NEW JERSEY (KYW Newsradio) — Saturday, Sept. 16, marks four years since Dulce Maria Alavez went missing from a park in Bridgeton. Police say their search goes on, and the little girl’s family made another public plea for information that could lead authorities to a person of interest.
This week, authorities in Cumberland County reminded residents the investigation is open. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children released an age-progressed photo they hope resembles what Dulce would look like now, at age 9. Though, they say the image created may not be exactly what she looks like now.
Dulce was just 5 years old when she went missing while playing with her 3-year-old brother at Bridgeton City Park. It was a warm, sunny, mid-September afternoon, and she had just started kindergarten a few days before.
Her mother, Noema Alavez, was just 30 yards away, in a parked car, helping her cousin with homework. And suddenly, Dulce was gone. She wasn’t on the playground. She wasn’t in the park. She wasn’t anywhere her frantic mother searched.
“It’s been really hard for me, because I know that I have a daughter missing," Noema said Saturday at the site of her daughter’s disappearance. "I wake up every morning, and I’m like, 'I still have my daughter missing.' I can’t even be happy."
The mood was somber as dozens of family members and supporters joined her Saturday to keep Dulce’s memory alive. Holding yellow balloons, they made a public plea for help finding the child.
“We want people to know that we’re still looking for her. It’s been four years, and we’re not gonna stop looking for her until she comes back home,” said Noema.
Officials believe the child was taken. Police say a red van with dark tinted windows was seen leaving the area at the time of Dulce’s disappearance.
Authorities want help locating the man they say is a person of interest, who was seen in the area of the playground. He is described as a Hispanic male about 5’, 7”, slender build, and between 30 and 35 years old.
Anyone with information is asked to come forward. There is a $75,000 reward available. The Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office is taking tips on their website or by phone at 856-451-0033.
Police say they are not interested in the immigration status of anyone who calls in, and all new tips will be pursued.