NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — A Connecticut man who has been leading searches for his missing 5-year-old son in Massachusetts has been charged with selling heroin, authorities said Thursday.
New Britain, Conn., police said they suspected Jose Oliver, 41, was selling heroin and officers set up a drug transaction Monday with the help of an informant. Police said they caught Oliver with 30 small baggies of heroin and charged him with several drug crimes.
Officers said they didn’t know when they arrested Oliver that he is the father of Jeremiah Oliver, who went missing from his mother’s home in Fitchburg, Mass., in September.
“To their knowledge they’re just going after a guy selling drugs and low and behold it’s him,” said Lt. Jeanette Saccente.
Jose Oliver couldn’t be reached Thursday. There’s no phone listing for him, and it was not clear if he had a lawyer. Saccente said Oliver posted bail after his arrest.
Police in Fitchburg learned only last month about Jeremiah’s disappearance. The boy’s mother, Elsa Oliver, and her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra Jr., were arrested on child endangerment and abuse charges and pleaded not guilty, in connection with the alleged abuse of Jeremiah’s 9-year-old brother and 7-year-old sister.
Police have been treating Jeremiah’s disappearance as a possible homicide, and the boy is feared dead.
The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families had been working with Elsa Oliver’s family. Three department workers have been fired for what state officials called failures in the agency’s handling of the family’s case.
Jeremiah’s brother and sister, whose parents are Jose and Elsa Oliver, have been placed in foster care. Jose Oliver said before he was arrested that he planned to seek custody of the two children.
It wasn’t immediately clear how his arrest has affected his efforts to get custody of his two other children.
Jose Oliver had led searches for Jeremiah with relatives and friends in Fitchburg the past two weekends and vowed never to give up looking for his son. He said he hadn’t been able to see his children for two years because Elsa Oliver obtained a restraining order against him and she did not respond to his requests to see the children.