Authorities in Texas discovered the body of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews Sunday, who disappeared in the early morning hours of October 7. Her body was identified using dental records, police confirmed Tuesday.
The little girl’s adoptive father, Wesley Mathews, was arrested Monday night and faces a felony charge of injury to a child after telling police Sherin died after she choked on milk, and that he moved her body afterwards. He is being held on a $1 million bond.
Wesley was previously arrested on the same day as Sherin’s disappearance on child abandonment and endangerment charges, but was later released on bail. The man changed the accounts of his story which led to a second arrest.
The community came together to honor Sherin only hours after news of the discovery was made, and details of the case have left many livid.
Here’s what we know so far:
1. Sherin’s Adoptive Father Changed His Story & Now Claims She Died After ‘Choking While Drinking Milk’
The young girl’s father was initially arrested on child abandonment and endangerment charges on the same day as Sherin’s disappearance but was later released on bail.
On Monday, Wesley and his lawyer voluntarily reported to the Richardson police station and provided a different account of Sherin’s disappearance than what he had originally given. He was then arrested and faces a felony charge of first degree injury to a child. He is being held on a $1 million bond.
“He provided an alternate series of events from what he had previously given us,” Perlich said.
According to WFAA, an arrest affidavit showed that Wesley changed his story to say that Sherin choked while drinking milk which he “physically assisted with” at 3 a.m. in a garage. He said “he no longer felt a pulse” and “removed the body from the home.”
The new charge is punishable by life or from 5 to 99 years in prison.
Sini Mathews, the wife of Wesley and adoptive mother of Sherin, had not been arrested at the time of publishing but was being questioned by police. Though the woman was a registered nurse at Dallas Children’s Medical Center, Wesley told authorities that he did not wake her when the tragedy occurred.
The couple has another child that was taken from the home, according to CBS 11. The station reported “a 4-year-old girl was removed from the Mathews’ home by Child Protective Services after Sherin went missing two weeks ago,” and said they were expected to fight to get that child back via court.
It is not known if authorities believe Wesley’s latest version of events.
2. Police Identified a Body Found In an Underground Culvert as Sherin’s
Authorities announced Tuesday that the body of a small child found Sunday is that of Sherin. The little girl’s body was tragically discovered about a mile away from the family’s home after an extensive search which included cadaver dogs.
On Tuesday, the Richardson Police Department posted to Facebook:
Today, the Dallas County Medical Examiners Office has confirmed the identity of the small child recovered on Sunday, October 22nd in Richardson, TX as 3 year old Sherin Mathews by using dental records. Cause of death is still pending. #sherinmathews
It has not been verified when the body was moved to the culvert or how long ago the child may have died.
Don Thomas posted the following photo to the Facebook page “Where is Sherin Mathews?,” and stated the body was found where the picture was taken:
Thomas also posted the photo below, suggesting that the body was recently moved to the culvert. “This is the opposite side of the culvert where they pulled the girl out from one side to the other it is about 100 feet and you can easily see through it to the other side,” he said. “It goes under Spring Valley Road…I searched it day 2 when she went missing and I’m sure many people search that same culvert.”
He added other photos of the culvert and stated that “it is easy to see to the other side:”
Mercedes Peterson posted live video from the area of the search and said that a woman told police that she had also searched the culvert prior to today’s discovery:
3. Wesley Initially Told Police He Sent Sherin Outside ‘Where Coyotes Roam’ as Punishment
Wesley initially told authorities that he sent the girl “where coyotes were known to roam,” at about 3 a.m. on October 7, ABC 13 reported.
After 15 minutes, authorities said the father told them he went to check on the girl but could not find her, and proceeded to do a load of laundry after claiming that he wasn’t too worried about the situation, according to an affidavit obtained by The Washington Post.
He said he then waited about five hours to contact police, NBC Dallas Fort Worth reported.
The community came together only hours after the body was found and hundreds of people gathered for a vigil in Sherin’s honor.
“A lot of people are in shock and anger and frustrated,” vigil organizer Omair Siddiqi told WFAA.
4. Sherin Is Originally From India & Was Adopted by the Mathews’ After Being Abandoned by Her Biological Family
Sgt. Kevin Perlich, a spokesman for the Richardson Police Department, said that Wesley and his wife, Sini, “adopted Sherin about two years ago from an orphanage in India,” The Washington Post reported.
The newspaper reported that Perlich said Sherin’s father claimed “that Sherin was malnourished and had to be on a special diet to gain weight.” Perlich stated that the girl “had to be fed whenever she was awake,” and added that the father claimed she “wasn’t cooperating” the night she was punished and subsequently went missing.
“So that was the frustration [Mathews] was experiencing that night,” Perlich stated, according to The Post. “But, of course, we’re working to verify all of that.”
According to the Times of India, officials from Bihar’s State Adoption Resource Agency confirmed the couple adopted Sherin, and said the girl was placed in an orphanage at the age of one after being abandoned by her birth family.
Journalist Hannah Davis posted the following video showing the parents for the first time in two weeks:
“They came in separately surrounded by their lawyers,” Davis captioned the post. “This is first time we’ve seen Sherin Mathews’ adopted parents since she disappeared two weeks ago. Neither made a comment or took questions. They’re at custody hearing for family’s other daughter who was taken into CPS custody.”
See further video coverage below:
5. Her Story Is Going Viral & Has Many Outraged at the Circumstances Involved
The circumstances involving Sherin’s disappearance has outraged the pubic, and many are taking to social media to express their anguish.
Amy Lawyer posted to Facebook:
Rest in peace Sherin. You are a forever Angel. Dumped in bushes as an infant by the side of a road in India. Adopted to what was supposed to be a loving home. Only to be allegedly abused and put outside for not drinking your milk in the middle of the night. There are many that will seek the justice you deserve. Whatever happened I believe there is a special place in HELL for the parents, or people, who failed you.
“EVERYONE FAILED THIS baby girl,” Rhonda Davis replied. “Who knows what they did to her before she was murdered. I’m so glad criminals are dumb.”
“Rest in peace baby girl,” @tsharda01 tweeted. “I’m sorry your ‘parents’ failed you. I hope the justice system doesn’t. #SherinMathews”
“Is there anyone who believes Sherin Mathews wasn’t murdered by one or both of her parents?,” @heytherestephie wrote.
A Facebook page dedicated to the darling girl shared the following tragic update on Sunday:
Today hearts are heavy all over the world. We have learned that the body of Sherin Mathews has most likely been found not far from her home this morning, according to the Richardson Police Department. The body has been sent to the medical examiner’s office to confirm.
At this time I respectfully request that no one drive to the crime scene as instructed by law enforcement, including myself. The FBI and crime scene unit have set up labs and need time to thoroughly investigate the area.
I understand that there is another vigil tonight at 6:00pm, but I would like to do something in honor of Sherin on my own. The Where Is Sherin Mathews page will host their own vigil for baby Sherin. I humbly request that media not attend this event, and I will host it at a different venue. I will need some time to prep for this and wait until the medical examiner’s office confirms the body.
This page will stay up in memory of Sherin and we will continue to follow this story until justice is brought forth to whomever is responsible for what happened to this innocent precious angel.
Thank you all for you support and love for Sherin, we are all family.