THE distraught aunt of a three-year-old girl allegedly burned alive in a car by her dad has branded him an “animal” and says she hopes he “f***ing dies”.
Zoey Pereira was found strapped in her baby seat in the back of an Audi A6 that was doused in gasoline and locked from the inside.
Cops in New York say her 39-year-old dad Martin is “absolutely” the prime suspect after he allegedly told his ex “you’ll never see our daughter again”.
Zoey’s devastated aunt has now slammed Pereira, who was locked in a bitter custody battle with the tragic youngster’s mum.
She told The New York Post: “He killed a baby. He burned her alive. He did that to her. That’s not even human, that’s an animal. That’s a coward.”
Pereira, who has a history of violence, was looking after his young daughter for the second time since splitting with her mum Cherone Coleman when the horror unfolded.
Hours before, he had phoned one of Cherone’s cousins threatening to hurt little Zoey.
My daughter was perfect. She was loving, always smiling, and oh so caring
Zoey's heartbroken mum Cherone Coleman
He also shared a photo of Zoey on his Facebook page. She was pictured smiling with a new hairstyle.
Cherone is now struggling to contain her grief, as she always thought “he was going to hurt me”.
She told the New York Daily News: “I never thought he was going to hurt my daughter.
“My daughter was perfect. She was loving, always smiling, and oh so caring.
“She was my only child, and I can’t have any more.”
Cops were scrambled at around 9pm on Sunday to reports of a car fire in Queens.
When they got there, medics fought to save Zoey while witnesses reported seeing Pereira running to Baisley Pond Park while on fire.
Officers later found him “stripped down to his underwear”, a source said.
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Zoey was rushed to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center for urgent treatment, but she later died.
Sources have since reporter Pereira was arrested once for criminal contempt and twice for aggravated harassment against a different woman in 2013.
An official police insider said “He’s probably going to be charged with murder.”
Zoey was left inside this burning car – while her father ran away in flames[/caption]
A version of this article originally appeared on The New York Post.
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