Dallas, Texas Child Protective Services released a report May 15 noting that there was little evidence that the late three-year-old toddler Sherin Mathews was physically abused by her adoptive parents before her death last October.
The report, however, detailed several instances of neglect by Indian American parents Wesley and Sini Mathews, who had adopted the little girl from an orphanage in Nalanda, Bihar. Sherin was severely malnourished – weighing just 15 lbs. at the age of 16 months, and only 19 lbs. at the age of three – but according to the CPS report, the Mathews refused to buy a special formula prescribed by their daughter’s pediatrician, as it was not covered by their health insurance. Her parents told CPS the child was finicky, taking 45 minutes to eat, and refused to eat certain foods.
The report stated that Sherin was attending weekly “feeding therapy” sessions at the time of her death.
In a previous report, the parents were questioned about a previous hospitalization of Sherin in February of 2017. Sini Mathews told investigators that she took Sherin to the hospital after noticing swelling on her right shoulder; she told hospital staff that Sherin had fallen off a slide at the park, and she had given her over-the-counter pain medication.
“The child was diagnosed with having skin breakdown on her shoulders, a skin infection on both shoulders, and swelling. The child had bilateral humerus fractures, almost to collar bone at the top of the shoulder. X-rays showed that the child had an older injury; a left femur fracture,” noted the report.
“The child also had bony growths and older fractures. The child had an earlier right arm fracture from jumping off a couch. It is believed that the child's left femur fracture might have occurred a few weeks prior to 02/08/2017,” noted the report, which stated that Sini Mathews refused to let further x-rays be taken of Sherin.
“There were concerns that the child's injuries were not consistent with the explanation given and that the child had been physically abused,” noted the report.
“Other doctors and specialists that had been treating the child denied having concerns about abuse and neglect while the child was with her adoptive parents. The medical professionals contacted stated that the child was in better health and a better weight following her adoption.”
The report noted that law enforcement did investigate, but did not file any charges during the investigation. “There was insufficient evidence to determine if the deceased child was physically abused by her mother. An unknown perpetrator was confirmed for the physical abuse of the deceased child, which may have happened prior to her adoption. The allegation of physical neglect of the deceased child by her parents was not confirmed,” concluded the report.
CPS commissioner Hank Whitman addressed the prior abuse allegations in an interview with WFAA in November.
"I think they could have done a better job, a much better job," Whitman said of the investigators. "It’s sad when I saw that, and I read the case report. I was silent for 10 seconds, and looking at my staff, it’s not acceptable."
Sherin Mathews was reported missing Oct. 7 morning. After an intensive search with many members of the local Indian American community getting involved to find the young, special needs toddler, she was found Oct. 22 in a culvert about a half mile away from the Mathews Richardson, Texas home. Wesley Mathews later confessed that he physically “assisted” Sherin with drinking her milk at 3 a.m., Oct. 7 morning, and then watched her choke before he took her prone body to the culvert. Police reports indicate that Mathews did a load of laundry before reporting his daughter missing, five hours later.
On the evening before Sherin’s death, the couple went out to dinner with their older biological daughter, leaving Sherin at home alone for at least 90 minutes as a punishment for not drinking her milk (see earlier India-West story here: https://bit.ly/2F7kDDA).
Mathews is being held without bail on capital charges of murdering a person under the age of 10. He has also been charged with injuring a child with a physical or mental disability, and tampering of a human corpse.
Sini Mathews, who has alleged she was sleeping as her daughter went missing that morning, is being held without bail on charges of child endangerment. She has also been charged with criminal negligence involving abandoning a child.
The Mathews have lost custody of their biological daughter.