Texas police say they believe a child’s body found in a drain in Richardson was a 3-year-old girl who went missing earlier this month after her father allegedly left her outside as punishment, PEOPLE confirms.
A medical examiner has not yet positively identified the body found in a culvert at around 11 a.m. on Sunday, but Sgt. Kevin Perlich of the Richardson Police Department tells PEOPLE “the indications are that it’s most likely” little Sherin Mathews.
“As the investigation continued to unfold, more and more stuff came to surface and we followed up on that,” Perlich said in a Sunday press conference.
“It led to the search of that area with canines, and that’s how we came across the body.”
Sherin vanished on Oct. 7. Her father, 37-year-old Wesley Mathews, was arrested in connection with the disappearance after he allegedly told police that he made her stand next to a tree across an alley from their Richardson home at around 3 a.m. because she refused to drink her milk, the Associated Press reported.
Mathews, who adopted Sherin, said he went to check on the toddler about 15 minutes later but she was gone, according to the AP. He reported her missing about five hours later.
“That does not seem like a normal response that one would do if you have a missing child,” Perlich told the AP.
According to NBC-DFW, Mathews allegedly went back inside the house to do laundry and waited for the child to return on her own. Officials have said that the toddler suffers from developmental issues and has “limited verbal communication skills,” according to the Dallas Morning News.
Mathews was quickly arrested and charged with abandoning or endangering a child. He has neither entered a plea nor appeared in court, Perlich tells PEOPLE. His attorney, Rafael De La Garza, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.
“This charge was a result of his decision to place her outside a place of safety, which Mathews described to officers as being unsafe and contributing to her disappearance,” police said in a statement following Mathews’ arrest.
Texas Child Protective Services took a 4-year-old from the home days after the incident, Perlich added to the AP. A CPS spokesperson told the outlet that the agency has had contact with the family in the past.