Dallas: The owner of a now-closed orphanage in Bihar where a young girl was living before a Texas couple adopted her last year says the child had no difficulty in eating despite her adoptive father's account to the police when reporting her missing.
The body of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews was found Sunday in suburban Dallas in a culvert under a road about a half-mile from her parents' home. The police and volunteers had been searching for the girl since October 7.
Investigators have said that her father, Wesley Mathews, hailing from Kochi in Kerala, initially told them he had sent the girl outside at 3 am on October 7 to stand near a tree across the alley from the family's fence because she refused to drink her milk. He said he went to check on her after about 15 minutes.
Mathews told the police the girl had been malnourished when she was adopted and needed to eat whenever she was awake to help her gain weight. But orphanage owner Babitha Kumari told television station WFAA the girl had no problems and that Wesley and Sini Mathews appeared loving when they were going through the adoption process.
"The child had no problem at all when she was here, neither in drinking milk nor eating," Kumari said.
A phone call to the international adoption agency believed to have helped the couple adopt Sherin was not returned on Wednesday.
Wesley Mathews was initially charged with endangering or abandoning a child after reporting the girl missing on October 7. He changed his story to the police on Monday, saying the girl choked on milk and died in the family's garage before he took her body away.
He was arrested and charged with felony injury to a child, which carries a sentence of up to life in prison. Mathews was transferred to the Dallas County jail on Wednesday, which is routine for inmates charged with higher level felonies. The Dallas County Sheriff's Department said he has been placed on suicide watch.
A judge reviewed his bond and left it at $1 million. Mitch Nolte, an attorney for Sini Mathews, said in a written statement on on Wednesday that she has submitted to several long interviews with police since Oct 7, and because she had nothing to do with the "death or removal" of the child's body, her lawyers see no need for her to "endure further police interrogation."