ABILENE, Texas - A Dyess airman has been charged with failure to report child abuse or neglect, adultery and child endangerment in relation to the death of 22-month-old Tamryn Klapheke.
Officials allege Senior Airman Christopher Perez was involved in a relationship with Tiffany Klapheke, 22, when Tamryn was found dead in late August. Klapheke, whose husband Thomas was deployed when the child died, remains in Taylor County Jail on $500,000 bond on charges of severely neglecting Tamryn and her two siblings.
Earlier this month, Thomas Klapheke filed for divorce.
According to police, the three children were left alone – without adult care – for about a week. Tamyrn's two sisters were hospitalized, recuperated and are now in foster care.
Dyess Air Force Base officials announced the charges against Perez in a news release Friday afternoon. The officials said Perez could be dismissed or court-martialed and that a hearing will take place in the near future.
Below is Friday's press release from Dyess Air Force Base:
On October 19, 2012, 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.
Additionally, in an allegation which is not related to the Klapheke case, Senior Airman Perez was charged with wrongful sexual contact of an adult female under Article 120 of the UCMJ. The charges are only accusations and the accused is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty
Col. Glen VanHerck, 7th Bomb Wing commander, has appointed an officer under Article 32 of the UCMJ to conduct a hearing to thoroughly investigate the charges. Following the hearing, the investigating officer will make recommendations about the disposition of the allegations. Possible dispositions of the charges range from dismissal to a General Court-Martial. The hearing will proceed at Dyess in the near future.
"The Air Force is committed to holding offenders accountable, but it is important to remember that those charged are innocent until they are proven guilty," said Col. VanHerck. "What happened to the Klapheke children was a terrible tragedy and every effort is being made to bring justice to those responsible for what happened to those children."
More information regarding this case will be released as it becomes available.