Sherin Mathews' father — who initially told police he left his adopted 3-year-old daughter in an alleyway as punishment — admitted to police Monday he dumped the toddler’s body in a culvert near his Texas home after she choked on her milk while he “physically assisted” her.
Wesley Mathews, 37, was arrested and charged with injury to a child, one day after cadaver dogs led a search team to the child's body. Richardson police confirmed on Tuesday the remains were identified as Sherin Mathews. Her cause of death is pending.
Wesley Mathews voluntarily went to police on Monday and offered a new account of what happened the night of Oct. 7, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. Mathews told police he and the girl were in the house’s garage when she refused to drink her milk. She allegedly wouldn’t listen. She then began drinking and the father stepped in to “physically assist” her drinking the liquid. Sherin began choking, coughing and breathing slowly at some point, according to the affidavit.
Mathews told police he couldn’t feel a pulse on his daughter and believed she died. He then said he removed the toddler’s body from the house.
The father initially told police he ordered her to stand next to a tree behind the fence of their Dallas suburb home about 3 a.m. because she refused to drink her milk. He said she was nowhere to be seen after he went to check up on her 15 minutes later. He was initially arrested and charged with child endangerment, but was released on bond and ordered to wear an ankle monitor.
Sherin's adopted mother, Sini Mathews, was reportedly sleeping at the time. Her attorney told the Dallas News she was “distraught” about the incident and was cooperating with police.
Wesley Mathews is being held on $1 million bail and faces up to 99 years in prison if convicted. The FBI also seized 47 items, including “hair-like” fibers, a Costco receipt and a washer and dryer from the home before Mathews' confession.
The couple’s other daughter, a 4-year-old, was placed in protective custody after Mathews went missing. A court hearing on Monday ruled the girl will remain in foster care at least until a Nov. 13 hearing, or when a judge determines a change in custody.
The couple reportedly adopted Sherin from an orphanage in India about two years ago. Sherin was placed in the orphanage when she was 1 after she was abandoned by her biological family, Times of India reported. Sherin had a developmental disability and didn’t have the language skills of a typical 3-year-old child.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.