By Bernie Woodall
(Reuters) - The Texas father who told police his 3-year-old daughter disappeared after he sent her outside at 3 a.m. as punishment for not drinking milk has now told police she died from choking on the drink, according to an arrest warrant issued on Tuesday.
Wesley Mathews reported that his daughter Sherin went missing on Oct. 7 from the family's home in Richardson, Texas, outside Dallas. Her body was found on Sunday and has been positively identified by the local medical examiner, police said on Tuesday.
Mathews, 37, changed his story about the incident during a meeting on Monday with his attorney and detectives, according to police documents.
He told detectives that the child, who was born in India and adopted by the family, would not obey his instruction to drink the milk while they were in the family's garage but eventually complied with his help.
She then "began to choke. She was coughing and her breathing slowed," the affidavit said. "Eventually, Wesley Mathews no longer felt a pulse on the child and believed she had died."
The suspect admitted moving her body from the home, the affidavit said.
Mathews was charged on Monday with injury to a child, a first-degree felony that carries a maximum punishment of 99 years in prison, police said.
Sergeant Kevin Perlich of the Richardson Police Department said in a phone interview on Tuesday that investigators were seeking answers to many questions, including why the two were in the garage as the child was asked to drink milk.
"By no means do we consider this investigation completed," Perlich said, adding there could be additional charges and arrests.
Mathews' attorney did not return a call on Tuesday requesting comment.
Mathews previously was charged with suspected child endangerment after telling police that he punished the child for not drinking her milk by making her stand next to a tree by an alley near their home.
At the time, he said he checked on her 15 minutes later and she was gone. Police said that he reported her disappearance about five hours later.
Sherin Mathews was identified by dental records after officers using search dogs found her body in a culvert under a road, police said.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Cooney)