The body of a small boy apparently cast off the side of a highway has been confirmed as a missing 5-year-old, authorities said.
The body found Friday off Interstate 190 has been positively identified as Jeremiah Oliver, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said late Saturday. No charges were immediately announced related to Jeremiah's death.
He was last seen by relatives in September but wasn't reported missing until December. Authorities had said they feared the Fitchburg boy was dead.
Early said in a statement that the autopsy report is not complete. The investigation is continuing, he said.
But, at a news conference Friday, the prosecutor had said, "It appears to be a homicide."
Early said the body was found at about 9 a.m. Friday by a police search team about 40 feet off I-190 near Sterling, which is about 12 miles from Fitchburg. He said the child's body 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's mother, Elsa Oliver, 28, pleaded not guilty in March to charges including kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and reckless endangerment. Her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra, 23, pleaded not guilty to similar charges.
The family was being monitored by state social workers since 2011. And after Jeremiah's disappearance, their case led to intense scrutiny of the state Department of Children and Families.
Three employees of the agency — a social worker, a supervisor and an area manager — were fired after an internal investigation. Officials said the social worker had not made required monthly visits to the family.
Oliver and Sierra, who were indicted by a Worcester County grand jury, are both being held on bail — $100,000 for Oliver and $250,000 for Sierra.
Three other people have been charged with interfering with a criminal investigation and misleading police in connection with the case.
— The Associated Press