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Story highlights

Sherin Mathews' body was found Sunday in a culvert beneath a road, police say

Dad allegedly first told police he made daughter stand outside, and she vanished

(CNN) —  

The adoptive father of a Texas 3-year-old who had been missing for two and a half weeks admitted to police that he disposed of the child’s body after she choked on her milk, according to a probable cause affidavit released Tuesday.

Previously, Wesley Mathews had told authorities he made Sherin Mathews stand outside because she wouldn’t drink her milk, and she disappeared.

Authorities confirmed Tuesday that the body of a child found Sunday in a culvert beneath a road was that of Sherin Mathews. The cause of death was still pending, the Richardson Police Department posted on its verified Facebook page, citing the Dallas County Medical Examiners Office.

Wesley Mathews has been charged with injury to a child, police say.
richardson police department
Wesley Mathews has been charged with injury to a child, police say.

Wesley Mathews has been charged with injury to a child, a felony punishable with a maximum 99 years in prison, Richardson police said. He was being held on $1 million bond.

The affidavit states Wesley Mathews and his attorney visited the Richardson Police Department on Monday afternoon and requested an interview.

The father told a detective that he had been trying to get Sherin to drink her milk in the garage, and she wouldn’t listen to him, the affidavit states. She then began drinking the milk.

Read the affidavit for yourself

“Wesley Mathews then physically assisted the 3-year-old in drinking the milk,” the affidavit states. “The 3-year-old began to choke. She was coughing and her breathing slowed. Eventually Wesley Mathews no longer felt a pulse on the child and believed she had died.”

The events happened on October 7, the affidavit states.

Father’s original story

Mathews reported Sherin missing after 8 a.m. that same day. He initially claimed he had left her outside around 3 a.m. as punishment “because she wouldn’t drink her milk,” according to a probable cause document relating to an earlier charge leveled against the father.

Sherin was ordered to stand near a tree, approximately 100 feet away from the home and across an alleyway, the father told police. He went back outside at about 3:15 a.m. and she was gone, the document says.

Mathews told police he knew coyotes had been seen in the alley where he told her to stay, the affidavit said.

Sherin Mathews
Richardson Police Department
Sherin Mathews

Roughly five hours passed before Mathews contacted authorities, police said, and one of Mathews’ vehicles left the residence between the time Mathews said Sherin disappeared and the time he called police.

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,” Richardson police posted to Facebook. He was released on bond, according to police.

Investigators combed Sherin’s neighborhood and the surrounding area with canine teams and helicopters and executed a search warrant at Mathews’ home on October 10, police said.

An attorney for Sherin’s mother did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

CNN’s Tina Burnside and Sheena Jones contributed to this report.