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Sister of Sherin Mathews, Texas girl feared dead, to stay in foster care for now

Missing Texas toddler

DALLAS -- The sister of a missing 3-year-old Texas girl will remain in foster care for at least three more weeks.

A Dallas County judge postponed a Monday custody hearing until Nov. 13 for the 4-year-old sister of Sherin Mathews to allow their father, Wesley Mathews, to hire an attorney.

Police said Monday that they believe the body of a young child found about a half-mile from the family's home in the Dallas suburb of Richardson is Sherin's. They are still awaiting confirmation and the cause of death.

Wesley Mathews told police he ordered Sherin to stand outside of their home at around 3 a.m. on Oct. 7 as punishment for not drinking her milk. He says when he went to check on her about 15 minutes later, she was gone. He is charged with child endangerment and is out on bond.

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Sherin Mathews CBS DFW

Police have said that Mathews and his wife adopted Sherin from India. The 4-year-old is their biological daughter. Texas Child Protective Services removed the girl from their care in the days after Sherin's disappearance.

Through an attorney, Wesley Mathews asked for more time in the case so that he could get a civil attorney to represent him in the custody hearing – he currently only has a criminal lawyer, reports CBS Dallas/Fort Worth. The judge granted an extension and scheduled a new custody hearing for November 13, but said the 4-year-old would remain in foster care until then.

The judge said the extension would also allow time for state child welfare officials to conduct a home study in Fort Bend County, about 40 miles southwest of Houston, to determine if relatives or family friends there could take custody of the 4-year-old if necessary.

The Mathews family reportedly entered the courtroom separately and didn't comment to the media.

Kent Starr, the attorney representing the child's mother, Sini Mathews, said his client was, "…participating with the police department to identify whether or not the body that was discovered in Richardson, Texas is that of Sherin Mathews."

Wesley Mathews reported the child missing about five hours after he said she disappeared. He is required to turn over his passport, wear an ankle monitor and not have any contact with children as conditions of his bond on the child endangerment charges.

No one has been charged in the child' apparent death.

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