The Disappearance and Search for Missing 5-Year-Old Dulce Alavez
The search for Dulce Maria Alavez, 5, is now entering its second week without a word after her disappearance from a Bridgeton City Park in New Jersey.
Dulce, a student at Buckshutem Road School in Bridgeton is described as 3 feet tall with brown hair and eyes. She was last wearing a yellow shirt with a picture of an elephant, black checkered pant with flowers, and white sandals.
Dulce is fluent in both English and Spanish. According to family members, Dulce is a big “Baby Shark” fan and loves to watch cartoons. She also loves playing and enjoys candy and chips.
According to the Amber Alert issued by New Jersey State Police, the person who took the little girl is described as a man, 5’6” to 5’8”, possibly Hispanic, light-skinned with a thin build, facial acne, and no facial hair. He was wearing orange sneakers, red pants, and a black shirt.
According to witnesses, at approximately 4:20 p.m. Dulce was playing on the playground when the unidentified man led her to a red van with tinted windows and sliding doors. He then drove away.
Dulce’s mother Noema Alavez told police that shortly before 4 p.m. that afternoon she took Dulce and her little 3-year-old brother and an 8-year-old relative to Sunoco convenience store for ice cream. Video surveillance in the store shows the children looking into the display case.
Shortly after 4 p.m., Noema Alavez arrives at the Bridgeton City Park with the children. Dulce and her younger brother ran off to play, while her mother stayed in the vehicle with the 8-year-old child.
After about 10 minutes, she found her 3-year-old crying with his ice cream on the ground and pointing to the area where he last saw his sister, which included some buildings by the playground. “I thought she was playing hide and seek, and playing in the woods,” Noema told NBC Philadelphia.
Noema began searching the park for her daughter and called police at approximately 5 p.m. About two dozen people were playing basketball at a court near the playground at the time Dulce went missing. All were questioned by police.
Search and Theories
Despite the accusatory Facebook comments demeaning the family for leaving Dulce unattended, Dulce’s mother revealed that investigators have also suggested that a family member played a role in the kidnapping. This is a normal occurrence for most families with missing children, and an accusation Noema vehemently denies.
Dulce’s aunt, Nayiber Alavez, said it has been extremely difficult with accusations swirling around. "It’s more harder for us because they are judging us that we had something to do with it when we don’t," Nayiber told ABC-6.
This began an extensive search that went late into the evening.
On September 17 at 7 a.m., police and members of the community searched the 1,000-acre park along with surrounding neighborhoods on foot, using aircraft and thermal imaging cameras. More than 50 officers from various agencies within Gloucester County and the state helped in the search, to include K-9s and fire personnel. They also drained a waterway at the park searching for Dulce.
Bill Pulte Raises Reward to $60,000
Local authorities have announced that the reward has been increased.
The FBI, the prosecutor’s office, and the New Jersey State Policeman’s Benevolent Association are each contributing $5,000, along with two local businesses, Tortilleria El Paisano and Newfield National Bank, are each offering $10,000.
On September 20, a Twitter philanthropist announced he would increase the reward by $30,000, raising the entire reward offered to $60,000.
Anyone with information is asked to please call New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit at 609-882-2000 #2554 or the Bridgeton Police at 856-451-0033. Tips may also be called into 1-800-CALL-FBI—select option 4, then option 8.
© 2019 Kym L Pasqualini