DAYTON — An Ohio teenager who witnessed his father’s fatal shooting last year and then disappeared has been found unharmed in a house where he was hidden all the time without going to school or seeing friends, police said.
Investigators say they are now looking into how and why several people hid 15-year-old Jacob Caldwell, who was found this week after months of searching.
Caldwell appeared to be healthy and there were no signs he had been locked up or restrained against his will inside the house just outside Dayton, said Sugarcreek Township Police Chief Michael Brown.
He was discovered Monday night after investigators received an anonymous tip that he might be at the house, Brown said, adding four adults were also found in the house at the time.
He said Caldwell was not very talkative and appeared nonchalant after detectives took him from the home. The teen’s long hair, which looked like it hadn’t been cut in a year, was about the only thing indicating he had been kept isolated, according to Brown.
The teen was last seen on Aug. 21, 2017, less than a week after he and two younger siblings witnessed his father’s fatal shooting in a parking lot outside an office park near Dayton.
Authorities in March charged six people, including the boy’s mother in the shooting of Robert Caldwell, who died just weeks after winning custody of his children. His ex-wife and another man were charged with murder in the shooting and are awaiting trial.
Jacob Caldwell and his brothers began living with his grandparents after the shooting, but he left their house. Investigators believe he ran away at the encouragement of someone, Brown said. The two younger brothers remained with their grandparents.
“We always felt that he was fine,” he said. “We had a feeling, a really strong feeling it was a family member that was involved.”
The four adults found in the home were associates of his mother’s family members, the police chief said. No charges have been filed yet.
Caldwell was found in a basement where he usually slept, and it appeared he was able to move around freely inside the house, Brown said.
The teen, who authorities say has a history of running away, has been in a juvenile detention center since he was taken out of the home. He was being held on an unruly charge that’s related to him running away before the shooting, Brown said.