The remains of a young boy found Saturday near a highway in Massachusetts have been identified as 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver, who was missing for months before his family alerted police about his disappearance.
Last month, Jeremiah’s mother, Elsa Oliver, 28, and her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra, 22, were indicted on charges of child abuse as well as other charges related to his disappearance. Those charges likely will be tweaked now that Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. has identified the remains found off Stirling’s section of Interstate 190, according to CNN. It’s still too soon to know how the boy died, Early said.
All of the children of the Oliver household have been under great duress, welfare officials have stated.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Jeremiah Oliver,” said Olga Roche, commissioner of the state Department of Children and Families. “The Department is grateful for the dedication of the district attorney and law enforcement partners leading this investigation and will continue to assist in any way we can. DCF continues to focus on caring for Jeremiah’s siblings to ensure they are receiving the support they need during this very difficult time.”
In early December, Oliver’s 8-year-old daughter told authorities that she was being abused by Sierra, at which point the girl and another son were taken into state custody. It was around this time, according to authorities, that Jeremiah Oliver was discovered missing.
Commissioner Roche fired the case worker for not making regular monthly checks on the children, but union leaders believe she’s merely eschewing blame: “We are disappointed that Commissioner Roche is more interested in finger-pointing than accepting responsibility for yet another tragedy on her watch,” said Jason Stephany, with Service Employees International Union Local 509, which represents case workers. “Instead, the Commissioner has chosen a convenient scapegoat to deflect blame from department administrators.”
On Saturday, a day before the remains were identified, Jeremiah Oliver’s father, Jose Oliver, told a reporter for NECN that he feared it was his son:
“I’m scared, frustrated, sad, and upset at the same time. I’m not sure if it’s him, but the description that they say about him, I think it is him. In my heart, I feel that it is my son. I just can’t believe it.”
At the same time, Gov. Deval Patrick said he felt a “deep sadness… that his body has been disposed of in a heartless way.”
Jose Oliver told the Boston Globe, “I don’t feel relief. I’m disappointed.”
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