HOUSTON: Sherin Mathews, a 3-year-old Indian girl who was found dead in a culvert after being reported missing by her foster father, has been laid to rest in a private ceremony, the family attorneys said today, citing intense media glare.
Sherin, reported missing on October 7, was found dead in the culvert under a road about 1 km from her home in suburban Dallas on October 22. Sherin's body was released by the Dallas medical examiner for funeral and her autopsy report is still awaited.
She was adopted by the Indian-American couple, Wesley Mathews and Sini Mathews, from an orphanage in India last year.
Her funeral was held "according to the religious beliefs and the cultural heritage of her family", attorneys Mitchell Nolte and Gregg Gibbs said in a statement.
The burial location was kept a secret, the attorneys said, who confirmed to WFAA TV that Sini attended the ceremony along with close family and friends.
"Because of the intense press and social media attention in this case, the family chose to keep the ceremony private so the focus could be on Sherin's future in heaven and not on her tragic death on Earth," the attorneys said.
They said that the family "cannot express their gratitude to everyone personally," but appreciates the outpouring of prayers and love during this time.
Sherin's 37-year-old father told police that he put her outside at 3 am to discipline her for not drinking her milk.
He changed the story after her body was found in the culvert and told police that he "assisted" with pouring the milk down Sherin's throat and then moved her body after he realised she had choked and died.
Wesley was arrested and charged with felony injury to a child. He is still in the Dallas County jail on a USD 1 million bond.
Sini, a nurse, says she was sleeping during the incident and had nothing to do with Sherin's death.
The Mathews' biological 4-year-old daughter was taken into state custody by Child Protective Services.