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CPS report details prior alleged abuse investigation in Sherin Mathews case

Mathews had suffered fractures in her shoulders, arm and leg, but officials "found insufficient evidence" that her adoptive parents abused her.

A Child Protective Services report released Tuesday detailed the agency's investigation into a prior allegation of child abuse involving Sherin Mathews in which officials "found insufficient evidence" that her adoptive parents abused her months before she died.

Mathews, 3, was found dead in a culvert in Richardson last fall. Her parents are charged in the case.

Wesley Mathews was indicted on charges of capital murder and tampering with evidence. Sini Mathews was indicted on a charge of abandoning a child.

The report released Tuesday detailed a CPS investigation from March 2017.

Sherin Mathews had been hospitalized in February 2017 after her adoptive mother "noticed swelling around [Sherin's] right shoulder," the report said.

Sini Mathews reported that Sherin had fallen on a slide at the park, the report said. Doctors diagnosed Sherin with a skin infection and fractures on her shoulders, and X-rays revealed a previous injury, a fracture of her left leg, the report said.

"There were concerns that the child's injuries were not consistent with the explanation given and that the child had been physically abused," the report said.

CPS interviewed Sherin's parents, who "denied harming the child," the report said.

Her mother said she had taken Sherin to a park, where she fell and her mother tried to grab her arm to break the fall.

Sherin's father told investigators that Sherin slipped and fell while on monkey bars at the park, the report said.

When asked about Sherin's previous arm fracture, Sini Mathews told CPS that Sherin fell while jumping on the couch with her sibling, the report said.

CPS contacted medical officials, who "stated there were no concerns about the previous injury because the story was consistent with the child falling off the couch."

The medical officials said the fractures in Sherin's shoulder injury were "questionable," the report said.

"There were bony growths and other unusual issues with the child's bones," the report said. "The child's bones do appear to be healing correctly, which mean older medical issues, such as rickets, were no longer an issue."

The report said "although there were no concerns regarding the child's previous injuries, the new injuries were not consistent with the explanation given."

The issue of Sherin's weight was also raised in the investigation.

Both parents said Sherin had health problems when they adopted her from India, including being underweight. Sherin had trouble gaining weight and was a picky eater, her mother said, according to the report. Sherin had weighed 15.47 pounds when she was adopted and had gained about four pounds since then, her mother said.

Doctors and specialists "denied having concerns about abuse and neglect while the child was with her adoptive parents" and that Sherin "was in better health and at a better weight following her adoption."

Authorities investigated the report but did not file charges.

CPS found "insufficient evidence to determine if the deceased child was physically abused by her mother."

"An unknown perpetrator was confirmed for the physical abuse...which may have happened prior to her adoption," the report said. "The allegation of physical neglect of the deceased child by her parents was not confirmed."

CPS commissioner Hank Whitman addressed the prior abuse allegations in an interview with WFAA in November.

"I think they could have done a better job, a much better job," Whitman said of the investigators. "It’s sad when I saw that, and I read the case report. I was silent for 10 seconds, and looking at my staff, it’s not acceptable."

Whitman was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott in April 2016 to head the CPS, which has been in turmoil in recent years, as the agency deals with staffing and workload issues.

"The status quo at CPS is unacceptable," Abbott said in a statement at the time of Whitman's appointment. "I’ve insisted on overhauling a broken system, and I applaud the leadership changes that will provide a new direction and focus that puts protecting children first."

Case background

Sherin went missing Oct. 7, and Wesley Mathews called police and alerted them of her disappearance.

At that time, Wesley told police he took his daughter, Sherin, outside at 3 a.m. to discipline her for not drinking her milk. According an arrest warrant affidavit, he told her to stand near a large tree in the backyard. When he went outside 15 minutes later, his daughter was gone.

Wesley was arrested the same day Sherin was reported missing and charged with abandoning or endangering a child.

After missing for two weeks, countless search efforts by police, and community members, Sherin's body was found in a drain culvert during a search operation on Oct. 22. The culvert was less than a mile away from the Mathews' home.

An autopsy released earlier this year revealed that Mathews died of "homicidal violence."

Child Fatality Report Release of Info by wfaachannel8 on Scribd

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