Forensic pathologists hired by defense lawyers for a Fitchburg mother and her boyfriend were given permission Wednesday to examine the body of a preschool boy who went missing while under the supervision of the state Department of Children and Families.
Pathologists working for the defense have until Monday to examine Jeremiah Oliver’s body, which was found Friday off Interstate 190 in Sterling, according to court orders signed by Superior Court Judge James Lemire.
The boy is alleged to have been abused by his mother, Elsa Oliver, 28, and her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra Jr., 23, who were arrested in December on charges of assault and child endangerment. They have pleaded not guilty. No one has been charged in Jeremiah’s death.
“Since the defense has not been provided with the cause of death, nor has been provided with any evidence as to whether Miss Oliver was allegedly involved in the death, we have to conduct our own evaluation of Jeremiah’s remains before they’re turned over to the family,” said attorney James Gavin Reardon Jr., who represents Elsa Oliver.
Lawyers for Sierra did not return calls seeking comment.
The boy’s body was found wrapped in cloth inside a suitcase-like container or duffle bag on a grassy embankment about 40 feet from the southbound side of I-190. Investigators have not said what led them to the body or how long they believe it was there. No details have been made public about how the body ended up in that location.
An autopsy report has not been completed in the case, said Timothy J. Connolly, a spokesman for Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. Jeremiah was 4 years old when he was last seen in September.
The court orders say that Jeremiah’s remains will not be released from the medical examiner’s office until Tuesday morning.
Lemire is also permitting the forensic pathologists to review X-rays, tissue slides, and photographs that the medical examiner has in Jeremiah’s case. He also instructed prosecutors to preserve physical evidence that was found with the boy’s body.
Jose Oliver, the boy’s father, said he is very upset that defense experts have permission to examine Jeremiah’s body. “I have no say in it,” he said. “No matter what I say, they’re going to do it anyway. I guess I don’t have that right in being the father.”
Oliver, who lives in New Britain, Conn., said he is hoping to hold a funeral for his son next weekend.
Jeremiah’s disappearance only became known to police in December when his 7-year-old sister told school staff that she and her 9-year-old brother had been physically abused at home and that she had not seen Jeremiah in a long time.