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Metro

Father of missing Fitchburg boy says he is fit parent

FITCHBURG — The father of a missing 5-year-old boy from Fitchburg said in court Friday that despite being recently arrested on charges of dealing heroin, he still believes he is fit to care for his two other children and should be granted custody of them.

“I did a stupid mistake. . . . I wasn’t thinking,” Jose Oliver, 41, of New Britain, Conn., said in the Fitchburg District Courthouse after a custody hearing.

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After the closed-door hearing, Oliver described himself to reporters as a “desperate father” who needed the money. He said in a previous interview with the Telegram & Gazette that he would support himself and the children on money he receives through disability benefits.

Oliver reiterated that he would like people to “take the focus off me and put it back on finding Jeremiah,” his missing son. “I’ve got hope and I’ve got faith,” he explained. “I’m ready for whatever it takes to get my kids.”

When asked if he believes someone else might be better fit to care for his 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter, he said, “Nobody’s going to love my kids the way I love them.”

He said that there will be a follow-up custody hearing, but would not give a date.

Oliver would not comment on the case pending against him, in which police assigned to an undercover sting allege that he attempted to sell them up to $300 worth of heroin.

He was arrested Dec. 30 near his home and charged with possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of narcotics with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school, and other counts, said New Britain police Captain Thomas Steck.

Oliver’s son, Jeremiah, has not been seen since Sept. 14. Elsa Oliver, 28, his wife of nearly 10 years, with whom he fathered three children, is being held on child abuse charges. Elsa Oliver’s boyfriend, Alberto Sierra, is also being held on child abuse charges.

Neither have said where the boy is, and investigators are treating the case as a possible homicide.

Three Department of Child Services employees have been fired in connection with the boy’s disappearance. The remaining two children are currently in state custody.

Until recently, Oliver had not seen his children or wife because of a restraining order she filed while the family was living in Worcester in early 2012.

For the drug charges, Oliver could face jail time, but whatever sentence he gets “would be tailored to his criminal record,” Steck said soon after the arrest.

Oliver was released on bail soon afterward and will be arraigned Jan. 17, he said.

A search organized by neighbors and family will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. on Kimball Street, where the children were living.

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