Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini today announced the indictment of a New York City Police officer and his fiancée for allegedly murdering the man’s eight-year-old son by forcing him to sleep in an unheated garage in below-freezing temperatures overnight.
Michael Valva, 40, and Angela Pollina, 42, both of Center Moriches, are each charged with Murder in the Second Degree, a class A felony, and four counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a class A misdemeanor.
“Unfortunately as we dig deeper into this case, we are learning more about how horrible these two defendants allegedly were to these children, and we are not going to stop until we get to the truth,” District Attorney Sini said. “Not only the truth about what happened the day that Thomas died, but also the truth about all the circumstances surrounding this situation from the very beginning.
“This remains a very active investigation that is being conducted by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Suffolk County Police Department. We will get to the bottom of what happened here and we will be transparent about those findings at the appropriate time.”
“It is still hard to comprehend the actions of Michael Valva and his Fiancée Angela Pollina,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said. “The two people who should have been caring for and loving Thomas Valva unconditionally treated him and punished him in ways that were cruel and inhumane, and ultimately cut off this child’s life before it ever really began. We will continue to work together with the District Attorney’s Office to ensure that justice is served and that these two defendants are held accountable.”
At approximately 9:40 a.m. on Jan. 17, Suffolk County Police officers responded to a 911 call reporting that 8-year-old Thomas Valva had fallen in the driveway of his family’s residence, located on Bittersweet Lane in Center Moriches. Thomas was transported to Long Island Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
An investigation by the Suffolk County Police Department’s Homicide Squad revealed evidence that Thomas had allegedly been forced by his father, Michael Valva, and Valva’s fiancée, Angela Pollina, to sleep in the garage of their house the night of Jan. 16, on which night the temperature outside reached a low of approximately 19 degrees. Upon his arrival at the hospital on Jan. 17, Thomas’ internal body temperature was 76.1 degrees. The Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner determined Thomas’ cause of death to be hypothermia.
The investigation included a forensic analysis of surveillance cameras installed in various rooms throughout Valva and Pollina’s residence. One of the surveillance cameras was positioned to record the floor of the garage and was labeled “Kids’ Room.” Surveillance video recovered from the residence allegedly shows Thomas and his brother sleeping in the garage without a mattress, pillows or sheets on the night of Jan. 15.
The investigation also revealed evidence of alleged physical abuse and neglect by Valva and Pollina between September 2017 and January 2020, including reports from the East Moriches School District alleging that on numerous occasions, Thomas and his brother arrived at school hungry, cold, soiled, or marked with scratches, bruises and cuts.
Following the investigation, Valva and Pollina were arrested by Suffolk County Police on Jan. 24.
Valva and Pollina were arraigned on the indictment today by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice William J. Condon and were remanded without bail. They are due back in court on Feb. 24.
If convicted of the top count, Valva and Pollina each face a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
This case is being prosecuted by Bureau Chief Kerriann Kelly and Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcombe, of the Homicide Bureau, with assistance from the Child Abuse & Domestic Violence Bureau.