An infuriated father chained up his 3-year-old daughter and burned her alive in his car, saving himself from the flames at the last minute. However, police soon discovered that the father had carried out the twisted murder-suicide plot after the horrified mother had refused his simple request.
Cherone Coleman, 36, had been struggling through an ugly custody battle in a New York court in an attempt to save her 3-year-old daughter Zoey from unhinged ex-fiancee Martin Pereira. Despite her desperate bid to rescue her little girl from Pereira’s unpredictable, volatile behavior, a judge finally ordered Coleman to send the child with her father for the weekend. Sadly, this was the last time she’d see her precious daughter the same.
Nassau County Police received a frantic phone call from Coleman on the evening she was supposed to get her daughter back from Pereira. According to Coleman, Pereira had contacted her cousin and threatened to kill himself and Zoey. She then got hold of her ex, which only further fueled his explosive temper, the New York Post reports.
“I know you’re talking — talking to the cops!” he raged in a call recorded by Coleman and reviewed by The Post.
“So what? I’ve got the cops here, so what? You’re f–king crazy. Where’s my daughter?” Coleman can be heard responding.
Then Pereira shot back: “Yeah, I’ll make you crazy … you’re never going to get you’re daughter again.”
An hour later, police arrived to find Pereira’s car surrounded by a blazing inferno with Zoey locked in her car seat inside. Emergency rescuers desperately tried to get to the girl. However, Pereira had secured the doors with chains, which subsequently melted along with the door handles.
Although Pereira had planned a murder-suicide, he saved himself at the last minute, sustaining burns on 70 percent of his body. Despite rescuers efforts, Zoey was horrifically burned and didn’t survive her injuries, dying soon after she reached Jamaica Hospital. Disturbingly, Pereira had been set off by something his ex refused to do.
According to Coleman’s cousin, Pereira had decided to kill little Zoey and himself after Coleman repeatedly refused to answer her cell phone. Apparently, this infuriated Pereira, who went ahead with his sinister plan after finally speaking with Coleman and finding out that she had contacted the police.
“Get your brothers and get the cops — he said he’s going to kill himself and the baby,” Coleman says she was told by a cousin after Pereira called the relative.
Although Coleman possibly didn’t believe that Pereira would go through with his threats, her worst fears were soon confirmed. She saw her daughter one last time before the little girl passed away from her injuries. By then, she knew that Zoey was too far gone to be saved.
“After I saw my daughter, I knew there was no way she survived that. I knew she was dead from the moment they took her out of the car,” Coleman said, breaking down in tears.
According to the New York Daily News, Pereira took Zoey to the Cohen Children’s Medical Center the day before her death, claiming that Coleman had abused her. He accused the mother of dealing and taking illegal street drugs. Despite his strange behavior, the hospital reportedly allowed Pereira to leave with his daughter because he produced paperwork showing that he had visitation rights.
The next night, police responded to 154th Street and Baisley Boulevard, where they saw Pereira’s car chained shut and consumed by flames. Pereira had somehow freed himself from the vehicle and jumped into a nearby pond to put out the fire on his clothing. When a Good Samaritan approached to help him, he said, “I have my kid in the car.”
Investigators later discovered that gasoline had been poured all over the car along with a tube leading into the vehicle from a propane tank in the trunk. Sadly, the accelerant made it impossible for rescuers to get to Zoey in time, leaving the little girl to suffer an unimaginable fate.
“I wish I could torture him and kill him,” Coleman 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.”
Martin Pereira was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan and heavily sedated while being treated for his burns. He survived, but his innocent daughter suffered an excruciating and terrifying death. We can only hope that he is dealt the harshest justice possible.