THE mother of an eight-year-old autistic boy allegedly killed by his New York cop father voiced fears for his life more than two years before his death, it has emerged.
Justyna Zubko-Valva, first complained that son Thomas, along with his brother Anthony, were being starved as well as emotionally and physically abused as far back as November 2017.
Justyna Zubko-Valva, whose son Thomas died while in his father’s care, had earlier told officials that she feared for the lives of her children[/caption]
Eight-year-old Thomas died after allegedly being locked in a freezing cold garage at his father’s Long Island home[/caption]
Thomas’s father, NYPD cop Michael Valva, has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder[/caption]
Thomas was found dead after emergency services responded to a call to the Long Island home of his father, Michael Valva, 40, on January 17.
Valva initially claimed Thomas had died after falling in the driveway while running to catch a school bus, but the Suffolk County Medical Examiner later determined his cause of death to be hypothermia.
The boy was reportedly beaten and locked out in a freezing cold garage on the night he died.
Valva and his fiance, Angela Pollina, 42, were arrested and charged with second-degree murder, though both deny any wrongdoing.
A judge had granted Valva custody over all three boys he and Justyna had together in September 2017, and even denied Justyna access to them.
In a phone call on the night of the ruling, Justyna reportedly told Kimberley Berens, who ran the Fit Learning school, a specialist school for autistic children attended by Thomas and Anthony: “[Michael] is going to kill my kids.”
Berens then wrote a letter to the judge who had made the custody ruling but heard nothing back.
She told the Daily News that Justyna had been a “devoted mother” and that she had found the judge’s decisions “mind-blowing”.
“I worked with Anthony for two years and saw Justyna every day,” she said.
“She didn’t neglect a single aspect about those boys, but I didn’t see Valva at the school at all.”
It is not clear why Justyna lost custody of the boys, but she has suggested that the fact she is a Polish migrant counted against her at hearings, and that she was at a disadvantage because she did not have a lawyer.
SOCIAL SERVICES FACING INVESTIGATION
Having received custody, Michael withdrew Thomas and Anthony from the Fit Learning school.
That November, Justyna filed her first complaint with a state hotline in Suffolk County, saying that her children were being starved and intentionally alienated from her.
She has told the New York Daily News that the complaint was closed within two days with no investigation having taken place.
A complaint then filed by a school official with Child Protective Services in January 2019 read: “Thomas, age 7, presented a right, swollen black eye today that he didn’t have within the past two days.
“There is a history of physical abuse in the home involving Thomas so his black eye is suspicious due to conflicting explanations and conflicting time frames.”
It also said that Thomas and Anthony were being “maltreated”.
Having reviewed the claims, Child Protective Services decided that the children’s treatment did “not rise to the level of immediate or impending danger of serious harm”.
One month later, another complaint from the school alleged: “Anthony has been staying in the garage and is not allowed in his room due to him urinating in his bed.
“As a result of the child being soaked in urine, he has a foul odor and he is extremely cold.”
Further complaints were filed in March, May, and August of 2019, but no action was ever taken.
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Social services are now facing an investigation into its handling of the numerous allegations it received before Thomas’s death.
Thomas was laid to rest at a service on Thursday.
Michael’s fiance, Angela Pollina, has also been charged with second-degree murder[/caption]
Michael is accused of having abused Thomas over a period of years[/caption]
Thomas was laid to rest at a service on Thursday[/caption]
Justyna has been called a ‘devoted mother’ by staff at Thomas’s school[/caption]
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