NEW JERSEY – The search continued Thursday for a missing 5-year-old New Jersey girl as the FBI has now involved itself in the case. The mother of the missing girl reportedly also said that ICE has also entered the probe.
Also, the girl’s mother, Noema Alavez, reportedly said she’s been dealing with an increasing level of criticism regarding her behavior.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the whereabouts of Dulce Maria Alavez. Additional reward money may be available.
Tortilleria El Paisano, a Bridgeton-area tortilla shop, also is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to Dulce.
A statewide Amber Alert that was issued on Tuesday night remained in effect on Thursday. The FBI Child Abduction Rapid Deployment unit has involved itself in the search just as many possible details that could possibly shed light on her whereabouts have emerged.
Several additional pieces of information also reportedly emerged from Dulce’s mother, Noema Alavez, who told NJ Advance Media that her boyfriend has been detained by ICE.
The boyfriend is Edgar Martinez-Santiago, 27, a Mexican citizen who is not the father of Dulce. He is now in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody and has been interviwed by investigators, the agency confirmed.
Noema Alavez told NJ Advance Media that Edgar Martinez-Santiago is the father of her unborn child, and she is 5-months pregnant.
Alavez also claims that police were suggesting that her family could have been involved – something that she denies – and that her car was towed for inspection. She told NJ Advance Media that a few people grew angry when they saw her eating pizza in the park area.
She also told The Philadelphia Inquirer that people have criticized her on Facebook because of her past drug use, adding that she no longer smokes marijuana.
Here is a timeline of events and what we know as of Thursday morning:
- Within an hour of her abduction, Dulce was seen on video shopping for ice cream with her family.
- Dulce was last seen after she went with her mother, Alavez, 19, to a playground area in Bridgeton City Park – behind the high school – around 4 p.m. on Monday, the mother told police.
- The mother said she stayed in her vehicle while Dulce and her 3-year-old brother ran off to play, police told Patch. The mother said she stayed with an 8-year-old relative while the children were 30 yards away.
- Ten minutes later, the 3-year-old ran back to the car and was crying. Dulce was gone, the mother told police. A family search began soon afterward, but came up empty; police were contacted around 5 p.m.
- A description was soon provided to police: Dulce is a Hispanic female who is approximately 3 feet tall, weighing 60-70 pounds and having brown eyes, and brown hair. She was last seen wearing a yellow shirt, with an elephant, as well as black-and-white pants and white shoes, police said.
- Detectives believe Dulce was taken by a light-skinned Hispanic male, 5-feet-6-inches to 5-feet-8 inches tall with a thin build, having facial acne, no facial hair and wearing orange sneakers, red pants and a black shirt.
- The suspect was last seen leading Dulce from the Bridgeton City Park playground to a red van with a sliding side door and tinted windows at approximately 4:20 p.m. on Monday, police said.
- Law enforcement began to search on Monday, and police released photos and description of the girl at 6:42 p.m.
- The search continued on Tuesday, starting with an extensive ground search that began at 7 a.m. and involved more than 50 officers from various agencies within the region. Fire department personnel and K9s from throughout the state also assisted, police said.
- The chief said water rescue-and-search teams from the fire department and Downe Township assisted in the search, along with the New Jersey State Police Aviation and Missing Persons units and the FBI Child Abduction Rapid Deployment unit. A waterway in the park was also drained.
- On Tuesday, Noema Alavez issued a plea for her daughter’s safe return.
- Once the description of a possible kidnapping suspect emerged, State Police issued a statewide Amber Alert around 11 p.m. on Tuesday, saying they believe the girl was abducted.
- Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari said the Amber Alert was issued after interviewing and re-interviewing people who were in the city park near the ball fields.
- Gaimari said officers and detectives have been conducting simultaneous investigations since the child was reported missing, with officers focused on locating the child and conducting a criminal investigation into her disappearance.
- By Tuesday, Dulce’s mother had posted on Facebook a plea for Dulce to “come back” and added, “We miss you.” By Wednesday, the post was deleted, and her page was taken down; Noema Alavez said she was getting harassed by people who were criticizing her behavior.
- On Wednesday, Noema Alavez told NJ Advance Media that police have suggested that members of Dulce’s family may have been involved in abduction, but she denied it. “The police think our family did this,” she said. “They think I did something to her. I didn’t. I love my daughter. I would never do nothing bad to her.”
- The Amber Alert remained in effect on Thursday.
- Anyone with information is asked to contact the New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit at (609) 882-2000 ext. 2857, the Bridgeton Police Department at (856) 451-0033 or CALL 911 immediately.
Here are some updated photos of the girl: