Wesley Mathews, 37, said he ordered daughter Sherin to stand next to a tree behind the fence for not drinking her milk, according to an arrest statement
Texas girl, 3, missing after father makes her stand outside in middle of the night as punishment
Authorities in Texas were searching for a 3-year-old girl whose father said she went missing over the weekend after he made her stand outside in the middle of the night as punishment for not drinking her milk.
Wesley Mathews, 37, said he ordered Sherin Mathews to stand next to a tree behind the fence at their home in Richardson, Dallas, at around 3am on Saturday, according to an arrest statement. The tree is across an alley from the home.
Mr Mathews went outside about 15 minutes later to check on her, but Sherin was gone, the statement read. The child, who has a developmental disability, was wearing leggings, a pink long-sleeved shirt and pink flip-flops.
The father did not notify police that his daughter was missing until about five hours later, said Sgt Kevin Perlich.
He said the delay in reporting the matter "is certainly concerning to us".
"That does not seem like a normal response that one would do if you have a missing child," Sgt Perlich said.
Mr Mathews was arrested on Saturday on a charge of abandoning or endangering a child. He made bail late on Sunday, according to Sgt Perlich.
A working phone number for Mr Mathews could not be found and it's not clear if he's hired an attorney to speak on his behalf.
Mr Mathews at one point told investigators that coyotes have been seen in the alley, but investigators say there's no indication that one might have dragged the girl away.
Investigators have seized three vehicles, cellphones and laptops from the family in an effort to find out what became of Sherin, Sgt Perlich said. Footage from surveillance cameras in the area also is being reviewed.
Texas state child protective services (CPS) removed a four-year-old child from the home early on Monday, he said. A CPS spokeswoman, Marissa Gonzales, said the agency has had dealings with the family before, but she declined to release additional information.
Sgt Perlich said Mr Mathews and his wife adopted Sherin, who was malnourished when the couple took her in.
Mr Mathews told investigators it was not unusual for the girl to wake up late at night to eat so that her weight would increase, Sgt Perlich said.
That may explain why she was punished at 3am, he said. He said authorities are casting a broad net in determining what happened to the girl.
"We don't have any other indication or evidence that she was forcibly abducted from that area," he said.
* Associated Press