RICHARDSON, Texas (AP) — Authorities were searching Monday for a 3-year-old suburban Dallas girl whose father said she went missing over the weekend after he made her stand outside in the middle of the night as punishment for not drinking her milk.
Wesley Mathews, 37, said he ordered Sherin Mathews to stand next to a tree behind the fence at their Richardson home at around 3 a.m. Saturday, according to an arrest affidavit. The tree is across an alley from the home.
Mathews went outside about 15 minutes later to check on her, but Sherin was gone, the affidavit states. The child, who has a developmental disability, was wearing leggings, a pink long-sleeved shirt and pink flip-flops.
The father didn’t notify police that his daughter was missing until about five hours later, said Sgt. Kevin Perlich. He said the delay in reporting the matter “is certainly concerning to us.”
“That does not seem like a normal response that one would do if you have a missing child,” Perlich said.
Mathews was arrested Saturday on a charge of abandoning or endangering a child. He posted bond late Sunday, according to Perlich. A working phone number for Mathews could not be found and it’s not clear if he’s hired an attorney to speak on his behalf.
Mathews at one point told investigators that coyotes have been seen in the alley, but investigators say there’s no indication that one might have dragged the girl away.
Investigators have seized three vehicles, cellphones and laptops from the family in an effort to find out what became of Sherin, Perlich said. Footage from surveillance cameras in the area also is being reviewed.
State Child Protective Services removed a 4-year-old child from the home early Monday, he said. A CPS spokeswoman, Marissa Gonzales, said the agency has had dealings with the family before, but she declined to release additional information.
Perlich said Mathews and his wife adopted Sherin, who was malnourished when the couple took her in. Mathews told investigators it wasn’t unusual for the girl to wake up late at night to eat so that her weight would increase, Perlich said. That may explain why she was punished at 3 a.m., he said. He said authorities are casting a broad net in determining what happened to the girl.
“We don’t have any other indication or evidence that she was forcibly abducted from that area,” he said.