Man who strapped his 3-year-old daughter to baby seat and set car on fire charged with murder and arson
A man from Valley Stream, Long Island, has been charged with arson, homicide, and reckless endangerment for allegedly strapping his three-year-old daughter to a booster seat in his Audi 6 car and setting it ablaze. Police said on Friday, May 17, that the horrific incident, which took place on May 5, was a result of a bitter custody battle between 39-year-old Martin Pereira and his ex over their now deceased daughter, Zoey Pereira.
According to the Daily Mail, May 5 was only the second time Martin was allowed to be alone with Zoey. His former fiancé and Zoey's mother, Cherone Coleman broke off her engagement to Martin a month prior. She revealed that moments before Zoey was burned alive in Queens, he had told her that she would never see her daughter again. "I always thought he was going to hurt me," she said, adding, "I never thought he was going to hurt my daughter."
She also revealed that even though she tried to modify the visitation agreement and block Martin from seeing Zoey at all because he started getting more and more vindictive, the court ruled against her. He was subsequently allowed to watch Zoey over the weekend, which Cherone wishes she hadn't agreed to. "I should've just kept her and gone to jail," she said.
Describing the call she received from Martin on the ill-fated day, Cherone said he sounded crazy and that she could not make out most of what he was saying. However, she does remember hearing him say, "Do I have your attention now, b***h? I got your attention now, b***h. You're never going to see your daughter again."
"My daughter was perfect. She was loving, always smiling, and oh so caring. She was my only child, and I can't have anymore," Cherone, said while grieving her daughter's death at her home in Springfield Gardens.
Martin, who was found running away from the car after dousing it in kerosene and lighting it on fire, was treated for second- and third-degree burns. Police responded to reports of the Audi burning in the middle of the street by Baisley Boulevard and 155th Street, and found that the doors had been chained shut so that no one would be able to save Zoey. However, the fire melted the handle, allowing firefighters to open the door and grab the girl.
Martin, who has a history of violence and was arrested once for criminal contempt and twice for aggravated harassment against a different woman in 2013, was taken into custody and has now been charged.