Martin Pereira, the father of 3-year-old Zoey Pereira who was killed in a New York car fire, is now facing murder and arson charges in his daughter’s death. Pereira has been charged with murder, arson and reckless endangerment two weeks after firefighters rescued the toddler from a burning Audi sedan parked in a residential Queens neighborhood.
Police found Pereira close to the scene and took him into custody. He suffered burns to 70% of his body and was unable to immediately make any statements due to his injuries, according to a law enforcement source.
It’s unclear whether Pereira was inside the car with Zoey at some point and investigators also don’t know the condition of the girl prior to the fire. Zoey was alive when firefighters rescued her but later died from her injuries at Jamaica Hospital in Queens.
Sources told CNN, large chains were used to secure the doors from inside the vehicle during the fire and a propane tank and two gasoline cans were found in the trunk of the car. Their leading theory is that the car fire was a murder-suicide attempt by the Zoey’s father.
Pereira and Zoey’s mother were in the midst of a vicious custody battle and both had domestic incident reports against the other. Pereira recently filed a complaint against Zoey’s mother with the Administration for Children’s Services.