NYPD officer and fiancée charged with murdering his autistic son

Valva was suspended without pay pending the investigation. He has served as an officer in the NYPD since 2005.

Image Credit: JohnnyMilano/The New York Times

An NYPD transit officer and his fiancée were recently charged with second-degree murder for killing his eight-year-old autistic son. The child reportedly froze to death in his father’s unheated garage as a form of punishment.

On January 16, NYPD Transit Officer Michael Valva became angry at his eight-year-old son, Thomas, and allegedly began beating the autistic child in their home in Long Island. After striking the boy, Valva locked Thomas inside his unheated garage all night long as temperatures dropped to 19 degrees, according to Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart.

The next morning, Valva unlocked the door and found his son’s dead body. The off-duty cop reportedly placed Thomas’ corpse in a warm bath to raise its core temperature before telling the police that his son had fallen while waiting for the school bus.

When Suffolk County police officers arrived at Valva’s home, they discovered him performing CPR on his son in the basement around 9:40 a.m. on January 17. Thomas was transported to Long Island Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

“The medical examiner has ruled it a homicide with a major contributing factor of hypothermia,” Commissioner Hart stated on Friday. “We believe certainly that Thomas was kept in the garage overnight preceding his death.”

She added, “As with any unattended death, homicide detectives conducted an investigation which revealed inconsistencies in the timing and the nature of the child’s injuries as reported by his father.

“We have determined that Thomas was never in the driveway that morning and he suffered head and facial injuries that were not consistent with the father’s account.”

According to police, Valva and his fiancée, Angela Pollina, had an extensive home security system and kept close tabs on all of the children in their blended family — Valva’s sons, ages 6, 10, and 8-year-old Thomas, and Pollina’s three daughters, 6 and 11-year-old twins. After reviewing the footage, police investigators found that Valva and Pollina routinely punished the boys with “food deprivation and exposure to extremely frigid temperatures.”

On January 17, the surviving children were taken from the residence by social workers. A week later, Valva and Pollina were charged with second-degree murder for the death of Valva’s son, Thomas.

On Thursday, Valva was suspended without pay pending the investigation. He has served as an officer in the NYPD since 2005.


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Andrew Emett is a staff writer for NationofChange. Andrew is a Los Angeles-based reporter exposing political and corporate corruption. His interests include national security, corporate abuse, and holding government officials accountable. Andrew’s work has appeared on Raw Story, Alternet, and many other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @AndrewEmett and on Facebook at Andrew Emett.