Kyle Merrill (Photo from Haverhill Police)
Kyle Merrill (Photo from Haverhill Police)
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 missing since September
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, 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.
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.
Thomas Woods was not returned by his father, Ryan, after the Monday visit, police said. The boy had left his home without shoes or winter clothing.
Ryan Woods “may be depressed,” according to family members and was last seen in North Brookfield at about 1 p.m. Monday. He is described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, 180 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, blue denim jeans and white sneakers.
The child, Thomas Woods, is described as a white male approximately 2 feet 6 inches tall, weighing 30 pounds with blonde hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing blue sweatpants, a blue and green striped shirt and white socks. Thomas has a scar on his upper lip.
Ryan Woods is believed to be driving a tan/brown 2005 Volvo V70 station wagon, with a Massachusetts license plate 875CT5.
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