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Dulce: Not Forgotten

by Albert B. Kelly, Mayor, City of Bridgeton

At least since early March, which feels like a lifetime ago, it seems like all of our time and attention has been focused in one way or another on this COVID-19 pandemic. How could we think about anything else? This public health crisis and its many impacts can easily crowd out any other thoughts or concerns because it touches every corner of our lives.

I thought about this on multiple occasions walking through City Park, which is unusually quiet these days because of the pandemic and the need for social-distancing. Taking my laps through the park, I think about Dulce Alavez on a daily basis passing by the playground where this little girl was last seen and stopping at a nearby tree—what I think of as a tree of hope—selected as the place for many tokens and mementos placed there in honor of Dulce.

I’m glad that tree is there and I’m glad it reminds me. I say that even as I have mixed emotions about those roadside memorials that dot the landscape. Whether on a side street, a more heavily traveled road or a major highway like Route 55, it is not uncommon to see photos, crosses, flowers, teddy bears and other tokens placed by grieving family and friends.

I have mixed emotions about those sites because you know a tragedy happened there—somebody somewhere lost someone they loved whether through an accident, an act of violence, an act of folly, or an act of God. And as time passes, things begin to fade, the tokens beaten down by the elements and the dirt and grime of an untold number of vehicles, the memories as too many seasons go by.

But as far as Dulce, I remain confident and hopeful of better things to come. I say that because Dulce has not been forgotten, nor has she become less of a priority because the world’s attention has been focused on Covid-19. I can say that Dulce’s disappearance remains an active and on-going investigation.

It is true that in the age of Covid-19 the offices and facilities of law enforcement are closed to the public, but it is also true that investigators on multiple levels continue to actively investigate this matter. Also, investigators continue to receive tips from the public and every piece of information received by law enforcement is investigated and weighed against every other piece of information to see where it fits.

No piece of information is ignored or dismissed because as law enforcement will tell you, it may be the one piece of the puzzle investigators need to determine who is responsible for Dulce’s disappearance. Our county and local law enforcement team keeps Dulce, her family and the impact of her disappearance on our community as a high priority.

As for our local police, several detectives are focused on Dulce’s disappearance and they are looking at it from multiple angles. They work on a daily basis with the County Prosecutor’s team as well as with State and federal law enforcement investigators assigned to Dulce’s disappearance. While there are details that cannot be shared, law enforcement agencies and investigators communicate with one another daily as it relates to Dulce.

So despite the world’s attention being focused on this pandemic, investigators continue to receive tips and information weekly and everything gets proper attention up and down the law enforcement ecosystem, whether local, statewide, or beyond. If you have information that you have not shared yet with investigators, please call the Bridgeton Police Department at 856-451-0033 and/or through TIP411 with Bridgeton in the subtext.

Throughout an ordeal that I can scarcely imagine, I have a newfound appreciation for the dedicated work of these professionals. There is much care and attention coming from investigators that goes unseen and unrecognized due to the nature of the work. I am close enough to know that they take it personally and are fully invested. This matters because while everyone’s attention is focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, Dulce Alavez hasn’t been forgotten.

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