Jeremiah Oliver

Authorities have made an arrest in the case of 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver, who was discovered dead in a suitcase on the side of a highway nearly a decade ago.

The Fitchburg teen had been missing for seven months before his body was discovered off Interstate 190 in Sterling in April 2014.

Alberto Sierra Jr., 32, the boy’s mother’s boyfriend at the time, was indicted by a Worcester grand jury early Wednesday. According to the office of District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., he was later arrested for murder and disinterring a body.

Sierra is scheduled to appear in Worcester Superior Court on Thursday.

Sierra and the boy’s mother, Elsa Oliver, were both charged with multiple crimes in the days and years following the boy’s death. Some of the charges involved Jeremiah and his siblings being assaulted. Both were charged with child endangerment and kidnapping. Both received prison sentences.

However, no one had been charged with the murder until Wednesday. Authorities did not declare the case a homicide until February 2016, nearly two years after the body was discovered.

Jeremiah, who shared an apartment with his mother at 276 Kimball St., was last seen alive by relatives on September 14, 2013. Authorities did not become involved until December. The boy’s sister reported him missing to school officials.

After learning that the boy had not been seen in months, the Fitchburg community reacted quickly. Friends organized a search of the neighborhood, and flyers with the boy’s image were distributed.

Fitchburg and state police scoured the area, aided by tracking dogs.

A worker from the state Department of Child and Family Services assigned to the case, as well as their supervisor, were fired for failing to conduct home checks on the boy. A third DCF employee was punished.

Within days, Sierra and Else Oliver were charged with child abuse.

Meanwhile, the boy’s whereabouts remained unknown. Months passed.

Authorities discovered the boy’s body wrapped in a blanket in a suitcase off the southbound side of I-190 in Sterling on April 18, 2014. The body was apparently discovered thanks to a jailhouse tip.

About 350 people packed Rollstone Congregational Church in Fitchburg for the boy’s funeral two weeks later. Jose Oliver, Jeremiah’s father, who was living in Connecticut at the time, joined the mourners in remembering the boy who loved Spider-Man.

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