Archives For Missing Child

Ayla Reynolds reported missing December 2011

Ayla Reynolds still missing two years later

Ayla’s father, Justin DiPietro, said he last saw his daughter on the night of Dec. 16, 2011.

WMTW Image

WATERVILLE, Maine — The mother of missing Maine toddler Ayla Reynolds has asked the county attorney to bring child endangerment charges against the girl’s father.

In a March 24 letter to the Morning Sentinel, Trista Reynolds says Ayla was in Justin DiPietro’s care when he reported her missing on Dec. 17, 2011. Investigators found blood inside the home, and have concluded the child is no longer alive and was a victim of foul play.

Reynolds has asked the county prosecutor to bring child endangerment charges against DiPietro before the statute of limitations runs out in nine months.

The county prosecutor says her office has no jurisdiction over the case since it was transferred to the attorney general’s office.

The deputy attorney general told the newspaper that he cannot discuss any possible charges in the case.

Police looking for Nicole Reynolds, Gianna Geraghty

KEENE, N.H. — Keene police are seeking the public’s help in finding a mother and her 2-year-old daughter.

Nicole Reynolds, 33, of Keene, and her daughter, Gianna Geraghty, 2, have not been seen or heard from since Wednesday night, when Reynolds picked Gianna up from the home of the girl’s paternal grandparents.

“Our concerns are obviously for Gianna and Nicole as well, that everybody be safe and come home,” said Michael Geraghty, the girl’s grandfather.

Geraghty said that on Thursday, there was a custody hearing for Gianna. When Reynolds couldn’t be reached, the judge advised the family to call police.

The two may be traveling in a silver Honda CRV with New Hampshire registration 2368679.

Police said the incident is currently being treated as a missing-persons case, not an Amber Alert.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call Keene police at 603-357-9813. Tips can be anonymously submitted at this link.

Jeremiah Oliver last seen in September

Fitchburg, Mass. — The uncle of a missing 5-year-old Fitchburg boy was led out of the courtroom Friday after an emotional outburst during a hearing when the judge ruled the boy’s mother is competent to stand trial.

Watch report

Investigators fear Jeremiah Oliver, who was last seen in September, may be dead.

The boy’s mother, Elsa Oliver and her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra Jr., appeared at a pretrial hearing in Fitchburg District Court.

At the end of the hearing the boy’s uncle, Sandrino Oliver, screamed, “Where’s my nephew?” several times before he was led out of the courtroom by several guards.

Sandrino Oliver was brought before the judge in handcuffs on a contempt of court charge. The charge was dismissed by Judge Margaret Guzman after he promised it would not happen again.

“If he disappeared — she has to know where he is at. I believe that she is afraid,” Jose Oliver, the boy’s father, said.

Elsa Oliver and Sierra have pleaded not guilty to child endangerment and abuse charges in connection with the alleged abuse of Jeremiah’s 9-year-old brother and 7-year-old sister, who were placed in state custody.

Jeremiah Oliver missing since September

Tattoo eyed in Fitchburg missing boy case

LEOMINSTER, Mass. —Worker caseloads are stunningly high at a Massachusetts Department of Children and Families office criticized for how it handled a case involving a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy who has been missing since September, according to child welfare advocates.

The Boston Herald reports that one worker at the Leominster office oversaw 57 children, nearly half of whom were in foster care. Six other workers were overseeing 40 or more children apiece. Sixty workers have filed grievances saying their caseloads exceeded the state-mandated limit of 18, according to labor union officials.

“That seems inconceivable to me,” said Maria Mossaides, executive director of Cambridge Family and Children’s Service and chair of the Children’s League of Massachusetts.

The Leominster office is the one that served the family of 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver of Fitchburg, who has been missing since September and is feared dead. Three DCF workers were fired and a fourth disciplined in connection with the agency’s failures in handling the family’s case.

DCF Commissioner Olga Roche said an internal investigation by the agency found staff missed multiple opportunities to engage with the Oliver family through home visits and sometimes went months between meetings with the family.

The boy disappeared in September, but police didn’t learn that until last month. They are treating the case as a possible homicide.

The boy’s mother, Elsa Oliver, and her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra Jr., were arrested in connection with the alleged abuse of Oliver’s two other children. Oliver and Sierra have pleaded not guilty to child endangerment, abuse and other charges. Searchers have looked for the boy, to no avail.

Mossaides and other advocates are placing some blame on DCF budget cuts and low staffing levels.

Gov. Deval Patrick said last month that he didn’t believe the case represented a “system-wide breakdown.”

“There are hundreds of triumphs every day in the lives of children thanks to the people who work at DCF,” he said.

Jose Oliver tried to sell heroin during police sting, report says

New Britain Police

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. —The father of a young Fitchburg boy who has been missing for months has been arrested on drug charges in Connecticut.

Jose Oliver, of New Britain, was arrested Monday after he allegedly tried to sell 30 bags of heroin during a police sting, the New Britain Herald reported.

Oliver’s 5-year-old son Jeremiah, who lived with his mother and her boyfriend in Fitchburg, was last seen in September and is feared dead.

Neither reported the boy missing, however the couple faces numerous charges, but none directly related to the boy’s disappearance.

At the time of his arrest, Oliver was seeking custody of his other children, the Herald reported.

Three employees if the Department of Children & Families were fired for their handling of the boy’s case.

An internal investigation by the agency found staff missed multiple opportunities to engage with the Oliver family through home visits and sometimes went months between meetings with the family.

Jeremiah Oliver missing since September

FITCHBURG, Mass. —A third employee of Massachusetts’ social services agency has been fired for her involvement in the case of a 5-year-old boy who has not been seen for months and is feared dead.

The commissioner of the state Department of Children & Families said Monday that an area program manager was fired after an investigation found she failed to ensure any follow-up after multiple reports of abuse and neglect in Jeremiah Oliver’s Fitchburg home.

A social worker and supervisor were dismissed earlier this month. In addition, Commissioner Olga Roche said another manager was given a three-day suspension without pay and removed from a decision-making position.

Watch full report

She said an internal investigation by the agency found staff missed multiple opportunities to engage with the Oliver family through home visits and sometimes went months between meetings with the family.

The boy disappeared in September, but police didn’t learn that until earlier this month. They are treating the case as a possible homicide.

The boy’s mother, Elsa Oliver, and her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra Jr., have been arrested. They have pleaded not guilty to child endangerment, abuse and other charges.

Roche said that the supervisor entered false information including that the children were well cared for and the apartment well furnished.

“This information was never available to them because they never visited the home,” she said. Roche said the supervisor knew that the home visits were not being conducted by the social worker.

She said the fired social worker had a comparable workload as another social worker who had worked with the family at a different DCF office and visited them regularly after they first became involved with the department in September 2011.

The care declined when the family moved to Fitchburg and their case was transferred to the DCF’s North Central Area Office in January 2013. The new social worker assigned to the family “failed to do the basic responsibility of a social worker,” Roche said.

She said months went by when the social worker, who had five years of experience on the job, failed to make visits and failed to follow up on reports.

The report released by the department Monday chronicled a breakdown in oversight of a troubled family.

According to the report, the last time anyone from the department spoke to the 5-year-old was on May 20, when an agency investigator described the boy as “precocious, talkative and articulate.”

The report said the social worker failed to conduct home visits in June or July despite reports of abuse or neglect. There was also no record of a home visit in August and the social worker said she didn’t conduct a visit in September or October.

In November, the social worker spoke with the oldest sibling at school who said Jeremiah was living with their “other family” who he didn’t know. The social worker made an unannounced home visit, but no one answered the door.

On Dec. 10 the department obtained custody of the three children, but Elsa Oliver refused to disclose the location of her youngest child.

The Boston Globe also reported Monday that the fired social worker was promoted on Nov. 27 and received a 5 percent pay hike in pay as part of a statewide, merit-based promotion given to 239 social workers.

Gov. Deval Patrick said in a statement Monday that the “failure to appropriately monitor the family and respond to multiple warning signs is simply unacceptable.”

A union representing social workers said Monday that the department has to address the issue of overloaded caseworkers.

Roche said Monday she is also directing staff to investigate all allegations involving children under the age of 5 with young parents or parents with a history of substance abuse, domestic violence, mental health issues or unresolved childhood trauma.

Jeremiah Oliver missing since September

Elsa Oliver, of Fitchburg, is taken from court, Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sentinel & Enterprise/John Love

FITCHBURG, Mass. —The mother of a missing 5-year-old boy did nothing to protect her son from abuse, a Massachusetts prosecutor has told a judge.

Jeremiah Oliver, of Fitchburg, has not been seen since September and is feared dead. His mother, Elsa Oliver, faces charges including reckless endangerment of a child. Her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra, faces assault and battery on a child among other charges. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutor Cheryl Riddle told Judge Martha Guzman during a sidebar at a court hearing in the case Tuesday that records from the state’s child welfare agency showed a pattern of neglect and abuse of Jeremiah and his siblings.

“She did nothing to protect the children,” Riddle said of Oliver, according to a transcript of the sidebar that was later made public by the judge. “Nothing to seek medical attention or get them help of any kind.”

Riddle also said Oliver expressed frustration with the Department of Children and Families’ involvement with her family.

A state social worker assigned to the family and a supervisor were fired earlier this month for their handling of the case.

The judge on Tuesday said Oliver could be released from custody if she can make $100,000 bail and meet other conditions, including wearing a monitoring bracelet, resolving a contempt case in juvenile court and dealing with mental health issues.

Oliver’s attorney, Gavin Reardon, said he can’t get useful information from her.

“She doesn’t seem to understand what’s going on,” he said. “I’ve been with her many hours and I can’t have a conversation with her.”

A competency hearing was scheduled for Jan. 10.

Guzman granted a request from prosecutors to hold Sierra without bail.

Oliver’s two other young children have been placed in state custody. The children’s father, Jose Oliver, said he will seek custody and he and other family members will continue to work with police in searching for Jeremiah.


No evidence discovered in Saturday search

FITCHBURG, Mass. —More than a hundred people took to the woods and train tracks Saturday near Jeremiah Oliver’s home, hoping to find some sign of the missing 5-year-old.

Watch report

“I just want to find my son,” said Jose Oliver, Jeremiah Oliver’s biological father. “That’s it. That’s all I’m concerned about.”

Jose Oliver hadn’t seen the boy in two years after his wife, Elsa Oliver, left him with the couple’s three children.

But Jose Oliver said Saturday from the site of the search that he’s here now, living a nightmare.

“I would tell her, ‘Just talk and give me my son back,’” he told NewsCenter 5, when asked what he would say to Elsa Oliver, if he could. “‘If he’s alive, give him back. If he’s not, then say he’s not. But tell me where he’s at, so we can bury him.”

Elsa Oliver, 28, and her boyfriend, 22-year-old Alberto Sierra, are under arrest in Jeremiah Oliver’s disappearance, facing child abuse charges.

Jeremiah Oliver was last seen by a relative Sept. 14, according to authorities, and is feared dead.

Officials say Elsa Oliver isn’t talking.

“I did call the detective a couple of days ago,” Jose Oliver said. “And I asked him if he can talk to his boss so I can see if they can let me talk to her. Because I believe she’ll probably talk to me, but he hasn’t gotten back to me.”

Jose Oliver would need a judge’s permission to address Elsa Oliver.

The case has rocked the state’s Department of Children and Families. The agency’s director fired the social worker and supervisor assigned to Jeremiah Oliver’s case — after the social worker went three months without checking on the boy. Social workers are supposed to communicate with their clients at least once a month.

Jose Oliver, meantime, said he’ll go to court to ask for custody of his two other children with Elsa Oliver.

The search Saturday turned up no evidence.

Jeremiah Oliver last seen in September

FITCHBURG, Mass. —Police in Massachusetts only recently learned that a boy whose family had been getting state social-services help has been missing since September, leading to charges against the child’s mother and her boyfriend and the firing of a social worker and the worker’s supervisor and a condemnation of the department‘s inaction by Gov. Deval Patrick.

Investigators say 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver was last seen by relatives Sept. 14 but police only learned recently of his disappearance. A prosecutor is treating Jeremiah’s case as a possible homicide, and Department of Children and Families Commissioner Olga Roche called it a “deeply concerning case of neglect and abuse.”

Watch NewsCenter 5′s report  | State reacts to case

The Fitchburg boy’s family had been receiving services from the department since the fall of 2011 after the agency received a report of neglect.

In June, the social worker received a message from Jeremiah’s day care indicating that his mother had said it was his last day and he would be leaving for Florida to live with his grandmother, officials said. But the social worker didn’t confirm the information and also failed to conduct required checks, they said.

“There is no excuse for the kind of failure we have seen here. There will be accountability for those who failed to protect these children,” said Jesse Mermell, a spokeswoman for Patrick.

“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,” said Roche.

Roche said the two employees, whose names were not disclosed, “have been terminated.”

She said the social worker’s and the supervisor’s other cases are currently under review and the department is working with State Police and prosecutors on the missing boy’s case.

“This is an unspeakably disturbing case. Our top priority now is to find Jeremiah and to care for his siblings,” said Mermell.

A spokesman for SEIU Local 509 said Roche is using the workers as scapegoats to deflect attention from problems caused by soaring caseloads at the agency. The union spokesman, Jason Stephany, said in a statement that Roche prefers “finger-pointing” to accepting responsibility for the caseload issues.

On Monday, Jeremiah’s mother Elsa Oliver, 28, was charged with two counts of reckless endangerment of a child and two counts of being an accessory after the fact. A not guilty plea was entered on her behalf, and a judge ordered her to undergo a mental competency evaluation.

Oliver’s boyfriend, Alberto Sierra, 22, pleaded not guilty after being charged with two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and two counts of assault and battery on a child. He is being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing on Dec. 24.

Oliver’s two other children have been placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.

Thomas Woods not returned after father’s visit

thomas and michael woods

NORTH BROOKFIELD, Mass. —An Amber Alert that been issued for a missing 21-month old boy from North Brookfield was quickly canceled Tuesday night after the boy and his father were found in Connecticut.

Thomas Woods had been reported missing after being picked up by his father, Ryan Woods, for a scheduled visit Monday and not returned as required, Massachusetts State Police said.

When the boy had not been returned late Tuesday, an arrest warrant was issued for Ryan Woods, and the Amber Alert issued.

Photos: Massachusetts missing children

About an hour later, the boy and his father were found safe.  Ryan Woods was arrested.

“The child is being evaluated at a local hospital as a precautionary measure,” police said.

Thomas Woods had left his home without shoes or winter clothing.

Ryan Woods “may be depressed,” according to family members.


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