The owner of a now-closed orphanage in India where Sherin Mathews was living before a Texas couple adopted her last year has said the child had no difficulty eating despite her adoptive father claiming so in a statement to police.
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. Police and volunteers had been searching for the girl since October 7. Her father Wesley Mathews had claimed that Sherin went missing after he sent her outside their home at around 3 am on October 7 as punishment for not drinking her milk.
He said he went to check on her after about 15 minutes.
Mathews told police the girl had been malnourished when she was adopted and needed to eat whenever she was awake to help her gain weight. But according to a report by the AP, 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 news agency did not specify where in india the orphanage was situated.
"The child had no problem at all when she was here, neither in drinking milk or eating," Kumari said.
AP reported that a phone call to the international adoption agency believed to have helped the couple adopt Sherin was not returned 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 police 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 maximum 99 years 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.
Police in Texas have not ruled out the possibility of more arrests.
"This charge carries the possibility of a life sentence in prison. Keep in mind, this is an active investigation, and there is the possibility of additional arrests or modified charges as more evidence becomes available," the police said.
Wesley's wife Sini Mathews, who is a registered nurse, was reportedly sleeping in her room when the incident occurred.
Her lawyers published a statement saying she denied any involvement in the death of her adoptive daughter.
Mitch Nolte, an attorney for Sini Mathews, said in a written statement 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."
(With AP inputs)