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KLAPHEKE DEATH: Ex-CPS worker alleges document tampering wasn't uncommon at Abilene office

By Mari Cockerell, mcockerell@ktxs.com
Published On: Oct 18 2012 04:57:54 AM CDT
Updated On: Jan 27 2014 03:16:31 PM CST
TDFPS CPS Investigation
ABILENE, Texas -

We're getting a better idea of what may be happening inside Abilene's CPS office from someone who used to work there.

A former caseworker  says she tried to alert the state to practices within the Abilene office.  And now that caseworker is in the middle of a cps investigation involving her own daughter.

"They've always done it, they just now got caught," said Joann Thomas.  That's the explanation she gives after learning Abilene's Department of Family Protective Services is under criminal investigation.

Thomas left her job as a CPS investigator a little over a year ago.  At the time, Thomas says she wrote an email to her supervisor and state officials unveiling what she believed were bad practices within the Abilene office; including the false documentation of cases.

"So I can go in and put in documentation...if I save the first screen, that's going to time stamp it.  But, I can go into the actual document and save that as many times as I want to and save it...so I can put something in the computer and make it look like I documented it on this date, but in actuality I didn't," said Thomas.

Tuesday, Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge announced his department is investigating three women;  Bit Whitaker, Gretchen Denny, and Barbara McDaniel for allegedly tampering with or fabricating evidence in the case of Tamryn Klapheke, the 22 month old girl found dead from neglect inside a Dyess home.  Her mother, Tiffany Klapheke, now sits in the Taylor County Jail.

Fabricating or tampering with evidence is something Thomas says was not uncommon within the Abilene CPS office.  "I remember one particular supervisor - she wanted me to go out and do a removal, and I was like, I'm not removing these kids, there's no grounds for removal of these kids...and she said, yeah you are, and I'll help you if you need me to fluff the affidavit.  That's another phrase that you use that everyone in the agency knows what you're talking about," said Thomas.

We want to reiterate that during just the past month, Thomas has become the focus of a CPS investigation herself, a year after sending that email about CPS.