The father of a Fitchburg preschooler found dead Friday said he believed the child’s mother, her boyfriend, and others close to the couple were involved in the child’s death and that his son’s body was recently dumped.
“I’m right here, right now, where they found the body at, and I know that the body has not been here for no six months,” Jose Oliver said by cellphone on Sunday.
Jeremiah Oliver’s body was found Friday in a grassy area off the southbound side of Interstate 190 in Sterling, south of Exit 6. Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. confirmed the identity of the body in a brief statement Saturday but released no further information.
On Friday, Early said at a news conference that the body was found wrapped in cloth inside either a suitcase or a duffel bag and that the death appeared to be a homicide.
Jose Oliver said he thinks it is impossible that the body had been there for the seven months his son was missing.
“I believe that the body was thrown here Thursday morning,” he said by phone from the scene. “Anybody that drives through here, you could see it here.”
Jeremiah, 4, disappeared in September, allegedly the victim of violence involving his mother, Elsa Oliver, 28, and her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra Jr., 23, who have refused to discuss the boy’s whereabouts since their December arrest on assault and child endangerment charges.
Sierra and Elsa Oliver have both remained in custody since their arrests. Jose Oliver said he believes they have associates who moved the body recently.
“There’s more people involved in this besides my wife and Alberto Sierra. A couple of people know what happened,” Jose Oliver said. “My question is now who did it and why they did it. I want answers. Why did he get thrown here? When did he get thrown here? Why all of a sudden the body just appears from nowhere?”
Jose Oliver, a resident of New Britain, Conn., said his 7-year-old daughter, who in December reported Jeremiah missing, told him she saw an adult remove a suitcase from the family’s home one night close to the time that Jeremiah disappeared.
“My daughter [saw] a black suitcase coming out of the house, and . . . they told her go into her room,” he said.
Jose Oliver said his daughter and his other son, currently in foster care, do not yet know that Jeremiah’s body has been found. He said he planned to speak to his children Tuesday but was unsure when he would tell them Jeremiah is dead.
“I have to wait for their doctors to tell me if it’s best for me to tell them now,” he said. “They’re in therapy now, and I don’t want to give them that bad news right now.”
He was also unsure whether the siblings would attend Jeremiah’s funeral.
Oliver said he visited a Fitchburg funeral home Sunday to make arrangements, but he cannot set a date to bury his son until the body is released by the state medical examiner. He said the district attorney’s office told him that would likely happen by Tuesday or Wednesday, and that more information should be available then.
A spokesman for Early declined to release any additional information on the case Sunday. A court-appointed attorney for Elsa Oliver said he did not expect any new information until after Patriots Day. Sierra’s attorney could not be reached.
Jose Oliver said he blames Elsa Oliver, Sierra, and their associates for his son’s death, but also state officials who failed to protect Jeremiah.
The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families had been monitoring the Oliver family for two years after allegations of neglect, but an investigation into Jeremiah’s disappearance found that the assigned social worker had missed mandatory monthly visits between last April and his sister’s December report that Jeremiah was missing.
That social worker and two supervisors were fired, but Jose Oliver said the problem goes higher, and that both the department and Governor Deval Patrick should be punished for what he considered their negligience.
Spokespersons for the Department of Children and Families and the governor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment Sunday evening.
Standing beside the busy highway where Jeremiah’s remains were finally found, Jose Oliver expressed horror at the callous treatment of his son.
“I just can’t believe that he was thrown here like that, like he was an animal or something,” he said. “How you going to have the heart to take a 5-year-old boy and wrap him up in a blanket and put him in a suitcase? That’s a monster.”