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Missing teen found a year after witnessing his father’s death had run away before, records show

Jacob Caldwell ran away from home more than once before he witnessed his father’s murder in August 2017, and recently released court and police records indicate Caldwell did not want to live with his father or his paternal grandparents.

Jacob Caldwell was found last week living in the basement of a Miami Twp. home. The 15-year-old hadn’t been seen in more than a year, since he and two of his brothers witnessed the Aug. 15, 2017 fatal shooting of their father, 35-year-old Robert Caldwell, in a Riverside parking lot.

RELATED: New details emerge about house where missing Jacob Caldwell was found

The Greene County Juvenile Court has released the transcript from the initial hearing in Jacob Caldwell’s case last week, which this news organization was not permitted to attend.

Both Nicole Burke, the Greene County assistant prosecutor, and Lori Cicero, attorney for Jacob’s legal guardian and his paternal grandmother Sally DeThomas, argued against allowing media in the hearing and in favor of keeping Jacob Caldwell in the detention center.

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“There are a lot of facts that have not been sufficiently investigated due to the time of which Jacob’s appearance in front of this court has taken place,” Cicero said in the hearing. “There’s also pertinent facts that if were revealed in public hearing could be disclosed to the public in general and could also put the child in a risk of harm.”

Greene County Juvenile Judge Adolfo Tornichio has ordered that Jacob Caldwell remain in the juvenile detention center to ensure that he receives medical care and does not run away again. In addition, Tornichio granted the prosecution’s request that he not have any contact with 11 people who are “not in Jacob’s best interest,” according to Nicole Burke, the Greene County prosecutor.

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The names of those barred from contacting Jacob Caldwell were redacted from the court transcript.

“We believe that these people aided in the hiding, for lack of a better term, of him over the last year,” Burke said in the hearing.

Tornichio also ordered that the sheriff’s department be responsible for transporting Jacob to and from assessments that he will undergo while in detention.

Jacob Caldwell addressed the court after Tornichio asked if he had anything to say.

“I would just like to add that I do not feel the need to flee from (two people whose names were redacted from the transcript). It’s just Sally DeThomas (his paternal grandmother and legal guardian) I feel unsafe at,” he said, according to the transcript.

Tornichio responded, saying the court has “great concern for you, your physical safety, your mental stability.”

“This isn’t the first time that you ran. This isn’t the first detention hearing that you and I have had. First time I ever met you, I let you out of detention and you ran, and you did it two other times,” Tornichio said, according to the transcript.

According to Beavercreek police records, Jacob Caldwell ran away on July 24, 2017 from Ankeney Middle School and again on July 31, 2017 from his stepmother, Candice Caldwell, as she prepared to check out at Kroger on Dayton-Xenia Road.

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In both instances, Jacob Caldwell was found by police hours after he was reported missing. In the first incident, he was found at Jet’s Pizza, where he used an employee’s cell phone to call 911, according to police records. In the second incident, he was taken into custody after an officer spotted him behind Beaver Vu Bowling and apprehended him following a brief pursuit, according to records.

Jacob Caldwell ran away days after his father was granted full custody of him and his two brothers “after a four-year custody battle,” according to police records.

“The boys didn’t know their father due to the separation and were highly upset over their new home and rules,” the July 24, 2017 police report states.

Jacob Caldwell was reported missing a third time on Aug. 21, 2017, and he wasn’t found until late last month when a tipster called police.

A $15,000 reward was offered in hopes of finding Jacob, and that reward is being processed and is expected to be presented to the person who called police to report his whereabouts, according to Todd Lindgren, spokesperson for FBI Cincinnati.

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The federal case in the murder of Robert Caldwell is in the pretrial hearings stage. Among the six defendants are Jacob’s mother Tawnney Caldwell and her boyfriend, Sterling Roberts. Both are charged with murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.

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