A Copperas Cove detective looked into an allegation of a shaken baby at a Copperas Cove day care facility, but then closed the investigation after being unable to locate a victim on Thursday, police said.

City police were investigating an allegation that a baby was abused at Turkey Creek Junior Academy in Copperas Cove, a police official confirmed on Thursday. A state agency is also investigating the case.

“A detective did respond (to Turkey Creek, on Wednesday) and a case report has been generated,” said Sgt. Kevin Miller, Copperas Cove Police Department spokesman, on Thursday morning.

Later on Thursday, Miller said detectives were unable to identify or locate a victim and “there was no time frame given for when the alleged offense took place.”

“The Copperas Cove Police Department will close this investigation until further investigative leads develop,” Miller said.

A state official confirmed this week a separate investigation is ongoing after an allegation surfaced that at least one baby was shaken by an employee.

“We are investigating allegations of a shaken baby there, but because it’s an ongoing investigation that is all I can tell you at this time,” said Lisa Block, a media specialist with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

A person who said they were the administrator at Turkey Creek Junior Academy refused to comment when the Herald called Tuesday and Thursday.

Turkey Creek Junior Academy currently is licensed by the state. State records show Turkey Creek has had 30 violations in three years.

Jennifer Hazlett said she pulled her son out of Turkey Creek Junior Academy. “I’ve had issues with that place and I hope they close it down,” she said. “Some people who work there are sweet and others, not so much.”

Hazlett said her son burned his hands on the heavy back door at the center.

State oversight

Two separate state agencies manage child care in the state.

“DFPS conducts investigations of allegations of suspected abuse and neglect at child care operations,” Block said. “Following an investigation, DFPS informs the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, or HHSC, of minimum standards violations and concerns. HHSC may then take regulatory action as warranted.”

HHSC inspects childcare operations since the two agencies parted in 2017.

A HHSC press officer offered some background but, like DFPS, could not provide details concerning the allegation at Turkey Creek.

“HHSC is the licensing entity, and we determine whether the center complied with minimum standards and take regulatory action as warranted,” said Kelli Weldon. “In general, we remain in contact with DFPS during an investigation. Once a DFPS investigation is complete, the findings are reviewed and we will take action if warranted.”

Weldon said there is no specific number of violations required to pull an operation’s license. “We assess risk on an individual basis.”

Violations

DFPS records show Turkey Creek Junior Academy had 30 violations over the last three years, which is as far back as online records go. Most of the violations were “medium high” or “high” on the scale of risk level to children.

Records show Turkey Creek corrected most violations.

State investigators issued several reports in the past about Turkey Creek Junior Academy, including one in November 2016, in which the narrative states “during an investigation it was found that there was sufficient evidence that a child was abused while in care.”

The same report said a child was removed from the lunch table and not given food as a means of discipline.

The most recent violation, on May 3, is “children being allowed to watch TV without the TV being related to planned activities,” according to DFPS records. Turkey Creek had three other TV-related violations.

Other violations included crib mattresses not being snug, broken playground equipment with sharp edges and a caregiver yelling at children.

The facility is at 1101 Hawk Trail.

To look up the records on any child care location in Texas, go to the day care search page at www.dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Care/Search_Texas_Child_Care.

Emily Hilley-Sierzchula is reporter for the Killeen Daily Herald. Reach her at emilys@kdhnews.com

Herald reporter

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