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Press Release

Murder victim’s ex-wife pleads guilty to interstate stalking resulting in death

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio

DAYTON – A 35-year-old Centerville woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to interstate stalking that resulted in her ex-husband’s death.


Tawnney Caldwell accepted responsibility for her role in the August 2017 murder of Robert Caldwell. Parties involved in Tawnney Caldwell’s case have recommended a sentence of 20 to 35 years in prison. 


According to her plea agreement, around 6pm on August 15, 2017, Robert Caldwell and his three minor children left a counseling appointment in Riverside, Ohio. While crossing the parking lot, Robert Caldwell was shot multiple times by an assailant in front of his children and died at the scene. The assailant was later identified as co-defendant Sterling Roberts.


Tawnney Caldwell is the ex-wife of the murder victim and was the girlfriend of Sterling Roberts at the time of the incident.


She and the murder victim had an ongoing dispute regarding the custody of their children and Tawnney Caldwell had talked to Sterling Roberts on at least two occasions (while Roberts was incarcerated in Montgomery County) about killing Robert Caldwell.


Tawnney Caldwell collaborated with others, including Sterling Roberts; his brothers, Chance Deakin and Christopher Roberts; Chandra Harmon (Tawnney’s mother); and James Harmon (Tawnney’s step-father), to plan, execute and cover-up the violent crime resulting in the death of Robert Caldwell.


Court documents indicate Roberts pretended to be a customer in need of stonework and messaged Robert Caldwell to lure him into meeting in Jamestown, Ohio in early August 2017. Roberts, armed with a gun, allegedly ambushed Robert Caldwell, who fled and called 911. Robert Caldwell eventually escaped that encounter and reported it to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.


According to Tawnney Caldwell’s plea, between the time of the attempted homicide and the eventual murder of Robert Caldwell, Roberts fled to a relative’s home in Tennessee. Tawnney Caldwell traveled interstate and brought him back to Ohio, stopping in Kentucky to illegally purchase Roberts an AK-47 rifle.


According to Tawnney Caldwell’s plea, the two planned the details of the victim’s murder together at Tawnney Caldwell’s residence and were in contact via cell phone multiple times before and after the murder.


Sterling Roberts is scheduled for jury trial in U.S. District Court on Nov. 30.


David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Chris Hoffman, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division; Riverside Police Chief Frank Robinson and Sugarcreek Township Police Chief Michael Brown announced the plea entered into today before Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Rose. Assistant United States Attorney Amy M. Smith and Assistant Deputy Criminal Chief Laura Clemmens are representing the United States in this case.


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Updated October 30, 2020

Violent Crime