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Sherin Mathews: Father of missing Indian-American toddler now says she choked on milk

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DALLAS: The father of a missing 3-year-old Indian-American girl in North Texas has changed his story, saying she choked while drinking milk at 3 am and that he took her body outside after he believed she had died.

Wesley Mathews, 37, who adopted Sherin Mathews from India, presented his new story after going to the Richardson Police Department with his lawyer on Monday afternoon. He was charged on Monday afternoon with
first-degree felony injury to a child+
, a crime punishable by up to life imprisonment. Bond was set at $1 million, Richardson police Sgt Kevin Perlich said.

Richardson Police are still waiting for confirmation that the body of a small child found Sunday morning in a culvert about half a mile from the Mathews’ home is Sherin. Investigators have said that they believe it is.

The new version of events is detailed in Mathews’ arrest warrant.

Mathews was earlier free on bond after being charged with abandoning or endangering a child. According to police, Mathews said the girl was developmentally disabled and malnourished when he and his wife adopted her, and that they had to put her on a special diet that included feeding her whenever she was awake, including in the middle of the night, to help her gain weight.

Wesley Mathews had previously told the police that after doing an initial search once he realised his daughter was missing, he went inside and did laundry while waiting for her to come home or for daylight so that he could continue looking.

He and his wife, Sini Mathews, attended a court hearing earlier Monday to determine whether they could regain custody of their 4-year-old biological daughter, who was placed in protective custody after her sister went missing. The judge postponed the hearing until November 13 to give Wesley Mathews time to hire a civil attorney, said Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services. The girl will remain in foster care at least until that hearing or until a judge orders a change in custody.

“We do have the names of some relatives who have expressed interest in taking care of her,” Gonzales said. “We can begin looking into those relatives, but it is entirely up to the judge where she is placed.”

Authorities using dogs to search for Sherin found the remains Sunday in a drainage tunnel about a half-mile from the family’s home.

Police said they believe Sini Mathews was sleeping when the girl went missing and was unaware of the alleged punishment.

Investigators have asked neighbours and area businesses to check their video surveillance cameras for footage of a maroon Acura SUV owned by the Mathews family that they believe left the home between 4 am and 5 am on October 7.

Updated: October 24, 2017 — 10:23 pm

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