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AUTOPSY: Child died from 'prolonged lack of basic care;' Abilene mother remains jailed

By Ariana Garza, Weekend Anchor/Crime & Courts Reporter, agarza@ktxs.com
Published On: Aug 30 2012 03:30:26 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 04 2012 02:02:27 PM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

According to the preliminary autopsy report, the 22-month-old child of an Abilene woman arrested this week on three counts of injury to a child was suffering from dehydration and malnutrition before she died.

Abilene police said Tamryn Klapheke had “physical injuries, including chemical burns, (that) appear to be postmortem and possibly related to the conditions in which the child was exposed (human waste). There is no indication of injuries from trauma."

Information from police and the medical examiner suggest Tamryn was not fed and was left in her own waste for some time.

(Click here for the autopsy)

Her mother, Tiffany Klapheke, 21, a military dependent to an Air Force member stationed at Dyess Air Force Base and who is currently deployed in the Middle East, was arrested early Wednesday. She is facing three counts of felony injury to a child because her six-month-old and 3-year-old daughter also suffered injuries that appear to stem from neglect. 

According to police, Klapheke's surviving daughters are being treated at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth and are improving. They are expected to be moved out of the Intensive Care Unit soon.

Police called the case a “tragic situation” that has “dealt a heavy impact on the investigating officers, first responders, medical personnel, and our Abilene and Dyess Air Force Base community.”

Klapheke and her husband moved to Abilene from Lexington, Kentucky just a couple of years ago after her husband was stationed at Dyess.

"She missed him very much," Lynn Mynhier, Klapheke's biological mother, said.

Though Klapheke was raised by an adoptive mother, she stayed in touch with Mynhier and her own sister. They said they are struggling to understand what happened.

"It's like I'm in a dream. I can't explain it. I can't believe it's happened. I just want to know why," Mynhier said. "I know she loved the kids very much. She was always bragging on them and taking pictures and posting them."

Mynhier described her grandchildren: "They was healthy looking and Tamryn had them chubby cheeks and was always smiling. They was always happy."

Police continue to investigate. Klapheke is being held on $500,000 bond.