FITCHBURG, Mass. (AP) — A judge ordered a Massachusetts man held without bail Tuesday in the case of his girlfriend's missing 5-year-old son, who was last seen by relatives months ago.
The attorney for Alberto Sierra of Fitchburg did not contest prosecutors' request to hold him based on dangerousness. Documents related to the case have been impounded and prosecutors did not elaborate.
Judge Margaret Guzman did say the boy's mother, Elsa Oliver of Fitchburg, can be released if she can make $100,000 bail and meet other conditions, including wearing a monitoring bracelet. Her attorney, Gavin Reardon, said he can't get useful information from her. A competency hearing is set for Jan. 10.
"She has a very flat affect," he said. "She doesn't seem to understand what's going on. I've been with her many hours and I can't have a conversation with her."
Oliver's son, Jeremiah, is feared dead. Relatives say they last saw him in September. Authorities learned about his disappearance only recently.
Police are contacting area tattoo parlors about a tattoo Oliver has of a butterfly and the date Sept. 25, 2013, the Telegram & Gazette reported. They want to know whether she told a tattoo artist why that date is significant.
Oliver is charged with reckless endangerment of a child and being an accessory after the fact. Sierra is charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery on a child. Both have pleaded not guilty. They watched the hearing from a separate room and did not appear in court.
About 30 people attended to support the family of Jeremiah's father, Jose Oliver of New Britain, Conn.
Edward Valcourt of Worcester, Jose Oliver's cousin, wore a sweatshirt with a picture of the boy, whom he last saw two years ago, and the words "Prayers for Jeremiah." He was upset that the judge set bail for Elsa Oliver over prosecutors' objections and that neither she nor Sierra appeared in court.
"He was a wonderful little boy, as happy as could be," Valcourt said. "It's just awful thinking of him lying somewhere."
A hearing will be held in juvenile court Dec. 31 on Jose Oliver's bid for custody of his other two children with Elsa Oliver. Meanwhile, family members and friends are hoping to organize another search for Jeremiah.
"We're going to keep doing the search until we find him" said Jackie Serrano of Fitchburg, whose 5-year-old son was in Jeremiah's class. "That boy doesn't deserve to be like this. That boy deserves to be with his dad for Christmas."