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Monday, April 21, 2014

Who Murdered Jeremiah Oliver?

     To get away from her estranged husband against whom she had been granted a restraining order, 28-year-old Elsa Oliver and her three children moved from their home in Fitchburg, Massachusetts to Florida where they lived with her mother. Early in 2013, Elsa, still married to Jose Oliver, returned to Fitchburg, a town of 40,000 in the north central part of the state. She came home with 5-year-old Jeremiah, his 7-year-old sister, and his older brother who was nine.

     In Fitchburg, Elsa began a relationship with Albert Sierra, a local man six years younger than her.

     In June 2013, a social worker with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), during a monthly visit to the Oliver home, noticed that Jeremiah wasn't in the house. In response to the social worker's inquiry regarding the boy's whereabouts, Elsa said he was in Florida living with her mother. The social worker took Elsa for her word and didn't verify the story.

     Five months later, the social worker left a DFC card at Elsa's house with the message there would be no further monthly visits from the agency.

     Jeremiah's sister, on December 2, 2013, told her elementary school counselor that her mother's boyfriend, Alberto Sierra, had abused her. The 7-year-old and her 9-year-old brother were taken out of Elsa's custody and placed into protective care. Jeremiah still wasn't around, and his siblings had no idea what happened to him. When detectives asked Elsa about Jeremiah, she stuck to her Florida story.

     After Jeremiah could not be located in Florida, a state juvenile court judge brought Elsa into court and asked her to account for her missing son. She refused to answer the judge's questions. The judge gave Elsa 72 hours to produce the boy. At the hearing, officials noticed physical signs that Elsa had been recently abused.

     Shortly after the judge's deadline passed without proof that Jeremiah was alive, a Worcester County prosecutor charged Elsa with two counts of reckless endangerment of a child and two counts of accessory after the fact of a felony. These charges related to the alleged physical abuse of Jeremiah's sister. Police officers booked Elsa into the Worcester County Jail where she was held under a $5,000 cash bond.

     Police officers also arrested 22-year-old Albert Sierra on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (a knife) and two counts of assault and battery on a child causing bodily injury. A judge denied Sierra bail. Both of the accused pleaded not guilty to all charges.

     A party made up of Fitchburg police officers, K-9 units, and 100 volunteers searched the vicinity of the Oliver house without finding the missing boy. Detectives and others involved in the case believed that he had been murdered and that Elsa, out of fear, was covering up for her boyfriend.

     While the police tried to find Jeremiah's body, a bureaucratic fight broke out within the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families over who in the agency bore the most blame for the delayed reaction to Jeremiah Oliver's disappearance. The head of the public union that represents DCF employees protested the firing of Jeremiah's social worker and her supervisor. The union leader accused the department's commissioner of deflecting blame by scapegoating the social worker and her boss. In the meantime, the 5-year-old was still missing and presumed dead.

     Duval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts, promised an investigation into DCF's handling of Jeremiah Oliver's case. He asked the Child Welfare League of America to review the workings of the agency. Several local politicians wanted more--they called for the governor to fire the agency's commissioner, Olga Roche.

     In March 2014, the Child Welfare League of America reported that state social workers missed nearly one in five home visits during a recent 12-month period.

     A Worcester County grand jury, in March 2014, indicted Elsa Oliver and Alberto Sierra on charges of kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and reckless endangerment. Oliver was held on $125,000 bail and Sierra on $100,000. Three other people were indicted for interfering with a criminal investigation and misleading the police.

     On April 18, 2014, Worcester County District Attorney Joe Early announced that Jeremiah Oliver's body had been found at nine that morning. The remains were wrapped in a blanket inside a suitcase discovered in a grassy area 40 feet off Interstate 190's southbound lane not far from Exit 6 in Sterling, Massachusetts. Found 12 miles from his home, the boy, according to the district attorney, was a victim of criminal homicide.

     The day after the missing boy's discovery, DCF Commissioner Olga Roche assured the public that the "DCF continues to focus on Jeremiah's siblings to ensure they are receiving the support they need during this very difficult time." The commissioner admitted that the boy's killing reflects a "serious failure" on the part of the child protection agency.

     On April 19, Jose Oliver, the murdered boy's father, in a cell phone call to a reporter from the spot where his son's body was found, said, "I know the body has not been here for six months. I believe the body was thrown here Thursday morning [April 17]. Anybody that drives through here, you could see it. There's more people involved in this besides my wife and Alberto Sierria. A couple of people know what happened. My question is who did it and why they did it. I want answers."

6 comments:

  1. The very first sentence in this article is incorrect along with most of what is written! Elsa did not live with her estranged husband in Fitchburg. They live in Worcester together when she left him. She never went to Florida with her kids after she left her husband either. On to the second paragraph: DCF social workers NEVER made a monthly home visit to the Oliver home. Nor did they ever follow up on any claims that Jeremiah had moved to Florida. They also NEVER made any inquires into Jeremiah's whereabouts because they NEVER knew he was missing! Jeremiah's preschool teacher called DCF in June when Elsa told the teacher that Jeremiah would no longer be attending the school because he was moving to Florida. DCF never followed up. I could keep going on and on with listing all the false information in this article but I will stop here! If you are going to write and article like this, you should at least take the time to research it and get your facts straight. Most of this information is in the DCF report of the investigation that was conducted following their acknowledgment of their complete failure in this case. It's public record! It wouldn't have been very difficult to get the correct information to write a decent article if you had actually made an effort! I suggest that you do some research, rewrite your article, and in the meantime, take down this nonsense! Thanks!

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    1. Wrong! The teacher called the police, then the police called DCF.

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  2. you must either 1. be the mother or 2. be someone close to her. 3. shut up the child is gone and your nitpicking about an article? where are your priorities.?

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  3. What does it matter who is right or wrong. The point is the State failed this family who were in desperate need of intervention and as a result of that failure an innocent little boy has been tragically murdered. I think we should agree to disagree and focus on what is important like making sure there is "JUSTICE FOR JEREMIAH" and the people responsible for this crime are brought to it and most importantly changing our system , so no more innocent children are MURDERED!!!!!

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  4. Anyone who has such a detailed account of information on this case, who truly wants justice for this child, should not be putting their focused efforts on finding justice for this child by means of critiquing an article.

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  5. By the way, it's no one's fault, but those who had a hand in the act of murder. We are all accountable FOR OUR OWN ACTIONS. In my opinion there are far too many young, poor, unfit parents who make one poor decision after another, putting their kids (who they don't deserve in the first place) in harm's way, then pointing fingers at a system that is drowning among all of the other drug using, domestic abuse committing, mentally unfit parents, just like them, who should learn a thing or two about birth control before they blame others.

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