The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

April 20, 2014

Autopsy to ID dead boy; body cast off side of road

(Continued)

WORCESTER, Mass. —

Jeremiah’s mother, Elsa Oliver, 28, pleaded not guilty in March to charges including kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and reckless endangerment. Her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra, 23, pleaded not guilty to similar charges.

The family was being monitored by state social workers since 2011. And after Jeremiah’s disappearance, their case led to intense scrutiny of the state Department of Children and families.

Three employees of the agency — a social worker, a supervisor and an area manager — were fired after an internal investigation. Officials said the social worker had not made required monthly visits to the family.

The governor asked the Child Welfare League of America to review DCF but resisted calls from some lawmakers to fire Olga Roche, the agency’s commissioner.

In an initial report filed by the league last month, it recommended that Massachusetts take a number of steps to shore up its child welfare system, including boosting staffing levels to reduce social worker caseload.

A separate report from the state’s Child Advocate, Gail Garinger, suggested that state social workers missed nearly one in five home visits during a recent 12-month period, though state officials said the figure was likely overstated.

Roche assured state legislators in January that DCF had accounted for the safety of all other young children in its care.

Oliver and Sierra, who were indicted by a Worcester County grand jury, are both being held on bail — $100,000 for Oliver and $250,000 for Sierra.

Three other people have been charged with interfering with a criminal investigation and misleading police in connection with the case.

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