RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – An NYPD officer and his fiancee pleaded not guilty to murdering the officer’s 8-year-old son, Thomas Valva, as new troubling details emerged about life in what prosecutors are calling “a house of horrors.”
Holding her son’s prayer card, Thomas Valva‘s heartbroken mother wept.
Moments earlier, gasps were heard from the overflowing courtroom as murder indictments were unsealed, officially charging the child’s NYPD father, Michael Valva, and his fiancee, Angela Pollina, with the abuse and death of the 8-year-old.
“Nothing short of cruel, callous, wanton evil,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Kerriann Kelly. “Literally begging for food at school, eating crumbs off the table, eating out of garbage cans, going under bleachers.”
It is alleged Thomas and his brother Anthony came to school soaked in urine, starving and bruised.
Prosecutors are calling the Center Moriches home a house of horrors where the boys slept on a concrete slab in a freezing garage, referred to as “the kids’ room.”
“Slapped and punched and carried by the wrist with their feet not touching the floor, Thomas was thrown and dragged down a flight of stairs,” said Kelly.
Valva’s extensive audio and video surveillance system recorded it all and turned out to be the undoing of the couple. It is alleged they coached the boys to tell social workers their home life was safe.
“I kept thinking of all the institutions who failed to help him, who completely did absolutely nothing,” said the boys’ mother Justyna Zubko-Valva. “Now everyone’s trying to do the right thing, but where were you when I begged you for help?”
According to Kelly, on the morning Thomas died of hypothermia, “One of the children asked why Thomas couldn’t stand up. Then a child was heard saying that Thomas can’t even walk.”
Valva responded, “Because he’s cold. Boo-(expletive)-hoo.”
“The cry for vengeance eventually must succumb to the pursuit of justice,” said defense attorney Robert Del Col, who spoke on the case Thursday on behalf of Michael Valva.
The district attorney says the investigation will spare no one.
“I’m making a pledge to the public that we will get to the bottom of what happened here, and we will be transparent about it,” said Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini.
As more evidence comes in, a particularly heartless moment was reported by emergency responders.
“This defendant [Angela Pollina] stood in the bathroom fixing her hair as Thomas’ ice-cold lifeless body lay on the floor,” said Kelly.
Later, when Thomas was declared dead, hospital workers quoted Michael Valva: “I’ve been through more stressful things than this.”
Thomas’ mother says her son had autism but was high-functioning. She has temporary custody of her two remaining children.