SPRINGFIELD GARDENS, Queens — A 39-year-old man has been arrested and charged with murder in connection with the death of his 3-year-old daughter in a car fire after the man allegedly set a fiery death trap in Queens, police said Friday evening.
Martin Pereira is also charged with arson and reckless endangerment in the incident. He was taken into custody by the 113th precinct, according to the NYPD.
FDNY responded to a car fire at 154th Street and Baisley Boulevard shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, May 5 after a passerby saw the car parked at an intersection and called 911, officials said.
Firefighters arrived to find a silver 2008 Audi sedan engulfed in flames with the doors of the car chained shut, police sources told PIX11.
Witnesses told responders they saw a girl “burning” in the vehicle.
Three-year-old Zoey Pereira was found on the backseat of the car, fire officials said.
The latch of the chains bolted on the doors gave way due to the heat, and firefighters were able to get the child out, FDNY sources said.
Pereira was rushed to the hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries.
FDNY firefighters found two fuel canisters and a propane tank inside of the car, they said.
PIX11 has learned that a separate interference 911 call was made around the same time of the fire regarding the well-being of Pereira.
The child lived with her mother in Rochdale, Queens, sources said.
The mother and the father of Pereira were not married and were in the midst of a bitter custody battle, sourced told PIX11. A Washington Post story confirmed Martin Pereira as the girl’s father.
The father holds a previous arrest record from 2013 for aggravated harassment. It is unknown if this arrest directly involved the mother of Pereira.