Jacob Caldwell was just 15-years-old when he saw his father violently murdered in front of him by his mother on August 15, 2017. His father, Robert Caldwell, had just finished a tough custody battle against his ex-wife and Jacob’s mother, Tawney Caldwell, in which Robert was assigned full custody of the children, including Jacob and his brothers. Immediately after this court ruling, Tawney murdered Robert in full view of Jacob in front of an office building. Tawney Caldwell and six others were indicted by a federal grand jury in Robert Caldwell’s death.
After the murder, emergency custody of Jacob and his brothers went to his grandparents. That was when Jacob disappeared, the night of his father’s funeral. It is suspected that he ran away from his grandparent’s home. After running away, he was last seen in front of a Walmart on August 21, 2017, in Sugar Creek Township, located in Ohio. That was the last time he was seen – until police got a credible tip as to Jacob’s whereabouts.
Police had recently put up billboards in the area, noting that Jacob was missing and calling for his return, and they credit the billboard in convincing the tipster to come forward, reports ABC News. The tipster told police that Jacob was about to be moved from his location, so the police moved in quickly.
#BreakingNews: Jacob Caldwell, a local teen who went missing after his father was murdered in front of him in 2017 has been found safe his family confirms to FOX45. https://t.co/BDkiGGcCcJ pic.twitter.com/VmubTe0jCk— ABC 22/FOX 45 Dayton (@ABC22FOX45) August 28, 2018
Jacob was located in Miami Township, about 40 miles away from where he was last seen. He was discovered living in the basement of a house with four other adults. While not related to any of the four adults, each of them had ties to his mother, Tawney Caldwell. Police are considering filing obstruction of justice charges against the adults and other members of Tawney Caldwell’s family, who may have encouraged Jacob to run away.
“It was our understanding that he was not outside much. He’s gone a year without school. He’s gone a year without socializing with friends,” Sugarcreek Township Police Chief Michael Brown told news station WHIO. “There was no evidence of him being secured or locked in. I think he could have roamed throughout the house, if he wished.”
Brown went on to clarify that Jacob did not appear to have been kept hidden or locked up in the basement, but rather that it was simply his primary sleeping area. Jacob was removed from the residence and brought to a nearby juvenile detention center for safekeeping. He did not resist police as they took him into custody.
The billboards put up in hopes of his safe return are now emblazoned with the word “Found!” in red.