A US-based Guyanese man is accused of burning his three-year-old daughter to death on Sunday, by chaining the doors of a car he then lit afire, in a deranged act to hurt her mother.
The New York Daily News yesterday said, that 39-year-old Martin Pereira, hails from Patentia, West Bank Demerara but migrated to the US as a child.
According to another report on the gruesome murder, published in the New York Post, Pereira also suffered burns to 70 percent of his body, which have left him unable to talk to investigators.
He now remains hospitalised and in “bad shape,” in the burn unit of Weill Cornell Medical Center, following the horrific incident in Queens, New York, the report said.
The child’s mother, Cherone Coleman, told the Daily News that the words, “You’ll never see your daughter again,” which were told to her by the deranged man, will forever remain etched in her mind.
“I always thought he was going to hurt me,” Coleman told the newspaper, adding that, “I never thought he was going to hurt my daughter.”
“My daughter was perfect. She was loving, always smiling, and oh so caring,” the grieving woman continued, while further revealing that Zoey was her only child and she cannot have any more children.
Last Sunday night, police and firefighters pulled the badly burned three-year-old girl from a charred Audi in Springfield Gardens, just blocks from where she lived with her mother.
Coleman stated that the girl’s vindictive father had become unhinged in recent weeks as they battled over her custody. Coleman said she had gone to court to modify their visitation agreement, but a judge denied her request.
According to the report, against the mother’s wishes, but with the court’s blessing, Pereira left with the girl for a weekend visit on Saturday and Sunday. It was only the second time he had been entrusted with Zoey since she and Pereira broke up, Coleman said.
On Monday, the mother told the newspaper that she wished she had disobeyed the judge’s order. “I should’ve just kept her and gone to jail,” she said.
She revealed that the nightmare began Saturday, when Pereira took Zoey to Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park and claimed to its staff that Coleman had abused the child.
“He was calling me a drug dealer and a drug addict,” Coleman shared.
She denied the claim but nonetheless, the hospital staff let Pereira continue spending the weekend with their daughter. “They let him leave with her because he had all the paperwork stating he had visitation,” Coleman said.
On Sunday morning, she said Pereira repeatedly dialed her phone, but she wouldn’t take his calls. However, she later spoke to him when he called a relative.
“Just before he burned my daughter he called saying crazy things,” Coleman said. “I couldn’t even understand some of them, but he said, ‘Do I have your attention now, bitch? I got your attention now, bitch. You’re never going to see your daughter again’”.
Coleman said she then called 911 in a panic to report she had argued with her ex and she feared he was going to harm himself and their daughter.
The phone calls were just a prelude to the horror that unfolded later on Sunday night, when Zoey burned to death in the flame-engulfed car.
The doors to the car were chained shut, as bright orange flames roared in the passenger compartment, said witnesses.
Pereira’s clothes were on fire, and someone in the neighbourhood urged him to run into nearby Baisley Pond. A passerby brought Pereira a blanket to help douse his flaming clothes.
“I have my kid in the car,” the father said, prompting the Good Samaritan to call 911, sources told the newspaper.
The fire was so hot, the car door handles securing the chains melted, enabling rescuers to get inside. They rushed Zoey to Jamaica Hospital in a police vehicle, but she could not be saved.
First responders found two gasoline canisters in the car, and a propane tank in the trunk, sources said.
“I want him to live, and suffer for what he did to my daughter,” said Coleman, a medical assistant at Jamaica Estates Medical Center.
Pereira has three prior arrests, sources said. Two are sealed. The third is for aggravated harassment and stems from phone calls he made in 2013, the sources told the newspaper.
Pereira’s Facebook page is devoted almost entirely to pictures of Zoey. He most recently updated his cover photo with a sweet picture of Zoey just hours before the car fire.
One happy photo from October 2017 shows Pereira with Zoey and her mom. “I love us,” a banner across the picture reads.