*** I resently found out some of the links in this article are now broken. I appoligize. Trying to relocate them. — Jim ***
After more than 3 years after Klapheke, arrests of DFPS employees continue.
Texas CPS watchdog groups have waited since late summer of 2012 to hear the final fate of a number of DFPS employees that were involved on case where a child died on Dyers AFB. It seems the story is still unfolding.
Just after former Region 2 & 9 Regional Director “Bit” Whitaker turned herself in the Adeline Police department conducted the following press conference.
Whitaker was scheduled to go to trial in November 2015. But the lack of any updates on her case makes one wonder what was going on because on January 5, 2016 Big Country News reported the arrest of one of the other two women mentioned in the video.
When Gretchen Denny, 42, was arrested on December 19, 2015 she was released from jail the next day after posting a $10,000 bond. Ten times that of Whitaker. Both women are charged with Tampering With/Fabricating Physical Evidence. These allegations that surfaced during the investigation into Klapheke. A synapsis of the case is below.
On August 28, 2012, security police at Dyers AFB was summoned to base housing to find 22 month old Tamryn Klapheke lifeless and unresponsive. Her two sisters 3 mo. And 3 years were air-lifted to Cook Children’s Hospital in serious condition.
Mother, Tiffany Klapheke was arrested and charged with 3 counts felony injury to a child and held on $500,000 bond. Mother alleged severe depression and other issues over her husband Airman Thomas Klapheke having been deployed to the Middle East as the reasons she failed her children. It was later revealed another Airman had been residing in the home also. He was later court martialed and sentenced to 3 years in military prison.
Dyess Family Advocacy Center acknowledged investigating nine instances of child and medical neglect against the Klapheke’s since 2010; of those seven were substantiated, including the three occurring the day of Tamryn’s death.
Abilene PD began an extensive investigation into the family and Texas’ DFPS’ involvement. Early on it was found out that Investigator Claudia Gonzales had not followed department policy by closing their case only 6 days prior to Tamryn’s death. It was soon revealed that it had been more than 10 months since there had been a face to face visit with the family. It is my understanding Gonzales quit soon after. Almost immediately APD was met with resistance by DFPS employees.
Timeline Klapheke Case
- August 28, 2012 – Tamryn’s death.
- August 29, 2012 – Autopsy performed.
- August 30, 2012 – Mother Tiffany Klapheke arrested.
- October 15, 2012 – After extensive problems with uncooperative DFPS employees, a search warrant was issued for the Region 2 headquarters and certain employee cars, alleging three supervisors had participated in “PC §37.09 “Tampering with Evidence”; a 3rd degree felony.
- October 18, 2012 – DFPS Commissioner Howard Baldwin visits Abilene office to assess the situation.
- Same day, KTXS does an article where an ex-CPS Worker alleging evidence tampering was common practice at the Abilene office.
- October 19, 2012 – Regional Director “Bit” Whitaker, Program Director Gretchen Denny and Investigations Supervisor Barbara McDaniel were placed on administrative leave.
- Same day, KTXS reported, “Senior Airman Christopher Perez, 7th Security Forces Squadron, was charged with failure to report child abuse or neglect under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), as well as adultery and child endangerment under Article 134 of the UCMJ, in relation to the case of Tiffany Klapheke.”
- October 23, 2012 – A fourth supervisor based in Wichita Falls, Region 2 Program Administrator Geneva Schroeder was also placed on leave. She was reinstated Mar 2013.
- November 9, 2012 – DFPS Commissioner Baldwin resigns. Article reveals that DFPS is conducting two investigations: one for records tampering and the one for the child’s death.
- November 13, 2012 – HHSC Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek appoints former Judge John J. Specia as DFPS Commissioner effective December 1, 2012.
- Same day, KTXS also reported a special prosecutor had been assigned.
- March 2013 – Whitaker resigns.
- April 2013 – DFPS seeks to terminate Gretchen Denny.
- May 2013 – KTXS broke the news of an improper relationship with Thomas Klapheke and CPS Investigator Supervisor Tiffany Gann which resulted in two CPS employees resigning and two more disciplined for having knowledge of the situation. It appears Gann and the Investigator were involved in the post fatality investigation. The other two did not work on anything related to Klapheke.
- August 2014 – former regional director Bit Whitaker was arrested for felony record tampering and is facing 2 to 10 years and up to $10,000 fine. A pre-trial hearing was recently held and her trial is set for November 2015.
Should you want to find out more from mid-2013 leading up to Whitaker’s arrest and present day, I recommend looking into KTXS who has published close to 100 articles relating to the Klapheke case. They cover the Airman’s arrest and court martial for failing to protect. The ordeals dealing with the mother’s prosecution. Summing up with events dealing with the Grand Jury and prosecution of these women.
Denny is due to be arraigned on January 29, 2016. Texas eyes will continue to watch these criminal proceedings. As they unfold we will keep you informed.