Texas Police Want To Know Why Couple's SUV Left After Their Toddler Went Missing At 3 A.M.

Her father said he sent her into the night as a punishment and never saw her again.

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Texas Police Want To Know Why Couple's SUV Left After Their Toddler Went Missing At 3 A.M.

Sherin's adoptive father Wesley Mathews was arrested on child abandonment and endangerment charges

Highlights

  1. Sherin Mathews was sent alone at 3 am across an alley from their home
  2. This, apparently, was her punishment for refusing to drink milk
  3. Born in India, the girl has passed from ward to ward for much of her life
The disappearance of Sherin Mathews, 3, has sounded strange to some ever since it came to light a week ago.

Wesley Mathews told police he'd sent his daughter - in her pajamas at 3 a.m. on October 7 - to stand alone beneath a tree across an alley from their home in Richardson, Texas.

This, apparently, was her punishment for refusing to drink milk.

When Mathews looked for Sherin 15 minutes later, he told police, she was gone.

Not yet too worried, the father said, he then did a load of laundry, according to a police affidavit. He waited until after sunrise before he reported the disappearance to police, who have since revealed stranger details yet.

Detectives and FBI agents searched Mathews's house midweek, and subsequently announced that someone left in the family's SUV about 4 a.m. and returned home within the hour.

Mathews was arrested on child abandonment and endangerment charges the same day Sherin went missing but has since been released on bond and stopped cooperating with detectives, according to CBS 11.

Police said Sherin's mother was asleep during the incident and she has not been charged, but the station reported that she's also stopped cooperating. Child Protective Services, which had unspecified contact with the family before the disappearance, has since removed Sherin's older sister from the home.

Neither parent were seen at a large vigil for the girl Friday, Fox 4 reported.

The same day, a tip led police to scour a cemetery near the edge of Richardson for signs of Sherin.

Born in India, the girl has passed from ward to ward for much of her short life.

She was abandoned by her birth parents before her second birthday, according to the Times of India, and rescued by adoption workers.

While in the agency's custody, the Times reported, Sherin would wait for hours on the stairs until a worker she called "nani" arrived, then run and hug the woman.

The Mathewses adopted her last year, bringing her to their quiet neighborhood of mostly South Asian families outside Dallas, where Sherin met her new sister, who is one year older.

By age 3, Sherin weighed only 22 pounds, according to Richardson police. Her father told detectives she had an eating disorder, and the couple tried to feed her whenever she was awake.

In the small hours of last Saturday morning, Mathews told police, he couldn't get her to drink her meal.

The tree to which he banished her stood about 100 feet from the house, according to a police affidavit - behind a fence and across from an alley in which coyotes sometimes roam.

Yet neither police nor volunteers who have spent a week looking for Sherin have reported any signs that the girl wandered off into the neighborhood or had some mishap in the alley.

"A lot of the story doesn't make sense," said Bob Morse, who lives a few houses away. He said he happened to be lighting a barbecue grill in his yard early Saturday morning, and saw and heard nothing.

Besides her eating disorder, police said, Sherin has a disability that makes it hard for her to communicate.

Officials issued an Amber Alert for Sherin after she disappeared, but they suspended it for lack of information.

Police returned to the home Wednesday with search warrants, according to CBS 11. They have since urged anyone within a half-hour drive to check surveillance cameras for signs of the couple's SUV.

Candles and flowers now mark the spot where Sherin was last said to have been seen, according to CBS-11. In India, her grandparents told News Minutes that her parents loved her and awaited her return.

But in North Dallas, Fox 4 reported, police made an extensive search of a cemetery near the Richardson border on Friday.

A tip had led them there, but nothing was found.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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