DEER PARK, N.Y. - People who didn't even know the Zubko-Valva family felt compelled to pay their respects at a wake for Thomas Valva in Deer Park. The 8-year-old died of hypothermia earlier this month after allegedly being forced to sleep in an unheated garage in Center Moriches.
"My heart just breaks when a child and mother is crying out to the system and she got no help," said Maria Campo of West Babylon.
Justyna Zubko-Valva, Thomas's biological mother, was granted temporary custody of her two other boys after she says they were unlawfully taken from her.
"I know that Tommy is watching over all of us," she said. "He's an angel in heaven, protecting the most innocent ones which is our children."
On the same day as his wake, a rally for reform was held outside the Nassau County Court House where dozens demanded the removal of three judges involved in the case.
Protesters are calling for an investigation of the judicial system that they say is plagued by corruption.
The judges and a Nassau County Court spokesperson said they can't comment on pending litigation.
However, a spokesperson for the state's court system told FOX 5 NY that, in part, while Thomas' death is an unimaginable tragedy, no one other than those directly involved with the case knows the inevitable complexities, that lead to the decisions made by three separate judges, in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
"Please continue praying for my family, for Tommy, for everybody affected by this whole situation," Zubko-Valva said.
A funeral mass will be held Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at Saint Elizabeth Church in Melville. Thomas will then be laid to rest at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale.