An NYPD transit cop charged with murdering his autistic eight-year-old son by locking him in a freezing garage kept his dog in a heated room inside, according to new testimony.
Michael Valva, 41, wept as the family housekeeper Tyrene Rodriguez recounted how Thomas Valva was locked in garage in 19 F temperature while the pet dog ‘Bella’ slept in a storage room.
Rodriguez told the pre-trial hearing how she would collect her cleaning gear from the room where Bella slept, WPIX11 reported.
‘And that’s a heated room, correct?’ asked the Suffolk County Prosecutor.
‘Yes,’ Rodriguez replied.
Thomas Valva, who was on the autism spectrum, who was allegedly starved, beaten and locked outside their Long Island home.
He died of hypothermia after allegedly being forced to sleep in the garage in near freezing conditions on January 17, 2020, after soiling his pajamas.
Michael Valva breaks down and cries during his hearing in Criminal Court in Riverhead, New York on May 11
Valva and his former fiancée Pollina were were shown images of Thomas’ shirt, socks and soiled pants on a screen inside the courtroom during Suffolk County detective Michael Ronca’s testimony on Wednesday. Pictured: Valva appears emotionless inside the courtroom on Wednesday
Authorities were dispatched to the home where Thomas had been living at about 9.40am on January 17, 2020 after his father said the boy had fallen in the driveway and lost consciousness while running for the school bus
His former fiancée Angela Pollina, 42, who is also charged with second-degree murder.
The couple had six children in their care at the time of Thomas’s death.
The housekeeper arrived at the family home in Long Island at 9am on January 17, 2020.
She recalled seeing Pollina sitting at a kitchen table doing bills.
Rodriguez said she heard a child crying, and asked who it was.
The housekeeper said she was told Thomas ‘fell running for the bus.’
She started cleaning an upstairs bathroom and says she saw Thomas being escorted by Michael Valva and Pollina towards the basement.
A few minutes later, she said Pollina returned to the bathroom and said Thomas wasn’t breathing.
Rodriguez rushed to the basement and heard Michael Valva talking to a 911 operator who told him to do CPR in a hard surface.
She said Thomas was completely naked. ‘He was very blue. His lips were blue.’
The housekeeper said she knelt by Thomas’ head and held him steady while Mike administered CPR.
Pollina was ‘standing behind us. Just freaking out’, said Rodriguez.
Thomas was one of six children in Mike and Angela’s care who were living at the home at the time the little boy died. Thomas’ brothers have since been placed in the custody of their mother while Pollina’s daughters were placed in the custody of their biological fathers
Angela Pollina is presented for indictment by the Grand Jury, for second-degree murder of Thomas Valva, 8, at Suffolk County Court, in Riverhead, New York. February 6, 2020
Valva cries in court during the testimony of Det. Flores during a hearing in the Arthur M. Cromarty Criminal Court complex in Riverhead, NY
WPIX11.com reported that the prosecutor asked Rodriguez if Pollina had mentioned that Thomas had defecated on himself and urinated.
‘I think I heard them say that when I went down in the basement,’ Rodriguez told her. ‘I was wondering why he was naked.’
The paramedics arrived soon afterwards and tried to revive the boy, but they ‘realized there was nothing happening’.
They put a silver blanket on him and took him away, she said.
She said Michael Valva changed his clothes before going to the hospital.
According to police, cameras and microphones that had been set up in Mike Valva’s home captured audio of him and Angela taunting Thomas as he froze to death.
The audio files allegedly recorded the couple discussing the fact that Thomas was suffering from hypothermia, had been washed with cold water, couldn’t walk and was ‘face-planting’ on the concrete.
They laughed as they said ‘he’s hypothermic’ and that he had ‘face-planted’ the floor.
Pollina remarked: ‘You know why he’s falling?’.
Valva replied: ‘Because he’s cold…. boo f*****g hoo’.
Thomas’ death has since prompted an investigation into the social services department and how it dealt with abuse allegations against the couple and the children who lived with them.
A separate task force will examine how the department handles cases of children with developmental disabilities.
Following his death, Thomas’ brothers were placed in the custody of their mother.
Pollina’s daughters were placed in the custody of their biological fathers.
TIMELINE TO A TRAGEDY: THE THOMAS VALVA CASE
Michael Valva, 41, stands accused of second-degree murder and child endangerment in the death of his son, Thomas, 8, who was on the autism spectrum and was left to freeze in a garage overnight in January.
February 4, 2011: Justyna Zubko-Valva, Michael Valva’s now-estranged wife, accused Michael of verbal and financial abuse.
September 14, 2011: Thomas Valva is born.
Late 2014: Zubko-Valva accuses Valva of having an affair with Angela Pollina.
2015: Divorce proceedings between Zubko-Valva and Valva begin.
July 2016: Zubko-Valva accuses Valva of child abuse, including starvation, dehydration, and a lack of medical care for son Anthony when he had a fever.
September 2017: Valva is awarded temporary custody, with Zubko-Valva getting unsupervised visits every other weekend.
Fall 2017: East Moriches Elementary School staff expresses concerns of abuse in the Valva home.
January 2018: Thomas and Anthony both accuse Zubko-Valva of abuse after meeting with a CPS worker.
April 2018: School psychologist Renee Emin sees bruises on Thomas, which she’s told Valva gave him.
February 2019: CPS report states Anthony goes to school with urine soakings.
March 2019: CPS report again cites potential malnutrition, along with garage punishments.
May 2019: CPS report states Valva threw a book bag at Thomas’ head.
January 16, 2020: Thomas and Anthony are allegedly forced to sleep in the freezing garage overnight with blankets, pillows, or mattresses.
January 17, 2020: Suffolk County Police respond to 911 call after Thomas falls in driveway. He is pronounced dead at Long Island Community Hospital.
January 24, 2020: Valva and Pollina are arrested and charged with second-degree murder and child endangerment.
February 2020: Valva tells Suffolk Family Court he has been fired, but police claim he was simply suspended without pay.
June 2020: Zubko-Valva files $200 million lawsuit against officials for failing to heed her warnings about the abuse Thomas was facing.
October 28, 2020: Valva resigns from the NYPD with his pension intact.