(BRIDGETON, N.J.) — On a Monday afternoon in September 2019, a 5-year-old girl was playing in a Bridgeton, New Jersey, park with her younger brother while her mother sat in a car nearby with another relative.
Within minutes, Dulce Maria Alavez was gone.
It’s been four months since Dulce was last seen, reward money for any information leading to her safe return increased to $75,000 and the girl’s mother, Noema Alavez Perez, suspects that an unidentified”old friend” may be the abductor.
Despite a lack of answers, family, friends and community supporters have not given up hope to find Dulce.
Shortly after Dulce’s disappearance, the “DULCE MARIA ALAVEZ COMMUNITY SEARCH & SUPPORT” private Facebook group started an online campaign to spread national awareness of her case.
The “Help Bring Dulce Maria Alavez Home” public Facebook group has shared the campaign on their page as well as continued search and rescue efforts organized by other community groups.
The most recent search was on Jan. 11 and 12.
Here’s where Dulce’s case started:
Monday, Sept. 16:
Dulce was seen on surveillance video getting ice cream at a store with Perez, her 3-year-old brother and an 8-year-old relative. Around 4 p.m., they went to Bridgeton City Park, where Dulce played with her brother as Perez was in a car with the other child. At some point, the little brother returned to the car without Dulce and Perez couldn’t find her. Perez, 19, called the police.
Tuesday, Sept. 17:
An Amber Alert is issued as the FBI and Perez described a man — about 5-foot-6 inches tall and wearing orange sneakers, red pants and a black shirt — who police said may have led Dulce from the playground to a red van with a sliding door and tinted windows.
Wednesday, Sept. 18 to Tuesday, Sept. 24:
Family and members of the community organize prayer vigils as reward money for any information leading to the identification or conviction of a suspect grows to $35,000. Federal investigators got in touch with Dulce’s father, who lives in Mexico, and added Dulce to its most-wanted missing persons list, according to WPVI.
Monday, Sept. 30:
Perez speaks out for the first time at a press conference while holding Dulce’s favorite toy.
“She’s just an innocent girl. She’s just 5 years old. She doesn’t know nothing of the world that we know,” Perez said.
Thursday, Oct. 3:
Perez’s 911 call was released.
“Um, I can’t find my daughter,” said Perez, according to local affiliate WPVI. “We were there at the park … and people say that somebody … probably somebody took her.”
Wednesday, Oct. 9:
The reward money increased to $52,000.
Tuesday, Oct. 15:
A sketch is released of a possible witness, who was allegedly at the park at the time Dulce went missing, but investigators have yet to find that person.
Friday, Dec. 6:
Perez did a sit-down interview on the “Dr. Phil” show where she revealed her suspicions of an “old friend” who may have kidnapped Dulce.
Sunday, Jan. 5 and 6:
Community organizers passed around flyers of Dulce during a “Citizen Search” and “Citizen March” in Bridgeton.
Saturday, Jan. 11 and 12:
Community search for Dulce was conducted.
Police are asking the public with any possible leads to contact Bridgeton Police Department at 856-451-0033.
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