iLocal News Archives

US: Girl, 3, dies in burning car with doors chained shut; Dad blamed

from WN

Screen shot

A 3-year-old New York City girl died in a burning car with the doors chained shut, and her father has been accused of setting the fire, The New York Times reported.

The blaze was so intense that the heat melted the inside of the car. The back doors had been chained shut to prevent anyone inside from escaping.

Trapped in the rear seat was a 3-year-old, Zoey Pereira. Her father had fled the car as it burst into flames, the authorities said. He also caught on fire and plunged into a nearby pond to save himself.

Police said that they were treating the child’s death on Sunday night in Queens Borough as a homicide and that the girl’s father, Martin Pereira, 39, had been taken into custody for questioning.

Investigators believe Pereira intentionally set the blaze that killed his daughter, a police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an open investigation.

Pereira was discovered in a shallow pond a short distance from the car, police said. He was taken to Weill Cornell Medical Center’s burn unit, where he was recovering from extensive burns.

Investigators found two gas canisters — one in front of the car and one in the rear driver’s seat — and a 20-pound propane tank in the trunk. The tank had a hose attached to it that ran into the back seat, according to a city official close to the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information.

While Pereira’s possible motives were still unclear, investigators said he and Zoey’s mother had been engaged but broke up in March. They were embroiled in a custody dispute and had been due in Family Court on Monday to discuss a child support arrangement.

Pereira, 39, a construction worker, had been distraught in recent weeks over the custody battle, one of his former co-workers, Angel Rivera, said. Pereira had told Rivera the court was against him and had complained he was only going to see his daughter every two weeks.

“There was a lot of stress building up in him. It made him explode up like that.” – Angel Rivera

The episode is the latest in a string of cases in which children have been killed during custody battles between parents. The Center for Judicial Excellence, an organization that tracks the safety of children in family court disputes, estimates that 679 have been killed by a divorcing or separated parent throughout the country since 2008, or about 60 each year., Jim Berrie 

For more on this story and video go to;


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *