PTI Houston, TX, United States
Dec 25, 2017, 08.38 AM
Community members in Dallas have planned a bench dedication ceremony and memorial service for the Indian toddler Sherin Mathews who was found dead in a culvert in mysterious circumstances in October.
The dedication ceremony for 3-year-old will be held on December 30 at the Restland Funeral Home in Dallas, Texas.
Following the memorial service, a bench dedication and dove release will take place, WFAA television station reported.
The space has been landscaped and provided by Restland as a place for the community to reflect and honour Sherin, adopted by Indian-American couple Wesley Mathews and Sini Mathews.
The dedication, mostly on park benches, provides a lasting tribute in honour of a loved one.
On October 7, an Amber Alert was issued for Sherin after her adoptive father, Wesley Mathews, called police and alerted them of her disappearance.
At that time, Wesley told police he took his daughter, Sherin, outside at 3 AM on Saturday to discipline her for not drinking her milk. According an affidavit, he told her to stand near a large tree in the backyard. When he went outside 15 minutes later, his daughter was gone.
Sherin's body was found a few weeks later in a culvert nearby the Mathews' home.
David Turnblad, a family service counselor at Restland said he was impacted Sherin's story and knew he had to do something to help with the bench dedication.
Turnblad met a man named Gene met through the Nextdoor app. Gene had the bench but needed a place to put it.
"The thing that I really like is that Richland Park is a very diverse neighbourhood and this crosses all the religious cultural lines, they've all disappeared," Turnblad said. "It's about the community."
Turnblad said it's not about money, its about recognising the impact that this has had on so many people's lives.
Mike Wilfong, the community outreach director for Restland said he's happy to be apart of this dedication process.
"People haven't had that chance or opportunity to get together and start that process to begin to come to terms and move toward healing," he said.
On October 7, Wesley called police and reported Sherin missing. He had initially told police that Sherin disappeared overnight after he ordered her to stand outside at about 3 am for not drinking her milk. When he returned, Wesley said she had disappeared and that her location was unknown.
Wesley later changed his tune, saying Sherin choked to death after he "physically assisted" her as she drank her milk.
Wesley was arrested and charged with felony injury to a child, which carries a sentence of up to life in prison.
Wesley's bond is set at USD 1 million and faces up to life imprisonment if convicted of the first-degree felony. Sini's bond is set at USD 100,000 and faces up to two years in a state jail if convicted of child abandonment or endangerment.
A judge has also denied access to both Wesley and Sini to their biological daughter, now living with relatives in Houston, saying they were not fit to be parents due to what happened to their adopted daughter, Sherin.
A private ceremony was held on October 31 for Sherin. At that time, the burial location was kept a secret, considering the intense press and social media attention in the case.
On December 10, the location of the toddler's final resting place has been revealed. The headstone is located in the southwest portion of the cemetery at the Turrentine- Jackson-Morrow Funeral Home in Dallas, Texas.