‘She was getting more and more stiff’: Graphic testimony in heartbreaking case of slain tot, Sherin Mathews

As day two of the court hearing in connection with the death of toddler girl Sherin Mathews continued, authorities testified that there were many red flags surrounding the girl’s adoptive stepfather, Wesley Mathews, that made them believe the child was murdered.

When 3-year-old Sherin arrived to the U.S. with her adoptive parents in 2016, she initially began thriving and growing. Prior, the little girl, who was abandoned by her birth parents, was fed coffee creamer and rice for nutrition in India, according to Suzanne Dakil of the Referral and Evaluation of At Risk Children Clinic (REACH).

Yet, months after her arrival to her new Richardson, Texas, home, the little girl’s development started declining, according to Dakil’s court testimony in a Dallas courtroom on Tuesday. She was deficient in Vitamin D, had scurvy, and showed signs of physical abuse.

Dakil testified the Sherin had five broken bones within eight months. Yet, Sherin was never removed from the Mathews’ home.

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Months later, Sherin was dead.

Authorities who testified Tuesday against Sherin’s 39-year-old adoptive father, Mathews, said they had suspicions about him from the beginning. Mathews, who initially said Sherin disappeared after he put her outside at 3 a.m. for not drinking her milk, later admitted that he had something to do with her death. The jury, however, will be the ones to decide how much of a role he played.

“She was getting more and more stiff,” Mathews told investigators in 2017, after he admitted he forced the little girl to drink milk and watched her cough and gag until she fell unconscious.

According to Mathews, Sherin refused to drink her milk for several hours in October 2017, which apparently infuriated him. Mathews said his frustration made him leave the little girl at home alone while he took his wife and oldest daughter out to eat at the On the Border restaurant.

The suspect said he arrived home by 9 p.m. and Sherin still had not drank her milk. The family then decided to give their daughters a bath. Sherin threw up in bathtub, according to Mathews, yet he still wanted her drink her milk afterward, according to what he told investigators. 

Mathews said hours dragged on and Sherin, still refusing to drink her milk, was locked in the garage alone as punishment. A little after 2 a.m., Mathews said he went to the garage and demanded that the girl drink her milk. He admitted he started yelling at her.

Sherin started drinking the milk, according to Mathews, then starting coughing while her eyes rolled to the back of her head.

Mathews told investigators he patted her back and tried to help her, but it was too late.  

Wesley Mathews [Photo: Police Handout]
It’s a story investigators didn’t buy. They claimed the little girl was killed, although her body was too decomposed to get an official cause of death. A coroner testified that due to circumstances surrounding the case, she labeled Sherin’s death as “homicidal violence.”

An FBI agent testified that there wasn’t a single photo of Sherin inside the family’s home. A Richardson police officer testified that Mathews waited five hours to call police and report Sherin missing, and even then, called a non-emergency number.

Testimony also included interview footage of Mathews describing how he put Sherin in a trash bag and tossed her into the cargo area of his car, along with household trash. Investigators asked him why he didn’t wrap her in a blanket, which would have shown he at least cared.

Mathews: “I put her in a bag to transport her safely.” 

Investigator: “You put her with other trash. That shows me you have no care for this kid.” 

Mathews: “I just laid her in the car and wanted to hide her somewhere and take my mind off of it.”

On October 22, 2017, weeks after she was reported missing, authorities found Sherin’s lifeless body in culvert close to East Spring Valley Road, near Richardson. She was wrapped in a garbage bag and shoved into the culvert at least 12 feet, until her fit hit a concrete block and Mathews couldn’t push her in any further.

Authorities said Mathews’ casual and uncaring attitude, coupled with other evidence and information, was enough for them to charge him with capital murder.

Mathews pleaded guilty last Thursday to lesser charge, in what is known as a “slow plea.” A slow pea means that although Mathews pleaded guilty, he doesn’t agree with the prosecutors on punishment. In turn, the jury will hear the evidence in the case and decide his punishment.

Mathews pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of injury to a child by omission, which could result in anything from probation to life behind bars. Prosecutors declined to push for the death penalty in the case.

Mathews is scheduled at some point to take the stand in his own defense. Check back CrimeOnline as additional details become available.

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[Feature Photo: Sherin Mathews/Handout]