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Sherin Mathews’ jailed foster parents give up right to biological daughter

Sherin went missing on October 7 and her body was found on October 22 in a culvert in suburban Dallas by a cadaver dog after an intense search.

world Updated: Jan 27, 2018 21:20 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Washington
Sherin Mathews,Sherin's parents,parental rights
A photograph of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews sits by a makeshift memorial in Richardson, Texas.(AP File )

The Indian-origin adoptive parents of Sherin Mathews, the three-year-old who died from “homicidal violence” at the hands of her father, have given up all parental rights to their four-year-old biological child who has been staying with relatives after being removed from the family’s house by state authorities.

Wesley and Sini Mathews signed relinquishment papers in a court in Dallas, Texas, on Friday at the start of the final hearing of a custody case they had brought against the state’s Child Protective Services (CPS), which was set to argue for terminating their parentage.

The Mathews will not have any parental rights to the child, who is being processed to live with maternal relatives and be adopted by them. The state is the“permanent managing conservator”. The Mathews can at some stage be granted supervised visiting rights, they were no longer the child’s parents.

The judge asked both of them if they understood the consequences of signing away their parental rights, and they said they did.

Authorities have said Sherin was killed by “homicidal violence” before her adoptive father hid her body in a Richardson culvert where it went undiscovered for weeks.

Wesley, 37, has been charged with capital murder in Sherin’s death, which could get him the death penalty if convicted, endangering the life of a child and abandoning it, and tampering evidence. His wife Sini, 35, has been charged with abandoning a child, a charge that could get her 20 years in jail.

They showed no emotion at the time of signing the relinquishment documents. Though of Indian origin, Wesley Mathews is Qatari by birth while Sini Mathews was born in the UAE. They had adopted Sherin in Bihar in 2016.

Sherin went missing on October 7 and was found dead near the family’s home in Richardson, a Dallas suburb, on October 22. Wesley Mathews, who had reported earlier that she went missing, later changed his story and told the police she died while he was feeding her milk — “physically assisted” her, force-fed her — and he had left the body at a culvert near the home.

During the custody hearings, witnesses for the state portrayed a shocking pattern of neglect and possible abuse three-year-old Sherin underwent at the hands of her adoptive parents. One of them stated Sini Mathews was “eerily calm” when officials went to the house to remove the biological child, who, they also pointed out, did not cry at being taken away.

Last month, a Dallas judge blocked the couple, who trace their ancestry to Kerala, from having contact with their biological child after prosecutors argued that they failed to protect Sherin.

The Dallas County capital murder indictment against the father says he killed Sherin “by a manner and means unknown to the grand jury,” court records showed.

Wesley originally told police that he put her outside on October 7 at 3 am because she would not drink her milk. He later changed that story to say that the child choked on her milk. (With inputs from agencies)

First Published: Jan 27, 2018 10:30 IST