Parents of missing 3-year-old girl no longer cooperating with police

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Police are searching for Sherin Mathews, 3, who is believed to be in grave or immediate danger. (Family Photo/Richardson Police Department) Police are searching for Sherin Mathews, 3, who is believed to be in grave or immediate danger. (Family Photo/Richardson Police Department)

(AP/Meredith) -- The adoptive parents of Sherin Mathews, a Texas toddler who vanished after being forced to stand outside as punishment, are no longer cooperating with police.

Police said the parents have hired a lawyer as authorities continue to search for their 3-year-old daughter, who has a developmental disability, according to CBS DFW.

Wesley Mathews, 37, said when his daughter didn't finish drinking her milk on Saturday, he ordered her to stand outside next to a tree at 3 a.m. as punishment, according to an arrest affidavit. The tree is across an alley from their Richardson home.

Mathews went outside about 15 minutes later to check on her, but Sherin was gone, the affidavit states. He told investigators that coyotes have been seen in the alley, but investigators say there's no indication that one might have dragged the girl away.

The father didn't notify police that his daughter was missing until about five hours later, said Sgt. Kevin Perlich. He said the delay in reporting the matter "is certainly concerning to us."

Perlich told KDFW that at some point Mathews also did laundry before calling police.

“While he was waiting he did a little laundry and hoped that the light would come around and he could do a better check,” said Richardson PD Sgt. Kevin Perlich. “He elected to call the police shortly after 8 o'clock.”

Mathews was arrested Saturday on a charge of abandoning or endangering a child. He posted bond late Sunday, according to Perlich. A working phone number for Mathews could not be found and it's not clear if he's hired an attorney to speak on his behalf.

Investigators have seized three vehicles, cellphones and laptops from the family in an effort to find out what became of Sherin, Perlich said. Footage from surveillance cameras in the area also is being reviewed.

State Child Protective Services removed a 4-year-old child from the home early Monday, he said. A CPS spokeswoman, Marissa Gonzales, said the agency has had dealings with the family before, but she declined to release additional information.

Perlich said Mathews and his wife adopted Sherin, who was malnourished when the couple took her in. Mathews told investigators it wasn't unusual for the girl to wake up late at night to eat so that her weight would increase, Perlich said. That may explain why she was punished at 3 a.m., he said. He said authorities are casting a broad net in determining what happened to the girl.

"We don't have any other indication or evidence that she was forcibly abducted from that area," he said.

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