A veteran New York City police officer and his fiancée were arrested and charged with the murder of the man’s 8-year-old son, who froze to death in an unheated garage, authorities said Friday.
Michael Valva, 40, and Angela Pollina, 42, who both lived in the Long Island community of Center Moriches, were charged with second-degree murder in the death of Thomas Valva, Suffolk County police said.
The youngster was kept in an unheated garage the night before his death on Jan. 17 when overnight temperatures outside dipped to 19 degrees, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart told reporters on Friday.
The boy’s body temperature was just 76 degrees when doctors tried to revive him, Hart added.
“The medical examiner has ruled it a homicide with a major contributing factor of hypothermia,” Hart said. “We believe certainly that Thomas was kept in the garage overnight preceding his death.”
Suffolk County police responded to the couple’s home, on Bittersweet Lane, on Jan. 17, answering a report that a little boy had fallen in the driveway and lost consciousness.
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They found Valva performing CPR on Thomas in the garage at about 9:40 a.m. before the boy was rushed to Long Island Community Hospital and pronounced dead there, officials said.
Michael Valva’s story — that his son was trying to catch a school bus, fell and lost consciousness — soon came apart, according to Hart.
“As with any unattended death, homicide detectives conducted an investigation which revealed inconsistencies in the timing and the nature of the child’s injures as reported by his father,” Hart said.
“We have determined Thomas was as never in the driveway that morning and he suffered head and facial injuries that were not consistent with the father’s account.”
Police found the couple 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, police said.
Investigators said that this footage helped them find that Valva’s surviving sons were punished with “food deprivation and exposure to extremely frigid temperatures,” according to Hart.
“We are still investigating the extent of the abuse and if it extended to all of the children,” Hart said.
Social workers took away the all the surviving children on Jan. 17, police said.
Valva is a 15-year veteran of the NYPD, NBC New York reported.
Both defendants are expected to be arraigned on Saturday morning, their lawyer Matthew Tuohy said.
“Both of them maintain their innocence 100 percent. We’ll see how the facts bear out, Tuohy told NBC News on Friday afternoon.