Amber Alert: $25K reward in search for missing 5-year-old girl who vanished from New Jersey park

Maggie Kent Image
Friday, September 20, 2019
Amber Alert: $25K reward in search for missing 5-year-old girl who vanished from New Jersey park
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ABC's John Rawlins has the latest on the missing girl in New Jersey.

BRIDGETON, New Jersey -- The reward for information leading to the whereabouts of a 5-year-old girl who has been missing for five days in Cumberland County, New Jersey has grown to $25,000.

The FBI is offering $5,000 to help find Dulce Maria Alavez, who was last seen in a Bridgeton park around 5 p.m. Monday. This is in addition to a previously announced $20,000 reward.

An Amber Alert remains in effect.

Authorities said they have reports that the girl was taken by a light-skinned, possibly Hispanic male who's roughly 5-foot 6-inches tall. He was believed to be wearing orange sneakers, red pants, and a black shirt at the time of the incident.

It's unknown if the suspect knew the girl or her family.

"We don't have any solid suspects, we are investigating all the possibilities. We have video surveillance that we've gathered from all of this area as much as we could obtain," said Chief Michael Gaimari with the Bridgeton Police Department.

Dulce Maria Alavez is described as a Hispanic female, approximately 3'5" tall and of a medium build. Alavez was last seen wearing a yellow shirt, black and white checkered long pants with a flower design and white sandals. Her dark-colored hair was in a ponytail.

Photo/ Bridgeton Police Department

Police said the man led Dulce from the playground at the park to a red van with a sliding door and tinted windows. The man then allegedly fled with the girl.

On Thursday evening, the family of the young girl issued a plea to anyone who can help find Alavez.

WATCH: The family of Dulce Maria Alavez issued a plea

"Please, if you have any information help us find my granddaughter. Do not be afraid of the police," said the child's grandmother through an interpreter. "We have not been able to eat nor sleep. You can't imagine what we are going through. We are very sad. Please help our family. I beg of you."

Investigators were at Bridgeton City Park with bloodhounds tracking the 5-year-old's scent. They picked up something for approximately an hour, but then lost it.

Investigators also visited the family's home, too, Thursday as they continue to search for the girl.

SEE ALSO: Police looking into social media postings in search for missing NJ girl

Dulce's mother reported to police that her daughter was playing on the swings with her younger 3-year-old brother, approximately 30 yards away, while she remained in her car with an 8-year-old relative.

According to the mother, the 3-year-old returned to the car without his sister and they were not able to locate her after.

"I went looking for her and couldn't find her and I called the cops," she said. "They were looking for her all night. The dogs were out here."

The last images taken of the child were with her mom and little brother buying ice cream at a nearby store just before they went to the park.

Police said they were interviewing possible witnesses who may have been playing basketball at the park on Monday night.

Family members have been in constant contact with authorities. Dulce's grandmother appeared at a press conference Thursday, and through tears, pleaded for anyone with information to come forward.

"Do not be afraid of the police. We have not been able to eat nor sleep. You can't imagine what we're going through. We are very sad. Please help our family, I beg of you," she said through a translator.

The child's aunt, Nayiber Alavez, says it's been very hard for the family.

"It's more harder for us because they're judging us that we had something to do with it -- when we don't," she said.

The fate of the little girl has motivated many in the community joining in the search as volunteers.

People gathered in Bridgeton Park Wednesday night for a vigil praying for the safe return of Dulce. But with each passing day, some family members are losing hope she will be found alive.

"Right now, we are very sad because the child has not surfaced. We want them to return this child, it has been two days that we have no news about the girl," said Pabla Perez speaking through a translator.

The abduction has left other residents, many of them immigrants, fearful for the safety of their own children.

"The truth is, we are immigrants, workers who came here solely to work in this country and we don't feel safe that someone is stealing our children," said Efren Hernandez.

SEE ALSO: Bridgeton community joins in search for missing New Jersey girl

Anyone with information on her whereabouts should call Bridgeton Police at 856-451-0033.


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