Less than 24 hours after the body of their adoptive daughter was found near their home in Richardson, Texas, Sini and Wesley Mathews went before a judge on Monday. The Mathews couple were the adoptive parents of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews, a toddler who had been missing for more than two weeks. The parents went before a judge, along with representatives of Texas Child Protective Services (CPS), to discus custody of their 4-year-old biological child. CPS had removed the daughter from the Mathews’ home just days after Sherin’s disappearance. The biological daughter was placed in foster care.

Appearing with an attorney, Wesley Mathews pleaded for additional time so that he can obtain further legal counsel for the custody matter. Currently, he only has a criminal lawyer. The judge gave him an extension and scheduled a new custody hearing for November 13. However, Mathews’ biological child remains in foster care. Mathews has been released on bail and is subject to electronic tag monitoring. His passport has been confiscated as a condition of bail. B

oth Richardson police and the FBI have served search warrants at the Mathew’s home, and have collected clothing, electronics, and DNA swabs from the house and family vehicles. The FBI seized 47 items from the Mathews’ house, including “hair-life” fibers, five cellphones, a washer and dryer, trash bags, three laptops, and a digital camera. Wesley Mathews was arrested and charged with child endangerment, but is free on bond. He was order to refrain from any contact with minors.

Sini Mathews appeared in court separately. Her attorney, Kent Starr, said she is “…participating with the police department to identify whether or not the body that was discovered in Richardson, Texas is that of Sherin Mathews.” Sini Mathews was reportedly asleep when the incident took place.

Law enforcement officers and citizens conducted a massive search for the missing girl. But it was not until Sunday when Richardson Police Department Sergeant Kevin Perlich announced, “During one of those search operations the body of a small child was discovered in the area of East Spring Valley Road and South Bowser Road.” As of now, police can only confirm that the body of an unknown child has been located. Perlich explained, “The indications are that it is most likely her, however we have not had a positive ID.” He added, “So until we have a positive identification we are not gonna say that it is Sherin.”

Police dogs found the body of a girl in a 100-foot-long culvert. It was about a mile from the Mathews’ home. It was during the pre-dawn hours of October 7 that Sherin Mathews went missing.

According to Wesley Mathews, he sent the toddler to stand outside the home next to a tree at 3 a.m. because she would not drink a glass of milk. When he went to check on her about 15 minutes later, said Mathews, Mathews alleged that she saw that she was gone. It would be at least five hours before he called police to report Sherin’s disappearance. He told the police he had returned to the house and "did a load of laundry" as he was not too worried.

According to the Richardson police department, the Mathews’ maroon 2013 Acura MDX left the home between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Oct. 7, which may provide clues as to where the little girl is. Police are appealing to the public for any surveillance camera footage that may help their investigation. Sherin was adopted from an orphanage in India, two years ago.

Police have not yet specified the manner of her death. A forensic examination is now underway. Sherin Mathews weighed about 22 pounds and stood approximately 3 feet tall. She was wearing a pink blouse, black pants, and black flipflops when last see alive. She had long black hair and brown skin. Before her adoption, Sherin Mathews was known as Saraswati. She was abandoned at the age of 18 months by her biological mother in the state of Bihar in India. She was placed in the Mother Teresa adoption center. According to a former secretary of the facility, Babiti Kumari, "During her initial days, Saraswati used to remain quiet but gradually she opened up at the center." 

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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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