By: Kevin Howard
Additional reporting and video by: Christian Oberly and Ryan Schumacher
BRIDGETON, N.J. — In a press conference, Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae asked residents of the city to keep an eye out for anything that could help investigators find 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez.
At the City of Bridgeton Municipal Court on Friday, Sept. 20th, Webb-McRae, along with Bridgeton Police Department Chief Michael A. Gaimari made statements addressing the investigation.
Gaimari explained that the search radius from where Dulce went missing was expanded by 1.5 miles in each direction and that over 100 officers have been out looking for evidence.
He also added that rumors about the alleged arrest of Dulce’s mother, Noema Alavez, are false. Her and her family continue to cooperate with investigators.
Gaimari stated that investigators are continuing to interview people. “We don’t have any strong suspects at this time and we are doing a lot of interviews, I’d say as of this morning probably 70 [to] 75 interviews done.”
Webb-McRae’s statement was conducted in both English and Spanish to remind all residents that law enforcement is doing as much as it can.
“We thank the public for [their] information, we want you to know that law enforcement is tracking down every lead that is provided and we encourage the public to report anything that they believe may be suspicious or related to this investigation,” Webb-McRae said.
She added that someone in the community may unknowingly be associated with a possible offender. The offender’s behavior may change and their routines could be altered in the following ways:
- They may suddenly miss work or school.
- They may miss scheduled appointments/commitments.
- Or they may suddenly leave town, with no explanation or with some plausible reason.
The offender may also exhibit characteristics like changes in consumption of alcohol and/or drugs. Change their appearance and throw out or alter belongings to prevent from being identified. Become more anxious, nervous, or irritable. And finally, show interest in the investigation, or they may try to avoid it altogether.
The reward has increased from $20,000 to $35,000, with $5,000 being added from Tortilleria El Paisano on North Pearl Street and an extra $10,000 from the New Jersey State Police Men’s Benevolent Association.
She also wants the immigrant and undocumented community to know that law enforcement will not be asking questions about immigration status.
Law enforcement continues to look for a man who was at the park the time Dulce went missing. He may have information that could help the investigation.
He is described as a light-skinned male, possibly Hispanic, wearing orange shoes. It is possible that he may not know he could have important information for the investigation.
Dulce has brown eyes and hair, stands approximately 3′ tall, and weighs 60 to 70 pounds. She was last seen wearing a yellow shirt with an elephant design, black and white pants, and white shoes.
The suspect was seen leading Dulce Maria Alavez from the Bridgeton City Park playground that she and her brother were playing at toward a red van or SUV with a sliding side door and tinted windows around 4:20 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 16.
According to an Amber Alert, Dulce was abducted by a light-skinned Hispanic male, 5’6″ to 5’8″, thin build, with no facial hair and facial acne, wearing orange sneakers, red pants, and a black shirt.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit at (609) 882-2000 ext. 2857, Bridgeton Police Department at (856) 451-0033 or 911 immediately. You can call the FBI as well at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) and select option 4 then select option 8.
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