The body of a missing three-year-old girl in a Dallas suburb – found in a culvert over the weekend – has been identified. Sherin Mathews had been missing since October 7. The girl’s father – now in police custody – originally said she had gone missing after he left her in alley outside his home early one morning, as punishment for not drinking her milk.
Then the father changed his statement, saying the girl choked on her milk, and while he physically assisted her, she died. He says he then removed her body from the family’s home. The father’s been arrested. Right now he’s charged with injury to a child, but the investigation continues.
The story has sent shockwaves through the community of Richardson, Texas. The case is front page news in India, the country from which the little girl was adopted.
Ayesha Perera, the Delhi editor of BBC India, says there is a lot of shock and outrage in India.
“I think the case itself is so unusual that people have been following it with great interest,” she says. “So we’ve seen newspapers and television and also some digital media websites cover the case very, very closely. And we’ve even seen the Indian government getting involved, with the Ministry of External Affairs saying they were asking for status updates on the case.”
India’s Central Adoption Resource Authority was set up in 2003 to monitor and regulate adoptions, even after the children are taken out of the country.
“Speaking to officials there, they’re basically going on record saying that this is very difficult to do and in a lot of the cases this doesn’t really happen,” she says. “There is no real follow-up with the organizations that facilitate adoptions.”
Perera says that in India, the media is supportive of how police in Richardson have handled the case.
“A lot of people have been saying that it’s actually very impressive the way Texas police have been following up this case, and have not believed the father’s story from the outset, and they went ahead and searched for the child,” she says. “There has actually been quite a popular sentiment that has been expressed on social media which says, ‘Well, it’s very difficult to say if Indian police would have done this much in a case like this.’ So I think there is generally a feeling that the investigation there- people are doing over and above what they should be doing at this point. And I think there is a sense that this little girl will get justice, but definitely there has been a larger concern about, you know, how easy it is to adopt children from India and what checks and balances, if any, are there.”
Written by Jen Rice.