A 22-month-old girl died from severe neglect after her mother stopped caring for her and responding to her basic needs.
The girl’s mother, Tiffany Nicole Klapheke, 21, said that she was depressed about her husband’s deployment and told Abilene’s KTAB-TV in an interview from jail that she knew she should have been a good mother and taken her three daughters to see a doctors, but said, “I didn’t put them first anymore.”
The 22-month-old was only 17.5 pounds when they weighed her at an Abilene hospital where she later passed away. She had been found unresponsive in her Dyess Air Force Base home on Tuesday.
Klapheke’s two other daughters, a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old, were also treated for severe neglect at a children’s hospital in Fort Worth. According to police, they are expected to be able to leave the intensive care unit soon.
The 22-month-old had chemical burns all over her body, which is an indication that she had been in contact with human waste. Her mother said that she had grown impatient with potty training her children and had left the toddler in her crib in her own urine for nearly a week.
“I just got tired of always changing the sheets, so it was on there a little bit longer than it should have been,” she told KTAB-TV in reference to the toddler’s exposure to human waste.
Klapheke said that she had tried to commit suicide three weeks earlier, but a friend had stopped her.
“I’m so just stressed out and depressed, and I just need help taking care of them, and I don’t have any help,” Klapheke told KTAB-TV.
Klapheke moved to Texas a few years ago with her husband from Lexington, Kentucky. She has said she has no relatives in the area.
“I made a horrible, horrible mistake that I’m going to pay for for the rest of my life,” she told KTAB-TV.
Spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Marleigh Meisner, said their office has custody of the two girls. Although she did not comment on whether Klapheke had any prior history with the agency, she said that the office is currently speaking with relatives as part of its 30-day investigation to determine placement for the girls.
According to the preliminary autopsy report from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office in Fort Worth, the toddler suffered from dehydration and malnutrition from a lack of basic care over a period of time.
Ablilene police said that Klapheke has been charged with three felony counts of injury to a child in connection with her 22-month-old daughter’s death and the severe neglect of her other two daughters.
Klapheke is being held at the Taylor County Jail on $500,000 bond.