The widow of Robert “Bobby” Caldwell has sued co-conspirators federally indicted in Caldwell’s death and Greene County officials for failing to act to protect Caldwell after he called 911 to report he had a gun pulled on him by Sterling Roberts during a ruse to set up a confrontation.
Roberts was indicted of killing Caldwell about two weeks after the first incident in front of Caldwell’s children. His son Jacob was located late Monday night in a Miami Twp. residence after being taken away from his legal guardians more than a year after Caldwell’s death.
Roberts was indicted in Dayton’s U.S. District Court for Caldwell’s death which happened about two weeks after the 911 call. Five others, including Caldwell’s ex-wife, also were indicted on various related charges. Roberts and his ex had a contentious court battle after which Roberts was awarded custody of his children.
“The circumstances in which Jacob was found corroborate our complaint that there was harboring of him,” said attorney Anthony Cicero, who represents Caldwell’s widow, Candice. “In terms of the Greene County 911 call, I mean those circumstances are tragic.
“Greene County was put on notice that their failure to do anything put Robert’s life at risk (before Robert Caldwell was killed). I specifically put them on notice that their failure to act was doing nothing.”
The lawsuit alleging wrongful death, conspiracy to attempted murder, assault, infliction of emotional distress and criminal actions was filed in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.
RELATED: Jacob Caldwell timeline
Named defendants include “co-conspirators” Roberts, Tawnney Caldwell (Thomas), Chandra Harmon fka Thomas, James Harmon, Lisa Thomas, Staci Thomas, Jeanine Roberts, Christopher Roberts and Chance Deakin aka Chance Roberts along with “state defendants” Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer, sheriff’s Det. Kelly Edwards and a “Jane Doe” 911 dispatcher.
‘What is it coing to take for somebody to take this seriously’
“I don’t think that they took it seriously,” Candice Caldwell said Wednesday, adding that her husband said, “What’s it going to take for somebody to take this seriously? For me to die. … and that’s exactly what happened.”
The complaint indicated James Harmon’s address was unknown and that he is “believed to be currently under federal protection.”
Fischer did not return a message seeking comment.
“Nothing is going to bring my husband back,” Candice Caldwell said, but said she doesn’t feel Greene County law enforcement cared. “I think that they should be held accountable.”
Robert Caldwell and wife Candice won custody of Robert’s children from Tawnney on July 19, 2017 and that “Tawnney orchestrated a conspiracy to murder (Robert Caldwell), during the pendency of the custody case and thereafter,” the complaint alleges.
On Aug. 1, 2017, the complaint says, Sterling Roberts in conjunction with other defendants, lured Robert Caldwell to Jamestown with text messages supposedly from a female named “Debbie Brown” who needed masonry work done. Roberts was a stone mason.
The complaint says Tawnney gave Sterling her ex-husband’s cell phone number and that Robert Caldwell agreed to meet “Debbie Brown” on Aug. 5, 2017 at a Jamestown address.
When Caldwell got to the end of the driveway, he saw a vehicle driving toward him, saw Sterling Roberts get out and “observed Sterling reach for a gun in his waistband,” the complaint said.
The complaint alleged that Robert Caldwell maneuvered his car away from Sterling Roberts, was pursued in his vehicle by Roberts at a high rate of speed, called 911 and got to a populated area where Sterling ended his pursuit.
Caldwell was going to follow Sterling, but the 911 dispatcher told him not to and that deputies would not be dispatched to get Sterling, saying, “we’re not going to go and chase him down,” the complaint alleged.
When Caldwell said he was concerned about Sterling getting away, the dispatcher said “that’s not for you to worry about, that’s for the police to worry about,” the complaint said.
The complaint said Caldwell “received a final text from “Debbie Brown” stating ‘Your a bitch Bob’ ” before Caldwell met a deputy at the Jamestown police department.
During the incident, Caldwell’s three children were with Tawnney for a first visit since she lost custody about two weeks earlier, the complaint said, adding that Jeanine Roberts took Sterling (her son) to Tennessee to avoid apprehension.
On Aug. 7, 2017, Robert Caldwell was told nobody at the sheriff’s office was available to discuss the incident, the complaint alleged. Caldwell provided audio recordings of his communication with Sterling and had others confirm Sterling’s attempt to kill him, according to the complaint.
The complaint said Caldwell got an ex parte protection order against Sterling Roberts and that on Aug. 9, Edwards said she had not listened to the audio evidence.
The complaint said on Aug. 9, 2017, Edwards claimed charges were presented to the county prosecutor but declined to due lack of evidence. That was the same day Anthony Cicero told the sheriff’s office their failure to act put Caldwell at risk of being murdered.
Details of the complaint
The complaint said Tawnney got Sterling from Tennessee on Aug. 12, 2017 and that on Aug. 15, 2017, Sterling approached Caldwell in the parking lot after a counseling session ended and — in the presence of his three children — shot and murdered Caldwell.
The complaint said co-defendants set up a phony alibi, were aware of and provided assistance to Sterling to execute the murder, including acquiring and getting rid of the murder weapon and intimidating witnesses.
Sterling Roberts was apprehended in South Carolina where he fired a weapon at a police officer. The complaint said four defendants participated in the disappearance of Jacob Caldwell.
“His physical condition is shocking to me, to be quite frank with you,” attorney Lori Cicero, who represents the children’s paternal grandmother and legal custodian, said Tuesday after a Greene County Juvenile Court hearing closed from media.
“He is thin. His hair is very grown out and (unkempt). His physical appearance is very consistent with being in a basement for over a year. His mental needs will be assessed and dealt with appropriately as needed.”
A conference to discuss Sterling Roberts’ case was scheduled for Wednesday morning in the chambers of U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rose.
In July, a motion to continue the trial for Sterling Roberts, Tawnney Caldwell, Chance Deakin, Christopher Roberts and Chandra Harmon was granted. Those five are scheduled for trial on Nov. 5. James Harmon’s trial is scheduled for Oct. 29.