An Indian American special needs toddler has been missing since Oct. 7, after her father allegedly put her out in an alley behind their Richardson, Texas home at 3 a.m., as a punishment for not drinking her milk.
Sherin Mathews, a three-year-old who suffers from developmental disabilities, was adopted in India by her parents, Wesley and Sini Mathews. Richardson Police Department spokesman Kevin Perlich told local media that Wesley Mathews had called police five hours after his daughter went missing. “That definitely raises some questions,” he said.
The Richardson Police Department issued a statement Oct. 7, stating: “We are currently looking for a 3-year-old child. Sherin Mathews was last seen by her father outside the family’s backyard in the 900 blk. of Sunningdale.”
“She is approximately 36" tall and weighs about 22 pounds. She suffers from developmental issues and has limited verbal communication skills. She was last seen wearing a pink top, black pajama bottoms and pink flip flops.”
“If anyone has any information on her whereabouts, they are asked to contact us at 972-744-4800.”
Police initially issued an Amber Alert, as a large group of volunteers from the Richardson community went on a door-to-door hunt for the missing child. Police have let the Amber Alert expire, as there is no suspect.
Wesley Mathews was arrested Oct. 7 evening and charged with abandoning or endangering a child. Richardson police said in a statement: “This charge was a result of his decision to place her outside a place of safety, which Mathews described to officers as being unsafe and contributing to her disappearance.”
Mathews has since been released on a $250,000 bond.
Child Protective Services removed Sherin Mathews’ four-year-old sister – who is not being named – from the couple’s home on Oct. 9. A spokeswoman for the agency said CPS had been in contact with the Mathews prior to this in the past.
Wesley Mathews told police he had placed his daughter outside the house early morning as a punishment for not drinking her milk. Sherin Mathews is underweight for her age, so it was not unusual for her to be awake at 3 a.m. to drink her milk, her father told police.
When he went out to the backyard 15 minutes later, Sherin had disappeared, Mathews told police, hinting that coyotes roaming the neighborhood may have snatched his daughter. But police have said this is unlikely.
Sherin’s mother Sini is not a person of interest in the disappearance, as she was reportedly sleeping at the time Mathews punished his daughter and during the five hours before her husband called the police.
Wesley Mathews reportedly did a load of laundry before he called 911 to report his daughter missing.
Family members described the couple as loving parents to both of their children and told local media they could not believe Mathews would harm his child.
Richardson Police issued an update Oct. 8, saying the search for Sherin Mathews was continuing. RPD investigators are actively working with several outside law enforcement agencies and specialized groups, including The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Search One – Rescue Team, the F.B.I., U.S. Marshals, The Texas Department of Public Safety and various local police departments.
"During the past three days, numerous searches have been conducted around the neighborhood and surrounding areas where Sherin's adoptive father last reported seeing her on Saturday morning. Those thorough searches involved the use of Reverse 911, trained search experts utilizing K-9 teams, helicopters and door to door canvassing,” said the Richardson Police Department in a Facebook post.
The Mathews are reportedly no longer cooperating with police and have retained an attorney.