WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — Authorities said a child’s body found off a highway in central Massachusetts on Friday matches the height and weight of a missing 5-year-old boy who has been missing for seven months.
Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said the body has not been positively identified as Jeremiah Oliver, of Fitchburg, and that won’t happen until after an autopsy by the state medical examiner.
“It appears to be a homicide,” he said at a news conference.
Early said the body was found at about 9 a.m. by a police search team about 40 feet off U.S. Highway 190 near Sterling, which is about 12 miles from Fitchburg. He said it was wrapped in blanket-like material, and packed in material that resembled a suitcase.
He would not say what led authorities to the location, or how long the body may have been there. He said the site is near an area that is regularly mowed on the side of the highway but would not have been visible to passing cars.
Jeremiah was last seen by relatives in September but wasn’t reported missing until December. Authorities have said they feared he was dead.
The family was being monitored by state social workers at the time, and the case led to scrutiny of the state Department of Children and families.
Jeremiah’s mother, Elsa Oliver, pleaded not guilty in March to charges including kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and reckless endangerment. Her boyfriend pleaded not guilty to similar charges. They have been held since December on lesser charges in the case.