Military moms have it tough. Not only do they have to worry about whether their husbands will make it home alive, but they have to hold down the fort -- kids, pets, finances, house -- alone. Military husbands have it rough too. Not only the stress of their dangerous job, of course, but they have to trust that their spouses (both male and female, there are women in the military, naturally) are capable of holding down the fort. That the spouse won't melt down or abandon the family or otherwise do something crazy while going it alone.
But no matter how stressful going it alone can get for a military spouse, neglecting your child to the point of starvation and death is unacceptable. But her status as a military spouse, and all of the resultant stress, is the excuse that mom of three Tiffany Klapheke used when she allegedly starved her 22-month-old baby, Tamryn, until she died.
Police found Tamryn, who lived in Abilene, Texas with her siblings and mother, dead in her crib, with the home reeking so bad from urine and feces that a cop said the stench hit him in the face "like a tennis racket." Little Tamryn had reportedly died of malnutrition and dehydration, after having been neglected for days.
Tiffany already had a history with child protective services, which had investigated her a year earlier, but ended up closing out the case without rechecking the kids.
Tiffany went on to give interviews in which she blamed the lack of support and help, and her stress of dealing with three young children while her husband, Thomas, was deployed, for what happened. But prosecutors aren't buying it.
It's tempting to feel sorry for Tiffany -- who is now standing trial and faces life in prison -- because she grew up in an abusive home and in foster care. And three children by age 22 and a deployed husband are a lot to deal with. But this isn't a child who got into a mishap and died while the exhausted mom took a nap. This is a child who was severely neglected to the point where she had "chemical burns" on her skin from being exposed to fecal waste. This is a child who wasn't being fed! The other children, too, showed severe signs of neglect.
And then there's Tiffany's boyfriend, Christopher Perez, who was also charged. He was apparently living in the home with Tiffany -- and her husband, Thomas, says he had no idea they were having an affair. Perez claimed that Tiffany hid her daughter's condition from him, but prosecutors successfully argued that there is no way he couldn't have known about it. He was sentenced to three years confinement.
In short, we have a mom who has time for a boyfriend, but not to feed her baby. And that's inexcusable.
Sadly, the remaining children are now wards of the state, and Thomas has restricted custody.
Do you think military wives need more support?
Image via KTXS