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EXCLUSIVE: Tiffany Klapheke discusses mental health history and childhood

By Ariana Garza, Weekend Anchor/Crime & Courts Reporter, agarza@ktxs.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:55:41 AM CST
Updated On: Jan 27 2014 03:45:50 PM CST

Records on file at the Taylor County Courthouse reveal documentation of Tiffany Klapheke’s troubled childhood. The 23-year-old, who is charged with injury to a child after her toddler died of malnourishment and dehydration in August 2012, spoke exclusively with KTXS about the details of her past.

She was born in Riverdale, Georgia in 1990. According to an adoption paper, during the four and a half years she lived with her biological mother and siblings, she “experienced many disruptions, abuse and neglect.” The abuse included sexual abuse allegedly committed by some members of her biological family.

Klapheke told KTXS the abuse she suffered as a child made her anti-social and unconfident. She said that side of her is part of the reason why she does not want her face and voice recorded.

The adoption paperwork also shows Klapheke was given to her maternal grandmother after Klapheke’s brother tried to stab her one day. Klapheke claimed her grandmother eventually tried to give her away at a park.

In a psychiatric report that was completed when Klapheke was 16, a doctor noted that apparent behavioral problems led Tiffany to be placed in several different foster homes. At the time, Klapheke claimed she had been placed in four to five different homes.

She was diagnosed with an attachment disorder by the time she was 7 and also showed signs of clinical depression as a teen.

Klapheke was adopted by age 8 and moved to Kentucky. She told KTXS the abuse did not end there and her adoptive father began to sexually abuse her. He reportedly was put on probation.

She told KTXS she met her now ex-husband Thomas on the social networking website MySpace. The pair got engaged so she could get out of her house and feel comfortable moving to Tennessee with him.

She soon became pregnant with their first child, Taberlee. She said she had no childcare knowledge at that time and her relationship with Thomas quickly went “from bad to worse.” Klapheke told KTXS Thomas soon began pressuring her for a son to honor his deceased father. She agreed to try; however, they soon became pregnant with another girl, Tamryn.

Klapheke said she “tried to be happy” and they tried for another boy. Instead, they had another girl, Tatum. With each failed attempt for a boy, she felt Thomas was becoming more emotionally detached from her.

Thomas was on deployment overseas when their daughter Tamryn died of malnutrition and dehydration at just 22-months-old at Dyess Air Force Base on Aug. 27, 2012.

According to a document filed at the Taylor Co. Courthouse titled the State’s Notice of Other Wrongs or Acts by the Defendant, the State offered evidence “that while the Defendant was in the hospital after giving birth to Tamryn Klapheke she told Kathy Boorman that the hospital staff accused her of not bonding with Tamryn.” Klapheke told KTXS she cannot go into detail about that claim before her trial; however, she said Child Protective Services visited her at the hospital within 24 hours of her giving birth.

In the two weeks leading up to Tamryn’s death, Tiffany told KTXS she tried to kill herself because she felt “stuck.” She said nobody ever offered to help her when she needed it most. She forfeited her parental rights to her surviving children in March.

In a criminal complaint filed at the courthouse, authorities said there was food in the Klapheke home, Tamryn simply was not being fed.

District Judge Lee Hamilton allowed a 120 continuance in her trial Tuesday in order for her newly hired lawyers, George Parnham of Houston and John Young of the Big Country, to get up to speed on her files.