The father of a 5-year-old Massachusetts boy missing since September and feared dead is vowing not to give up looking for him after a search by dozens of relatives, friends and neighbors this weekend failed to yield any clues.
Jose Oliver of New Britain, Conn., said he just wants to find his son, Jeremiah Oliver, who lived in Fitchburg with his mother. Oliver and other relatives and friends searched near the boy’s home Saturday.
Jeremiah was last seen by relatives in September, but police learned only recently that he was missing and are treating the case as a possible homicide.
Jeremiah’s mother, Elsa Oliver, and her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra, were charged with child abuse and other crimes and have pleaded not guilty. Two state child welfare workers were fired and another was disciplined in connection with Jeremiah’s case.
Sierra is being held without bail and Oliver is being held without bail while being evaluated at a mental health facility.
“We looked everywhere, but, nothing,” Jose Oliver, 41, said after several hours of searching Saturday. “I’m going to keep searching until she (Elsa Oliver) talks. I hope that we can find something. I just want to find my son.”
Luz Oliver, of Worcester, Jeremiah’s aunt, added, “We’re not going to stop. We’re going to keep searching. This is like something you see on TV when a child is missing. You never think it will happen to you. All I want is to see my nephew.”
Police learned about Jeremiah’s disappearance on Dec. 13, and officials said the Department of Children & Families had been working with the family. DCF Commissioner Olga Roche fired a caseworker and supervisor assigned to Jeremiah and his family in Fitchburg, about 45 miles northwest of Boston, and a third DCF worker was disciplined.
Gov. Deval Patrick has expressed outrage at the case. He told WGBH-FM radio on Friday that Jeremiah’s family received good care from a different social worker at DCF until the end of the last year, before the case was transferred to another office.
DCF has taken custody of Elsa Oliver’s two other children, whose father also is Jose Oliver.
Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said police and cadaver dogs have searched Elsa Oliver’s apartment building and several areas in Fitchburg, but didn’t find anything.