Abilene’s police chief expressed concern Monday that a grand jury has yet to consider the alleged mishandling of a highly publicized 2012 child death case by a state child welfare agency.
“I am concerned with the length of time it has taken to bring this case to grand jury,” Chief Stan Standridge told KTXS. “I have shared my concerns with (District) Judge (Lee) Hamilton.”
State Child Protective Services has been under fire for how some of its workers handled the case before and after 22-month-old Tamryn Klapheke died from severe neglect in August 2012.
Her mother, Tiffany, in February was sentenced to 30 years in prison for her role.
On Monday, the special prosecutor in the case – McClennan County District Attorney Abelino “Abel” Reyna – said additional time has been required to make a careful review of the case “due to the sheer volume of documents, reports, and information – and the serious nature of the allegations.”
In an email, Reyna said he is “more concerned with a quality and thorough review of the case rather than a specific timetable.”
“I’m sure Chief Standridge and Judge Hamilton would feel the same,” Reyna said in an email.
In addition, Reyna said, “I will not comment on anything with respect to the grand jury.”
Hamilton of the 104th District Court in Taylor County issued the order appointing the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office (Waco) as special prosecutor.
In April, Standridge – whose agency investigated the death of the malnourished toddler – said he hoped the grand jury would take up the matter in May.
Now, three months later, the case still hasn’t gone to the grand jury.
Ex-Commissioner Howard Baldwin, who oversaw the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services when the Abilene police probe into the alleged mishandling of the Klapheke case began, announced his resignation in November 2012 – just two months after the death of Tamryn Klapheke.
Tamryn reportedly died six days after CPS closed an investigation of medical neglect on the Klapheke family – without the mandatory final visit of the home. During Tiffany Klapheke's trial, Tiffany admitted in a taped police interview that she had failed to feed Tamryn as often as she should have and had not changed Tamryn's diaper for several days.
While Abilene police named former CPS supervisors Gretchen Denny, Bit Whitaker and Barbara McDaniel as suspects in the investigation before police handed the case over to the McClennan County DA's Office, it is unclear which names will be submitted to grand jury.
Whitaker and Denny were put on paid administrative leave for several months during the early stages of the investigation. Whitaker later resigned and Denny was dismissed. Attorneys for Whitaker and Denny made motions to protect the pair from testifying in Klapheke's February trial because of the pending investigation of CPS.
McDaniel was allowed to continue with CPS in a clerical position in the Permian Basin in September 2013; however, KTXS learned earlier this year that she was once again a supervisor.