Texas family services commissioner Howard Baldwin resigns, police investigate alleged cover-up in child abuse case

stuffed animals

Howard Baldwin, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services commissioner, resigned Thursday amid an investigation into the death of a 22-month-old girl and the handling of it by the Department of Child Protective Services in Abilene.

Baldwin’s boss, Kyle Janek, executive commissioner of the state Department of Health and Human Services, would say only that Baldwin was leaving to pursue other interests and thanked him for his many years of public service, according to the Houston Chronicle today.

In Baldwin’s absence, CPS Regional Director Bit Whitaker, Program Director Gretchen Denny and supervisor Barbara McDaniel remain on paid leave as Abilene police look into allegations of a cover-up and tampering with evidence in the dehydration death of Tamryn Klapheke.

Howard BaldwinHoward Baldwin

The body of the girl and her sisters, 3 and 6 months old at the time, were found Aug. 28 in their mother’s home on Dyess Air Force Base where they had been alone without food and water for as much as a week, Abilene Police said.

Tiffany Klapheke has been charged in connection with the death and the neglect. She is being held in the Taylor County Jail.

The discovery of Tamryn’s body came six days after Claudia Gonzalez, a Child Protective Services caseworker, closed the third investigation of neglect by the family, the Chronicle reports.

Gonzalez had not visited the children nor had she gotten a necessary supervisor's signature to close the case. Gonzalez resigned.

In a search warrant obtained by Abilene Police, Whitaker, Denny and McDaniel are accused of tampering with evidence in the case.

No one with Child Protective Services has been charged in connection with the investigation.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of stuffed animals by flickr user The Eggplant, used via a Creative Commons license.