It has been two months since 5-year-old Dulce Alavez disappeared in broad daylight from a New Jersey park, but her mother remains hopeful.
Noema Alavez Perez, 19, appeared before multiple news cameras on Sept. 30 and pleaded with the public to keep searching for her toddler.
“I know she wants to come back home because she doesn’t like being away from her family,” she said at the time. “I beg you all to please not give up on my Dulce.”
Noema’s nightmare began on Sept. 16 when she decided to treat her daughter and 3-year-old son Manuel to some ice cream from a local convenience store. The store later released surveillance video containing the last known image of Dulce.
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At about 4 p.m., their mother drove her children to Bridgeton City Park. As soon as she parked the car, the pair sprinted toward the playground with their ice cream while Perez stayed behind to check her scratch-off lottery tickets.
Minutes later, a crying Manuel returned to the car without his sister.
After a brief search of the playground and no sign of Dulce, her mother called 911, telling them, “I can’t find my daughter,” crying.
For months, volunteers have searched the area. The Facebook group Find Dulce Maria Alavez Official Page continues to distribute flyers and plans to hold a vigil for Dulce on Saturday.
“It will be two months she will have been missing,” a commenter wrote.
Still, Bridgeton Police and FBI have received more than 1,000 tips since Dulce disappeared and have searched more than 200 locations.
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Police have asked the public to help them find a light-skinned Hispanic man wearing orange tennis shoes who was seen by witnesses luring Dulce toward a red van.
“In the absence of evidence indicating that Dulce has been physically harmed, we remain hopeful,” Bridgeton Police said in a statement.
The reward for information leading to the location of Dulce and/or the circumstances surrounding her disappearance is now up to $52,000, stated Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office.
Anyone with information should call the Bridgeton Police Department at (856) 451-0033.