FITCHBURG (CBS/AP) —The 8-year-old sister of a missing 5-year-old boy tipped school officials off to the abuse going on in her home.
Her mother, Elsa Oliver and her boyfriend Alberto Sierra, are now facing charges.
Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early said Jeremiah Oliver was last seen by relatives Sept. 14.
But new information from the Department of Children and Families says the boy’s day care told a social worker that Elsa Oliver told them in June, that Jeremiah would no longer be coming to day care and he would be leaving for Florida to live with his grandmother.
Oliver is being held without bail on charges of reckless endangerment of a child and accessory after the fact of assault.
DCF says they first got involved with the family in 2011 after a 51A report was filed alleging the children were being neglected.
The social worker and supervisor responsible for the Oliver case have since been fired.
“This case represents a serious failure on the part of the social worker and supervisor assigned to the family. The social worker assigned to this case did not conduct the required in-person, monthly checks on the family, as required by the Department; and the supervisor failed to enforce that policy. Both have been terminated. All of the cases assigned to that social worker are currently receiving an in-person review and all the cases assigned to that supervisor are being reviewed as well,” DCF Commissioner Olga Roche said in a statement.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports
Sierra pleaded not guilty Monday to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and assault and bodily injury of a child. He’s held without bail until a dangerousness hearing.
Prosecutors say the 8-year-old sister of Jeremiah, is also a victim.
She was called “courageous” in court Tuesday, for speaking to a teacher and school counselor about the abuse.
According to court records, the girl told authorities her mother’s boyfriend Albert Sierra, used a belt with a gold buckle and his fists to beat the children. She also told police he beat her mother.
Police noted Elsa Oliver had bruises on her body on Friday.
According to court records, Sierra has a history of assaulting women and children.
In 2012, a woman filed a restraining order against Sierra alleging that he hit her and their son and threatened to kill them both and burn down her parents’ home.
The woman told police at the time, Sierra had come at her with a glass bottle and hit her in front of the boy.
A neighbor in the building where Oliver and the children lived said she heard loud noises last Thursday night, the night before police showed up. She’d seen the two older children, ages 7 and 8, but in her two months living there, had never seen Jeremiah. She had spotted the boyfriend, Sierra coming and going.
Outside of court, Jeremiah’s uncle pleaded for the return of his nephew.
“I just want him back, I just want my nephew back. Please, please, somebody help us bring him back home where he belongs,” he said amid tears.
Jeremiah has brown hair and brown eyes and stands three feet, four inches tall.
Friends are planning a prayer vigil Wednesday afternoon at Jeremiah’s home.
Jeremiah’s two siblings are in DCF custody.