Dulce Alavez was playing at the Bridgeton City Park just before 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 16 when she was taken by a man, authorities said.
“Dulce Alavez was taken by a light skinned possibly Hispanic male, height 5-06 to 5-08, thin build, no facial hair, acne on face, wearing ORANGE SNEEKERS (Possibly Nike) RED PANTS, and a BLACK SHIRT,” according to the Amber Alert.
“The male led Dulce’s from the play ground to a RED VAN with a SLIDING SIDE DOOR and TINTED WINDOWS. Dulce was seated in the back seat by the male and the male drove away with Dulce.”
Dulce is described as a female Hispanic girl with black hair and brown eyes. She was wearing a yellow shirt with a Koala Bear on the front, black and white pants, and white sandals when she was taken.
The statewide Amber Alert was issued as a result of interviewing and re-interviewing people who were in the city park near the ball fields on Monday afternoon, the Bridgeton Police Department said in a statement. Chief Michael Gaimari confirmed the information in the alert but would not provide any other details at this time noting the investigation is continuing.
Dulce’s mother Noema Alavez said the man was not a relative.
“The police think our family did this,” she told NJ Advance Media. “They think I did something to her. I didn’t. I love my daughter. I would never do nothing bad to her.”
She pleaded for her daughter’s safe return, asking the kidnapper “to return her back and stop making her family suffer so much.”
Alavez said she drove her children to the playground after grabbing ice cream from a store on the way. Dulce and her brother, 3, went to play while Alavez stayed in the vehicle with an 8-year-old relative, police said.
About 24 people were playing basketball at a court near the playground but none said they saw the abduction, police said.
“I saw my son crying because someone had threw his ice cream on the floor and after that he started pointing behind those buildings over there,” Noema told reporters, according to the Advance Media. “We thought she was just hiding … she was just playing hide and seek.”
The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office said late Monday that “a comprehensive search” by law enforcement of the area where Dulce went missing was slated to take place on Tuesday. No volunteers were needed, the office said.
Gaimari, the police chief, said on Tuesday that the search started at 7 a.m. with more than 50 officers.
Water rescue and a search team from the fire department and Downe Township assisted in the search along with the New Jersey State Police Aviation and Missing Persons units and the FBI Child Abduction Rapid Deployment unit, the chief said. He said the raceway waterway was eventually drained by city workers later in the afternoon to assist in the search but the search proved negative for locating the child.
Gaimari said officers and detectives have been conducting simultaneous investigations since the child was reported missing with officers focused on locating the child and conducting a criminal investigation into her disappearance. He said that NJ Search and Rescue personnel were going to remain in the city park through the night and into Wednesday morning.
Anyone with information was asked to call 911 or the Bridgeton Police Department at 856-451-0033.