Teen missing for a year after witnessing murder found alive in Ohio basement

Billboards for 15-year-old Jacob Caldwell had just been put up last week.

August 28, 2018, 7:01 PM

A 15-year-old Ohio boy missing for more than a year after witnessing a murder has been found alive in a basement, authorities said.

Police believe Jacob Caldwell ran away from the home of his grandparents, who were granted emergency temporary custody of him and his brothers, after Jacob's father, Robert Caldwell, was shot and killed by his ex-wife, Tawnney Caldwell, on Aug. 15, 2017, ABC Dayton affiliate WKEF reported.

Jacob had last been seen Aug. 21, 2017, in front of a Walmart in Sugar Creek Township, Sugar Creek Township Police Chief Michael Brown said at a press conference Tuesday.

PHOTO: A Walmart store in Sugar Creek Township, Ohio.
A Walmart store in Sugar Creek Township, Ohio.

Jacob was found at a home about 40 miles away in Miami Township late Monday night after an individual called investigators earlier that day with "very credible" information on his location, Brown said.

Authorities obtained a search warrant late Monday after getting word Jacob may soon be moved, Brown said. When police arrived at the home, they found that Jacob had been living in the basement with four adults.

It does not appear that Jacob was being hidden in the basement, but rather that it was his "primary area of sleep," Brown said. He was healthy but remained quiet when they found him, and he looked like he hadn't had a haircut since he went missing.

Jacob also went a year without attending school or socializing with friends, Brown said. It appears that all he has been doing for the past year is sitting inside, watching TV and playing video games, Brown said.

Jacob did not resist when authorities took him into custody, Brown said.

PHOTO: A missing poster of Jacob Caldwell.
A missing poster of Jacob Caldwell.
Sugarcreek Township Police Department

The adults who were in the home are not related to Jacob but are associated with his mother, Brown said.

Authorities are considering filing obstruction of justice charges against the four adults as well as other charges against family members or "whoever initiated him taking off that night," Brown said.

Billboards for Jacob had just been put up in the area last Wednesday, Brown said, adding that he believes that's what prompted the tip from the caller.

Images from WKEF show that the billboards now have a red banner running diagonally across them emblazoned with the word "FOUND!!"

PHOTO: An undated photo of Jacob Caldwell.
An undated photo of Jacob Caldwell.
Sugarcreek Township Police Department

Jacob is now being held in a juvenile detention on a previous warrant issued after he ran away from the home he shared with his father and stepmother, Brown said.

Tawnney Caldwell is currently locked up, Brown said.

In March, local and federal authorities announced indictments against six people, including Tawnney Caldwell, in Robert Caldwell's death, WKEF reported.

Robert Caldwell just won custody of his children from his ex-wife when he was killed, WKEF reported.