Three people are facing charges of interfering with a criminal investigation and misleading police in the disappearance of 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver of Fitchburg, the Worcester district attorney’s office said Monday.
Christian Sierra, 21; Cailey Thibault, 23; and Ashley M. Cormier, 24, all of Fitchburg, pleaded not guilty at their arraignment Monday in Fitchburg District Court, prosecutors said. The three were charged under the witness intimidation statute, Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s office said in a statement.
Sierra is the brother of Alberto L. Sierra, who has been charged along with the boy’s mother in Jeremiah’s disappearance. Alberto Sierra is the boyfriend of the mother.
The witness intimidation statute contains provisions addressing interference with criminal investigations and giving false statements, along with other offenses, Early’s office said.
The accused allegedly gave “misleading statements to police and a grand jury,” said Tim Connolly, a spokesman for the district attorney. Further specifics on the charges were not available.
Judge Andrew Mandell set bail at $2,000 for Christian Sierra and $2,500 each for Thibault and Cormier. A further hearing is scheduled for April 15.
Christian Sierra and Thibault were arrested Friday night, and Cormier was apprehended Monday.
Jeremiah was last seen by relatives Sept. 14. Prosecutors said they learned in December that he might be missing.
On Dec. 2, Jeremiah’s 7-year-old sister told counselors at her Fitchburg school that she and her siblings were being abused by her mother’s boyfriend and that she had not seen Jeremiah for weeks.
The sister also said that when she last saw Jeremiah, his mother had been worried that he might die from a bleeding wound on his hand.
Jeremiah’s mother, Elsa Oliver, 28, and Alberto Sierra, 22, were arrested in December and remain in custody.
Elsa Oliver faces two counts of reckless endangerment of a child and two counts of accessory after the fact of a felony (assault and battery with a dangerous weapon), according to a statement from Early’s office.
Alberto Sierra is facing two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and two counts of assault and battery on a child causing bodily injury.
Jeremiah’s disappearance is being investigated as a homicide, prosecutors said.
Neither Elsa Oliver nor Alberto Sierra are charged with killing the 5-year-old boy.
Jose Oliver, Jeremiah’s father, said by phone Monday that he has no particular reaction to the latest arrests.
“Their being arrested means nothing to me,” he said. “The only good news is finding my son.”
Jose Oliver, 41, of New Britain, Conn., came to Fitchburg after his son’s disappearance and led search parties looking for Jeremiah.
Despite charges of dealing heroin, he fought for custody of Jeremiah’s sister and 9-year-old brother. Jeremiah’s siblings were placed in state custody, said Cayenne Isaksen, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Children and Families.
The department’s handling of Jeremiah’s disappearance led to questions about the department’s handling of child cases and led to the dismissal of three employees in connection with the case.
A social worker assigned to monitor Jeremiah’s well-being through monthly visits reportedly failed to do so, one of a series of child services issues that surrounded the case. Jeremiah’s disappearance contributed to calls for Olga Roche, the department commissioner, to step down. An independent investigation is ongoing.
The missing Fitchburg boy prompted widespread concern from community members and officials alike.
Massive search efforts in the region have continued in the months following his disappearance.
Jose Oliver’s sister-in-law, Rose Valcourt, said by phone Monday that she is glad to see signs that the district attorney’s office continues to actively investigate and is doing what it can to gather more information on what happened to Jeremiah. She added that the family is desperate for “some closure” on Jeremiah’s whereabouts.
“I hope someone will speak up and tell me where the baby is,” she said.Patricia Wen and Martin Finucane of Globe staff contributed to this report. Jennifer Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.