Nine years after a 5-year-old was found dead in a suitcase near an interstate, a Massachusetts man was charged in the death.
Alberto L. Sierra Jr., 32, pleaded not guilty to a murder charge Thursday, NBC Boston reported.
The Fitchburg man is accused of killing Jeremiah Oliver, who also lived in the city of around 42,000 around 20 miles north of Worcester.
Sierra was the boy’s mother’s boyfriend.
Jeremiah was reported missing in late 2013, and his body was found in a suitcase off I-190 in Sterling on April 18, 2014, the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office said.
The medical examiner’s office determined the manner of death as homicide and cause as “homicidal violence of undetermined etiology,” the prosecutor’s office said.
Sierra was arrested Wednesday on charges of murder and disinterring of a body, according to NBC Boston. He is being held in jail without bail, and it was not clear from available online records if he has retained an attorney.
The news release from the district attorney’s office did not detail what led to the recent arrest and indictments.
In 2017, Sierra pleaded guilty to assault and battery charges against the mother and two of her three children, the district attorney’s office said at the time. He was sentenced to six to seven years in prison.
But at the time, he had not been charged in the boy’s death.
The boy’s mother, Elsa Oliver, also pleaded guilty in 2017 to assault and battery and two counts of reckless endangerment of a child, and she was sentenced to 7 1/2 years of prison, according to the district attorney’s office.
Elsa Oliver and the children had been involved with the state Department of Children and Families before Jeremiah disappeared.
A social worker who failed to regularly visit Oliver and her children, and two supervisors were fired in the aftermath of the disappearance and death, according to a report by the state Office of the Child Advocate. The state made changes to things like home visits and case reviews, it said.