While police wait for confirmation that a body found Sunday was a missing 3-year-old girl, a Dallas County judge has ordered that her sister remain in foster care for at least three more weeks.
Wesley Mathews and his wife, Sini, attended a court hearing Monday to determine whether they could regain custody of their 4-year-old biological daughter who was placed in protective custody after her adopted 3-year-old sister went missing Oct. 7.
The judge postponed Monday's custody hearing until Nov. 13 to allow their father, Wesley Mathews, to hire an attorney.
Wesley, who is free on bond, was arrested and charged with negligence after his youngest daughter disappeared. He told police he ordered Sherin to stand outside of their home at around 3 a.m. Oct. 7 as punishment for not drinking her milk. He said when he went to check on her about 15 minutes later, she was gone.
Police said they believe Sini Mathews was sleeping when the girl went missing and was unaware of the alleged punishment.
Investigators have asked neighbors and area businesses to check their video surveillance cameras for footage of a maroon Acura SUV owned by the Mathews family that they believe left the home between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Oct. 7.
Police said Monday that they believe the body of a young child found about a half-mile from the family's home in Richardson is Sherin's, but that has yet to be confirmed by the Dallas County medical examiner. Investigators are still awaiting confirmation of the child's identity and the cause of death.
The couple's biological daughter will remain in foster care at least until that hearing or until a judge orders a change in custody.
"We do have the names of some relatives who have expressed interest in taking care of her," said Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services. "We can begin looking into those relatives, but it is entirely up to the judge where she is placed."
Kent Starr, an attorney for Sini Mathews, said that as part of Wesley Mathews' bond agreement, the couple cannot live together. Starr told The Dallas Morning News that his client is seeking to regain custody of her other daughter and that she has cooperated with the police in trying to help identify Sherin's body.
Rafael De La Garza, an attorney for Wesley Mathews, told The Dallas Morning News after Monday's hearing that his client was "mourning the death of his child," but he didn't address the criminal charges. De La Garza did not immediately reply to a phone message from The Associated Press.
Police have said that Mathews and his wife, Sini, adopted Sherin from India. Officials from the Indian Embassy in the U.S. and the Indian Consulate in Houston tweeted late last week that they are in contact with police regarding the investigation and actively helping. Neither office has released a statement since the body was found. Police confirmed they are working with the consulate to obtain adoption records and other documents.