Dallas: In a major development, the police may have landed major leads into the mysterious case of the missing 3-year-old Indian girl, Sherin Mathews, at Texas, Manorama news reported Wednesday.
After searches extending over a week, the police and the FBI are known to have discovered crucial leads into the disappearance of the young girl, adopted by Kochi-based parents living in the US.
She had gone missing on Saturday, October 7, after her father made her stand outside their house at 3 am in the morning.
In videos aired by Manorama news channel, the police could be seen collecting something, possibly a piece of evidence, from under a tree and depositing it in the police car.
Large swathes were being searched using drones and helicopters, including the nearby woods, the video showed.
Despite it being more than ten days since the toddler went missing, investigators are cautiously optimistic.
"We're always hopeful that we can find her alive, but time is our enemy. So, we're trying to progress as quickly as we possibly can in this case," Sergent Kevin Perlich said.
The Johnson County Sheriff's Officer and Mansfield Police Department were seen helping Richardson Police Department with the search for Sherin Mathews in an undisclosed location.
The police concentrated their efforts in a field near Richland College, which is less than 3 kms from Sherin's Richardson home, where she went missing.
Police said they conducted multiple searches in "areas of interest" they had developed during the course of the investigation, including fields, creeks and wooded areas. Cadaver dogs were later seen arriving at the scene to help with the search.
Authorities told local media that earlier in the day they found "objects of interest," but did not specify what those objects were or how they are related to the case.
"Detectives will evaluate the results of today's efforts while the investigation continues," Richardson police said on Facebook.
They added that they will continue to perform "specific searches" like this as tips come in. They searched the same area Friday but want to make sure they didn't miss anything.
The police are also actively investigating the legal status of Sherin's adoption. They are also known to be investigating the whereabouts of the parents, Wesley and Sini Mathews.
On the directions of the external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, the Indian consulate has also initiated an investigation into the whereabouts of the child.
Wesley and Sini Mathews had reportedly adopted Sherin from an orphanage in India two years ago.
She then became part of the family which already had an elder biological child. A severely undernourished Sherin, had developmental issues and had difficulty communicating, it was reported by Reuters earlier.
According to the statements released immediately after the child went missing, the father, Wesley Mathews had said that he was trying to feed the child, who was on a special diet.
She had allegedly refused to drink milk prompting her father to punish the kid. She was reportedly made to stand under a tree some 100 meters away from the house and was gone when Wesley checked on her 15 minutes later.
The family reported the child missing only after 5 hours, at 8 am. Wesley had told the police that he went back to do 'laundry', when he discovered the child was gone and waited till morning for the child to either return on her own or go look for her.
He also told the police that coyotes were noticed in the alley where the little girl was made to stand alone that night.
Wesley was arrested by the police immediately after Sherin went missing but was released on a Rs 2 crore bond. Sini was reportedly sleeping at the time of the child going missing.
In the investigation that followed, it was found that the one of the three SUV's owned by the family had gone out between 4-5 am. The police are collecting CCTV footage from the neighborhood to identify where and why this journey was made.
Meanwhile, a priest placed a sign outside the Mathews' family home calling on Sherin's parents to "tell the truth."
"We the community are never going to stop until we find Sherin," said Thomas Ambalevelil.
The Keralite community and other neighbors have been actively searching for the missing child. The tree under which she was reportedly made to stand has now become a memorial of sorts with people lighting candles and dropping even milk bottles under it.
Wesley's family who lives in Vytilla, Kochi, have vanished from their city residence. The neighbors, still in shock at Sherin's disappearance, said that the family was socially aloof and had no contact with anyone living around.