RICHARDSON, Texas – Authorities in Texas said Sunday they believe they have found the body of Sherin Mathews, (pictured left) the adopted 3-year-old girl who disappeared in the early hours of Oct. 7.
Richardson Police Find Body
The Richardson Police Department said investigators discovered a body around 11 a.m. Sunday in a culvert beneath a road. Although they believe it to be Mathews, they still await positive identification. The medical examiner will determine the child’s identification and cause of death.
“The indications are that it is most likely her, however, we have not had positive ID. So until we have a positive identification we are not going to say it is Sherin,” Sgt. Kevin Perlich said.
The location where the body was found is close to the Mathews’ home, according to Dallas News. She was found about 11 a.m. in a culvert near East Spring Valley and South Bowser roads, east of U.S. Highway 75, with the help of police service dogs.
“As the investigation continued to unfold, more and more stuff came to [the] surface and we followed up on that,” Perlich said. “It led to the search of that area with canines, and that’s how we came across the body.”
Crime Scene Investigation
The area was blocked off as a crime scene. The FBI response team processed the area for items of evidentiary value. Late Sunday afternoon, a sheet-covered stretcher was loaded into a waiting van.
Disappearance of 3-Year-Old
Mathews, who has a developmental disability, vanished two weeks ago. The disappearance occurred after her father, Wesley Mathews, (pictured right) left her outside at 3 a.m. in an alleyway — allegedly frequented by coyotes — because she didn’t drink her milk, reported Fox News.
Wesley, 37, said when he checked on her 15 minutes later, she was gone. He didn’t call police until five hours had passed. As a result, his questionable parenting skills led to an arrest for child endangerment.
Sherin’s father reportedly did laundry while she was missing. Her mother, Sini, said she was asleep during the ordeal.
Investigators found that on the morning Sherin went missing, someone had driven the family’s SUV away from their home in Richardson and didn’t return until an hour later. It was after the SUV returned that Wesley reported Sherin missing.
As they continued to investigate the 3-year-old’s disappearance, law enforcement had searched the Mathews’ home and took a number of items, including a vacuum cleaner, trash bags, hair fibers, cell phones and laptops.
Attorney Bree West, a former Dallas County assistant district attorney who’s not involved in the case, said that while most of the items collected at the Mathews home were pretty standard, some confiscated items — a blue string, dark hair-like fibers, vacuum contents, two yellow gloves, dish scrubber inside two grocery bags and the washer and dryer — had stood out to her.
Police had also taken DNA swabs, receipts, grass and other debris from three vehicles belonging to the Mathews family.
Location of Discovery
Father Arrested for Child Endangerment
Although Wesley was booked on the charge of child endangerment, he was reportedly released from jail on bond. He is required to wear an electronic monitoring device and had to surrender his passport. Nevertheless, he is likely looking at more serious charges as the investigation develops.
The Dallas News reported that Wesley and Sini Mathews reportedly adopted Sherin about two years ago from an orphanage in India. She was said to have been malnourished and physically underdeveloped at the time and does not have the language skills of a typical 3-year-old, Perlich said.
The two-week search for Sherin has involved drones, cadaver dogs, an Amber Alert and teams from multiple agencies that swept fields and other areas around the girl’s home.
They also solicited help from neighbors and nearby businesses that may have had footage of the family’s maroon Acura SUV between the hours that Sherin was said to have been left outside and when her disappearance was reported to police.
Two days after Sherin’s disappearance, Child Protective Services took custody of her 4-year-old sister and placed her in foster care, agency spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said.
One of her parents is scheduled to appear before a judge Monday for a custody hearing.
CPS previously had contact with the family, but further details were unknown. Neither child had been in foster care before Sherin’s disappearance. Moreover, Richardson police had not been to the family’s house before.
Memorial for Missing 3-Year-Old Girl
After news spread that a child’s body had been found, people gathered Sunday at the growing memorial of balloons, flowers and stuffed animals near Sherin’s home.
Richardson Police Chief Jimmy Spivey said in a tweet that if the body is determined to be Sherin’s, he is happy it has been recovered so she can be properly laid to rest.
“Will bring person(s) responsible to justice,” he tweeted.
(Photos courtesy Richardson Police Department)