Police say the 22-month-old, Tamryn Klapheke, had been severely neglected, along with Klapheke's two other daughters, a 6-month-old and a 3-year-old.
During the investigation into the death of the child, it was discovered that Airmen Perez had been living at the home with Tiffany Klapheke. Perez was taken into custody by security forces on the day that the toddler was found dead in her crib by her mother, on August 28th of this year.
Testimony revealed Monday that Tiffany's husband, Thomas Klapheke, who was overseas when Perez moved in, knew that Perez had moved into the home, and there is evidence that the three were involved before Thomas's deployment. Flanked by his defense team, Perez sat and watched as government attorneys called the lead investigator in the case, Detective Eric Vickers with the Abilene Police Department. Vickers detailed his experience on the day he arrived at the Klapheke house, noting that the first thing he noticed was the smell in the house.
Vickers said the Klapheke house smelled of cat feces and urine.
When he first got to the house, Vickers stated that security forces already had the crime scene contained and he saw Tiffany and the 3-year-old in the kitchen of the home where Tiffany was feeding her cereal. The detective said he asked Tiffany if the girl was sick because of her appearance which was pail, very skinny and her eyes were sunken in. The 6-month-old girl was in the living room and had the same appearance.
Vickers stated he had planned to take the girls' mother to the law enforcement center for an interview, and before they left, she had to go get some things from the master bedroom that was at the back of the home, and he followed her there. As he was walking down the hall, Vickers noticed a small kitten in a bathroom which was covered in feces and urine. As he continued, in the hall closet he noticed there was a litter box which was overflowing with feces.
From there, Vickers followed Klapheke into her bedroom so she could gather some of her things before they left. Her bedroom, he recalled, was messy with clothes everywhere and the bathtub in the attached master bedroom was covered in a brown substance.
Vickers recalls seeing Perez being put into handcuffs at the gate as he and Tiffany were leaving, making this the first moment he realized there was another party involved.
The base had been locked down in order to find Perez before he was taken into custody.
Under questioning by Vickers, Tiffany first referred to Perez as her best friend. She then admitted to sexual relations with him and that they were living together. Vickers found out that Perez was also married to a woman in Peru, who had children by him.
Investigators obtained a search warrant for Tiffany's phone which revealed thousands of text messages between her and Perez. Investigators were able to chronicle the relationship from June when the couple met, to the day of August 28.
All three, Perez, Tiffany and Thomas Klapheke, met when Tiffany placed a personal add online.
After Perez moved in in July, he began referring to the Klapheke children as his step-children. Whenever he arrived at the house, he would play with the children, as Tiffany often complained of fatigue. She also claimed she had insomnia, which is why she would leave the house to go out with friends after Perez came home and went to bed.
Tiffany stated that while she was gone, she would lock the kids' doors from the inside because she claimed she had been sexually abused as a child and didn't want Perez to have access to them.
In his interview, Perez, who investigators described as cooperative, admitted to having a sexual relationship with Klapheke.
On august 28, when Tamryn was found dead, Perez said he drove to the house and saw the emergency cars. He attempted to stop, but drove back to the gate after he was told to return to his post.
Upon arrival at the gate, a fellow officer told Perez she had heard a mother had beaten her child to death. He told her he didn't believe Tiffany would do that.
When asked about the day the child was found, he said he hadn't seen the kids for about four days prior to that since they had been locked in their rooms, which he confirmed happened often.
Perez also said he had often told Tiffany that she needed to clean her house.
When asked if he would let Tiffany babysit his son, Perez said no.
Finally, Vickers spoke about the medical condition of the Klapheke children, stating Tamryn was malnourished, dehydrated, and had chemical burns from the urine and feces she had been lying in due to the fact that her diaper hadn't been changed in so long. The other two also had chemical burns from feces and urine and, when found, the 6-month-old was only a few hours from dying.
When emergency personnel arrived, Tamryn had been dead for several hours and rigamortis had already set in. There is also evidence she had been eating her own feces.
Vickers noted that the odor from the bedroom where Tamryn was found dead was so strong that it burned the eyes and faces of the investigators as they entered.
The crib in the room was soaked in urine and feces.
Apparently, Tiffany Kalpheke, after five days of the kids being locked up, woke up at 3 p.m. on august 28 and decided to clean and feed the kids, and that is when she discovered Tamryn dead. Tiffany picked her up and stuck her under cold water hoping to revive her.
Also called to the stand was the head of Family Advocacy on base who testified that since April of 2010, there had been several cases of medical neglect open on the family. Thomas and Tiffany would regularly miss doctor's appointments and fail to pick up prescriptions. Family Advocacy would have to call Thomas's sergeant who would then call Thomas to make him take the kids to the doctor.
It was the testimony of the head of Family Advocacy that revealed that Thomas knew about Perez before he left.
Perez faces charges of adultery, child endangerment and child neglect.