Police: Parents of toddler reported missing after late-night punishment uncooperative

RICHARDSON, Texas — The search for a missing suburban Dallas toddler has stretched into a sixth day as authorities now say both of the girl’s adoptive parents are being uncooperative, reports CBS DFW.

The adoptive father, 37-year-old Wesley Mathews, said he ordered his 3-year-old daughter Sherin Mathews to stand next to a tree behind the fence at their Richardson home at around 3 a.m. Saturday as punishment for not drinking her milk, according to an arrest affidavit. The tree is across an alley from the home.

Mathews went outside about 15 minutes later to check on her, but Sherin was gone, the affidavit states. The child, who has a developmental disability, was wearing leggings, a pink long-sleeved shirt and pink flip-flops.

The father didn’t notify police that his daughter was missing until about five hours later, said Sgt. Kevin Perlich. He said the delay in reporting the matter “is certainly concerning to us.”

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CBS DFW

“That does not seem like a normal response that one would do if you have a missing child,” Perlich said.

Mathews was arrested Saturday on a charge of abandoning or endangering a child. He posted bond late Sunday, according to Perlich. 

Police say Mathews is required to wear an ankle monitor. They say neither he nor the child’s adoptive mother is cooperating with investigators, reports CBS DFW. Each have reportedly hired lawyers.

Kent Starr, who is representing the girl’s mother, said the woman is “distraught.”

“She does not know the whereabouts and all she wants is for her daughter to be returned,” Starr told CBS DFW.

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The mother had not been charged with a crime.

Wesley Mathews at one point told investigators that coyotes have been seen in the alley, but investigators say there’s no indication that one might have dragged the girl away.

Investigators have seized three vehicles, cellphones and laptops from the family in an effort to find out what became of Sherin, Perlich said. Footage from surveillance cameras in the area also is being reviewed.

Police officers and FBI agents were at the home on Wednesday, CBS DFW reports, and served a search warrant to look for evidence.

State Child Protective Services removed a 4-year-old child from the home early Monday, he said. A CPS spokeswoman, Marissa Gonzales, said the agency has had dealings with the family before, but she declined to release additional information.

Perlich said Mathews and his wife adopted Sherin, who was malnourished when the couple took her in. Starr told CBS DFW the child was adopted from India.

Mathews told investigators it wasn’t unusual for the girl to wake up late at night to eat so that her weight would increase, Perlich said. That may explain why she was punished at 3 a.m., he said.

“Sherin did have a medical condition, and they have worked to get it under control,” Starr, the lawyer, told CBS DFW. “Sherin did have an eating disorder.”

Perlich said authorities are casting a broad net in determining what happened to the girl.

“We don’t have any other indication or evidence that she was forcibly abducted from that area,” he said.

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