Family of missing 5-year-old Bridgeton girl says ‘she will be found’

David Madden
October 23, 2019 - 4:01 pm
Dulce Maria Alavez

Bridgeton Police Department

BRIDGETON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — The family of a 5-year-old Bridgeton girl, who has been missing for more than a month, is not giving up hope of finding her. 

They met with reporters once again near the site where Dulce Maria Alavez vanished in the Bridgeton City Park on Sept. 16. Even through a language barrier, the anxiety Dulce’s family has been through since the toddler went missing was tangible Wednesday.

Dulce’s 8-year-old aunt, Camila, held up a sign in Spanish during a news conference, praying for her niece’s safe return.

“I miss her like a lot,” she said. “I want her to come back.”

Dulce’s 8-year-old aunt, Camila
David Madden/KYW Newsradio

Camila and Dulce are students at Buckshutem Road School in Bridgeton, in third grade and kindergarten, respectively.

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Dulce’s grandmother, Norma Perez, spoke through a translator and asked for the public’s help in a third community search of the park this Sunday at 9 a.m.. They’ll also pass out leaflets door-to-door.

“We still have hope that we still will find her,” Perez told reporters. “We will never give up the hope. She will be found.”

“We will never give up on you, Dulce Maria,” added the family’s pastor, Bernardo Garcia. “We are asking you, the public, to not give up on her.”

But they haven’t heard much from police in the last four weeks. They’re not angry — they know law enforcement is doing all they can to find Dulce.

Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb McRae and Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari said there are no new clues in the now five-week-long search.

The most recent tip — a sketch of a Hispanic man seen in the park at the time of Dulce’s disappearance, who was in the company of two other children — was released last week. Police want to talk to that man, but he is not considered a suspect or person of interest. 

Composite sketch
Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office

A reward in the case now stands at $52,000.

But there’s a good deal of rumor and confusion, which is why a Facebook group page was created to separate fact from fiction, along with anger the family feels from parts of the community.

Family spokeswoman Jackie Rodriguez added, “We have the good and we have the bad. We have people who have hope and we have people who don’t have hope. It’s hard to not lower yourself to the people who are just out there bullying and criticizing. There’s a lot of evil out there, and it’s sad.”

There have been other issues, too, including GoFundMe efforts made ostensibly in Dulce’s name but without the family’s knowledge or consent.