A Long Island boy froze to death after his police officer father and his fiancée left him in their unheated garage overnight.
A viewing for the 8-year-old boy, Thomas Valva, has been scheduled for Wednesday, January 29, from 2 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., with a break from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., according to the funeral home’s website. Also on Wednesday, the boy’s father, Michael Valva, and his fiancée, Angela Pollina, will be in court facing charges of second-degree murder.
The child died earlier this month of hypothermia after Michael, 40, and Angela, 42, reportedly forced him to sleep in the cold garage of their home. The next day, Michael found the boy unconscious and called 911 saying his son had fallen in the driveway while waiting for his school bus. When paramedics arrived, however, they found that Thomas had a body temperature of 76 degrees. He was rushed to a local hospital but pronounced dead soon after. After some investigation, his death was ruled a homicide.
Michael and Angela were charged on January 24, in Suffolk County District Court, and face 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini told reporters that Thomas and his 10-year-old brother — who are both on the autism spectrum — were “at times forced to sleep in the garage,” by the couple.
Thomas’s biological mother, Justyna Zubko-Valva, has been wrapped up in a bitter custody battle with Michael for years, and previously warned family court judges that her ex was putting their children in danger.
On Twitter, she described various disturbing encounters with Michael, and even shared a video of him squeezing the kids’ hands until they cried, to keep them from running to their mother.
“Cop father forbids the children from coming to their mommy by painfully squeezing their hands and making them cry in order to prove that children do not want to come to their mommy. The father of my kids is a cop who is allowed to abuse bis children #PoliceBrutality,” Justyna — whose Twitter name is StandAgainstChildAbuse — wrote in the caption.
In another tweet, she accused Child Protective Services of not doing enough to save her kids from their father’s alleged abuse.
“The Child Protective Services and the Court are protecting the abusers of my children and swipe everything under the rug,” Justyna wrote November 22, 2018. “I am heartbroken because my children are being purposely hidden from me, and unlawfully I am not being allowed to even see my children on Thanksgiving.”
Justyna received temporary custody of her two surviving sons last week, after Thomas’ death. That order was extended by a family court judge on Monday, January 27. It is unclear why she lost full custody years prior.
“Rest peacefully in heaven my sweet little angel,” she tweeted along with photos of Thomas, on January 25.
As of now, Michael — who worked as a New York Police Department officer since 2005 — has been suspended without pay, a department spokeswoman confirmed.