Thomas Valva’s mother was so desperate to protect her young sons from harm that she took her case to the nation’s top law enforcement officer.
Justyna Zubko-Valva wrote a detailed 75-page letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr in July asking for the Justice Department’s intervention.
“I cannot sleep well at night knowing that my three sons are forced to live with their abusive father and his paramour … who commit the most horrifying and inhuman form of child abuse based on locking them in freezing cold garage in a winter time,” Zubko-Valva wrote in a foreshadowing.
Six months later, 8-year-old Thomas, a third-grader at East Moriches Elementary School, was dead from hypothermia. Suffolk authorities said his father, Michael Valva, an NYPD officer, and the father’s fiancee, Angela Pollina, forced Thomas to sleep on the floor in the garage of their Center Moriches home as the outside temperature plummeted to 19 degrees. Thomas died on Jan. 17.
Valva, 40, and Pollina, 42, have been indicted on charges of second-degree murder in Thomas’ death and four counts each of endangering the welfare of a child, related to alleged abuse of Thomas and his older brother, Anthony, 10. They pleaded not guilty and are being held without bail in Suffolk jails.
Zubko-Valva repeatedly sought help at different levels of authority — from police, county social service agencies and the courts in Nassau and Suffolk, in addition to her letter to Barr. But her efforts ended in a series of legal setbacks that culminated more than two […]