Metro

Charges against mother dropped in death of 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver

Elsa Oliver was arraigned in Fitchburg District Court in 2013.

Worcester Telegram & Gazette/Rick Cinclair, Pool/via Associated Press, file

Elsa Oliver was arraigned in Fitchburg District Court in 2013.

The mother of Jeremiah Oliver will no longer face criminal charges connected to the disappearance and death of the 5-year-old Fitchburg boy, but she pleaded guilty to charges she abused her two surviving children, Worcester prosecutors said Tuesday.

Elsa Oliver pleaded guilty in Worcester Superior Court to assault and battery and two counts of reckless endangerment of her two surviving children and was sentenced to two and a half years on each of those three charges, according to Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s office.

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Early’s office formally dropped nine other charges that were brought against Oliver for her alleged role in the death of Jeremiah, whose body was found stuffed into a suitcase off Interstate 190 in Sterling in 2014, months after he disappeared from his Fitchburg home.

The death of Jeremiah prompted a shake-up at the state Department of Children and Families, which had been assigned to keep tabs on the boy. Three DCF employees were fired for their negligence in handling the case, and Olga Roche, who was commissioner at the time, resigned.

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Prosecutors wrote they were dropping the charges but continue to investigate the child’s death. By dropping the charges now, prosecutors wrote that they will be able to bring new charges in the future.

“The child victim named in these indictments is also the subject of an active and ongoing homicide investigation,’’ prosecutors wrote. “The [dismissal] is necessary to ensure that double jeopardy does not attach or prevent further possible prosecution for the homicide of the child.”

Last week, prosecutors took similar steps against her former boyfriend, Alberto L. Sierra Jr., whom they described as the “principal actor” in the child’s death, and dropped any charges they had filed against him for his alleged role in Jeremiah’s death.

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Sierra pleaded guilty to three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, two counts of assault and battery, and two counts of reckless endangerment of a child for assaulting the surviving children and Oliver.

Sierra was sentenced to serve six to seven years in state prison.

Oliver and Sierra have been in custody since their arrests in 2014, and will be given credit for time served.

Travis Andersen of the Globe staff contributed to this report. John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.
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