Case #: 19-40624
Dulce Maria Alavez was 5 years old when she was last seen on September 16, 2019 playing on the swings with her 3 year old brother Manuel at Bridgeton City Park, in Bridgeton New Jersey. He returned to his pregnant mother, Noema Alavez Perez, who had been sitting in the car about 30 yards away, helping her 8 year old sister with her homework. Her son was alone and crying, pointing to the direction of nearby buildings, and Dulce was nowhere to be found.
Noema had taken her children to the park to play after the family had stopped at a local convenience store to get ice cream. There is surveillance video that shows Dulce inside the store wearing a yellow shirt with an elephant on it. Noema was told by others at the park that Dulce and her younger brother had been confronted at the playground while they ate their ice cream. “They said somebody threw my son’s ice cream on the floor and my daughter just ran away,” Noema was heard on the 911 call describing what others had told her when she went looking for her daughter.
Noema called family members to come help her search for the girl, then police were notified and an extensive search began. Over 100 police officers were part of a search party who looked in the nearby woods, but they found nothing.
Investigators believe that an unknown male may have led Dulce into a red van with tinted windows at around 4:20 P.M. Witnesses say that this man was light skinned, possibly Hispanic, between 5’6-5’8 with a thin build, no facial hair and acne on his face. Police said he was wearing orange sneakers, possibly Nike brand, red pants and a black shirt.
One week after Dulce’s disappearance, the FBI placed Dulce on its “Most Wanted List” of kidnapped and missing children. NJ Governor Phil Murphy urged anyone with information to step forward without fear of consequences due to their immigration status.
“This is about finding Dulce safe and sound, period.”
In October of 2019, authorities released a sketch of a different man described as a “person of interest” who had been seen at the park with two children under the age of 5. He was wearing a white t-shirt with a white baseball cap.
In the time since Dulce vanished, her mother has been vocal about her grief and the family’s hope that the girl will be returned. She also has answered doubts and rumors about whether the family may have somehow been involved in the kidnapping.
During an appearance on the Dr. Phil talk show in December of 2019, Noema addressed police suspicion toward her family and said she had been given a polygraph test. She also said she believed it was possible that her daughter was targeted by an “old friend” who was “trying to get to” her. Police later said there was “no substantial evidence implicating the individual named.” Noema said she felt remorse for letting her children go to the playground by themselves while she remained in the car. There were no cameras in the area to capture what happened at the park. “It gives me bad memories because I wish I could go back in time and come with her to the park and not leave her alone,” she said. “I would say I’m sorry for not looking over her.”
-Noema Alavez Perez
Investigators had to deal with several false leads in the case, including rumors that Dulce had been spotted in Ohio in March of 2020.
FBI special agent Daniel Garrabrant said, “The offender that took Dulce was likely there for a period of time. It was a crime of opportunity. They were looking for a child.”
Edgar Perez, her father, who lives in Mexico, posted a video on YouTube in April to mark Dulce’s seventh birthday. The video shows footage of himself with Dulce, and talks about his sadness over her disappearance. Edgar was deported from the United States in 2018. The FBI has previously interviewed him and described him as cooperative, and he has not been named a suspect.
If Dulce Alavez is still alive, she is now 7 years old.
If you have any further information, please contact the Bridgeton Police Department at 856-451-0033.
You can also call the FBI’s Toll-Free Tip Line at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) and select option 4, then select option 8, or submit an anonymous tip to the agency online.
If you speak Spanish you can call 856-207-2732.