In what is likely to bring an end to the 16-day-long search for 3-year-old Sherin Mathew since she disappeared from her home in Texas in the US, the Richardson police announced that the body of a young girl has been found. Police believe that the body is most likely Sherin's, although the identity has not been confirmed officially yet.
The Richardson police department said that the body had been recovered from a culvert near Sherin's house at around 11 am. The police department said that the body is most likely that of Sherin's, but will wait for FBI to do the final identification.
"At this time, I want you to know that a positive identification has not been made. But we believe the body is most likely hers," a spokesperson for the Richardson police department said.
Addressing the media on Sunday afternoon (US time), for the time first ever since Sherin Mathews went missing on October 7, the police department confirmed that a notice had been sent to Sherin's parents, and no arrests had been made yet.
The area where the child's body was found is less than a mile from the Mathews' home in 900 block of Sunningdale, reported Maria Guerrero for NBC 5.
The press conference was called for after information began spreading that volunteer searches at Spring Valley and Bowser close to the Mathews' residence, had found a lead.
There was speculation that the search had found the child's body and the police taped off the area soon after.
In the past few days, the police and the FBI seized several items from the Mathews' household, including including five cellphones, three laptops, a tablet and a digital camera.
The FBI has listed as many as 47 items that were seized from the house in Sunningdale.
Sherin Mathews, an adopted child of Kerala-born couple Wesley Mathews and Sini Mathews, was reported missing in the morning of October 7 from her residence. Wesley told the police that he had sent the child out of home at 3 am as punishment for not drinking her milk.
Wesley, who was charged for abandoning and endangering a child was later let off on bond. The needle of suspicion was cast on the family, after the police found that a car owned by the family was absent from the house from 4 am to 5 am, just minutes after Sherin was reported missing.
In the days that followed, the Richardson Police Department, along with the FBI, had been collecting and evaluating CCTV visuals from the neighbourhood, and conducting multiple searches to find the child.
Meanwhile, a court will hear the Mathews' plea to get their 4-year-old biological daughter back, who was removed by the Child Protection Services (CPS) a day after Sherin went missing.
Sherin had developmental issues and could not communicate well. Her disappearance had distressed thousands and many had joined the search operations.