HOUSTON, Texas–An Abilene television news station has reported that a former Child Protective Services (CPS) supervisor was arrested on Saturday on a tampering of evidence charge. The felony charge stems from actions in a highly publicized 2012 Abilene child dehydration and starvation death case.
Martha Kiel “Bit” Whitaker is out on bond after being charged with a third degree felony. Whitaker faces a possible sentence of two to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The stepfather of the child spoke exclusively to KTXS in Abilene. Scott Romano told the station that he blamed CPS for not preventing the infant’s death because so many referrals had been made to the agency.
KTXS reported that Whitaker was the CPS supervisor when the 22-month-old child, Tamryn Klapheke, died from abuse in August of 2012. The young child’s mother, Tiffany Klapheke, was convicted of causing injury to a child and sentenced to 30 years in prison. The mother had been accused of failing to feed her three daughters. Tamryn Klapheke was her youngest daughter.
KTXS reported that the McLennan County DA’s Office had named Whitaker and two other CPS supervisors, Gretchen Denny and Barbara McDaniel, as suspects. KTXS reported that Denny was fired, Whitaker resigned, and McDaniel is still a CPS supervisor.
In 2012, Texas Watchdog reported that the commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services at the time, Howard Baldwin, resigned amid an investigation, just two months after the infant’s death.
Lana Shadwick has served as a judge, prosecutor and CPS lawyer during her 22-year legal career. Follow her @LanaShadwick2.