A father burnt his three-year-old daughter alive to spite her mother as they were embroiled in a bitter custody battle. The mother has now revealed that she wishes she had defied the court and kept her daughter, instead of letting her go with her father.
Zoey Pereira, 3, burned to death inside a car that had been set on fire and its doors chained shut. Her father is in a hospital under police custody, suspected of being involved in the child’s death.
“You’ll never see your daughter again,” Martin Pereira, 39, allegedly told his estranged wife Cherone Coleman, 36, just before their daughter was roasted alive in a car.
Police and firefighters found little Zoey Pereira strapped inside the backseat of a burning car on a street in New York City’s Queens borough Sunday night. The doors had been chained shut, but the heat from the flames was so intense, the metal melted enough for the rescuers to pull the little girl from the burning car.
They rushed her to a hospital, but it was too late. Zoey was declared dead. The father was found close to the crime scene and was taken into custody.
Police are investigating Zoey’s death as a homicide, according to the New York Times. A witness told investigators that he saw Zoey’s father, Martin Pereira running from the car with his clothes on fire. He ran into a nearby park, where he jumped into a lake to douse the flames, the witness said.
Police took him to the hospital, where on Tuesday, he remained badly burned and under medical sedation, according to the News.
Zoey Pereira’s mother Cherone Coleman spoke out on Monday night hours after her daughter’s charred body was pulled from the backseat of a blazing Audi A6 in Queens the night before.
“I always thought he was going to hurt me,” Coleman, 36, said of her estranged husband and Zoey’s father Martin Pereira. “I never thought he was going to hurt my daughter.”
The grief-stricken mother revealed Zoe was her only child and she is incapable of having any more children.
She said: “My daughter was perfect. She was loving, always smiling, and oh so caring. She was my only child, and I can’t have any more.”
She said her ex had their daughter in his care at the time of the child’s death due to a judge’s order, and that she wishes she had disobeyed the judge.
“I should’ve just kept her and gone to jail,” Coleman said.