ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Abilene CPS worker implicated in a case that led to the death of 1 child and severe neglect of 2 others is standing trial for allegedly withholding a photograph of the dead child from medical professionals.
During Day 2 of the trial of Gretchen Denny, 44, charged with Tampering with Evidence, a CPS worker who was supervised by Denny said Denny made the decision not to send the picture in question.
Abilene police officers took a picture of 22-month-old Tamaryn Klapheke when they found her deceased inside a home on Dyess Air Force Base in 2012 and sent it to CPS officials to request assistance.
A CPS worker was sent to the home to investigate, removed 2 other children from the residence, and took them to the hospital, where medical professionals uncovered bruising and strange marks on both children.
The CPS worker said the marks matched injuries present in the picture of the dead child, which was shown to her to prepare her to go into the Klapheke home.
When the medical professionals asked to see the picture to help them treat the 2 surviving children, the CPS worker was unable to get the picture from her supervisors at CPS and had to go through the police department, even though, as an APD detective said on the stand, “time was of the essence”.
The detective said he was also unable to get the picture from CPS and claimed this “surprised” him because usually they share information.
Witnesses testifying on behalf of CPS said withholding the photograph was not about a coverup, it was about protecting the chain of custody because they did not want to compromise a law enforcement investigation.
Testimony is expected to continue throughout the day. Check back with BigCountryHomepage for the latest information.
Mother Tiffany Klapheke was sentenced to 30 years in prison in February of 2014 on charges connected to the death of Tamryn and the abuse of her other two children.
Klapheke’s then-boyfriend, Senior Airman Perez was sentenced to three years of confinement for adultery and three counts of child endangerment.
Another CPS worker, Supervisor Martha ‘Bit’ Whitaker, is also charged with Tampering with Evidence in connection to the Klapheke case, though her trial date has not been set.
Court documents state Whitaker “did intentionally and knowingly alter or conceal . . . Child Protective Services documents detailing the investigation of the Klapheke children and/or medical records of the Klapheke children and/or Dyess Family Advocacy office records of the Klapheke children, with intent to impair its availability as evidence in the investigation”.