India’s Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj during an interaction with women and girl students at a “Women Townhall” in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Oct. 14. (Press Trust of India)
The FBI has seized nearly 50 items including cellphones, laptops, a washer and a dryer from the home of a 3-year-old Indian girl who disappeared nearly two weeks ago in Richardson City, a case that has caught the attention of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
Sherin Mathews vanished, Oct. 7, after her adoptive father Wesley Mathews told police he left her outside their home at 3 a.m. as punishment for not drinking her milk.
Reacting to Sherin’s missing, External Affairs Minister Swaraj expressed concern.
“We are deeply concerned about the missing child. Indian Embassy in U.S. is actively involved and they keep me informed,” Swaraj tweeted Oct. 19.
“We are closely monitoring Sherin Mathews case. We have established the contact with the community and authorities,” the Consul General of India in Houston, Anupam Ray tweeted.
The special needs toddler, according to the reports, was adopted by the Indian-origin couple from an NGO in Bihar’s Nalanda last year.
While police in Richardson city in the US state of Texas are yet to make a breakthrough in the case, seized inventory lists show that FBI detectives took DNA swabs, grass, debris and receipts from three vehicles that belong to the parents of the missing girl.
They also took a flash drive, seat belt and radio equipment from the family’s Sports Utility Vehicle, Fox News reported.
Items taken from the Mathews home between Oct. 8 and Oct. 13 include a vacuum and trash bags, hair fibers, blankets and sheets, shoes, multiple cellphones and laptops, financial and identification records, several wooden spoons and the family’s washer and dryer.
A radio module, display monitor and a seat belt were obtained from the Acura SUV that was missing the morning Sherin went missing.
The maroon SUV was not at their home, Oct. 7, between 4 and 5 the morning, her father said, she disappeared after he put her outside as punishment, police said.
Court records show a navigation unit likely from the Acura was sent to the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia.
“Even if you didn’t plug in an address and say make a right or a left, it’s still recording where you were going,” Attorney Bree West, a former Dallas County assistant district attorney who is not involved in the case, said.
“And it’s also going to pinpoint where you stopped.”
She says most of the items collected at the Richardson home were pretty standard. But some items that stood out to her were: a blue string, dark hair-like fibers, vacuum contents, two yellow gloves, dish scrubber inside two grocery bags and the washer and dryer.
Investigators are still looking for possible surveillance footage of the Acura SUV leaving the home of Sherin, as they try to determine who was driving it.
U.S. authorities placed Wesley and Sini Mathews’ 4-year-old biological daughter in foster care shortly after Sherin was reported missing.
Wesley has since been arrested, and bonded out, on a charge of child endangerment and ordered to wear an ankle monitor as the investigation continues.
Detectives have not said whether Wesley is a suspect, but they have cleared his wife Sini Mathews. Police previously said she was asleep and unaware her husband had made their daughter stand outside as punishment. Both Wesley and Sini are from Kerala.
So far, tips from the public have not led to any definitive clues that could lead police to Sherin.