Dulce’s mom in rare interview on missing child: Hard for family
In a rare interview, the mother of missing child, Dulce Alavez, has told ABC News that the disappearance of her daughter nearly two years ago has been hard for her and her own parents and that she is always thinking about the child.
Dulce was five years old when she vanished on Sept. 16, 2019 while playing in Bridgeton City Park, as her mother, Noema Alavez Perez sat nearby in her car, helping a cousin with homework.
“It's been really hard for me and for my parents, knowing that Dulce doesn’t appear,” Perez told ABC News. “Nobody knows where she is.”
Perez is encouraged that residents have not forgotten about Dulce, as they keep sharing posts about the missing girl on social media. The family recently marked Dulce's seventh birthday in late April.
A young witness has told police that Dulce had been walking with a man toward a red van. There have been no real solid leads regarding her whereabouts.
Veteran Bridgeton Police Officer and PAL director Josh Thompson told ABC News that he started an indoor soccer program to help build trust between the community and police. A lack of trust and fear of deportation may have contributed to a lack of leads about her disappearance, Thompson said.
Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae has repeatedly said since the girl's disappearance that investigators are not interested in anyone's citizenship status when it comes to Dulce, only information leading to her return.
Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari told New Jersey 101.5 the city's demographics have shifted to be nearly 60% Latino and Hispanic, in his estimation. He praised Thompson's efforts to bridge the trust gap.
"We did outdoor soccer and basketball through our PAL program for a number of years now even before the disappearance of Dulce Alavez. The indoor soccer is relatively new and started last year and got quite a bit of turnout," Gaimari said.
Tips still are submitted periodically regarding Dulce's disappearance and Gaimari said his officers still have met remotely with investigators from the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office and the FBI, amid the pandemic.
"They continue to work on it and I'm hopeful. We're still plugging away at it," Gaimari said of the ongoing investigation.
"We ask the public to continue to report anything that they believe might lead to us determining what happened to Dulce."
A $75,000 reward remains posted for information leading to Dulce's whereabouts.
Individuals can submit anonymous tips by typing CCPO.TIPS in their browser, Webb-McRae said.
Information about Dulce's disappearance can be called in to Bridgeton police at 856-451-0033, or sent anonymously by using the Bridgeton's TIP 411 text service, by texting "Bridgeton" plus the tip to 847411. Tips can additionally be made to the FBI at 800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) option 4, option 8.