New Jersey 5-year-old girl missing for 2 weeks as manhunt continues

Wednesday, October 2, 2019
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New Jersey girl missing for 2 weeks as manhunt continues. George Solis has more on Action News at 11 p.m. on September 29, 2019.

BRIDGETON, New Jersey -- Speaking while holding one of her daughter's favorite toys, the mother of 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez started to cry and said she is concerned for her well-being.

"I'm worried about my daughter," she told reporters on Monday morning. "We miss her a lot."

Noema Alavez Perez, Dulce's mother, says she does not know what happened to her daughter but wants her back safely.

"The house is real quiet," Perez said.

Officers said a man led Dulce away to a red van while she played with her 3-year-old brother back on Sept. 16 at the Bridgeton City Park.

Perez said she was in a car, approximately 30 yards away, playing a scratch-off ticket and helping her sister with homework.

"I don't know what happened. She's just an innocent girl," Perez said of Dulce.

Perez has been overwhelmed by criticism on social media since that day and said she's usually outside the car when her kids are playing.

"They're just judging because of what I did in the past, but that doesn't mean that from my past I'm doing the same thing," she said.

The FBI spoke to Dulce's father by phone last week, and Perez said Monday she does not believe he has anything to do with her disappearance. She said he doesn't know Dulce and doesn't have enough money to leave Mexico.

On Sunday at the park, there was more evidence of a community still reeling by the unexplained absence.

Messages, some in Spanish, were written on yellow ribbons. They were directed to Dulce and the person or persons who may be responsible for her disappearance.

One sign read, "We will find you, God is big and he will protect you."

"Return her, she is an innocent girl," the other said.

"We don't want to find her out there. I mean, if we do, we want to see her alive and safe. It's so she knows we're out there looking for her, we're not going to give up," Rodriguez added.

Bethany Seventh Day Adventist member Caroline Smith said the church will hold a full week of prayer for Dulce's return.

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"Wherever she is, she has our love," Smith said. "This is when you really have to have hope. Keep your hope in God and know that God is able to bring her back safe."

An Amber Alert remains in effect. A $35,000 reward for information leading to Dulce's whereabouts is also still being offered.