Mourners turned out Thursday morning to remember the life of 8-year-old Thomas Valva, who died Jan. 17 of hypothermia after his father allegedly forced him to sleep in an unheated garage on a frigid cold night.
His mother, Justyna Zubko-Valva, and her two other sons accompanied Thomas’ white casket on its way into St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church in Melville.
Auxiliary Bishop Andrzej Zglejszewski of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, who had baptized Thomas, presided over the service, and at times, addressed the boy’s mother in their native Polish.
After the service, the funeral procession left the church for the boy’s burial in Farmingdale.
The death of the boy has provoked anger around Long Island, as Zubko-Valva has insisted that she had repeatedly told authorities that the boy was not safe in her ex-husband’s custody.
The father, Michael Valva, a New York City police officer, and Valva’s fiancee, Angela Pollina, have been charged with second-degree murder in the boy’s death.
Investigations are underway into how Suffolk County’s Child Protective Services, the courts, police and others dealt with her warnings and attempts to gain custody of the boys.
Zubko-Valva has said she told authorities years ago that her ex-husband Michael Valva and Valva’s fiancee Angela Pollina had abused Thomas, and the boy’s death has prompted several investigations and generated widespread community outrage.
New York corrections department officers, Suffolk County police and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone were among those in the crowd at the church.
Motorcyclists, Knights on Bikes, who are part Knights of Columbus Council 4428 in Deer Park, accompanied the procession that carried Thomas from the funeral home in Deer Park to the church and then on to the cemetery.
Speaking after the service, Bishop Zglejszewski said, “It doesn’t have to take another life, a beautiful life of a child, for us to do something,” and said multiple organizations had failed to protect the boy. “We have to put our faith and our religious convictions into action.”
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