A New York Police Department officer and his fiancee were charged with second-degree murder Friday after the transit officer's 8-year-old son was allegedly left in an unheated, unfinished garage overnight and froze to death. Michael Valva, 40, and Angela Pollina, 42, have both pleaded not guilty. As NBC News and CNN report, Valva called 911 the morning of Jan. 17 to report his son Thomas had fallen in the driveway and lost consciousness while waiting for the school bus, and Suffolk County officers responded to the Long Island home to find Valva performing CPR on the boy in the basement of the home. His body temperature was 76 degrees, and upon investigating, a police rep says, "We ... determined that Thomas was never in the driveway that morning, and he suffered head and facial injuries that were not consistent with his father's account."
The boy was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, and the medical examiner ruled the cause of death homicide with a major contributing factor of hypothermia. A county source tells the New York Post Valva allegedly got angry with Thomas the night before his death, beat him, and left him in the garage as punishment. The temperature overnight was 19 degrees. Valva and Pollina even allegedly mocked the boy for how cold he was before he died, the Post reports. The couple also had custody of Valva's two other sons and Pollina's three daughters, and police say they've found evidence all the children were closely monitored and some of them were deprived of food and punished severely. Valva's ex-wife, who lost custody of her three boys in 2017, tells the Post and NBC New York that she knew the couple was abusive and had been trying for years to get help. She documented her allegations on this Twitter account (warning: It's a tough read).