zubko-Valva told CrimeOnline late last month that she lives in Valley Stream, but it is unclear where Michael Valva lived prior to home in Center Moriches.
And between 2018 and 2019, teachers in East Moriches made 20 calls to child protection hotlines reporting concerns about the boys that included hunger, urine-soaked clothing, lacerations, and a black eye.
“Not allowed to eat breakfast because they did not use their manners,” a special education teacher reportedly wrote in a report.
According to the CBS New York, Michael Valva said any injuries were the result of playground activities.
In 2019, five CPS caseworkers in Suffolk County examined a number of reports about the Valva children and concluded that the allegations “did not rise to level of immediate or impending danger of serious harm. No controlling interventions are necessary at this time.”
Thomas’s mother had previously accused her husband of failing to properly feed the boys, and told CrimeOnline her surviving sons were hungry when she was reunited with them after Thomas’s death. In December 2018, Zubko-Valva posted a video of one of her sons on Twitter. In the video, the boy says “Daddy didn’t want me to have breakfast” after he had a bathroom accident.
My children are punished by their father and his girlfriend to express their loving feelings towards their mommy#stopchildabuse pic.twitter.com/Ic5YBAFcqS
— StandAgainstChildAbuse (@JustZub) January 7, 2018
As CrimeOnline previously reported, a Suffolk County Internal Review Committee is investigating departmental failures that may have contributed to the tragedy,
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