Category Archives: Neglect

Mother Of Sherin Mathews In Same Building As Wesley

.jpg photo of mother of Child found dead
Sini Ann Mathews was arrested on a charge of child endangerment.

Sini Mathews Arrested On
Child Endangerment Charge

Dallas, TX  –  The mother of a North Texas toddler whose body was recovered last month from a drainage culvert weeks after she was reported missing was arrested Thursday on a charge of child endangerment.

Police said she and her husband left their 3-year-old adopted child, Sherin Mathews, home alone while they went to dinner just hours before they claimed she had disappeared.

Sini Ann Mathews, who has maintained her innocence in the death of Sherin, surrendered to Richardson police Thursday and is being held on $250,000 bond on the state jail felony charge.

She was arraigned Friday morning and did not respond to reporters questions when she was transferred to the Dallas County Jail Friday afternoon.

In a statement Thursday, Richardson police said detectives learned Sini Mathews, 35, and Wesley Mathews took their 3-year-old biological daughter to dinner and left Sherin alone at home, placing her in “imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment.”

“The time that they left, she was not under the care of any other adult or of any other person, she was left home alone by herself and it’s for that reason that you see this particular charge,” said Kevin Perlich, with the Richardson Police Department.  “It’s not necessarily related to her death, it’s related to her care that she was being given while she was in that home.”

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, detectives used cell phone records to show Wesley and Sini went to a North Garland restaurant on the evening of Oct. 6.  The theory is supported by a receipt obtained by police that showed the couple purchased only one child’s meal in addition to their individual meals as well as the testimony of a waiter who said only one child was present at the table.

During an interview with detectives, Wesley Mathews, 37, admitted to leaving Sherin home alone after growing frustrated she wouldn’t drink her milk and said they returned home about 90 minutes later and found her where they left her, in the kitchen.

Both Sini and Wesley told police the child was alive when they returned home from dinner, though police have not confirmed that information.

Hours later, on the morning of Oct. 7, Wesley Mathews called police and reported Sherin missing.  In a story he would later change, Wesley originally told police Sherin disappeared overnight after he ordered her to stand outside at about 3 a.m. for not drinking her milk.  When he returned, Wesley said she had disappeared and that her location was unknown.

Weeks later, Wesley Mathews changed his story and said he “physically assisted” her in drinking her milk and that she choked and died at the home.  He said he then moved the girl’s body and later called police to report her missing.

The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office is still working to determine what killed Sherin Mathews.

Sini Mathews said she was sleeping when Sherin disappeared and was unaware of what took place overnight between the child and her father.

Meanwhile, Wesley Mathews remains jailed on a charge of felony injury to a child and is being held on a $1 million bond.

Sini Mathews’ attorney has maintained throughout the investigation she had nothing to do with her daughter’s death and that she was distraught during her daughter’s disappearance.

NBC 5 confirmed Friday that at some point in the last month Sini Mathews was terminated from her job at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas where she worked as a case manager.

On Thursday, her attorney Mitchell Nolte thanked Richardson police for allowing his client to surrender.

“We learned this morning that the Richardson Police Department had obtained an arrest warrant for Sini Mathews for the offense of Abandoning/Endangering a Child.  The police were professional and courteous and allowed us to bring Mrs. Mathews to the Police Department and surrender herself into custody,” Nolte said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Wesley Mathews’ attorney, David Kleckner, said his client loves his children and wife and that he’s a good family man who wants custody of their surviving daughter to be returned to her mother.

Sini Mathews was in court as recently as Monday asking for custody of the couple’s child to be returned to her, but that hearing was rescheduled 1 p.m. Nov. 29.

The couple’s surviving child has been in foster care since shortly after her sister’s disappearance.  The child was expected to be placed in the care of family in the Houston area following Monday’s hearing.

NM Reports Increase In Child Abuse, Neglect

.jpg photo of Child Abuse graphic
There’s no excuse for Child Abuse

Child Abuse, Neglect strain New Mexico
protection program

SANTA FE, NM  –  New Mexico’s child protection system is straining to keep pace with an increase in abuse and neglect cases, despite increased public spending, according to a report from state analysts released Tuesday.

The report from the nonpartisan Legislative Finance Committee shows the protective services program for children in state custody has failed to meet seven out of eight performance goals.  For the fiscal year ending in June, the program missed benchmarks for reunifying children with parents in under a year, the number of children returning to foster care and the speed of adoptions.

The number of children placed in protective care in New Mexico increased by 6 percent to 2,674 during the one-year period ending in June.  The state spends 21 percent more on protective programs for children than it did four years ago.

Children, Youth and Families Department Secretary Monique Jacobson said her agency has been encouraging the public to report child abuse — possibly pushing up case numbers in the process.

“We’re asking people to make child abuse their business,” she said, noting other factors in New Mexico including an opioid addiction epidemic have influence caseloads.

Jacobson acknowledged improvements in the state’s child welfare system are needed, while highlighted progress toward a more stable workforce and an increase in the number of field workers who visit homes to detect maltreatment and determine whether a child may be in danger.

The job turnover rate dropped to 25 percent this year for child protective services workers, down from 34 percent in 2014, Jacobson said.

She cautioned that efforts to reunify mistreated children with parents cannot be rushed or incentivized, and that her agency is working with the court system to streamline adoption procedures. Jacobson noted year-over-year statistical progress in six out of eight evaluation categories for child protective services.

The analysis from the Legislature notes that the state could save tens of millions of dollars in the short run with just a 10 percent reduction in child maltreatment and foster placements.

Generally high evaluation marks were given to the performance of early childhood services including programs that promote high-quality child care.

Higher Numbers Of Child Abuse, Neglect In NC

.jpg photo of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
North Carolina seeing increased numbers of Child Abuse and Neglect.

121,000 reported cases of Child Abuse,
neglect in NC: 600 reported cases
in McDowell

McDowell, NC  –  Early data shows there were over 121,000 investigated cases of child abuse and neglect in North Carolina during fiscal year July 2016 through June 2017.  State law requires individuals or institutions suspecting child abuse or neglect to report cases to the Division of Social Services (DSS) for investigation.

“The high number of children impacted by neglect or abuse indicates too many families are struggling and under severe stress,” said Rebecca Starnes, vice president of Children’s Home Society of North Carolina.  “Abuse and neglect can be the product of a number of issues facing families, including poverty, working multiple jobs to make ends meet, high levels of stress, unrealistic expectations of children, mental health challenges, or substance abuse.”

In McDowell alone, there were 600 reported cases of abuse in neglect in the 2016-17 year, with over 75 percent found to be true and put into case management services.

“The majority of our reports have been methamphetamine-related,” said McDowell Department of Social Services Director Lisa Sprouse. “Just last week, we received multiple reports of babies being born in McDowell County that tested positive for polysubstance abuse.”

When asked about the uptick in referrals across the state, Sprouse says that the biggest contributor has been substance abuse.

“I looked at those numbers and they don’t include foster care, but foster care has greatly increased due to the rise of opioid addictions and, primarily here in this county, methamphetamine addiction,” said Sprouse.  “In the month of July in this agency alone, we placed 18 children in foster care, probably 80 percent of those due to substance abuse from parents, and right now it is IV drug use.”

DSS staff investigates and assesses all suspected cases of child abuse and neglect; diagnoses the problem with the family; provides in-home services to help keep families together; coordinates community and agency services; or, petitions the court for removal of the child from the home, if necessary.

To treat instances like these and other child-related cases, McDowell DSS has a collaborative relationship with a number of organizations like the McDowell Sheriff’s Office, the county school system, Lily’s Place – the local subsidiary of Southmountain Children and Family Services – Freedom Life Ministries, and equine and agricultural therapy at Hope 29:11 for older children not living with their biological parents, as well as local events like this Sunday’s Unity Service at East Middle School and Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.

“We try to utilize conventional collaborations as well as unconventional,” said Sprouse.  “Sometimes in this day and time, the conventional methods with going to an office for mental health services is not really what works for our families, so we try to meet them where we are and provide services that can help them from point A to point B and help them make their family whole again and allow their children to come home.”

For more information on McDowell DSS’ Children and Family Services, visit http://www.mcdowellcountyncdss.org/children-family-services.

NC Girl Found Under Stairway

.jpg photo of house where malnourished Child was found
Officers found the Child locked in 2-foot by 4-foot closet under stairway.

Police find malnourished 5-year-old girl locked in closet under stairway

RANDLEMAN, NC  –  Police found a malnourished 5-year-old girl locked in a small closet under a stairway at a home in Randleman, according to a press release.

On Sept. 12, Randleman police conducted a welfare check for a child at a home in the 200 block of Back Street.  Officers were told the child was being physically and mentally abused.

Officers went to the home in an effort to locate the little girl.  Upon arrival, they found no vehicles in the driveway and it appeared no one was there.

Officers knocked on the door and received no response, so they began calling the child’s name.  Once they began yelling, they received a response.

They first asked the child if she was OK and the girl replied with “no.” Officers then asked if she needed help and she replied, “yes.”

Officers then made entry through a front porch window and found the child locked in a two-foot by four-foot closet under a stairway. She had no food or water and appeared to be extremely malnourished with burns, scratches, and bruises all over her body.

The 5-year-old was taken from the home by a daycare employee. She was taken to Randolph Hospital and transferred to Brenner’s Children’s Hospital.

She is currently in the custody of the Randolph County Department of Social Services.

As a result, Adam Joshua Byrd, who is the child’s father, and Crystal Dawn Carnahan, who is a child caretaker, were arrested.

Byrd is charged with assault with a deadly weapon serious injury, intentional child abuse serious physical injury and negligent child abuse serious physical injury.

Carnahan is charged with assault with deadly weapon serious injury, intentional child abuse serious physical injury and negligent child abuse serious physical injury.

Both were taken to the Randolph County Jail on a $350,000 secured bond.

MD Woman Arrested For Abuse Of Toddler

.jpg photo of Mother arrested for Child Abuse
Rocla Aceneth Tovar Calderon, 40

Prince Frederick Woman Arrested for
Child Abuse

Prince Frederick, MD  –  On August 10, 2017, police responded to a trailer on Hallowing Point Rd, in Prince Frederick, for a report of child abuse.

Detective Jernigam from the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office and a Child Protective Services Worker from the county responded to the trailer after they received complaints that a 3-year-old boy had visible marks on his body.  The complaints came from the child’s teachers at the Head Start program.

The child had marks on his chest, back, and legs that appeared to have been made by a thin cord of some type.  The child’s speech and language is delayed, and he was only able to indicate his mom was mad.

Police made contact with the child’s mother, identified as Rocla Aceneth Tovar Calderon, 40, of Prince Frederick.

The Child Protective Services Worker explained they needed to speak with Calderon about the marks on he son’s arms, and Calderon stated that she hit him because she was angry because he “do a lot of things” and she “need to teach him”.  Calderon went on to say that she tries not to hit him because “he’s white and it leaves marks”, which she knows is a problem, and that sometimes she has to hit him so he will learn.

Calderon explained that she is having issues with potty training, destructive behavior, and that the only way she can keep him occupied is with a tablet.

Calderon was asked what she hit the child with, and she said it was a cord to a tablet because he chewed it and it broke.  The previous night, 8/9/2017, Calderon admitted to hitting him between 5-7 times but she was not exactly sure because she was so angry with him.  Calderon then explained that she usually uses a shoe to hit him, but she had the cord in her hand, which is why she used it.  Calderon said that it hurts her hand to spank him with her hand and gives her blood clots, so she uses a shoe.

The Child Protective Services Worker explained that she could not hit the child with cords and leave marks.  Calderon repeatedly indicated that she cannot control his behavior, citing examples of him urinating in a basket full of clean laundry, and on the blankets on her bed.  While speaking with Calderon, the child grabbed an empty water bottle, urinated inside it, and placed it on the floor near the front door.  Calderon made no attempts to stop this behavior, and rather indicated that it was another example of not being able to control him “because he’s 3”.

Police described the residence as “extremely unkempt, with old food on the floor, tables, chairs, and counters. Insects were visible flying around the residence, crawling on the counters and floors.  Ms. Calderon apologized for the mess and stated that it is Thursday which is her day to clean.”

The Child Protective Services Worker prepared a safety plan for Calderon, which was signed by both parties, indicating that she was not allowed to hit the child with any objects.  The plan also indicated that in-home services would be provided by CPS to assist Calderon with the child’s behavior and with cleaning her home so that it is sanitary.

Rocla Aceneth Tovar Calderon, was arrested and charged with assault, and child abuse, she posted a $10,000 bail and was released. Calderon has a preliminary court date on September 22, 2017, in Calvert District Court.