New Delhi: The Indian-American foster father of Sherin Mathews, a 3-year-old Indian girl whose body was found in a culvert near their suburban Dallas home in mysterious circumstances last October, was on Friday indicted for capital murder by a grand jury.
The murder charge, which could carry the death penalty, was filed against Wesley Mathews, 37, after an autopsy in the death of the toddler adopted from an orphanage in Bihar showed that she died of “homicidal violence.”
Sherin’s foster mother, 35-year-old Sini Mathews, was also indicted on a charge of abandoning a child. The punishment for that ranges from two to 20 years in prison with a fine up to USD 10,000.
Authorities have not said what happened to Sherin, and court documents only allege that Mathews caused his daughter’s death using a deadly weapon “by a manner and means unknown to the grand jury.”
“We can’t go into details, but based on that autopsy report, we were able to determine that we can seek capital murder for this case,” Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said at a news conference announcing the indictment.
Dallas County court records show Sherin’s adoptive father also faces charges of abandoning a child and tampering with evidence.
The fate of the couple’s 4-year-old biological daughter is still being decided with another child protective services hearing scheduled for the end of this month. They can either forfeit their parental rights, or the court will decide to schedule a civil trial to possibly terminate their rights.
Last month, the couple, hailing from Kerala, temporarily lost their rights to see their biological child, who has been placed with a family member in the Houston area.
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 by a cadaver dog after an intense search. The toddler’s body was identified days later using her dental records.