Father of five-year-old who went missing for three months before anyone noticed apologizes for not protecting him at boy’s funeral

Jose Oliver, right, apologized to his dead 5-year-old son Saturday at the boy’s funeral in Fitchburg, Massachusetts

The father of a five-year-old boy who was missing for months before his body was found by the side of a highway apologized at his funeral Saturday, saying he wished he could have saved his son.

Jose Oliver, of New Britain, Connecticut, gave a tearful eulogy in front of hundreds of mourners at the funeral for Jeremiah Oliver at the Rollstone Congregational Church in Fitchburg.

“I wish that this was a celebration of the return of Jeremiah and not the death of Jeremiah,” Oliver said. “A lot of people have told me that, now that we’ve found him, I would have peace and closure. Well, that’s not true.”

Addressing his son’s small white coffin, Jose Oliver asked the boy for forgiveness, saying “I am sorry, as a father and as a man, that I could not be there to protect you.”

Jeremiah was last seen in September but wasn’t reported missing until December, when his 7-year-old sister told someone at school that she and her siblings were being abused.