Governor Deval Patrick on Friday said that more senior officials at the state Department of Children and Families may be disciplined in the case of a missing 5-year-old Fitchburg boy who was allegedly beaten by his mother’s boyfriend and is now feared dead.
The boy, Jeremiah Oliver, was last seen alive by a relative on Sept. 14, but his disappearance only came to the attention of DCF officials nearly three months later, on Dec. 2, when Oliver’s 7-year-old sister told staff at her school that she was being abused by the boyfriend.
A social worker at the Department of Children and Families has been fired for failing to make required monthly visit to the boy’s home, and a department supervisor has been fired for failing to enforce the policy.
On Friday, Patrick hinted that others may be at fault in the case.
“I’ve asked the commissioner [of DCF] whether responsibility goes beyond those two, and I have some reason to believe that it does,” he said on his monthly radio show on WGBH-FM.
“The questions I have asked are about responsibility up the chain,” Patrick said. “I have some of those answers. But I can’t talk about them right now. You’re going to hear about them in the next little while, because there are a couple more questions we want to get to the bottom of, and we want to give people a chance to explain,” why they may have failed to meet agency procedures and policies.
On Thursday, DCF officials said an area program manager has been reassigned, while the agency investigates what went wrong in Jeremiah’s case. “Any determination as to the future of this or any other employee will be made after the conclusion of the full and transparent investigation ordered by the governor,” a DCF spokesman, Alec Loftus, said in a statement.