orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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October 16, 2012

Police probe Texas agency in case where child died

LUBBOCK, Texas —  

Police are investigating the Texas child protection agency for its alleged mishandling of a case in which a 22-month-old girl died after her mother claimed her military husband's deployment overseas left her too stressed to care for their three children.

Abilene police Chief Stan Standridge said the department is investigating the local Child Protective Services office after a new supervisor closed the case six days before the child's death on Aug. 28.

Agency spokesman Patrick Crimmins said a caseworker assigned to investigate allegations of medical neglect against Tiffany Nicole Klapheke closed the case soon after being promoted to supervisor. In doing so, she violated agency guidelines that require a final face-to-face visit and someone else to sign off on the closure, he said.

"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.

Her former supervisor, who oversaw the investigation of the allegations, has been has been disciplined, he added.

"It was a bad case, admittedly," Crimmins said, referring to how it was handled. "There's no question about that."

Phone numbers listed in the former caseworker's name were either disconnected or had a continuous busy signal Tuesday.

Standridge declined to say Monday what charge the police department was considering. District attorney John Eidson didn't immediately return a message left requesting comment.

Tamryn Klapheke suffered dehydration and malnutrition from a lack of basic care over a period of time, according to the preliminary autopsy report from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office in Fort Worth.

When her mother was arrested following her death, she claimed she was too stressed by her husband's deployment to care for their three young children. Klapheke faces three felony charges of injury to child.

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