Police arrested the father of a missing three-year-old North Texas girl after her lifeless body was found in a culvert one half mile from the family’s home this weekend.
Richardson police announced Tuesday that the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed the small child found on October 22 was three-year-old Sherin Mathews who purportedly vanished in the middle of the night on October 7. Officials identified her through dental records. However, the cause of her death remains “pending.”
On Monday, officers charged the child’s father, Wesley Mathews, 37, with Injury to a Child, a first degree felony punishable by five up to 99 years or life imprisonment, after he and his attorney “came to the Richardson Police Department voluntarily” and provided new information about Sherin’s disappearance that conflicted with details he previously shared.
Originally, Mathews told detectives he punished the three-year-old for not drinking her milk at 3 a.m. and ordered her to stand outside in a backyard alley by a tree that was roughly 100 feet south of their home. He said she was gone when he returned 15 minutes later and then, he went inside to do laundry, waiting for sunrise so he could continue searching for the little girl. Five hours after Sherin disappeared, he called police.
On October 8, officers arrested Mathews and charged him with felony endangerment to a child. However, he made the $250,000 bond and, as a condition of his release, Mathews surrendered his passport and agreed to wear an electronic ankle monitoring device.
This week, Mathews shared a different narrative, saying he tried to get the three-year-old girl “to drink her milk in the garage” in the middle of the night but Sherin would not comply. Later, she did and Mathews said he “physically assisted” her in drinking the glass of milk. He told officers she began choking. “She was coughing and her breathing slowed. Eventually, Mathews no longer felt a pulse on the child and believed she had died,” stated the document.
Mathews admitted to police that he removed her body from the home. Officers re-arrested him, setting his bail at $1 million on the felony Injury to a Child charge, and booked him into the Richardson City Jail.
— Richardson Police (@RichardsonTX_PD) October 24, 2017
Mathews also said he did not awaken his wife, Sini. The Dallas Morning News reported she is a registered nurse employed at Dallas Children’s Medical Center.
The Mathews adopted Sherin from an orphanage in India around one year ago. The Times of India described the diminutive child as abandoned by her biological family. Mathews told police Sherin lagged developmentally and was malnourished when they adopted her. They put her on a special diet to help her gain weight, including eating in the middle of the night.
Since the onset of this tragic case, Richardson police filed at least 30 search warrants. WFAA reported FBI agents removed almost 50 items from the Mathews’ home including trash bags, five cell phones, three laptops, a tablet, a digital camera, tax returns, medical bills, plus a pink blanket and T-shirt. They also seized the washer and dryer.
Paramount in the investigation was the family’s 2013 Acura MDX, allegedly absent from the home between 4:00 to 5:00 a.m. on the night Sherin went missing. Richardson police asked residents to check home security surveillance video to see if the SUV appeared in any footage at that time.
After Sherin vanished, Richardson police issued Amber Alerts and conducted a series of local searches using drones. People from across the Dallas-Fort Worth area held vigils near the Mathews’ home praying for the child’s safe return. Then, on October 22, detectives found Sherin’s remains in the nearby culvert.
Sini Mathews helped identify the body but police said her cooperation with the investigation has been minimal. Her attorney, Kent Starr, told reporters she was “distraught” over the Sherin’s death. On Monday, she came to court trying to regain custody of her four-year-old biological daughter who Child Protective Services placed in foster care after Sherin vanished. Authorities postponed the hearing until November 13.
To date, Sini Mathews has not been charged in the disappearance or death of her adopted daughter. She came to court separately from her husband and with her own counsel, although, on Tuesday, numerous Dallas news outlets reported Starr confirmed he withdrew as her civil attorney.
The medical examiner has not yet released the cause of Sherin’s death. This is a developing story.
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