On Monday, the parents of deceased girl, Sherin Mathews, were scheduled to attend a custody hearing to determine if their biological daughter would be returned to them. The 4-year-old girl was removed from the family’s Richardson, Texas, home by Child Protective Services shortly after Sherin was reported missing.
An initial custody hearing was scheduled for October 23, but a judge postponed the matter until today so Sherin’s adoptive father, Wesley Mathews, 37, could hire a civil attorney to assist him at the court proceeding.
Lawyers for Wesley and his wife, Sini Mathews, were in court Monday, at which time the custody hearing was postponed until November 29. Wesley’s attorney argued that his client should be present to fight “aggravated circumstances” that may damage his chances of getting custody of his daughter back, according to Fox 4.
The court did not directly address what the specific aggravated circumstances might be, and lawyers for Sherin’s adoptive mother, Sini, would not comment about the hearing postponement, reports the Dallas Morning News. The report notes that Sini also did not comment about the outcome of the hearing.
Sini’s attorney told the judge his client agrees that for now, her biological daughter should live with relatives in Fort Bend County, notes Fox 4.
The Texas Family Code allows a judge to waive a reunification plan and the “requirement to make reasonable efforts to return the child to a parent… if the court finds that the parent has subjected the child to aggravated circumstances,” according to the Dallas Morning News.
Due to the questions that still remain surrounding Sherin’s death, more criminal charges may be forthcoming, thus the state does not want to reunify the family until all of these issues are resolved, according to Fox 4.
Sini was present in court Monday. However, Wesley remains behind bars in police custody after being arrested in connection with Sherin’s tragic death.
The Mathews’ biological daughter has been in CPS custody for the past three weeks, according to WFAA. Sini has been allowed to visit the girl once a week while she remains in foster care.
Sherin’s lifeless body was found by a cadaver dog on Sunday, October 22, in a culvert not far from her family’s home. Her adoptive father, Wesley Mathews, 37, was arrested the next day and charged with Injury to a Child, a first-degree felony for which he could face 5 to 99 years behind bars if convicted. He is being held on $1,000,000 bond.
An arrest affidavit for Mathews indicates he told police that on October 7, he and Sherin were in the garage of the family home where he was trying to get her to drink milk, which she ultimately did. He said he then “physically assisted” her as she drank, subsequently observing that she was choking, coughing, and breathing slowly. Mathews told police that “eventually” he couldn’t feel a pulse on Sherin and believed the little girl was dead. He also admitted moving her body from the family home.
This account differs from the initial story Mathews gave police the morning Sherin disappeared. At that time, he told authorities he made Sherin stand outside by a tree at 3 a.m. as punishment for not drinking her milk. Mathews claimed that he went outside to check on her just 15 minutes later and she was gone. He was charged with child endangerment and bonded out of jail the next day.
Sherin was adopted by Mathews and his wife in the summer of 2016 from India. The orphanage that cared for the little girl said she was found by passersby after being abandoned in some bushes as a baby, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Anyone with information about the Sherin Mathews case can contact the Richardson Police Department at 972-744-4800.
[Featured Image by the Richardson Police Department]