The mother of Thomas Valva, the 8-year-old Long Island boy who died in January after his father allegedly forced him to sleep in his frigid garage, has shared two short videos of her youngest son detailing the alleged abuse.
On March 5, Justyna Zubko-Valva uploaded two videos on YouTube of her questioning her 6-year-old son Andrew while he plays on a tablet about the alleged abuse his two brothers endured at the hands of their own father.
Michael Valva and his fiancée Angela Pollina have been charged with second-degree murder after Thomas, who had autism, died of hypothermia in the family’s Center Moriches home on Jan. 17.
Valva had told police his son had fallen in the driveway while waiting for the school bus, but investigators later discovered video and audio evidence that allegedly showed the boy and his brother sleeping in the garage shortly before his death, and Valva taunting his son for being cold the day he died.
“How much time did they stay in the garage?” Zubko-Valva asks her son in one of the YouTube videos.
“Every day,” he replies.
“When were they taken out of the garage?” Zubko-Valva asks.
“Never,” Andrew replies, describing the garage as cold “like snow in there.”
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Thomas’s temperature was only 76 degrees when he arrived at the hospital on Jan. 17, indicating that he may have been dead for hours.
In the video, Andrew says his brothers were kept in the garage because they would wet the bed.
“Because in the middle of the night, they wanted to go pee and mom and dad wouldn’t allow them. And they kept on peeing in their pants because they weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night,” he says in the video before Zubko-Valva begins to cry.
The alleged abuse did not go unnoticed by others before the child’s death.
Despite more than 17 calls made to Child Protective Services before his death, Thomas and his brothers were never removed from their father’s care, according to internal CPS records obtained by PEOPLE.
Andrew tells his mother the boys were starved and only given food once a day.
When asked if he saw bruises on his brothers, Andrew says “yeah, almost everywhere.”
Zubko-Valva tells her son, “You’re safe now, Andrew, I love you … Thank you for telling me that.”
To which Andrew replies, “You’re welcome.”
Valva and Pollina are charged with second-degree murder. They have pleaded not guilty.
If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to http://www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
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