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Working to ensure justice for Indian toddler Sherin Mathews: Texas police

Sherin went missing from her home in Richardson on October 7 and her body was found on October 22 in a culvert in suburban Dallas after an intense search.

world Updated: Jan 04, 2018 19:12 IST
This undated photo provided by the Richardson Texas Police Department shows 3-year-old Sherin Mathews.
This undated photo provided by the Richardson Texas Police Department shows 3-year-old Sherin Mathews. (AP File Photo)

With the autopsy report of Sherin Mathews ruling that the Indian girl died of “homicidal violence,” police in the US state of Texas today said they would pursue the case to ensure justice for the 3-year-old.

The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office on Wednesday ruled that the death of Sherin, the adopted daughter of Indian-American couple Wesley Mathews and Sini Mathews, was homicide.

Sherin went missing from her home in Richardson on October 7 and her body was found on October 22 in a culvert in suburban Dallas after an intense search. The toddler’s body was identified days later using her dental records.

The Richardson Police Department yesterday said the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office has completed its work and released the Sherin’s autopsy report.

“It has listed the cause of death as homicide and the manner as homicidal violence,” the police said in a Facebook post.

“The Richardson Police Department is continuing to work with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office in pursuit of justice for Sherin,” it said.

“That means that that person didn’t die of any type of natural causes or anything like that,” said Richardson police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Perlich.

The medical examiner’s office did not release any additional details on her death, in part because her 9.98-kg body was so badly decomposed after being out in the elements for two weeks.

The police department says it is trying to keep as much information private until the case goes to trial. Perlich said the autopsy report will be pivotal during the trial.

Richardson police yesterday had filed no additional charges against her adoptive parents - Wesley and Sini, who are already locked up in the Dallas County Jail.

A grand jury this month is expected to review charges filed against Sherin’s adoptive parents.

The medical examiner’s ruling is likely to help Dallas County prosecutors build a criminal case against Sherin’s adoptive father, Wesley, who was arrested on a charge of injury to a child in October, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Sherin’s mother, Sini, was arrested on a charge of child abandonment or endangerment in November. That charge stems from an allegation that the couple left Sherin alone on October 6, the night before she died when they went to dinner with their biological daughter, now 4.

Wesley, 37, originally told police that Sherin disappeared after he punished her by sending her out at 3 a.m. for not drinking her milk.

Police said he changed his story after her body was found on October 22, saying he removed her body from the home after she choked on her milk. He put Sherin’s body in his car with a bag of trash. Her body was discovered in the culvert October 22.

Both Wesley and Sini are now expected to appear in court on January 26 for a custody hearing of their biological daughter, who was removed from the home by officials of the Child Protective Services (CPS) soon after Sherin’s disappearance. A court had allowed the girl to live with a family member in the Houston area.

A scheduled custodial hearing yesterday was pushed back to January 26. The Indian-American couple, hailing from Kerala, adopted Sherin in 2016 from an orphanage in Bihar.

Suspicions about Sherin’s care had been raised before her death.

A doctor contacted the CPS after finding multiple fractures in various stages of healing on Sherin in March. Sherin suffered injuries to her upper-arm bones and fractures in her leg bones that were in various stages of healing, according to court testimony.

Dr Suzanne Dakil of the Referral and Evaluation of At Risk Children Clinic, testified at a November hearing involving custody of the couple’s biological daughter that she suspected Sherin had been injured at the hands of her parents.

“I had no explanation other than this child had been physically abused,” Dakil testified.