N.Y.P.D. officer charged with murder of Autistic son

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ASPartOfMe
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25 Jan 2020, 5:47 am

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Officer Charged in Murder of Son, 8, Kept in Freezing Garage, Police Say - New York Times

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The voices were captured by household surveillance equipment.

“Get your hand off his mouth,” a woman says. “There’s people everywhere.”

The woman, Angela Pollina, was talking to her fiancé, Michael Valva, a New York City police officer. The mouth she was urging him to remove his hand from belonged to his son, Thomas, an 8-year-old with autism, officials said.

Not long after the recording was made, the authorities said, Thomas Valva was dead. He had been kept overnight in the couple’s unheated Long Island garage as the temperature outside plunged to 19 degrees, the police said.

His body temperature was just 76 degrees when he was brought to the hospital, the police said.

On Friday, Officer Valva and Ms. Pollina were charged with second-degree murder in the boy’s death. Officer Valva, who joined the New York Police Department in 2005 and was most recently assigned to the transit bureau, was suspended after his arrest, the New York department said.

Timothy D. Sini, the Suffolk County district attorney, described the killing as “one of the worst crimes I’ve ever seen.”

“The depravity of these defendants is shocking,” Mr. Sini said. “They caused the death of this little boy and then they watched him die.”

There had been warnings that Officer Valva, 40, and Ms. Pollina, 42, might be harming at least some of the six children living with them — his three sons and her three daughters — at their home in Center Moriches, N.Y.

For at least two years, Officer Valva’s estranged wife, Justyna Zubko-Valva, sought to sound the alarm about what she said was his abuse of their sons, according to court filings in their divorce.

Mr. Sini said on Friday that the county’s child welfare agency had also been contacted about the family. He declined to elaborate. The couple’s other children had been placed in a “safe environment” for the time being, Geraldine Hart, the Suffolk County police commissioner, said.

Officer Valva and Ms. Pollina called the police to their home early on Jan. 17, officials said. Officer Valva was in the basement when the police arrived, and he appeared to be performing CPR on the boy.

He said that Thomas had fallen in the driveway while waiting for the school bus and had then lost consciousness, officials said.

Thomas was taken to Long Island Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, officials said. The county medical examiner ruled the death a homicide and found that hypothermia was a major contributing factor, officials said.

“Thomas Valva was subjected to freezing temperatures in the home’s unheated garage overnight when the outside temperature was 19 degrees,” Commissioner Hart said.

“We have determined Thomas was never in the driveway that morning, and he suffered head and facial injuries that were not consistent with the father’s account,” the chief added.

The police said they were working with the local school district, social services agencies, the F.B.I. and others to try to piece together what exactly had unfolded in the home over time.

Thomas’s mother, Ms. Zubko-Valva, told Newsday, “Thank God, the justice is being served.”

Her son “had such an amazing good heart,” she told Newsday. “Everybody who knew him, they instantly fell in love with him. He was just a joy of everybody’s life.”

She and Mr. Valva were married in 2004 and began divorce proceedings in 2015, according to court records. Ms. Zubko-Valva suggested in court filings that Officer Valva had abused the boys.

She cited a 2018 report from a school psychologist that said that Thomas and his 10-year-old brother Anthony “come into school hungry” and that Anthony, who has also has autism, had “lost a significant amount of weight.”

Amanda Wildman, who said she worked for Officer Valva and Ms. Pollina as a nanny from 2017 to 2018, said she noticed that the couple treated the boys more harshly than they did the three girls.

Video and audio recordings cited by prosecutors at the couple’s arraignment suggested they had some sense of the effect of how they treated the boys.

Video shot two nights before Thomas’s death, prosecutors said, showed him and Anthony shivering as they slept on the garage floor with no mattress, no pillows and no covers.

Audio recorded on Friday before the police arrived, prosecutors said, included a child’s voice asking, “Why can’t Thomas walk?”

“Because he’s hypothermic,” prosecutors said Ms. Pollina replied. “When you’re washed with cold water and it’s freezing, you get hypothermia.”

Later, prosecutors said, Ms. Pollina can be heard asking, “What are you doing?”

Officer Valva, prosecutors said, replied that he was “suffocating him, that’s what I’m doing.”


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ASPartOfMe
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25 Jan 2020, 9:03 pm

LI prosecutors: Killer dad and fiancee coldly discuss his dying autistic son’s condition, never call for help after boy falls on frigid garage floor

Quote:
A callous NYPD cop and his fiancee crudely discussed his abused autistic son’s imminent death inside a bitterly cold Long Island garage without one word about calling for help, authorities said.

The expletive-laced chat between Transit Police Officer Michael Valva, 40, and Angela Pollina, 42, included a recorded admission that the cop was suffocating helpless Thomas Valva after the child repeatedly fell head-first onto a frigid concrete floor inside the two-story house of horrors in Center Moriches, authorities alleged.

The tiny victim’s body temperature plunged to 76 degrees before his Jan. 17 death in the home on Bittersweet Lane, where Thomas and his 10-year-old autistic brother Anthony were forced to use the sub-freezing garage as their bedroom, officials said.autistic 8-year-old son, Thomas, who they left in a freezing garage, according to authorities.

A recording recovered from the home by investigators captured the two accused murderers cold-heartedly discussing Thomas after another child is heard asking why the boy couldn’t walk.

“Because he’s hypothermic,” replies Pollina.

“He keeps face-planting on the concrete,” says Valva.

“You know why he’s falling,” says Pollina.

“Because he’s cold,” responds Valva. “Boo f---ing hoo.”

Pollina then asked the cop what he was doing to Thomas, with Valva responding, “I’m f---ing suffocating him, that’s what I’m doing.”

While defense attorney Matthew Tuohy said the couple denied any part in the boy’s death, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini promised to hit the accused killers as hard as legally possible.

“The depravity of these defendants is shocking," said a shaken Sini after hearing the recorded conversation. “They caused the death of this little boy, then watched him die."

Prosecutors said home video surveillance showed Thomas and his 10-year-old brother Anthony shivering inside the bitterly cold garage two nights before the younger boy’s death, when the temperature dropped to a bone-chilling 19 degrees.

A camera positioned to show the garage floor was labeled “kids room," leading investigators to believe the frigid room served as the boys’ sleeping quarters, prosecutors said.


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CarlM
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25 Jan 2020, 9:24 pm

Terrible. I don't think the ASD had much to do with it. The father seems to have been very abusive.


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Last edited by CarlM on 25 Jan 2020, 9:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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25 Jan 2020, 9:28 pm

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25 Jan 2020, 9:56 pm

The family court system failed in giving full custody to the father. Because the father was a cop and accused the mother (his ex-wife) of being abusive.



eikonabridge
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25 Jan 2020, 11:14 pm

CarlM wrote:
Terrible. I don't think the ASD had much to do with it. The father seems to have been very abusive.

Well, having seen so many of these stories, one kind of knows how it happened. It usually is the consequence of the application of punishment and rewards. See, for neurotypical children, this system (punishment and rewards) works great. But sooner or later parents will realize that autistic children don't respond well, if at all, to that system. Especially the punishment part. So, the parents will escalate the intensity of punishment, and the children will increase their tantrum behaviors in return. Good luck.

At least in the US, the court tends to side with the children. In other parts of the world, courts often have pity over parents with autistic children. In Hong Kong, a man that slashed 100 times his autistic son to death, was sentenced to meager 4 years behind the bar (and who knows how many years he actually served before parole), because the judge felt the autistic child was aggressive and a danger to the rest of the family. So, there you go. A dead autistic child is a good autistic child.

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/2002302/martyr-his-family-hong-kong-court-jails-father-four-years

If all you have is a hammer (punishment and rewards), everything looks like a nail (neurotypical children). What autistic children need is not punishment and rewards. They need fun and facts. http://www.eikonabridge.com/fun_and_facts.pdf.

In autism, the cure is the cause of the disease. Children don't become aggressive out of nowhere. All children are born cute little babies. They become aggressive because of the way they are raised.

People need to understand how the autistic mind works, especially the vorton part. https://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=378475&start=18.


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CarlM
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26 Jan 2020, 9:00 am

eikonabridge wrote:
Well, having seen so many of these stories, one kind of knows how it happened. It usually is the consequence of the application of punishment and rewards. See, for neurotypical children, this system (punishment and rewards) works great. But sooner or later parents will realize that autistic children don't respond well, if at all, to that system. Especially the punishment part. So, the parents will escalate the intensity of punishment, and the children will increase their tantrum behaviors in return. Good luck.


After reading everything I could find on this crime, I haven't yet found anyone suggesting that this was the case. I will follow this story closely and try to get the truth. I lived some of this myself, being undiagnosed and having an alcoholic father. I just remember the corporal punishment, not the reason for it. Luckily was father was not a violent person. I never had an physical abuse beyond the corporal punishment that was acceptable at the time. The psychological abuse of an alcoholic father was quite terrible though.


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26 Jan 2020, 11:50 am

CarlM wrote:
After reading everything I could find on this crime, I haven't yet found anyone suggesting that this was the case. I will follow this story closely and try to get the truth.

https://patch.com/new-york/center-moriches-eastport/former-nanny-boy-8-left-die-frigid-garage-disgusted

"I was hired specifically to work with Thomas and his older brother because they were on the [autism] spectrum and needed extra care. ... They were kids, they messed up sometimes and because of their disability they had a hard time understanding why what they did was not good behavior. ..."

So, it's not just an abusive father out of the blue. There were behavioral problems from the child(ren). Now, you are an abusive parent, and your child exhibits "behavioral problems," what do you do? Ahah, teach them a lesson, right? Oops, surprise! The lesson does not work. The bad behaviors come back again. And again. And your ego is hurt, because you think your child is misbehaving on purpose and NOT RESPECTING YOUR AUTHORITY. See, for neurotypical children, they learn to respect authority easily ... they resonate with their parents. Why? Because they understand it's just a game. They know the adults are trying to manipulate them. But big deal, they know how to manipulate back the adults. It's in their DNA. The problem with autistic children is, they don't understand the concept of manipulation. The manipulative part is located in the frontal lobe of the brain. But autistic children start their development from the occipital lobe.

Nahh ... this case is by no means an exception. It is just one more down the statistics. Nothing out of ordinary.


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26 Jan 2020, 12:12 pm

I have been against ABA as much as anyone on this site but this is 100 percent on the couple. I can’t say for sure but probably if the kid was an NT and did comply they would have found another excuse. They are sadists, it is not more complicated than that.


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26 Jan 2020, 12:35 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
I have been against ABA as much as anyone on this site but this is 100 percent on the couple.

How is that any different from what I have always been saying? The children are perfectly fine the way they are. The problem is always on the other side, in the adults.

Or have you simply forgotten what I have said for over a few hundred times?


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ASPartOfMe
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26 Jan 2020, 3:30 pm

eikonabridge wrote:
ASPartOfMe wrote:
I have been against ABA as much as anyone on this site but this is 100 percent on the couple.

How is that any different from what I have always been saying? The children are perfectly fine the way they are. The problem is always on the other side, in the adults.

Or have you simply forgotten what I have said for over a few hundred times?

To me it seemed like you were adding the Autistic behaviors as an indirect contributing factor.


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My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman


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26 Jan 2020, 5:26 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
eikonabridge wrote:
... The children are perfectly fine the way they are. The problem is always on the other side, in the adults.

To me it seemed like you were adding the Autistic behaviors as an indirect contributing factor.

Sigh ... I speak many languages, and I see things from many perspectives. The thing with so many people in this forum is, they look down on themselves. I don't. And I've tried to cheer people up and tell them how they can be proud about themselves, yet, people always revert back to feeling bad about themselves. Deep down, many people in the forum still consider autism as a disability. And that's one major difference between myself and the rest of the autistic crowd.

I have never changed my position or my view, ever since I joined this forum. I encourage autistic behaviors. The USA was founded on this very principle. It is basic human right to throw tantrums. They are sovereign expressions of displeasure. If not because of a whole bunch of autistic people, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and the like, we wouldn't have this country and the freedom that we enjoy today. People that live today with the freedom they have, and criticize autistic behaviors and praise the phony neurotypical "civility," are simply hypocrites.

You can see an example here (second posting in the thread):https://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=375008. My daughter screamed loudly, in public. You know what I did? I told her: "Good practice!" and gave her a high-five. I always tell my children: "Being loud is a skill." As long as you are rational, you should feel free to express your opinion forcefully. I am forceful. But I don't do personal attacks. Come on, we are on the same side. It's not like I don't understand the difficulties other people go through.

If other people want to be brainwashed by the neurotypical people, that's their problem. I am not the one looking down on myself.

That's probably why my children look up to me. It feels great that in my daughter's eyes, I am more important than all the famous people out there.


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26 Jan 2020, 6:45 pm

Lol, if being loud is a skill, my father was adept at it. Oh he made sure people knew what he was talking about, LOL.



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26 Jan 2020, 6:52 pm

eikonabridge wrote:
ASPartOfMe wrote:
eikonabridge wrote:
... The children are perfectly fine the way they are. The problem is always on the other side, in the adults.

To me it seemed like you were adding the Autistic behaviors as an indirect contributing factor.

Sigh ... I speak many languages, and I see things from many perspectives. The thing with so many people in this forum is, they look down on themselves. I don't. And I've tried to cheer people up and tell them how they can be proud about themselves, yet, people always revert back to feeling bad about themselves. Deep down, many people in the forum still consider autism as a disability. And that's one major difference between myself and the rest of the autistic crowd.

I have never changed my position or my view, ever since I joined this forum. I encourage autistic behaviors. The USA was founded on this very principle. It is basic human right to throw tantrums. They are sovereign expressions of displeasure. If not because of a whole bunch of autistic people, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and the like, we wouldn't have this country and the freedom that we enjoy today. People that live today with the freedom they have, and criticize autistic behaviors and praise the phony neurotypical "civility," are simply hypocrites.

You can see an example here (second posting in the thread):https://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=375008. My daughter screamed loudly, in public. You know what I did? I told her: "Good practice!" and gave her a high-five. I always tell my children: "Being loud is a skill." As long as you are rational, you should feel free to express your opinion forcefully. I am forceful. But I don't do personal attacks. Come on, we are on the same side. It's not like I don't understand the difficulties other people go through.

If other people want to be brainwashed by the neurotypical people, that's their problem. I am not the one looking down on myself.

That's probably why my children look up to me. It feels great that in my daughter's eyes, I am more important than all the famous people out there.


I don't look down on myself and agree self-esteem is a huge problem for autistics. I post about good and bad things that happen to autistics and threads like this invariably get much more replies than threads about autistics accomplishing things.

We have no idea if the historical figures you mentioned are autistic. I think is enough to say that historical figures with documented autistic traits have done great things. I long for the day when autistics have enough confidence in themselves that there is no need for them to be inspired by others, but we are far away from that.

Loud autistics might be rational but they will make things uncomfortable for autistics with noise sensitivities.

Autism describes a set of core traits. How they present will be affected by autistics personalty. There are autistic people who are or could be in a more supportive environment the Einsteins, the leaders, the creators, the innovators. But there are autistics who are violent, evil, sadistic and so on, but they can also be civil by nature. Like being pushy civility has its time and place. To much civility phony or not is problem at the moment, the opposite is.


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27 Jan 2020, 1:53 am

ASPartOfMe wrote:
To much civility phony or not is problem at the moment, the opposite is.

As Rosa Park says: "The only tired I was, was tired of giving in." For 70+ years, the system has laid the burden entirely on the side of autistic people, and attempted to modify the behaviors of autistic people. How comfortable that was for the neurotypical people. Yeah, you do all the changes. You sit in the back of the bus, so I can have an better time sitting in the front. That approach went nowhere.

It was only until the arrival of the neurodiversity movement, that people started to use terms such as "acceptance" and "accommodation." It was no longer about asking autistic people to change. Instead, it was about taking autistic people the way they are. Not just to accept them, but furthermore, to create environments friendlier to them. All of a sudden, neurotypical people started to realize, hey, if we the neurotypical people make ourselves change, life is so much better for everybody.

(And for parents, if they start to change themselves and acquire skills, their autistic children can finally develop.)

All of a sudden, neurotypical people started to realize that, instead of teaching/lecturing, what they actually needed was learning.

We are equals. I can do things that neurotypical people cannot do. I can see things that other people cannot see. I am no less than them. At my age, I am still learning, every day. I just have never stopped learning ... whereas most people have long stopped learning. I still create new things, new ideas. And I am deeply grateful that I am on the spectrum. It is not me who needs to bend myself backward to please anyone. The only tired I was, was tired of giving in. Meet me halfway, at very least.

And this is my message to all my fellow autists: don't be a turncoat.


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ASPartOfMe
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27 Jan 2020, 3:28 am

eikonabridge wrote:
ASPartOfMe wrote:
To much civility phony or not is problem at the moment, the opposite is.

As Rosa Park says: "The only tired I was, was tired of giving in." For 70+ years, the system has laid the burden entirely on the side of autistic people, and attempted to modify the behaviors of autistic people. How comfortable that was for the neurotypical people. Yeah, you do all the changes. You sit in the back of the bus, so I can have an better time sitting in the front. That approach went nowhere.

It was only until the arrival of the neurodiversity movement, that people started to use terms such as "acceptance" and "accommodation." It was no longer about asking autistic people to change. Instead, it was about taking autistic people the way they are. Not just to accept them, but furthermore, to create environments friendlier to them. All of a sudden, neurotypical people started to realize, hey, if we the neurotypical people make ourselves change, life is so much better for everybody.

(And for parents, if they start to change themselves and acquire skills, their autistic children can finally develop.)

All of a sudden, neurotypical people started to realize that, instead of teaching/lecturing, what they actually needed was learning.

We are equals. I can do things that neurotypical people cannot do. I can see things that other people cannot see. I am no less than them. At my age, I am still learning, every day. I just have never stopped learning ... whereas most people have long stopped learning. I still create new things, new ideas. And I am deeply grateful that I am on the spectrum. It is not me who needs to bend myself backward to please anyone. The only tired I was, was tired of giving in. Meet me halfway, at very least.

And this is my message to all my fellow autists: don't be a turncoat.

The ND movement has not been uncivil. Meeting halfway is a good and fair goal.


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