The father of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews now says that his daughter choked on milk early in the morning Oct. 7 and that he “believed she had died,” according to a probable cause affidavit released Tuesday.
Also Tuesday, Richardson police confirmed that the body of a child found in a culvert less than a mile from the Mathews’ home Sunday was Sherin’s. They said the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office used dental records to confirm the child’s identity.
The affidavit for Wesley Mathews — the father who originally said he put his adopted daughter outside in the back yard as punishment after she wouldn’t drink her milk at 3 a.m. — tells a different story than what was first reported in the case, which captured international attention.
Monday, two weeks after the first police report was made for the missing toddler, Mathews and his attorney voluntarily went to the Richardson Police Department and asked to talk, the affidavit released Tuesday states.
He told a detective he was trying to get Sherin to drink her milk in the garage.
“Wesley Mathews said she wouldn’t listen to him. Eventually, the 3-year-old girl began to drink the milk,” the affidavit states. “Wesley Mathews then physically assisted the 3 year old in drinking the milk. The 3-year-old girl began to choke.
“She was coughing and her breathing slowed. Eventually, Wesley Mathews no longer felt a pulse on the child and believed she had died,” according to the warrant. “Wesley Mathews then admitted to removing the body from the home.”
The girl’s disappearance prompted neighbors and strangers alike to help search for her and hold vigils to pray for her safe return.
Richardson police announced late Monday that Wesley Mathews, who initially was charged with abandoning or endangering a child, was re-arrested on a charge of felony injury to a child.
Mathews is in the Richardson Jail, and his bail has been set at $1 million. If convicted of the first-degree felony, Mathews faces five to 99 years or life in prison.
Also Monday, Mathews and his wife, Sini, learned that their biological 4-year-old daughter will stay in foster care for up to a month while state Child Protective Services officials conduct a home study.
This case captured widespread attention after news surfaced of Sherin’s disappearance.
Earlier this month, Wesley Mathews told police that he sent his daughter outside to stand by a tree near an alley, where coyotes had been seen in the past, at 3 a.m. as punishment for being disobedient. He said he went to check on her 15 minutes later and she was gone, an arrest warrant affidavit says.
Five hours later, after doing laundry and waiting for her to come home or for the sun to come up so he could look for her, he reported Sherin’s disappearance to police.
He has said his wife, Sini, was asleep during this time.
A search for Sherin began as police and the FBI were called in and an Amber Alert was issued. Police asked for help from neighbors whose surveillance cameras might have captured something that would help in the investigation.
Officials announced that someone left the home in the family SUV about an hour after Sherin went missing, and returned by about 5 a.m.
Authorities seized dozens of items from the home, including cellphones, a washer and dryer, and a digital camera.
Sunday, the family was notified that the body of a young child had been found in the neighborhood.
Sherin Mathews, who has a developmental disability, was abandoned by her biological parents and left in an orphanage in India when she was 1, The Times of India reported. Wesley and Sini Mathews later adopted her.