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KLAPHEKE DEATH: Abilene police believe three CPS supervisors may have tampered with evidence in child neglect case

Published On: Oct 15 2012 03:00:26 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 27 2014 03:15:06 PM CST
ABILENE, Texas -

Abilene police searched offices at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Tuesday as part of an investigation into Child Protective Services’ handling of a neglect case that resulted in one child dying.

The police investigation was sparked by the death of 22-month old Tamryn Klapheke. The little girl was found to have died of neglect.  Her mother, 22-year-old Tiffany Klapheke is in the Taylor County jail charged with three counts of injury to a child. She is being held on $500,000 bond.

In their Affidavit for Search Warrant, police investigators named CPS supervisors Bit Whitaker, Gretchen Denny, and Barbara McDaniel as being suspected of tampering with evidence in the CPS investigation of conditions at the Klapheke Dyess Air Force Base home. Tampering with evidence is a third-degree felony.

Tuesday, uniformed officers monitored the exits at CPS as APD detectives worked inside. The search started about 11:30 a.m.

According to reports, a CPS supervisor allegedly closed an 11-month-old investigation involving Tamryn Klapheke -- six days before officers found the young child had died as a result of severe neglect

* Here is a press release from Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge after a Tuesday afternoon press conference *

ABILENE, TX – On August 28, 2012, the Police Department investigated a child death on Dyess Air Force Base, located in Abilene, TX. Twenty-two month old Tamryn Klapheke was pronounced deceased at Abilene Regional Medical Center. The person responsible, Tiffany Klapheke, remains in the Taylor County Jail on bonds totaling $500,000. She has retained legal counsel.

In the initial stages of this investigation, Abilene Police Detectives had concerns about Child Protective Services’ cooperation with the investigation. Specifically, section 261.301 of the Family Code mandates that CPS and local law enforcement conduct joint investigations. However, in the ensuing days following the death of the child, the Department became aware of instances in which CPS employees were told by supervisors not to cooperate with law enforcement. Additionally, records were requested by Detectives as part of the ongoing investigation. However, those records were not immediately rendered. Eventually they were provided, but only after several days had lapsed and the District Attorney requested the same records. Even then the records were not believed to be complete, thus complicating law enforcement’s investigation into the child’s death.

A criminal investigation into this conduct is ongoing. Specifically, the Police Department is investigating the alleged offense of Tampering with or Fabricating Physical Evidence, Penal Code 37.09, which is a third-degree felony. Penal Code 37.09 stipulates that a person commits an offense if, knowing that an investigation is in progress, he alters, destroys, or conceals any record, document, or thing with intent to impair its availability as evidence. I want to make it clear that this investigation does not concern overwhelmed CPS caseworkers. I acknowledge CPS caseworkers carry a high case load, and most CPS employees are exceptional people trying to safeguard our children against abuse. Instead, this investigation stems from the refusal of certain CPS supervisors to cooperate with the Abilene Police Department regarding the Tamryn Klapheke death investigation.

This morning, at approximately 11 am, detectives executed search warrants for the local CPS office, as well as a CPS supervisor’s residence and vehicle. The Department had probable cause to suggest that documents and electronic media exist to support the continued investigation of tampering. Evidence was seized that will require extensive follow-up investigation. At this time, no arrests of CPS employees have been made. More investigation will be done, and more details will be released at a later time as the investigation allows.

Thank you,
Chief Stan Standridge