Body of small child found during search for missing 3-year-old

RICHARDSON, Texas — Authorities on Sunday discovered the body of a small child while searching for a 3-year-old girl who has been missing for more than two weeks.

After she refused to drink her milk, the toddler’s father told her to stand by a tree approximately 100 feet away from the home, across an alleyway at 3 a.m. He later told police he knew coyotes had been seen in the alley where he told her to stay, the affidavit said.

Sherin Mathews of Richardson, Texas, was reported missing on Oct. 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.

The body was found around 11 a.m. Sunday in a culvert beneath a road, said Sgt. Kevin Perlich, spokesman for the police department.

An arrest has not been made in connection with the discovery of the body.

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.

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, U.S. 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 Mathews’ home on Oct. 10, police said.

Sherin’s father told police he left his daughter outside around 3 a.m. on Oct. 7, as punishment “because she wouldn’t drink her milk,” according to a probable cause document.

Leaving a child in imminent danger could mean up to 20 years for the toddler’s father, Wesley Mathews.

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,” police said.

He is out on bond, according to police.

Police said on Oct. 12 that one of the Mathews’ vehicles had left the residence the morning Sherin went missing, between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., between the time Mathews said Sherin disappeared and the time he called police.

An attorney for Sherin’s mother did not respond to requests for comment. It could not be determined whether Wesley Mathews was represented by an attorney.