An eight-year-old autistic boy who died of hypothermia after allegedly being starved, beaten and locked outside overnight by his New York cop father has been laid to rest at his funeral.
The funeral service for Thomas Valva was held in the Long Island neighborhood of Melville on Thursday.
About 100 mourners, including family, friends and strangers, gathered at St Elizabeth’s Church for the service.
His mother Justyna Zubko-Valva was seen kissing his casket alongside her two surviving sons – Anthony, 10, and six-year-old Andrew.
The funeral service for Thomas Valva was held in the Long Island neighborhood of Melville on Thursday
‘Thomas was just a little boy. He just wanted to be loved, wanted to be hugged, wanted to be cherished, he wanted to be wanted. He was a gift,’ Bishop Andrzej Zglejszewski said during the funeral service, the New York Post reports.
‘Thomas, little boy, thank you for the gift of you. Thank you for the gift of life. I am sorry that it was way too short for you. But I thank you for your beautiful life.’
Thomas, who had autism, died on January 17 while in the custody of his father Michael Valva and his fiancee Angela Pollina
Thomas, who had autism, died on January 17 while in the custody of his father Michael Valva, 40, and his fiancee Angela Pollina, 42.
They have both since been charged with second-degree murder but deny any wrongdoing
It is alleged that the boy was forced to sleep in an unheated garage at the couple’s home as temperatures dropped to under 20 degrees.
The Bishop, who had baptized Thomas and delivered the homily at his funeral, told mourners that his story should inspire societal change.
He noted that the legal and social system had failed the little boy.
‘Another beautiful life was lost because of our human negligence, and in so many ways, I feel that we failed this little boy,’ he said.
‘The system failed… We as religious and social leaders, we failed him, because we are the ones supposed to make change. We are the ones supposed to protect life.’
His mother Justyna Zubko-Valva was spotted leaving the church with her two surviving sons following Thomas’ funeral service
Pallbearers carry the casket into the funeral service for 8-year-old Thomas at St. Elizabeth’s Church on Thursday,
About 100 mourners, including family, friends and strangers, gathered at St Elizabeth’s Church for the service
The boy’s mother has previously said social services ignored her repeated claims that Thomas and his brothers were being abused by their father.
The NYPD cop was granted custody of the three boys amid a bitter divorce battle.
Thomas’ death has since prompted an investigation into the social services department and how it dealt with abuse allegations against the couple and the children who lived with them.
A separate task force will examine how the department handles cases of children with developmental disabilities.
Authorities were dispatched to the home where Thomas had been living at about 9.40am on January 17 after his father said the boy had fallen in the driveway and lost consciousness while running for the school bus.
Responding officers found Valva performing CPR on Thomas in the basement.
The little boy was rushed to Long Island Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Valva and his fiancee went on to collect donations from a GoFundMe page following the boy’s death.
Thomas’ mother Justyna clutched her youngest son tightly through the funeral on Thursday
Officers stand in formation outside the funeral service for 8-year-old Thomas Valva/ His NYPD cop father is charged with his murder
Pallbearers carry the casket into the funeral service for 8-year-old Thomas into the church on Thursday
They were charged with his murder after an autopsy revealed that Thomas had died of hypothermia.
According to police, cameras and microphones that had been set up in Mike Valva’s home captured audio of him and Angela taunting Thomas as he froze to death.
The audio files allegedly recorded the couple discussing the fact that Thomas was suffering from hypothermia, had been washed with cold water, couldn’t walk and was ‘face-planting’ on the concrete.
They laughed as they said ‘he’s hypothermic’ and that he had ‘face-planted’ the floor.
Pollina remarked: ‘You know why he’s falling?’.
Valva replied: ‘Because he’s cold…. boo f*****g hoo’.
Following his death, Thomas’ brothers were placed in the custody of their mother.
Pollina’s daughters were placed in the custody of their biological fathers.
Michael Valva (left) and Angela Pollina (right) have been charged with second-degree murder after Thomas’ death
Thomas was one of six children in Mike and Angela’s care who were living at the home at the time the little boy died. Thomas’ brothers have since been placed in the custody of their mother while Pollina’s daughters were placed in the custody of their biological fathers