Thomas Valva

Photo of a small boy in a red checkered collared shirt. He has straight brown hair and light skin.Name: Thomas Valva.
Died: January 17, 2020.
Age at death: 8.
Cause of death: Murder.
Location: Long Island, New York, USA.

Thomas was a friendly, well-liked second-grader who liked to play outside. When he was two, he spoke his first words–“Ball” and “go”–when playing with a therapist, rolling a ball back and forth. He also liked puzzles. His therapist remembers how affectionate Thomas and his mother were, while his father seemed distant.

When Thomas’s mother and father divorced, his father used his clout as a police officer and his ex-wife’s status as a Polish immigrant to get sole custody. There Thomas lived with three stepsisters and two brothers. His father and stepmother abused the children, especially Thomas and his older brother, who is also autistic. The boys were starved, beaten, and made to sleep in the cold, unfinished garage.

One morning, after a 17-degree freezing night, Thomas’s father found him dying from hypothermia and mocked him as he died, then tried to pretend that he had fallen on the driveway. Their story fell apart–Thomas’s injuries, including the marks of beatings and hypothermia, were simply not consistent with it–and they were charged with second-degree murder.

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