FITCHBURG -- A judge declared the mother of missing 5-year-old Fitchburg boy Jeremiah Oliver competent to stand trial during an appearance in Fitchburg District Court on Friday.

Elsa Oliver, 28, faces charges in connection with the alleged abuse of Jeremiah and his 9-year-old brother and 7-year-old sister, who were placed in state custody.

Also charged is Oliver's boyfriend, Alberto L. Sierra Jr., 22.

They have pleaded not guilty to all charges. Jeremiah has been missing since September and is feared dead.

The case has resulted in intense scrutiny on the workload of social workers at the Department of Children and Families who were responsible for looking out for the well-being of the children.