AMBER ALERT: New Jersey girl missing for 5 days, search continues

Maggie Kent Image
Friday, September 20, 2019
Amber Alert: Family pleads for safe return of missing New Jersey girl
The family of Dulce Maria Alavez issued a plea for anyone with information to come forward as reported by Dann Cuellar during Action News on September 19, 2019.

BRIDGETON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- The family of the 5-year-old, who vanished from a Bridgeton, New Jersey park, issued a plea Thursday afternoon during a news conference asking for anyone with information to please come forward.

Grandmother of missing NJ girl pleads for help during a press conference on September 19, 2019.

An Amber Alert remains in effect Thursday for missing Dulce Maria Alavez, who was last seen just before 5 p.m. Monday.

Authorities said they have reports the girl was taken by a light-skinned, possibly Hispanic male, roughly 5-foot 6-inches tall. He was believed to be wearing orange sneakers, red pants and a black shirt at the time of the incident.

AMBER ALERT NJ: Police looking into social media postings in search for missing New Jersey girl. Maggie Kent has more on Action News at 6 p.m. on September 18, 2019.

It's unknown if the suspect knew the girl or her family.

"Please, if you have any information help us find my granddaughter. Do not be afraid of the police," said the child's grandmother through an interpreter. "We have not been able to eat nor sleep. You can't imagine what we are going through. We are very sad. Please help our family. I beg of you."

EXPLAINED: What are the criteria for issuing an Amber Alert?

Dulce Maria Alavez is described as a Hispanic female, approximately 3'5" tall and of a medium build. Alavez was last seen wearing a yellow shirt, black and white checkered long pants with a flower design and white sandals. Her dark-colored hair was in a ponytail.

Photo/ Bridgeton Police Department

Police said the man led Dulce from the playground at the park to a red van with a sliding door and tinted windows. The man then allegedly fled with the girl.

"Our community is concerned for her safety," said Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae.

Some people are raising questions about the investigation and how its being handled.

"Something don't sound too right," said Gloria Parker.

"It just sounds suspect, something sounds suspicious, something's not right," said Dorothy Floyd.

There is now a combined $20,000 reward for anyone who has information leading to the identification or conviction of a suspect.

SEE ALSO: Police looking into social media postings in search for missing NJ girl

"She would never run off. She would never walk by herself or do something like that. This is the first time she did it," said Dulce's mother, Noema Alavez Perez.

Dulce's mother reported to police that her daughter was playing on the swings with her younger 3-year-old brother, approximately 30 yards away, while she remained in her car with an 8-year-old relative.

According to the mother, the 3-year-old returned to the car without his sister and they were not able to locate her after.

"I went looking for her and couldn't find her and I called the cops," she said. "They were looking for her all night. The dogs were out here."

The last images taken of the child were with her mom and little brother buying ice cream at a nearby store just before they went to the park.

On Thursday, authorities and K9 units returned to the park to search for the missing girl.

Surveillance video shows the last known images of Dulce Alavez before she went missing.

Police also said they were interviewing possible witnesses who may have been playing basketball at the park on Monday night.

Family members have been in constant contact with authorities.

Dulce's aunt, Nayiber Alavez, says it's been very hard for the family.

"It's more harder for us because they judging us that we had something to do with it -- when we don't," she said.

The fate of the little girl has motivated many in the community joining in the search as volunteers.

Amber Alert issued for missing Bridgeton, New Jersey girl. John Rawlins has more on Action News at 4 p.m. on September 18, 2019.

People gathered in Bridgeton Park Wednesday night for a vigil praying for the safe return of Dulce. But with each passing day, some family members are losing hope she will be found alive.

"Right now, we are very sad because the child has not surfaced. We want them to return this child, it has been two days that we have no news about the girl," said Pabla Perez speaking through a translator.

The abduction has left other residents, many of them immigrants, fearful for the safety of their children.

"The truth is, we are immigrants, workers who came here solely to work in this country and we don't feel safe that someone is stealing our children," said Efren Hernandez.

SEE ALSO: Bridgeton community joins in search for missing New Jersey girl

Anyone with information on her whereabouts should call Bridgeton Police at 856-451-0033.