The three people accused of helping keep Jacob Caldwell away from his legal guardians after he witnessed his father’s death were sentenced Thursday in Miamisburg Municipal Court.
Donald Bell and Jo Anne Henderson were sentenced to 180 days in jail with 170 suspended. Judge Robert Rettich III ruled both will spend 10 days in jail, must each pay $380 in fees and will be on probation for 10 years.
Henderson’s son, Zacheriah, had all 180 days of his sentenced suspended and was ordered to pay $230 in fees and get a full-time job during his probation.
Rettich said what happened was a “horrendous loss of judgment” but that the defendants had no criminal record.
“I just cannot fathom for a second how you could think it would be OK to leave a teenage boy languishing …,” Rettich said. “It’s just so inappropriate.”
Sally DeThomas, Jacob’s paternal grandmother and legal guardian, asked Rettich to sentence the defendants to the maximum 180 days and a $1,000 fine for an interference of custody case.
DeThomas’ son, Robert “Bobby” Caldwell, was shot to death on Aug. 15, 2017, in front of three of his children after a counseling session in Riverside. Bobby Caldwell was buried on Aug. 21, 2017 — the same day Jacob later disappeared.
“For a year, we had no idea if this child was dead or alive,” DeThomas said. “We knew his maternal family had him and we also knew what they were capable of.”
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In February 2018, six defendants — including Jacob’s mother Tawnney (Thomas) Caldwell and alleged shooter Sterling Roberts — were federally indicted for a range of charges related to the shooting. Those cases are ongoing in Dayton’s U.S. District Court.
DeThomas said Jacob was found Aug. 28, 2018 in the basement of the defendants’ Miami Twp. home “with nothing but a mattress and a television and I believe some video games.”
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DeThomas said her grandson’s mental and physical condition — emaciated with long, dirty hair — made Jacob nearly unrecognizable and he had no schooling and no counseling.
“They knew who this boy was and what he had been through yet they showed no care at all,” DeThomas said. “These defendants are a big part of the terrible part me and these three children have had to live through, especially Jacob.”
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Attorneys for all said their clients made a mistake by not contacting law enforcement.
“This case is a huge and continuing to be a huge tragedy for multiple people in our community,” said Anthony VanNoy, Jo Anne Henderson’s attorney, who called his client “extremely remorseful and regretful.”
Rettich said the Hendersons, who are not U.S. citizens, could face deportation or other sanctions.
“If you do anything — anything at all — that my probation department doesn’t care for, I’m going to lock you up and you’re going to do 170 days,” Rettich told Jo Anne Henderson. “I think what you did was despicable.”