CENTER MORICHES, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – NYPD officer Michael Valva, charged along with fiancee and former hospital worker Angela Pollina in the death of his 8-year-old son Thomas Valva, appeared in family court Monday.
The legal action comes as funeral arrangements were announced for Thomas, who Suffolk County police say died after being forced to sleep in a freezing cold garage.
His visitation will be held from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday at Mangano Family Funeral Homes in Deer Park, followed by a funeral Thursday morning, reports CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
His two brothers, Anthony and Andrew, have been placed in the care of their biological mother Justyna Zubko-Valva amid allegations those boys were also abused and starved.
“The first breakfast was just heart-breaking because I saw my kids eating breakfast so fast,” said the boys’ mother. “Anthony must have had two giant bowls of cereal, kept asking when is lunch, when is dinner, afraid this is only meal he is going to get for the day.”
Zubko-Valva now has custody of her sons. CBS2 has obtained records of countless complaints to child protective services about the Valva boys, alleged child neglect reports which sparked supervision and orders of protection.
“The damage was so severe they are going to need long term therapy with very good specialists,” said Zubko-Valva.
Michael Valva and Pollina were charged with second-degree murder in the case. Michael Valva allegedly told investigators Thomas fell in the driveway, but investigators determined he died of hypothermia.
“Thomas Valva was subjected to freezing temperatures in the home’s unheated garage overnight when the outside temperature was 19 degrees,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said Friday.
CBS2 obtained school district reports from nurses and psychologists that said Thomas and his brother came to school hungry wearing urine-soaked clothing. One nurse said Thomas had bruises on his body and had not gained weight in a year.
There is a concern for the safety of Pollina’s three daughters who also lived in the Center Moriches home. A judge now determining their custody.
Police are looking into whether the other children in the house were also harmed. Justyna Valva now has temporary custody of her two other sons, pending family court hearings.
Suffolk County Department of Social Services Commissioner Frances Pierre released the following statement regarding the family’s history with the agency:
“The Department of Social Services is heartbroken by the passing of Thomas Valva. Department personnel are continuing to provide all available information on this matter to law enforcement and will continue to cooperate fully throughout the investigation. Suffolk County Child Protective Services has had involvement with the Valva/Pollina family. Petitions for child neglect were filed in Suffolk County Family Court in 2018. Safeguards ordered to protect the children included court-ordered home supervision for a period of one year, Orders of Protection for the parents to refrain from harmful behaviors towards the children and mandated participation in a Positive Parenting Program had been put in place. Subsequent to the expiration of the order of protection, CPS investigated additional complaints relating to the family. DSS is formally reviewing the management of the case to ensure that all protocols were followed in accordance with the law. Due to confidentiality mandates and the nature of this ongoing investigation, the Department cannot comment further at this time.”
Last night, Thomas’ mother and brothers lit candles in his memory during a vigil in Center Moriches.
“Tommy was always a boy who stood for the truth, and unfortunately that’s why he lost his life,” Justyna Valva said. “But his legacy is not going to stop.”
Meanwhile, his father – an NYPD transit officer – has been stripped of his gun and shield and suspended without pay as the investigation continues.
Prior to his arrest, Michael Valva released a statement through a lawyer, saying, “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.”
If convicted, he and Pollina each face 25 years to life in prison.