FITCHBURG, Mass. (NBC) – “I know my son is in a better place,” said Jose Oliver, father of Jeremiah Oliver.
Holding back tears, Jose Oliver, addresses a packed church during his son’s funeral. Telling the crowd he wishes they were coming together to celebrate the boy’s safe return, not to mourn his death.
“When is the abuse going to end? There’s so much hatred in this world,” said Jose.
It’s been an emotional few months for the family as well as the Fitchburg community. Jeremiah disappeared in September, yet wasn’t reported missing until December. Last month, his body was found on the side of the road in sterling. His mother and her boyfriend face charges in connection to his disappearance.
Now, as those who knew him and those who knew of him say goodbye, they are also hoping to find closure.
“From the time I knew Jeremiah, I always knew he was a happy kid, always had a smile on his face and wanted to play,” said Sixto Oliver, his brother.
In an emotional speech, the father says Jeremiah came to him in a recent dream, “He said ‘Daddy, if I can’t be with you, or my mommy, or Romeo, or Ariana, then the day I died was the best day of my life because now I’m safe.'”
The family and the community are calling Saturday’s ceremony a celebration of Jeremiah’s life. A life everyone agrees was taken too soon.
“I’m sorry as a father and as a man that I could not be there to protect you,” said Jose.
The boy’s family had been monitored by the Department of Children and Families since 2011. Three DCF employees were fired and a fourth disciplined after an investigation revealed missed social worker visits and other failed opportunities to engage with the family.