State failed 3-year-old Sherin Mathews,
head of Child Protective Services says
Texas Child Protective Services Commissioner Hank Whitman is disappointed in his agency’s handling of Sherin Mathews’ case.
Whitman, who declined to talk about any specifics of the case, said the agency will figure out how Sherin’s case “slipped through.”
“I’m gonna tell you right now, it is my mission, it is my passion that we get better at this,” he said.
In March, a doctor found that the 3-year-old Richardson girl had suffered injuries to her upper-arm bones and fractures in her leg bones that were in various stages of healing, according to testimony Wednesday.
The doctor, Suzanne Dakil of the Referral and Evaluation of At Risk Children Clinic, reported the injuries to CPS, suspecting that Sherin had been injured at the hands of her parents.
“I had no explanation other than this child had been physically abused,” Dakil said.
Sherin was found dead in a culvert Oct. 24, more than two weeks after her father reported her missing. Wesley Mathews originally told police he had left her outside in an alley around 3 a.m. as punishment for not drinking her milk. Later, he said that she had choked while he “physically assisted” her in drinking the milk, and he left her body in the culvert.
Wesley and his wife, Sini, remain jailed on charges related to the girl’s death. Her father is charged with injury to a child with serious bodily injury and her mother is charged with abandoning or endangering a child. Authorities say the couple went out to dinner with their other daughter, also 3, while leaving Sherin at the house alone.
The other daughter was placed with family members in November after more than a month in foster care. She is the couple’s biological daughter; Sherin was adopted from India.
Court testimony this week showed that Sherin was treated for an elbow fracture in September 2016. The family said her sister had pushed her off a couch while the two were playing, according to medical records.
Injuries in her upper-arm bones were suffered after Sini grabbed the girl to catch her from a fall on the playground, she claimed. But Dakil told the court that the injuries weren’t consistent with the mother’s claims.
After more X-rays showed leg fractures, Dakil reported the family to CPS.
The agency reached out to Dakil about Sherin’s medical history, she said, but the CPS commissioner says that “they could have done a better job.”
Commissioner Whitman says he can’t say why Sherin wasn’t removed from her home after the report, but that “it breaks [his] heart.”
“I mean, to have a child go outside because they didn’t want to drink their milk or whatever, I mean that story was just not believable,” he said to WFAA. “I don’t know. I don’t know what was going through her father’s mind.
“It’s astounding to me why someone would do that to a baby.”