The father of Sherin Mathews, a 3- year-old Indian girl whose body was found near their suburban Dallas home less than a year after she was adopted from an Indian orphanage, was on Saturday indicted for capital murder by a grand jury. He could get death penalty if convicted of the charges.
Mathews also faces charges of endangering the life of a child, abandoning a child and tampering with evidence.
“We do want to make certain that justice is done on the behalf of this little 3-year-old,” said Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson at a Friday press conference to announce the indictment. “We are going to be the voice for her.”
Indian consul general Anupam Ray was present at the conference and expressed satisfaction that the killing of the child was being prosecuted to the fullest extent. “We were never going to forget Sherin,” he said.
Sherin, reported missing on October 7, was found dead in a culvert about 1 km from her home on October 22 by a cadaver dog during a massive search for the missing toddler. Sherin, who was adopted by the couple from Bihar in 2016, had been reported missing two weeks ago.
Sherin Mathews was adopted from an agency in Bihar. (AP File Photo)
Wesley had initially told police that Sherin disappeared overnight after he ordered her to stand outside at about 3 am for not drinking her milk. When he returned, Wesley said she had disappeared and that her location was unknown.
He changed the story subsequently and told investigators the child died in his arms after he tried to force-feed her — “physically assisted (her) … in drinking the milk.”
“The 3-year-old girl began to choke,” the police had said in their report. “She was coughing and her breathing slowed. Eventually, Wesley Mathews no longer felt a pulse on the child and believed she had died.”
Instead of calling for medical help or police, Mathews is alleged to have put Sherin in the back of the family’s SUV along with a trash bag, drove a mile to a culvert and left the body there.
The family called the police four hours later.
The Medical Examiner’s office ruled last week the toddler died of “homicidal violence.”
“The evidence is still unfolding in this case. We don’t want anything to jeopardize this case. We think that we have a great case, we plan to pursue this case vigorously, and we don’t want anything to hamper it in any kind of way,” Johnson said.
A photograph of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews sits by a makeshift memorial in Richardson, Texas. (AP File Photo)
Wesley’s wife, Sini Mathews, has also been charged with abandoning a child, which could get her up to 20 years in prison. The couple and their biological child, a four-year-old daughter had gone for dinner leaving Sherin Mathews at home alone, the night before the child died.