Dayton mom who police say shot her children had volatile relationships

Published: Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 7:12 PM

            A makeshift memorial Friday for two children shot in their Dayton home included balloons and stuffed animals. STAFF
A makeshift memorial Friday for two children shot in their Dayton home included balloons and stuffed animals. STAFF

The 30-year-old Dayton woman suspected of shooting her two young children in the head on Thursday was formally charged Friday with two counts of attempted aggravated murder and four counts of felonious assault, according to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.

Claudena Helton’s children, 8-year-old Khmorra and 6-year-old Kaiden, remained in critical condition at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

Helton has had a history of volatile relationships and showed signs of mental illness at the crime scene and afterwards, according to police and court records and officials.

RELATED: Dayton chief after 2 kids shot in head: ‘This is one of the toughest’

Mental illness likely is a factor in the incident, said Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl.

He said the assessment is based solely on the behavior and statements from the mother at the scene of the shooting and afterward.

Helton faced child abuse allegations in 2014. Montgomery County Children Services has an open and active case involving Helton, and officials said they were working with the family, though would not say more about the case.

“Montgomery County’s Children Services Division is truly disturbed by the unimaginable tragedy that occurred,” said Kevin Lavoie, spokesman for the Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services. “Our thoughts and prayers are with this entire family, and very clearly the young children who were the victims of this violent act.”

MORE: Mom had faced earlier child endangering allegations

Residents in the neighborhood Friday were trying to come to terms with the shootings.

“I just decided to pay my respects and hopefully they come through,” said Alisha Linton, who was placing flowers and toys near the home at 3821 Lori Sue Ave. “I have a 3-year-old, and it’s just heartbreaking to hear a parent, a mother, injure their child.”

Stephanie Fontenot, who lives nearby, said: “I don’t know what could have been going through her mind. I don’t know,” she said. “Only thing I can say to everybody is when somebody comes to you and talks to you, always have an open ear, because you never know what a person is going through.”

Lavoie urged citizens to contact authorities if children show signs of abuse or neglect or seem withdrawn.

He also encouraged citizens to contact children services if an adult seems to need parenting assistance or intervention. Citizens can report suspected abuse or neglect to 937-224-KIDS.

FIRST REPORT: Mother shoots 2 of her children, police say

All service providers, if they have concerns about the safety of a minor, are required to report it to the local public children services agency, said Jon Keeling, spokesman with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

When abuse or neglect concerns are reported, county agencies conduct assessments that determine if a caregiver needs to be evaluated for mental illness and whether that can affects ability to care for a child, Keeling said.

A search of court and police records revealed Claudena Helton was involved in a series of incidents that put her in contact with local police.

PHOTOS: Police respond to scene, neighbors react

In July 2006, Trotwood police responded to a call of a drive-by shooting on Chaplen Drive and spoke with Sheila Helton, Claudena Helton’s mother.

Sheila Helton told police she heard three gunshots fired in front of her home and that the father of Claudena Helton’s child was likely responsible, a police report states. A bullet damaged a car belonging to Claudena Helton’s new boyfriend.

Claudena Helton told police her child’s father, whom she broke up with four months earlier, threatened to shoot her boyfriend’s car and her home.

Later, Claudena Helton was charged with domestic violence, but pleaded to lesser charges of disorderly conduct, according to court records. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail, with all 30 days suspended.

The following May, Trotwood police were called to the 100 block of Fieldstone Court on a report of an assault.

Claudena Helton told police her an ex-boyfriend became upset while at a party at her place and pushed her up against the wall and took her car keys, the report states.

Claudena Helton, who at the time worked as a home health aide, said her ex took her car without permission.

Authorities filed misdemeanor charges against the suspect for driving a vehicle without the owner’s consent and assault. Both charges were later dismissed.

Three years later, on May 23, 2010, Trotwood police responded to a call from a friend of Claudena Helton’s who was worried about her safety.

The friend received a text from Claudena Helton instructing her to call the police. Claudena Helton’s message said she feared her boyfriend would hurt her.

The day before, the live-in boyfriend, Stephen Fletcher, walked around the apartment complex waving what looked like a gun yelling, “if anyone called the police, he was going to shoot them,” according to the friend’s statement to police.

The friend called police.

Claudena Helton told police Fletcher had hit her in the face after earlier arguing at a family party. She told police he choked her until she nearly fainted.

“He pushed me in the room and continued to threaten me with his weapon,” Claudena Helton’s statement reads.

He took her to the hospital but threatened to kill her if she explained how she got her injuries, according to Claudena Helton’s statement to police. Claudena Helton said she texted her friend while her boyfriend was asleep, fearing he had a gun.

Fletcher was charged with misdemeanor counts of aggravated menacing and domestic violence. He was found guilty one one of the counts and sentenced to 123 days in jail.

Police found an unloaded BB gun in the home when it was searched. Claudena Helton said she thought it was real.

The report says that Claudena Helton was pregnant and Fletcher is presumed to be the father. Claudena Helton had at least two children at the time.

Judge shot in ambush outside courthouse; 1 suspect killed, officials say

Published: Monday, August 21, 2017 @ 6:08 PM

This undated still image from video provided by WTOV-TV in Steubenville, Ohio, shows Jefferson County, Ohio Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. Bruzzese was shot and wounded Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, as he walked toward his county's courthouse in Steubenville, Ohio, and a suspect was killed after a probation officer returned fire, officials said.
This undated still image from video provided by WTOV-TV in Steubenville, Ohio, shows Jefferson County, Ohio Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. Bruzzese was shot and wounded Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, as he walked toward his county's courthouse in Steubenville, Ohio, and a suspect was killed after a probation officer returned fire, officials said.(WTOV-TV via AP/AP)

UPDATE Aug. 21 at 6:08 p.m.:The shooter was identified as Nathaniel Richmond, the father of Ma’Lik Richmond, according to Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin. 

Ma’Lik Richmond served around 10 months in a juvenile prison after he and another high school football player were convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl at a party. 

WHIO reported that Hanlin told The Associated Press authorities were not aware of a connection between the rape case and the shooting. 

The victim, Jefferson County Judge Joseph Bruzzese underwent surgery at a Pittsburgh-area hospital but is expected to survive. 

FILE - In this March 17, 2013, file photo, Nathaniel Richmond, father of Ma'Lik Richmond, apologizes to the victim and her family after his son and co-defendant Trent Mays, were found delinquent on rape and other charges after their trial in juvenile court in Steubenville, Ohio. A prosecutor said Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, that Nathaniel Richmond was the man who shot and wounded Jefferson County Judge Joseph Bruzzese.(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, Pool/AP)


A man suspected of ambushing an Ohio judge outside the Jefferson County Courthouse on Monday morning died after a court probation officer returned fire, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese was shot as he walked toward the entrance of the courthouse just after 8 a.m., the Herald-Star reported. He was taken by helicopter to a Pittsburgh-area hospital for treatment, according to the newspaper.

Steubenville City Manager Jim Mavromatis told WTOV that Bruzzese was speaking after the shooting, although authorities did not immediately say what condition the judge was in. Witnesses told the news station that they heard what sounded like seven to eight gunshots.

Mavromatis told the Herald-Star that a court probation officer saw the shooting and returned fire, killing the suspected shooter. Police arrested another man, who was in the car with the suspected shooter, the Herald-Star reported.

Neither the suspected shooter nor his suspected accomplice were immediately identified.

Officials told WTOV the courthouse would be closed Monday, in light of the shooting. Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham told the news station that some court employees saw the shooting.

"(I) think that everybody needs a little time to settle down a little bit (and) get their thoughts together regarding this very tragic situation,” Graham said. “Our prayers go out to Judge Bruzzese and his family.”

Authorities continue to investigate the case.

Second murder trial begins in October 2016 shooting

Published: Monday, August 21, 2017 @ 4:30 PM

            Curtis McShann
Curtis McShann

The murder trial of Curtis McShann began today in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.

McShann, 30, faces 24 counts — including four for murder — for the Oct. 25, 2016, shooting death of Brandon Lanier, 27, on Riverside Drive in Dayton.

RELATED: McShann arraigned in fatal shooting

Jamarko Walker, 22, was sentenced in late July to 24 years to life in prison for his role in Lanier’s death.

According to prosecutors and police, Lanier was killed, and three others were shot and taken to a local hospital and that about 50 rounds were fired.

RELATED: Jamarko Walker found guilty

Court records show McShann’s attorney could say his client could use an alibi that he was at residences on Lobata Place and Odlin Street in Dayton during the shooting.

Prosecutors filed documents indicating that they planned to use conversations McShann allegedly had with a detective in which the defendant said he may plead guilty if two other people were not charged with tampering with evidence.

The trial is the in the courtroom of Judge Richard Skelton.

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South Carolina officials say Riverside killing suspect’s charges more severe in Ohio

Published: Tuesday, August 15, 2017 @ 6:22 PM
Updated: Saturday, August 19, 2017 @ 10:30 PM

Caldwell arrested

A suspect in a Riverside homicide earlier this week was arrested early Saturday in Spartanburg, South Carolina, after he allegedly fired a rifle at a deputy.

MORE: Court records show Riverside homicide suspect has history of mental, criminal problems

  • Suspect Sterling H. Roberts is in S.C. jail
  • Victim is Robert Caldwell of Beavercreek
  • Roberts shot to death in front of his 3 sons

UPDATE @ 3:47 p.m.:

A spokesman for the 7th Judicial Circuit’s Office in South Carolina said they are open to the suspect in last week’s fatal shooting in Riverside returning to Ohio, despite additional charges in Spartanburg County.

“If Ohio wants him, they’re welcome to him,” said Murray Glenn.  “Hopefully he gets a sentence that’s appropriate for the types of crimes he’s accused of.”

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The new development could bring Sterling Roberts back to the Miami Valley quicker that Riverside Police Chief Frank Robinson anticipated when the original arrest was made.

UPDATE @ 10:25 a.m.:

Riverside’s police chief said he expects Sterling Roberts to remain in South Carolina for a while after he was involved in an incident where he was accused of firing multiple shots toward a deputy.  

Due to Sterling’s “indiscretions” it could be some time before he will return to the Miami Valley to answer to any charges that may be filed with the fatal shooting of Robert Caldwell, the chief said.

Riverside police said they are continuing to move forward with their investigation.


Sterling H. Roberts, 34, is accused of firing multiple shots toward a deputy, according to an incident report from the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.

TRENDING: Businesses told to close near former Confederate monument in Franklin

Roberts has a Washington Creek Lane, Centerville address listed on the court records from South Carolina. A deputy spotted Roberts near a Circle K gas station late Friday night after authorities received a report of a suspicious man. Roberts fired a rifle across the street toward the deputy’s vehicle, according to the incident report.

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“During the incident Roberts pointed the rifle at several bystanders in the area, which resulted in additional charges. It was learned after his arrest that Roberts was wanted out of Dayton, Ohio, for weapons violations,” Master Deputy Darren Dukes said in a media statement.

Sheriff’s deputies did not return fire, and no one was hurt and no property was damaged, Lt. Kevin Bobo said.


Roberts is being held in Spartanburg County Jail on suspicion of attempted murder, pointing/presenting a firearm, possession of a weapon during a violent crime and fugitive from justice.

Robert Caldwell, 35, of Beavercreek, was killed in front of his three children on Tuesday in a shooting at Claypool Building on Linden Avenue in Riverside. Caldwell’s body was found in the parking lot. A boy ran to a nearby Bob Evans and told workers someone shot his father as they were leaving the building.

Riverside police later named Roberts as a suspect. Caldwell knew Roberts, and police said the shooting may have involved a child custody disagreement with Caldwell’s ex-wife.

Robert Caldwell, Contributed photo

UPDATE @ 1:20 p.m. (Aug. 19)

Riverside homicide suspect Sterling Roberts was captured last night in Spartanburg, South Carolina after reportedly shooting at a deputy there. 

Lt. Kevin Bobo said the sheriff’s deputies did not return fire on Roberts. 

He was arrested around 2 a.m. Aug. 19 and is being held in Spartanburg County Jail on charges of attempted murder, pointing/presenting a firearm, possession of a weapon during a violent crime and fugitive from justice.

UPDATE @ 1:20 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 17:

The U.S. Marshals and the Southern Ohio Fugitive Apprehension Task Force have joined Riverside police in the search for the suspect in Tuesday’s homicide of Robert Caldwell, Riverside Police Chief Frank Robinson said. 

Robinson said the ongoing search for Sterling H. Roberts has included interviews with his family members and those of Caldwell. Roberts is not charged with a crime. 

“We’re not at the point where we can formally charge someone at this point,” Robinson said, noting that Roberts has warrants for his arrest from prior incidents. 

Robinson said Roberts has ties to Nashville, Tenn., where his mother lives. 

“It’s my understanding he was in Nashville up until last week,” Robinson said. 

Persons who see Roberts should not engage him, Robinson said. 

“We still feel he’s armed and dangerous and in a desperate situation like this we don’t want anyone to make contact,” Robinson said. “I would say even friends and family should be leery of his actions at this point.”

UPDATE @ 3:02 p.m.: Riverside Police Chief Frank Robinson confirms they’ve officially identified Sterling Roberts as the suspect in the deadly shooting of Robert Caldwell.

Roberts whereabouts are unknown. According to a “Be on the Lookout” or BOLO put out by county dispatchers, Roberts may be driving a silver Mitsubishi Eclipse and carrying a .40-caliber handgun.

He is white, 6-foot-2, and has multiple tattoos. 

According to Montgomery County court records, an arrest warrant was issued for Roberts on Aug. 3 because he had not checked in with his probation officer. He was ordered to be arrested and held without bail. 

Roberts was sentenced May 31 to community control after being convicted of having weapons under disability - which means he was not supposed to carry a gun because of felony convictions on his record. 

RIverside Police Chief Frank Robinson is asking the public to call and identify the name of the man seen in surveillance video who is suspected of shooting and killing Robert Caldwell, 35, in front of Caldwell’s three sons, ages 15, 13 and 8.

Police believe they know the man’s identity, but want members of the public to independently ID him.

In an interview Wednesday before noon, Chief Robinson confirmed they are pursuing leads that the shooting may be connected to child custody issues involving Caldwell’s ex-wife.

“We are going to do some investigating with her phone,” said Robinson.

The chief said the shooter may have been following Caldwell on Tuesday before the deadly shooting.

“We understand the video that we have of the suspect in question, was on the property for some period of time,” said Robinson.

The Chief believes the shooter has left the area, but is urging the public to call his department to name the man in the surveillance video. Call 937-233-2080. 

UPDATE @ 10 a.m.:

A man killed in Riverside has been identified as Robert Caldwell, 35, of Beavercreek, according to the Montgomery County Coroner's Office. There is no preliminary cause and manner of death yet.

The suspect is involved in a relationship with the victim’s ex-wife, according to a Dayton police report. As well, the victim had just gained custody of his three children. 

The suspect Sterling Roberts had reportedly threatened the suspect previously, according to the police report.

UPDATE @ 9:30 a.m.:

Police have identified Sterling H. Roberts as the man wanted in connection to a homicide in Riverside Tuesday evening.

Police have identified Sterling H. Roberts as the man wanted in connection to a homicide in Riverside Tuesday evening.

The victim, who is from Beavercreek, knew Roberts, according to a Dayton police report.

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office is working to notify next of kin. 

>>Update on police chief’s stolen gun


Police have released a photo they said shows a person of interest in Tuesday night’s deadly Riverside shooting at the Claypool Building on Linden Avenue that left one man dead.

Shooting in Riverside on Linden Avenue
  • Man shot to death in front of 3 children
  • Call came into police as reported active shooter
  • Boy ran into Bob Evans and said his father had been shot
  • Police looking for “multiple people” in connection to shooting

 A middle-age man has been shot to death -- in front of his three children -- and Riverside police are looking for "multiple people," Maj. Matt Sturgeon said. 

"There could be multiple people involved," he said. "There are a lot of leads we are following." 

Sturgeon said police were dispatched to the 4134 Linden Ave. about 6 p.m. about a reported active shooter situation.

"Multiple calls were coming in that we had an active shooter on the grounds," he said. 

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Police found one man, believed to be of middle age, shot to death in the parking lot of the office building, believed to be the Claypool Building. His three children were with him, the major said, and police released them to Montgomery County Children Services. 

An employee at the nearby Bob Evans, 1285 Woodman Drive, said a boy ran to the restaurant and told workers there that someone shot his father as he and his Dad were leaving the building. 

The employee at the restaurant, 1285 Woodman Drive, gave us this account before his manager ordered him to stop speaking to us. 

The employee said the boy told them he ran to the restaurant when the shooter walked toward his father and opened fire.

Sturgeon did not react to that directly, but said, "yes, unfortunately, the children were here." 

He declined to reveal their ages or why they were at the building with their father. 

When asked what he would say to Riverside residents because police are looking for at least one male armed with a silver handgun who fled on foot, Sturgeon said, "We're not going to ask citizens to do a whole bunch, unless they hear something that pertains directly to the case."

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Recent high school graduate, athlete killed in fight, police say

Published: Monday, August 21, 2017 @ 3:35 PM

Alex_Schmidt/Getty Images/iStockphoto
(Alex_Schmidt/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A former star athlete at Georgia’s Paulding County High School was shot and killed Friday in a subdivision after a fight, police in Dallas, Georgia, said. 

Tommy Lee Robinson, 18, had just left a football game at the school when he went to the Ivy Trace subdivision, Dallas police Capt. Bill Gorman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A fight broke out at a home and Robinson was shot and killed, Gorman confirmed.

>> Read more trending news

“There were two different groups of young people who have been at odds for a year ... and it came to a head Friday,” Gorman said.

Police are still investigating why the two groups were fighting. They do not believe the shooting was gang-related. 

Gorman said current and former Paulding County High students between the ages of 16 and 19 were involved in the incident that also injured 18-year-old Timothy Nelson. He suffered a gunshot wound to the leg and was treated at WellStar Paulding Hospital. 

Authorities have not identified any suspects. 

Surrounded by loved ones at a vigil Sunday, Robinson’s mother, Melinda Lee, said she hopes her son’s shooter comes forward. 

“This is the last thing any mother wants to do,” she told WSBTV. “You see it over and over again, and you always hope to God it’s not you.” 

Robinson, who played football in high school, graduated in the spring and was headed to college, according to the news station.