The father of a missing toddler whose body was found in a culvert under a road in suburban Dallas has changed his story to say the girl didn’t wander off two weeks ago, but that she choked to death while drinking milk in the family’s garage.
Richardson police said Tuesday that the Dallas County medical examiner’s office used dental records to identify 3-year-old Sherin Mathew, whose body was found Sunday by searchers with cadaver dogs. The girl was reported missing by her father, Wesley Mathews, on Oct. 7.
Police said the cause of death is unknown.
Mathews, who adopted Sherin from India in June 2016 with his wife, Sini Mathews, was arrested Monday after he voluntarily revised his police statement on what happened to the girl. A phone call to his attorney, Rafael De La Garza, was not immediately returned Tuesday.
Mathews initially told police that he had sent the girl to stand outside at 3 a.m. because she refused to drink her milk. In his revised statement Monday, he said the girl choked on the milk and that he removed her body from the home after he believed she had died.
Richardson police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Perlich said Tuesday that the investigation is continuing, despite the revised statement.
“This by no means completes our investigation. It is possible there would be additional arrests or modifications of the charges as the investigation proceeds,” he said.
Mathews was initially charged with abandoning or endangering a child when he first reported the girl missing. Police charged him Monday with first-degree felony injury to a child, which is punishable with up to life in prison. He was being held on $1 million bond.
Perlich said police believe Sini Mathews was unaware of her husband’s actions and that she was asleep at the time he told police Sherin died. The mother had not been charged as of early Tuesday.
Perlich said Sini Mathews cooperated with police to identify Sherin’s body, but had otherwise not answered questions. A phone call to her attorney, Kent Starr, was not immediately returned Tuesday.
State Child Protective Services removed a 4-year-old girl, the Mathews’ biological daughter, from the home soon after Sherin was reported missing. A judge said Monday that the girl will remain in foster care until a custody hearing in November.