Two family members of a little girl who was burned to death inside a gasoline-coated car in New York City say they hope the girl’s father, who they believe is responsible for the fire, dies too.
The car was set ablaze on Sunday near a park in Queens. Trapped in the back of it, still in a babyseat, was 3-year-old Zoey Pereira. Police allege that her father Martin Pereira, 39, intentionally set the blaze before also catching on fire and jumping into a nearby pond to extinguish himself, according to the New York Times.
The back doors of the vehicle were allegedly chained shut and investigators reportedly discovered two gas canister and a 20-pound propane tank in the car. The tank, located in the trunk, had a hose attached to it that ran into the backseat, an unnamed source told the New York Times. It was reportedly so hot in the car that the door handles melted.
Pereira has been taken into custody for questioning. It does not appear that he has been officially charged. Zoey’s death has been ruled a homicide.
“He killed a baby. He burned her alive. He did that to her. That’s not even human, that’s an animal. That’s a coward,” Zoey’s aunt, who has not been identified, told The New York Post.
Another one of her aunts told the outlet, “I hope he f---ing dies. ... I’m just being honest. I hope he dies."
Pereira was reportedly embroiled in a custody battle over Zoey with the girl's mother, Cherone Coleman.
“I always thought he was going to hurt me," Coleman, 36, told the New York Daily News. "I never thought he was going to hurt my daughter.”
She said that before the blaze Pereira called her and told her, “You’ll never see your daughter again.”
Like the girl’s aunt, Coleman said she hopes that Pereira dies.
"I wish I could torture him and kill him,” she told the Post. “I can’t imagine the pain my baby went through. She was burned terribly, her bones were out and he ran off and left her to burn to death. Why would he do this to my daughter to get to me? It doesn’t make sense.”
It’s not clear if Pereira has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf.
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