FITCHBURG, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Dec. 28 is the second Saturday in a row that volunteers have searched for missing five-year-old Fitchburg boy Jeremiah Oliver.
Some say the searches are proof that family and friends are holding out hope that the five-year-old is still alive. However, investigators are treating this case as a possible homicide, and Oliver is feared dead.
About three dozen people scoured the area around Oliver's house Saturday. They divided into teams and combed through the playground where Oliver used to play and a wooded area behind a housing complex where his mother's boyfriend lives.
That man, 23-year-old Alberto Sierra, and the boy's mother, 28-year-old Elsa Oliver are both believed to be involved with the boy's disappearance. They're each facing child abuse charges.
Oliver was last seen by family members in September, but only reported missing earlier this month when his 7-year-old sister told a staff member at her school that Sierra was abusing her.
The young boy's father, 41-year-old Jose Oliver, is seeking custody of that sister and a 9-year-old brother, even though he hasn't seen them since their mother left him nearly two years ago and has a lengthy criminal history. A relative says that's the only way to ensure the kids' safety.
© 2016 Cox Media Group.