A social worker skipped regularly planned visits to a Massachusetts boy who authorities recently learned has been missing for months.
Jeremiah Oliver, of Fitchburg, was last seen in September and police fear that he's been murdered. His mother and her boyfriend have been accused of a slew of charges related to his disappearance, but a state agency responsible for protecting endangered children has come under scrutiny for its handling of the case too, CNN reports.
Oliver, his brother and sister were supposed to receive monthly visits from a caseworker with the Department of Children and Families. The last time the unnamed caseworker -- who has since been fired -- saw Oliver was in May, the Boston Globe reported. The worker checked in on the family again in November. She had been told in June that the boy had gone to live with family in Florida, but didn't verify if that was true, according to the Globe.
The search for the missing child began last week and yesterday more than 100 volunteers combed through the snowy neighborhood where Oliver lived, the Sentinel & Enterprise reported.
Authorities learned that Oliver had vanished on December 2 when his 8-year-old sister told school counselors that her mother's boyfriend had physically hurt her and another brother.
The sister and other brother were taken from the home of their mother, Elsa Oliver, and her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra, and put in protective custody. Police asked about Jeremiah's whereabouts and his mother allegedly claimed that he was living in Florida.
The mother was ordered to appear in court, but refused to answer questions about her missing child. When she failed to return to court with Jeremiah three days later, she was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment of a child and accessory after the fact. Sierra, 22, who is accused of abusing Elsa as well as the children, is charged with assault and battery on a child.
Jose Oliver, Jeremiah's biological father, told the Sentinel & Enterprise that he hasn't seen his son in years because of a restraining order against him taken out by Elsa.