UPDATE: Dyess AFB Toddler Dies of Neglect – Six Days After CPS Closes Case!
Tiffany Nicole Klapheke, an Air Force spouse, has been indicted in the death of her 22 month-old daughter Tamryn through apparent neglect. Tamryn died last August 28th while in military housing on Dyess Air Force Base.
MilitaryAuthority.com first covered the tragic story here.
A grand jury indicted Klapheke on three counts of injury to a child. Tamryn apparently died from the withholding of food, water and basic care. Her husband was deployed at the time.
At least four Child Protective Services workers are also under investigation for possibly covering up evidence related to Tamryn’s neglect. The Abilene Department of Child Protective Services had concluded an investigation into the family’s ability or willingness to provide care. These four CPS workers have been placed on paid leave pending the results of the investigation, according to reporting by the Reporter News.
Klapheke is currently in jail awaiting trial.
Shortly after Tamryn’s death and her arrest, Tiffany Nicole Klapheke told a local television station that she became overwhelmed with depression, and that no one from the base had checked on her or asked her if she needed anything.
But according to the Reporter News, the Klapheke family had been the subject of previous neglect investigations at least three times, dating back to April of 2010. The Reporter News also reports that the Dyess AFB Family Advocacy clinic was involved in the investigations. The Klapheke family was under investigation for medical neglect of one or more of their children in 2011, though the case was closed in October of 2011 and medical neglect ruled out, according to CPS documents.
When Tamryn was found unresponsive and brought to the hospital, it had apparently been two weeks since she last had a diaper change, according to the examining physician. She also weighed only 17.5 pounds – severely underweight for a 22-month old. She had chemical burns on her body from prolonged exposure to her own waste.
A new supervisor at the Abilene Child Protective Services office actually closed an investigation only six days prior to Tamryn’s death. This was in apparent violation of regulations that required an in-person visit with the family before closing any investigations.
“You want to see the family again because you don’t know what might have changed since you saw them,” Crimmins said.
The employee hadn’t seen the family in about 10 months when she closed the case, he said. She resigned a couple of weeks after Tamryn Klapheke died.
Three individuals from the Abilene CPS office and at least one individual from the Wichita Falls office are under investigation for possibly tampering with or withholding evidence from law enforcement officers concerning the Klapheke case.
Meanwhile, another Airman, Senior Airman Christopher Perez, is also facing a number of UCMJ charges in connection with Tiffany Klapheke. Perez admits to having had a sexual affair with Tiffany Klapheke while her husband was deployed, and lived with her and the children for several weeks. Charges against him include adultery, child endangerment and neglect. He is currently confined to post.
The two other Klapheke children, aged six months and three years, have been placed in foster care. Their father, a USAF airman, has been transferred back to Dyess AFB. He is not at this time suspected of wrongdoing or neglect.