New York: Police have charged the adoptive father of a three-year-old Indian girl, Sherin, in her death after he admitted that the child choked and died while he was making her drink milk in their home, in Texas, according to court documents.
Wesley Mon Mathews had earlier told police that Sherin disappeared when he made her stand in a lane behind their house in Richardson city at 3 am on October 7 as punishment for not drinking milk.
After nearly two weeks of searching by police using drones, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and volunteers, her body was found on Sunday in a ditch near their house in the city near Dallas. While the search was going on, Mathews stuck to the story about Sherin’s punishment and mysterious disappearance.
Mathews, who was arrested on Monday, was charged with causing injury to a child which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
As of Tuesday evening, he was being held in jail with bail set at $1 million. Mathews, 37, who works in information technology, is of Indian origin. He and his wife, Sini who is a nurse, had adopted Sherin from an orphanage in Bihar.
Richardson police officer V Diaz said in court documents that on Monday Mathews came to the police with his lawyer and said that he “physically assisted” Sherin with drinking milk in the garage of their house after she had earlier refused to drink it.
The child began coughing and choking, her breathing slowed and then there was no longer any pulse, he told police.
He “believed” she had died and admitted to removing the body from the house, Diaz said.
Mathews did not wake his wife, who is a registered nurse at Dallas Children’s Medical Center, when that happened, the Dallas News reported.
Sini has not told police what had happened, according to the newspaper. It quoted police Sgt. Kevin Perlich as saying that she said the clothing found on the child’s body could have been something Sherin wore and gave the dental records, which were used to identify the girl.
Television station WFAA reported that a vigil was held for Sherin at the spot where her body was found on Sunday. People have set up a make-shift shrine for her by leaving toys, flowers and other items at the spot.
Mathews and his wife have a four-year-old daughter, who was taken away from them by the authorities and placed with a foster family.
Earlier, Perlich said that Sherin had developmental problems and could not communicate properly. Soon after Mathews reported her missing on October 7, he was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
He was out on bail and made to wear an electronic monitor on his ankle after that arrest when he returned to police with the new version and was rearrested on the new charge of injuring a child.
A post mortem has been conducted on the child’s body, but the medical examiner has yet to announce the exact cause of death.