“The US [Christian] father] of an adopted three-year-old girl has been charged with capital murder after an autopsy ruled she died from “homicidal violence”.
Sherin Mathews was first reported missing from her Texas home in October, triggering a large search operation.
Her adoptive father, Wesley Mathews, originally said she disappeared after he put her outside as a punishment.
After the girl’s body was found two weeks later in a drain entrance, he said she had accidentally choked.
Police say his version of events changed repeatedly during the investigation.
He was indicted with capital murder on Friday, and could face the death penalty or life imprisonment if he is found guilty.
Authorities confirmed the charges were filed after autopsy results, but have not revealed the child’s cause of death.
Mr Mathews also faces charges of tampering with evidence, causing felony injury to a child and abandoning or endangering a child.
His wife, Sini Mathews, was also indicted with an abandonment charge.
Arrest warrant documents allege the couple left her alone the night before her disappearance.
The couple’s biological daughter was removed from their custody shortly after the toddler was reported missing. She was initially taken into foster care, but is now said to be staying with relatives.
In November, a paediatric doctor confirmed at a custody hearing that she had contacted Child Protective Services in March over concerns with bone fractures she found on three-year-old Sherin.
Earlier this month, the Indian government formally suspended [Faith-based Christian adoption agency] Holt International, the adoption agency the Mathews used to adopt Sherin, accusing it of “negligence” in their assessment of the couple.”
‘For negligence in assessing parents’
“The Union government has suspended the operations of an American adoption agency for “negligence” in the assessment of the adoptive parents of three-year-old Indian-born Sherin Mathews who died in the U.S., government sources said.
Sherin, who was adopted by an Indian-American couple in 2016, died last October, allegedly from choking after her adoptive father “physically assisted” her in drinking milk. An autopsy report released recently ruled that Mathews died of “homicidal violence”.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi decided to suspend the operations of Holt International, an authorised foreign adoption agency, the sources said. The government had written to the Indian Embassy in the U.S., the Central Authority (CA), the nodal body for adoptions in the U.S., and Holt International, informing them of its decision.
“We have suspended the operations of Holt International because we found it negligent in the assessment of the adoptive parents and in the post-placement assessment of the family,” Child Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) CEO Lt.Col. Deepak Kumar said.
A decision on cancelling its authorisation would be taken after detailed reports from the Indian Embassy and the CA.”