DALLAS – The father of a missing 3-year-old North Texas girl is back in police custody after he voluntarily submitted to questioning in his daughter’s disappearance.
A Richardson police spokesman says Wesley Mathews was charged Monday afternoon with first-degree felony injury to a child, a crime punishable by up to life imprisonment.
Sgt. Kevin Perlich said bond has been set at $1 million for Mathews.
Perlich said the 37-year-old adoptive father of Sherin Mathews submitted to questioning voluntarily, but the particulars of his answers that might have led to the charge have not yet been explained.
However, Perlich said Wesley Mathews gave different answers to police questions than before.
Previously, the father had told police he ordered the girl to stand outside the family home at about 3 a.m. on Oct. 7 as punishment for not drinking her milk.
Investigators are awaiting confirmation that the body of a young child found Sunday morning in a culvert about a half-mile from the home is that of the missing girl.
Police believe child’s body found in culvert is that of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews
Sherin Mathews of Richardson, Texas, was reported missing on October 7, according to the Richardson Police Department. She was last seen in the backyard of her family’s home early that morning by her adoptive father, Wesley Mathews.
A body believed to belong to Sherin Mathews was found around 11 a.m. Sunday morning in a culvert beneath a road, Sgt. Kevin Perlich, spokesman for the police department, told reporters Sunday.
While a medical examiner has yet to see the child’s body and make a positive identification, Perlich said, “It is most likely” Sherin Mathews, and her parents have been notified of the discovery. The cause of death has yet to be determined.
Local police were waiting for an FBI evidence recovery team to process the scene on Sunday afternoon, Perlich said.
Multiple law enforcement agencies have participated in the ongoing search, including the FBI, US Marshals and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, according to police.
Investigators combed Sherin’s neighborhood and surrounding area with K-9 teams and helicopters and executed a search warrant at the Mathews’ home on October 10, police said.
Child left outside at 3 a.m.
Sherin’s father initially told police he left his daughter outside around 3 a.m. on October 7, as punishment “because she wouldn’t drink her milk,” according to a probable cause document obtained by CNN. He told her to stand by a tree approximately 100 feet away from the home, across an alleyway. He later told police he knew coyotes had been seen in the alley where he told her to stay, the affidavit said.
Around 3:15 a.m., when he went to retrieve the child, she was gone, the document says.
Police say Mathews didn’t contact police for five hours after he realized the child was missing.
Later that evening, Mathews was arrested and charged with abandoning or endangering a child, “as a result of his decision to place her outside a place of safety,” the Richardson Police Department said on its verified Facebook page. He is out on bond, according to police.
The Richardson Police Department said on October 12 that one of the Mathews’ vehicles had left the residence the morning Sherin went missing, between 4 and 5 a.m., between the time Mathews said Sherin disappeared and the time he called police.