$35,000 reward money: 5-year-old missing 6 days, feared abducted
BRIDGETON — Law enforcement hope more than $35,000 in reward money will act as an incentive for someone to call police with a tip that will help bring 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez home alive.
Dulce was last spotted walking toward a red van with a man at Bridgeton City Park late on Monday afternoon, according to Bridgeton police. As the investigation progressed an Ambert Alert was issued by State Police.
Police have described a light-skinned, possibly Hispanic man, between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-8 with a thin build, no facial hair, and with acne on his face. He's been described as wearing orange shoes.
The Amber Alert was still active as of Sunday morning.
"The investigation has led us to a place where we just want to talk to the man described. We need more information from the public," Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said on Friday.
More than $35,000 in reward money has been put up in hopes of receiving information that will help locate Dulce, including $10,000 from the NJ State Policemen's Benevolent Association, $10,000 from Newfield National Bank, $5,000 each from the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office, $5,000 from the Tortilleria El Paisano restaurant and $1,000 from the Lakewood Scoop.
Webb-McRae repeated her assurances on Friday that investigators are not interested in anyone's immigration status and that tips can be reported anonymously by calling the city's TIP 411 text service by texting "Bridgeton" plus your tip to 847411.
Information can also be called in at 800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) option 4, option 8.
Dozens of people wearing yellow gathered for a candlelight vigil on Saturday evening in the same park Dulce was last seen nearly a week ago.
During the vigil, Dulce's cousin, Yiesica Hernandez, reiterated the message from law enforcement to report anything they believe can help find Dulce, according to CBS Philly's report on the vigil.
Her uncle Abad Perez told the vigil about an "emptiness" at the family home since Dulce went missing, according to 6 ABC Action News' report on the vigil.
The park was filled with family and friends for a vigil organized by resident Jackie Rodriguez, who said she was pleased by the turnout.
"I'm still speechless! Thank you again! Dulce little heart has impacted everyone," Rodriguez wrote on her Facebook page after the vigil.
Among new details released by Webb-McRae Friday:
— Investigators have spoken to about 75 people.
— Investigators have yet to speak to the little girl's father, who is in Mexico and has been described as estranged from the family.
— Authorities have stopped and spoken to the owners of numerous red vans seen on surveillance footage or through registration records.
— No physical evidence has been recovered, despite authorities combing a 1.5-mile radius around Bridgeton City Park near the high school.
Webb-McRae said that often someone in the community will unknowingly be associated a criminal offender but may not connect changes in their behavior to their involvement.
Some of the clues outlined by Webb-McRae:
— Sudden absences from work or school while offering reasonable reasons.
— Missing scheduled appointments and commitments.
— Suddenly leaving town, sometimes with a plausible reason.
— A change in use of alcohol or drugs.
— Altering clothing and appearance.
— Discarding clothing.
— Changing the appearance of their vehicle.
— They may become anxious, nervous or irritable.
— The person may either have a strong interest in developments in this case or divert discussion of the investigation.
More from New Jersey 101.5: