KLAPHEKE CASE: Two CPS workers resign, two disciplined after 'inappropriate relationship' disclosed

ABILENE, Texas - Two Child Protective Services employees have resigned and two others have been disciplined after an alleged "inappropriate relationship" between the husband of Tiffany Klapheke and a CPS supervisor was discovered.

Tiffany Klapheke remains jailed in Taylor County Jail on $500,000 bond on felony child injury charges after her 22-month-old daughter died late last August of alleged dehydration and malnutrition.

The revelation of the alleged improper relationship involving Thomas Klapheke and CPS Investigator Supervisor Tiffany Gann was reported to CPS leaders on May 23. The relationship allegedly occurred "in the fall of 2012," CPS officials said.

Thomas Klapheke, a Dyess airman who was deployed at the time of his daughter's death, later filed for divorce. Two other Klapheke daughters – who were age 3 and 6 months old – were hospitalized after being found in poor condition.

According to Tiffany's adoptive parents, Scott and Tina Romano, the surviving Klapheke children are living with Thomas's parents.

Gann and CPS caseworker Rebecca Tapia were assigned to the Klapheke case. While Gann resigned, Tapia stepped down after officials determined she was aware of Gann's alleged relationship with Thomas Klapheke, said CPS spokesman Patrick Crimmins.

In an email, Scott and Tina Romano said they found out about the affair Tuesday night when Tiffany Klapheke called them from jail. They said the affair makes them question whether CPS properly investigated the couple.

Two other CPS specialists Slade King and Megan Schweigert were reprimanded for being aware of and not disclosing the alleged relationship, CPS officials said. The two, however, never worked on the Klapheke case, according to CPS.

CPS initially investigated the family in 2010 and again in 2011.

An investigation into alleged misconduct involving CPS's handling of the Klapheke case continues.

Abilene Child Protective Services Program Director Bit Whitaker, who was put on paid leave following an Abilene police investigation into the death of a toddler at Dyess Air Force Base, resigned in March.

Whitaker and two other employees, Investigation Supervisor Barbara McDaniel and ex-Program Director Gretchen Denny, were placed on leave after Abilene police said they suspected them of tampering with evidence in Tamryn Klapheke's death.

Abilene police conducted a joint investigation into the child's death with CPS. Crimmins has said CPS Caseworker Claudia Gonzales closed an 11-month investigation into the Klapheke home just six days before Tamryn died and without a final visit. 

During the joint investigation, police said they became suspicious of Whitaker, McDaniel and Denny since other CPS employees told police they were instructed to not cooperate with the investigation. 

McDaniel and Denny remain on leave.

A fourth employee, Geneva Schroeder from the Wichita Falls office, returned to work in March.


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