Houston: A cadaver dog played a crucial role in finding the body of 3-year-old Indian girl Sherin Mathews in a culvert after she disappeared from her suburban Dallas home, according to a media report. Sherin, who went missing on October 7, was found dead in a culvert on October 22.
Police in Richardson city had gone door-to-door in the neighborhood and used cadaver dogs, helicopters and drones to look the missing toddler, who was adopted last year by the Indian-American couple, Wesley Mathews and Sini Mathews.
Wesley Mathews, a Keralite, was re-arrested after he changed his story about Sherin's disappearance from their home. He had earlier claimed that she went missing after he sent her outside their home at around 3am as punishment for not drinking her milk.
On Monday, Wesley voluntarily told the police that Sherin choked on milk and died in the family's garage before he removed her body from the home.
Police are still investigating how Sherin died and how long her body had been in the drainage ditch located nearly 1km from her home.
Sergeant Kevin Perlich, with the Richardson Police Department, told the NBC 5 TV network that they had previously searched the area near the culvert where Sherin' body was found but had come up empty-handed.
But the canine search teams working to find Sherin firmly believed that they could able to bring the little girl home.
"I started doing this a long time ago in the military, and there was always a sense of bringing somebody home was something good," said Jerry Seevers, one of the K-9 handers on the scene on Sunday when Sherin's body was discovered.
Seevers and 15 other handlers help make up the team at the nonprofit MARK9 Search & Rescue.
MARK9 assisted Richardson police in several prior searches for Sherin as police looked in wooded areas near the Mathews home, helping police rule out certain spots and refocus on others.
On October 22, five pairs of volunteers and dogs from MARK9 responded to another request from Richardson police to search for Sherin again.
Searchers said the weather conditions on Sunday were ideal for the mission. Overnight rain along with a breezy and humid morning helped the dogs pick up the scent.
One K-9 led her handler to a field north of the Mathews home and eventually to the culvert where investigators found Sherin's body.
"She started doing it from a long way off, and it wasn't an area she was supposed to be looking in, but that's how it concluded," said Seevers, of the K-9's path.
"She found her way there. One of the things we have to do is we have to believe in them and she took us there," Seevers told NBC 5.
Cadaver dogs are trained to locate and follow the scent of decomposing human flesh.
In the Sherin Mathews case, the discovery was not the outcome the Richardson community hoped for, though it was necessarily to the investigation, the report said.
Wesley Mathews is currently charged with Injury to a Child, a first degree felony, which carries a sentence of up to life in prison.
He has been transferred to the Dallas County jail and authorities said he has been placed on suicide watch.