A Houston-based doctor is in a South Carolina jail, facing charges of child neglect in a bizarre case that's baffled the local medical establishment.
On Friday, county deputies near Greenville arrested 47-year-old anesthesiologist Rajy Jacob Mathews after discovering his eight children were left at home alone following the death of their mother Ruth Dalila Mathews, 37, who was killed while riding her bike on Aug. 19 — four days earlier.
The children were placed emergency custody, while their father stays behind bars on $160,000 bail. Mathews filed for a bond reduction on Wednesday as he awaits a late October trial date.
The children, who barricaded the door with furniture, refused to open the door until they were informed that their mother was dead.
The Spartanburg Herald-Journal reports that, though he was informed of his wife's death the night of the accident, the doctor stayed at his apartment in Braeswood for days. He told authorities by phone that his children — who are between the ages of one and 16 years old — were staying with a pastor, but refused to offer further details.
Four days later, deputies visited the Mathews home after neighbors reported seeing kids peeking out the windows. The children, who barricaded the door with furniture, refused to open the door until they were informed that their mother was dead.
The mom was killed when her bike was hit by a pickup truck. The accident is still under investigation.
Investigators described the home as "extremely hot" and found that the refrigerator was no longer working and that only several cans of food were left. The children were put in protective custody. When Matthews finally returned to South Carolina, he was arrested.
It remains unknown how long Mathews has worked with Greater Houston Anesthesiology, a major medical provider serving more than 30 area hospitals. Officials with the anesthesiology group refused to comment when contacted by CultureMap.
Online records reveal that the doctor has practiced medicine since 1992 after receiving a medical degree from Ogun State University in Nigeria. His background includes residencies with Baylor College of Medicine in both internal medicine and anesthesiology as well as stints at two Greenville hospitals. He is licensed to practice in South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
Harris County court records show that Mathews was involved in a 1997 child support dispute with a defendant listed as Ruth Rodriguez, presumably his now-deceased wife.