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Girl’s death stirs look at Texas agency

LUBBOCK, Texas — Police have launched a rare investigation of the Texas child protection agency after a 22-month-old girl died and her mother claimed that her military husband’s deployment overseas left her too stressed to care for their three children.

Abilene police Chief Stan Standridge said the department learned that a new supervisor at Child Protective Services closed the case six days before the child’s death on Aug. 28.

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Agency spokesman Patrick Crimmins said a caseworker assigned to investigate allegations of medical neglect against Tiffany Nicole Klapheke closed the case soon after being promoted to supervisor. In doing so, she violated agency guidelines that require a final face-to-face visit and someone else to sign off on the closure, he said.

‘‘You want to see the family again because you don’t know what might have changed since you saw them,’’ Crimmins said.

Tamryn Klapheke died at an Abilene hospital after being found unresponsive at her home at Dyess Air Force Base. She weighed only 17.5 pounds and her body had chemical burns, indicating she had been exposed to human waste, the medical examiner’s report said.

Tiffany Klapheke’s two other daughters, ages 6 months and 3 years at the time, were treated for severe neglect at a children’s hospital in Fort Worth, about 150 miles east of Abilene. They are now in foster care, Crimmins said.

The Child Protective Services employee had not seen the family in about 10 months when she closed the case, he said.

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