Father of missing Fitchburg boy arrested in CT for allegedly trafficking heroin

Jose Oliver (center)  spoke to the media outside Fitchburg District Court Dec. 24 after a hearing for man suspected of playing a role in the disappearance of Oliver’s five-year-old son, Jeremiah Oliver.
Jose Oliver (center) spoke to the media outside Fitchburg District Court Dec. 24 after a hearing for man suspected of playing a role in the disappearance of Oliver’s five-year-old son, Jeremiah Oliver.
Aram Boghosian/For The Boston Globe

The father of Jeremiah Oliver, the missing five-year-old boy from Fitchburg, was arrested in Connecticut on drug trafficking charges just days before he was due in a Massachusetts courtroom to seek custody of his two other children, official said.

Jose Oliver was arrested and charged with possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of narcotics within 1,500 feet of a school, and criminal attempt of sale of narcotics, according to New Britain Police Department Lieutenant Jeanette Saccente.

“We received information that he was involved in drug trafficking,” said Saccente, who added that police then arranged a drug bug from Oliver.

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According to police, Oliver arrived at the pre-determined location with 30 bags of suspected heroin in his possession and was arrested.

His son, Jeremiah Oliver, has not been seen since September. Authorities were alerted to his disappearance Dec. 2, when his 7-year-old sister told counselors at Reingold Elementary School in Fitchburg that she was being abused by her mother’s boyfriend and that she had not seen Jeremiah in some time.

Authorities are treating the case as a potential homicide, with Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s office alleging that Jeremiah’s two siblings were savagely beaten by Alberto Sierra Jr., 23, and that their mother, 28-year-old Elsa Oliver, did not prevent the abuse.

Sierra has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is being held without bail. Oliver has refused court orders to disclose where her son is and is being held in contempt. She has also pleaded not guilty to criminal charges.

The boy’s disappearance has shaken the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, which has fired three employees—the direct care social worker and two supervisors—for failing to meet their professional responsibility to the Oliver family.

Jose Oliver, who lives in Connecticut, had vowed to appear in Fitchburg Juvenile Court Jan. 10 to seek custody of Jeremiah’s sister and 9-year-old brother, who are currently in a state-administered foster home.

While his previous criminal record included an arrest for possession of heroin and a charge of assault and battery, Jose Oliver insisted in a recent Boston Globe interview that he was a changed man. Oliver acknowledged his history of drug use, he requested that state officials look beyond his past infractions and return his children to him.

“Don’t judge me on my past. People do change,” Jose Oliver insisted in an interview with the Globe last week. “Everybody makes mistakes, man. There’s nobody perfect in this world. The past is the past, let’s leave it there. I’m a new person. I’m older, I’m wiser.’’

Two days after the Globe interview, Oliver was in handcuffs—charged with drug dealing.

It is unclear if the missing boy’s father, who could not be immediately reached for comment, will abandon his attempts to regain custody of his other children as a result of his arrest this week.