Ex-Cop's Dog Slept In Heated Room While Son Froze In Garage, Housekeeper Says

A former NYPD police officer, who allegedly killed his 8-year-old autistic son by locking him in a freezing garage, also kept a family dog in a heated room at the same time, the cop's former housekeeper testified at a pre-trial hearing Monday.

Michael Valva and his then-fiancée Angela Pollina have been charged with the murder of Michael Valva's son Thomas Valva, who died of hypothermia on January 17 last year in the family's Long Island home. They both have pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and child endangerment charges.

Prosecutors say that Michael Valva, 42, and Pollina, 43, locked Thomas Valva overnight in a freezing garage while it was 19 degrees Fahrenheit outside, allegedly because he soiled his pajamas, Pix11 reported. The couple were arrested for murder after security cameras showed abuse Thomas allegedly suffered before he died, including being dragged down a staircase by Pollina before being put into the garage.

Michael Valva wiped tears from his eyes as Tyrene Rodriguez, who cleaned the family's home weekly, testified for the defense in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead, New York, on Monday.

Recalling the horrifying final moments of the child's life, Rodriguez talked about getting her cleaning supplies from a utility room on the same floor where family dog Bella stayed. The prosecutor asked whether that was a heated room and Rodriguez responded, "Yes."

The housekeeper said that when she arrived at the couple's home around 9 a.m. that morning, Pollina was in the kitchen sorting bills, before the housekeeper heard the child crying. She asked Pollina whether the child was ok, and she said he was and that he fell running for a bus.

As she was cleaning the bathroom a few minutes later, Rodriguez heard the garage door opening and saw the three family members walking into the garage. Five or ten minutes later, a hysterical Pollina came up and said Thomas Valva wasn't breathing, the housekeeper said.

Rodriguez then rushed down to the basement while emergency services were advising Michael Valva on the phone to perform CPR to save his son. Rodriguez said she also tried to help Michael Valva save Thomas Valva's life.

Asked to describe the scene in the basement, Rodriguez said the child was naked, "very cold" and blue in color as his father performed CPR on the boy just before his death.

"I was just holding his head," said Rodriguez. "He was very cold. He was damp."

Rodriguez told the defense that Pollina was standing behind them and "just freaking out."

Thomas Valva was the youngest of Michael Valva's three sons. All three lived in the house with him and his fiancée after a divorce from their mother, Justyna Zubko-Valva. Although Michael Valva was granted custody to look after the kids, Pix11 reported that teachers at the boys' school were concerned about the children and made at least 20 calls to the New York state child abuse hotline.

The teachers complained that Thomas and his older brother wore pull-up diapers to school and scrounged around in rubbish bins for food. An earlier court heard that the two brothers allegedly went to school in 2019 with bruises on their bodies, and Thomas had "hair pulled from his head at the roots."

The pre-trial hearing will determine whether key evidence against Michael Valva will be admitted as evidence at trial.

Newsweek has contacted Valva's lawyer for comment.

Laura Lauretta, a next-door neighbor, also testified at Monday's hearing. She said she saw Pollina in a "groggy" state in a bed at Long Island Community Hospital after Thomas Valva died.

Police tape
A stock image of police tape. A former NYPD police officer who allegedly left his 8-year-old autistic son locked in a freezing garage before he died of hypothermia also kept a family dog in a heated room at the same time, his former housekeeper testified at a pre-trial hearing Monday. MattGush/Getty