On the eve of the anniversary of his horrific death, a special blue light now glows for Thomas Valva at his elementary school in East Moriches.
Shining to the outside world from the windows of the tower that rises above the roof line of East Moriches Elementary school, the light serves as a tribute to Thomas’ life and brings awareness to the behavior that police say caused his death: child abuse.
“It was very easy to help the people at the school have a little happier memory at this time,” master electrician Mark Puccio, who donated the parts and labor and installed the blue lighting on Friday, told GreaterMoriches.com. “I love all of those teachers over there.”
Sunday, Jan. 17, is the first anniversary of the death of 8-year-old Thomas Valva, who froze to death in the garage of his Center Moriches home.
Thomas’ father Michael Valva, 41, an NYPD officer, and his fiancée, Angela Pollina, 43 — who police said forced the little boy to sleep overnight in a frigid garage, where temperatures dipped into the teens — are charged with second-degree murder and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
The couple both face 25 years to life in prison if convicted. Their next appearance in the case is scheduled for Jan. 27.
Thomas’ death was the tragic culmination of the abuse he and his brother received regularly at the house, authorities said.
The boy’s alleged murder sparked outrage from the community, as well as an outpouring of sympathy for Thomas, his brother, and their mother Justyna Zubko-Valva, who had been embroiled in a bitter custody battle with Michael Valva.
Hundreds of community members, as part of the Go Blue campaign to raise child abuse awareness, displayed blue ribbons at their homes and installed blue porch lights.
It was Puccio and his company, Puccio Electric Contracting Inc., who donated hundreds of blue light bulbs to people across the community. On Friday, the goal was to install the lights at the school in a way that they will be seen from the passersby on the road, Puccio said.
“It was a great honor to install these simple blue lights today in memory of #thomasvalva rest easy little buddy #🙏 🙏 🙏 ,” Puccio, a father of two children, aged 14 and 20, said in a Facebook post Friday night.
Photo above: East Moriches Elementary School (Facebook / East Moriches Community Posts, Renee Emin)