A New York City police officer and his fiancée are accused of killing his 8-year-old son after making the boy, who has autism, sleep in their unheated garage overnight in sub-freezing temperatures.
Michael Valva and Angela Pollina were arrested Friday on charges of second-degree murder in connection with the death of Thomas Valva, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said at a press conference.
On the morning of Jan. 17, Michael Valva called police to report that his son had fallen in the driveway of his Center Moriches home while waiting for the school bus. Valva said his son had fallen an hour earlier and was unconscious.
Upon arrival, officers found Valva administrating CPR on his son in the home’s basement.
Thomas was rushed to Long Island Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Hart said. His body temperature was only 76 degrees when he arrived at the hospital, indicating that he may have been dead for hours.
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Suffolk County homicide detectives began to investigate Thomas’s death and found alleged inconsistencies with Valva’s story. Hart alleges that the police investigation showed Thomas was “subjected to punishment including food deprivations and exposure to extremely frigid temperatures.”
Thomas’s cause of death was homicide with a major contributing factor of hypothermia. It is unclear how long he was allegedly forced to stay in the unfinished, unheated garage, Hart said.
WCBS 880 reports Thomas’ mother said she lost custody of the boy two years ago.
It is unclear whether Valva or Pollina have entered a plea. Prior to his arrest, Valva released a statement through his attorney saying he was “shocked and saddened to learn of the horrible accident that took the life of young Thomas Valva,” WLNY reports. Attorney information for Pollina was not available Friday.
The investigation is ongoing.
If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to http://www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.