Nearly two weeks have passed, and 3-year-old Sherin Mathews is still missing. According to her father, Wesley Mathews, she disappeared at 3 a.m. Oct. 7 while standing in an alley about 100 feet from their home in Richardson.
Mathews, 37, told Richardson police he put his daughter in timeout in the alley because she refused to drink her milk. Fifteen minutes later, he said, she was gone. Five hours later, he called police to report the incident, and an Amber Alert soon followed. Police arrested Mathews on a felony child endangerment charge, and he's since been released from jail. Child Protective Services agents removed Mathews’ 4-year-old sister.
Police have filed dozens of search warrants for the family's home and cars, one of which left the home between 4 and 5 a.m. Oct. 7. According to WFAA-TV (Channel 8), they retrieved 47 items, including blue string and “dark, hairlike fibers,” a pink blanket, a pink T-shirt, and a wooden fork and spoon set hanging on the wall. They also took the washer and dryer — significant because Wesley Mathews told police he did laundry in the early morning hours when his daughter vanished.
Mansfield police and the Johnson County Office of Emergency Management used drones to hunt for clues, combed a field and creek near the family’s home, and used DNA swabs on its Acura MDX. Police say that is the vehicle that left the house the night the girl vanished, a detail Mathews did not disclose to them.
They’re not alone in their search. The FBI, U.S. Marshals, search dogs and volunteers have canvassed the area around the Richland Meadows neighborhood, mediums have walked the alley and KXAS-TV (NBC 5) reporter joined a volunteer inside a storm drain. No clues have been discovered.
A search party formed on Facebook, and about two dozen people conducted a fruitless search of the creek Tuesday afternoon. “We will continue searching until she is found,” the organizer wrote.
Suspicion among the volunteers has fallen on the family. “They’re suspecting the father, and I’m not going to say it, but a lot of you all can read between the lines,” a Dallas County deputy said on his Facebook page, The Everyday Life of Deputy Bryan Woodard.
“Why is this parent still up trying to give this child some milk at 3 o’clock in the morning?” he asked in an Oct. 18 Facebook Live video. “What could a 3-year-old possibly be doing at 3 o’clock in the morning? The 3-year-olds that I know of are in the bed asleep in the comfort and safety of their own homes.”
The parents told police that they would feed their adoptive daughter at odd times of the day because they were trying to help her gain weight. They say she was malnourished when they adopted her from an orphanage in India.
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Mathews further told police that he searched for his daughter for a short time when he realized she was missing but decided to wait until sunrise and do laundry before calling 911 at 8:12 a.m.
His wife, Sini Mathews, told police that she was sleeping when her adoptive daughter disappeared. She hasn’t been charged with a crime, but she hired an attorney, who told reporters that she only wants her daughter returned unharmed.
But as days turn into weeks, the fear and frustration over the inability to locate the 3-year-old Richardson girl seems to be harder to keep at bay.
“It’s been 11 days, and they’re still searching for that child,” Woodard told his Facebook followers Wednesday. “How many children do you know who can survive with no food and no water and no shelter? At 3 years old, they’re helpless and defenseless."