Jeremiah Oliver’s Killer Still Walking Free
By Jordan Graham
FITCHBURG -- More than five years after little 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver was last seen alive, a woman who admitted to lying to investigators about the boy’s disappearance was sentenced to only probation -- prompting a child welfare advocate to lament that the state’s youngest victims often “don’t have a voice.”
Oliver’s remains were found in a suitcase on the side of Interstate 190 in Sterling in April 2014, months after he was reported missing. He was last seen alive in September 2013, but was not reported gone until December. The child’s killer still has not been publicly identified or charged.
“At the end of the day we have a little boy who is dead, and hopefully there is some kind of resolution for him,” said Tammy Mello, executive director of the Children’s League of Massachusetts. “People want to feel like someone is held accountable for doing it to him. That’s in any criminal case you see, victims want vindication. We’re talking about a young child that no longer has a voice.”
Cailey Thibault was sentenced Friday to one year of probation after she pleaded guilty to misleading and lying to investigators about her interactions with Oliver, according to the Worcester County District Attorney’s office.
Christian Sierra, Thibault’s ex-boyfriend, pleaded guilty to the same charges over the summer.
Prosecutors had previously charged Alberto Sierra, whose brother was in a relationship with Thibault, with abusing Oliver, along with his two siblings and mother. Prosecutors dropped the charges associated with Oliver, saying they did not want to make any moves that would rule out possible homicide charges against Sierra because of double jeopardy.
Sierra was sentenced to as many as seven years in prison after he pleaded guilty to abusing Jeremiah Oliver’s siblings and mother. Elsa Oliver, Jeremiah’s mother, pleaded guilty to endangering the boy’s siblings, and abusing one of them, and was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.
Still, even the guilty pleas from Thibault and Christian Sierra are not directly connected to Jeremiah’s death. They reportedly center on attempts to hide communication between Jeremiah’s mother and Alberto Sierra months after Jeremiah was last seen.
The boy’s death sparked a major review of the state’s Department of Children and Families, which eventually underwent an overhaul. Several of the DCF workers assigned to Oliver’s case were fired after it was revealed they had missed visits and appointments.
Mello said prosecutors appear to be moving cautiously, likely in an attempt to bolster their case against a suspect. There is no statute of limitations for murder in Massachusetts.
“Of course we want justice for any victim, but we’re talking about a 5-year-old little boy,” said Mello. “For him and all other young people who don’t have that voice, we yearn for answers for them.”