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Death of 3-year-old girl left in burning car with doors chained shut ruled a homicide

The horrifying death of a toddler girl found trapped inside a burning car in New York City has been ruled a homicide, and the victim has been identified as 3-year-old Zoey Pereira.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, police responded to reports of a car in the middle of the road in Queens on Sunday night, and found the little girl in the backseat of the car with the doors chained shut. As police were retrieving the toddler from the vehicle, having gained access because heat from the flames melted the door handles, the driver — believed to be the girl’s father — exited the car, his body on fire.

The father ran to a nearby pond and was apprehended by police. The toddler girl was taken to Jamaica Hospital for lifesaving treatment but was pronounced dead.

The New York Post reports that authorities have ruled Zoey’s death a homicide. Her father is reportedly in police custody, and is being treated for second- and third-degree burns. He has not been identified and it is not yet known if he has been charged in relation to his daughter’s death.

Police reportedly found two gas canisters at the scene, which along with the chained doors suggest the vehicle fire was intentional. Sources told the New York Post that the incident is believed to be related to a custody dispute.

CrimeOnline will provide further updates when more information is available.

[Feature image: Oskars Zvejs from Pixabay]