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Man Who Intentionally Killed Daughter In Fire Dies From Burns

Martin Pereira allegedly chained his three-year-old daughter, Zoey, inside his burning car and left her to die.

Manhattan, NY – The man accused of chaining his three-year-old daughter inside his vehicle and setting it ablaze during a child custody battle has died from burns he received while murdering her nearly nine months ago.

Martin Pereira, 39, received second- and third-degree burns when he left his daughter, Zoey, to burn alive on May 6, 2019, the New York Post reported.

He remained medically sedated at the Weill Cornell Medical Center since that time.

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Pereira was taken off of life support at 6:20 p.m. on Tuesday, according to WPIX.

“I hope he burns in the sub-basement of hell,” Zoey’s maternal grandmother, Denise Coleman, told the New York Post after learning of Pereira’s death. “I am happy he’s dead. If I could dance a jig, I would.”

Pereira had threatened to kill himself and his daughter, Zoey, just hours before he left her to burn to death inside his car, his ex-fiancé, Cherone Coleman, told the New York Post at the time.

Cherone, 36, said that she and Pereira had been battling in court over custody of their three-year-old daughter, and that a judge ultimately ordered that Zoey was to go with Pereira over the weekend, The Washington Post reported.

On May 4, Pereira took Zoey to the Cohen Children’s Medical Center, and claimed that Cherone had abused her, according to the New York Daily News.

“He was calling me a drug dealer and a drug addict,” said Cherone, who denied having harmed her child.

“They let him leave with her because he had all the paperwork stating he had visitation,” she told the paper.

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Pereira started calling her repeatedly on the morning of May 5, but she refused to answer her phone, Cherone said.

He then dialed up one of her cousins.

“Get your brothers and get the cops — he said he’s going to kill himself and the baby,” the cousin told Cherone after receiving the call, according to the New York Post.

Cherone called Pereira, who began “saying crazy things,” she told the New York Daily News.

“He said, `Do I have your attention now, b—h? I got your attention now, b—h. You’re never going to see your daughter again,’” she recounted.

The frantic mother immediately called 911 to report that she was afraid Pereira was going to harm Zoey and himself.

She called him again when police arrived, but he became enraged when he spotted one of the officers standing in the background during the video call, the New York Post reported.

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“I know you’re talking…to the cops!” he raged.

Cherone confirmed that the police were with her, and told Pereira that he was “f–king crazy.”

“Where’s my daughter?” she demanded to know.

“Yeah, I’ll make you crazy,” he responded. “You’re never going to get your daughter again.”

Pereira then hung up on her, and only yelled incoherently when she called him back to try to speak with him further, she said.

At approximately 9 p.m., as Cherone was sitting inside the New York Police Department (NYPD) 113th Precinct station, she heard a radio call about a car on fire.

Police responded to the area near 154th Street and Baisley Boulevard, where they found the doors to Pereira’s vehicle chained shut and flames roaring out of the passenger side, the New York Daily News reported.

Zoey was strapped into her child safety seat, but Pereira ultimately got out of the vehicle and jumped into a nearby pond with his clothes on fire.

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“I have my kid in the car,” he had told the good Samaritan who stopped to help.

Investigators later discovered that the inside of the vehicle had been doused with gasoline, The Washington Post reported.

A tube leading into the vehicle from a propane tank in the trunk further fueled the blaze, according to the New York Post.

The inferno was so intense that it melted the chains and door handles of the car, allowing first responders to reach Zoey, the New York Daily News reported.

She was rushed to Jamaica Hospital in a patrol vehicle.

“After I saw my daughter, I knew there was no way she survived that,” a tearful Cherone told the New York Post. “I knew she was dead from the moment they took her out of the car.”

Meanwhile, Pereira was burned over 70 percent of his body.

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“He’s the fu–king devil,” Cherone said of Pereira, according to the New York Daily News.

“I wish I could torture him and kill him,” she said. “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.”

Denise said that Cherone has been in agony since her daughter’s murder nearly nine months ago, but that she recently went back to work as a medical assistant to help cope with her devastation, the New York Post reported.

“He was so selfish. He wanted to hurt my daughter — [so] he murdered my grandbaby,” Denise said, breaking down into tears. “He burned her alive.”

Denise said that Pereira’s family never reached out to Cherone after Zoey’s murder.

Pereira was charged with reckless endangerment, arson, and murder in connection with Zoey’s horrific death, but his medical condition prevented him from ever setting foot in a courtroom to answer to the charges, the New York Daily News reported.

Cherone said she regrets having complied with the judge’s custody order.

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“I should’ve just kept her [with me] and gone to jail,” she told the New York Daily News. “I always thought he was going to hurt me. I never thought he was going to hurt my daughter.”

Holly Matkin - January Wed, 2020

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