The New York father accused of letting his 3-year-old daughter burn to death in a car chained shut now faces charges in connection with her death.
39-year-old Martin Pereira, of Long Island, was charged May 17 with murder, arson and reckless endangerment in the death of Zoey Pereira, reported Newsday Long Island.
On the night of May 5, Zoey was found in a burning 2008 Audi in Queens. After a struggle to get the chains off the car, rescue teams were able to remove Zoey from the vehicle and transport her to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.
Soon after arriving at the hospital she died from the severe burns.
Witnesses saw Pereira running away from the car. Police say he ran into a pond to douse his burning clothes and told witnesses his daughter was in the car. Officers eventually found him hiding with burns covering most of his body.
Police also found a gasoline can and a butane canister by the car.
New York police officials believe Pereira rigged a propane tank to leak from the trunk into the back seat before setting the car on fire, reported the New York Post.
“What a horrific way to kill a little girl,” a law enforcement source told The Post.
After police found Pereira, he was sedated and taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center before getting transferred to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Zoey’s mother, Cherone Coleman, told the New York Daily News she recently split with Pereira and they were in the midst of a nasty custody battle. Coleman, 36, said she received threatening text messages from Pereira before her daughter was killed.
“Just before he burned my daughter, he called, saying crazy things,” Coleman told the Daily News. “I couldn’t even understand some of them, but he said, ‘Do I have your attention now, b—-? I got your attention now, b—-. You’re never going to see your daughter again.”
No arraignment for Pereira has been scheduled.
(Photo: NY PIX11)