October 28, 2013 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Remember Tiffany Klapheke? She’s the Abilene, Texas mother who was arrested last year for letting her 22-month-old daughter Tamryn die of dehydration and malnutrition. Klapheke accomplished that by simply walking away from all three of her kids, the oldest of which was three at the time. Fortunately, the police managed to save the lives of the other two children who also suffered from dehydration and malnutrition. But they were too late in for Tamryn.
Taylor County Child Protective Services took Tamryn’s death as their cue to start lying to police, hiding documents and doing everything in their power to conceal their culpability. They had an open file on Tiffany Klapheke, but, in violation of agency protocols, closed it without a follow-up visit. When they did, there’d been no action on her case for 10 months. The file was closed a matter of days before Tamryn died.
Several local CPS employees, including supervisors either quit or were placed on administrative leave following the revelations of agency cover-ups. A special prosecutor was appointed by a local judge to investigate the agency. Here’s my first piece about the case (NPO, 10//12).
When Klapheke was arrested, she told the police she abandoned the children because she was upset that her husband, a senior airman in the Air Force, had been deployed to Afghanistan a second time. She’s been in jail awaiting trial ever since, but now we know that her claim of being upset about her husband’s deployment is beginning to look bogus. Put simply, she wasn’t too upset to have a lengthy extra-marital affair with another serviceman.
The latest news concerns the court-martial of that Senior Airman Christopher Perez (Air Force Times, 10/14/13).
Senior Airman Christopher Perez is charged with dereliction of duty, child endangerment and adultery. Perez was living at the home of Tiffany Klapheke and her husband, Senior Airman Thomas Klapheke, when the toddler died in August 2012.
Senior Airman Klapheke had deployed about two months earlier. Perez and Tiffany Klapheke were involved in a sexual relationship, according to testimony from Perez’s Article 32 hearing…
Perez told authorities Tiffany Klapheke would lock her children in a bedroom for days but he did not believe it was his place to interfere, according to Article 32 testimony.
Here we learn a little about what Klapheke has admitted to previously (Big Country, 10/16/13).
In one sentence — she admits she hid the children multiple times because she didn't want them to be taken away. In another — Klapheke denies telling Perez about what the children were going through at the home. She then goes on to say the children — including 22-month old Tamryn — were underweight their entire lives.
Here’s a rundown of the testimony on the most important day of Perez’s trial (Big Country, 10/18/13).
It’s pretty horrifying. Those who arrived on the scene first testified that their noses and eyes stung from the contaminated air inside the Klapheke residence. Among other things, the children suffered from extensive chemical burns due to living for days in urine-soaked clothing.
Perez was eventually convicted of child endangerment and adultery and sentenced to three years in prison and given a dishonorable discharge.
Tiffany Klapheke is scheduled to go to trial early next year. It should be interesting to see what legal consequences she ends up bearing and compare them to those Perez suffered just for having a relationship with her and faling to intervene.
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