Social workers fired in missing Fitchburg child case


FITCHBURG, Mass. ( – A social worker and a supervisor at the Mass. Department of Children and Families have been fired in connection with the case of a missing Fitchburg child.

Police became involved in the disappearance of 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver after the boy's 7-year-old sister told a teacher she hadn't seen her brother in some time last Friday. Relatives said they hadn't seen the boy since Sept. 14.

On Tuesday, Elsa Oliver was arraigned in Fitchburg District Court on charges that include reckless endangerment of a child and accessory after the fact of assault.

During the arraignment, Oliver's attorney said he can't communicate or talk to his client and is incapable of helping her.

Oliver was reluctant to be in the courtroom, but was brought in anyway. A doctor said Oliver has a history of substance abuse and is "suspicious and guarded" as well as "irritable and angry." The doctor said Oliver believes people have been poisoning her.

She was taken to Worcester Recovery Center to be evaluated.

DCF officials said the Oliver family had been receiving support since Sept. 2011 after the department received a report of neglect of the Oliver children.

In June, DCF officials said the social worker assigned to the case received a message from Jeremiah's day care that Elsa was bringing the child to Florida to live with his grandmother. Officials said the social worker never followed up on the claim and failed to conduct monthly home visits.

"This case represents a serious failure on the part of the social worker and supervisor assigned to the family, said a statement from DCF officials. "Both have been terminated."

A review of the social worker's cases has been launched.

Oliver's 22-year-old boyfriend, Alberto Sierra, also faced two counts of assault and battery on a child causing bodily injury in connection to an incident with Jeremiah and his 7-year-old sister. He was held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing.

The district attorney's office said the case could be treated as a potential homicide.

Oliver's two other children are now in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families. Jeremiah's father lives in Hartford, Conn.

Jeremiah is described as 40 inches tall, weighing 40 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone who may have seen him or has any information about him is asked to call 508-832-9124 or 978-345-9648.

A prayer vigil will be held for Jeremiah in Fitchburg on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., at 276 Kimball St., across from the boy's home.

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