AUSTIN (AP) – A senior state district judge has been named the new head of the Texas child welfare agency.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission appointed Judge John J. Specia Jr. on Tuesday to be commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services. He succeeds Howard Baldwin, who resigned last week amid a criminal investigation of a West Texas office’s handling of the death of a malnourished toddler. The toddler’s mother contends she was too stressed by her husband’s deployment to care for her children.

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Four agency workers in Abilene are on leave while police investigate possible evidence tampering in the death of 22-month-old Tamryn Klapheke. She was found unresponsive in her home at Dyess Air Force Base. Her mother, Tiffany Nicole Klapheke, faces three child injury charges.

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