#missingkids | Sketch In Amber Alert Search For Missing 5-Year-Old NJ Girl

NEW JERSEY – The sketch of a person possibly involved in the month-long Amber Alert search for missing 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez was released on Tuesday.

The State Police and Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office released a composite sketch of an individual who was reportedly seen in the park around the time Dulce went missing.

This person was reportedly with one or two children under the age of 5 years old at the time of the disappearance. The individual was reportedly wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a white baseball style hat.

The man is reportedly a Hispanic male, approximately 5 feet 7 inches tall, with slender build and between 30 and 35 years old, the CCPO said.

Here is the sketch:

This composite sketch was developed after a witness who recently came forward was able to provide a description, according to the CCPO. This sketch is not from the child witness who gave authorities the initial description that led to the Amber Alert on Sept. 17.

“We are asking this person (or anyone who may recognize him) to come forward as investigators wish to speak with him as it is believed that he may have information that is helpful in determining the circumstances that led to Dulce’s disappearance,” the CCPO said.

Dulce is a Hispanic girl about 3 feet tall, weighing 60-70 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair. She was last seen at a Bridgeton park wearing a yellow shirt with an elephant on it, as well as black-and-white pants and white shoes, police said.

Detectives had initially said they believed 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. He allegedly led Dulce from the park to a red van with a sliding side door.

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 by calling 911 immediately.

Investigators are continuing to analyze information they’ve received, along with the hundreds of tips that have been collected through the FBI tip line (1-800-CALL-FBI) and the police department’s TIP411 text alerts, prosecutors said.

Anyone who with information they think is important to the investigation is urged to call 1-800-CALL-FBI and choose option 4 and then option 8, or text the information to TIP411 subtext “Bridgeton.” Anyone with video or pictures can upload them to http://www.fbi.gov/alavez .

“To date, we continue to treat this as a missing person investigation until evidence indicates otherwise,” Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said. “Accordingly, we are operating under the premise that Dulce is alive.

“We are asking the public to be vigilant in reporting any possible sighting or information that they believe would lead us to locating the whereabouts of Dulce. “

Here is a timeline of events and what we know as of Tuesday:

  • Just before her abduction on Sept. 16, Dulce was seen on video shopping for ice cream with her family.
  • Dulce was last seen after she went with her mother, Noema Alavez, to a playground area in Bridgeton City Park — behind the high school — around 4 p.m. Sept. 16, 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. Around that time, 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 around 4:20 p.m., police said. Here are some updated photos of the girl:
  • Law enforcement began to search on Sept. 16, and police released photos and description of the girl at 6:42 p.m.
  • The search continued on Sept. 17, 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 police dogs from throughout the state also assisted, police said.
  • Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari said water search-and-rescue 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 also was drained.
  • On Sept. 17, 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. Sept. 17, saying they believed the girl was abducted.
  • Gaimari said the Amber Alert was issued after interviewing and re-interviewing people who were in the city park near the ballfields.
  • Gaimari said officers and detectives have been conducting investigations since Dulce was reported missing, with officers focused on locating her and conducting a criminal investigation into her disappearance.
  • By Sept. 17, Dulce’s mother had posted on Facebook a plea for Dulce to “come back” and added, “We miss you.” By Sept. 18, the post was deleted; Noema Alavez said she was getting harassed by people who were criticizing her behavior.
  • Noema Alavez also said she stopped going to the park where her daughter disappeared since she’s been dealing with an increasing level of criticism.
  • Her boyfriend, Edgar Martinez-Santiago, 27, a Mexican citizen who is not the father of Dulce, was taken into custody by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, the agency said Sept. 18, and investigators said they hoped to interview him. Noema Alavez told NJ Advance Media that Martinez-Santiago is the father of her unborn child, and she is 5 months pregnant.
  • Also on Sept. 18, Noema Alavez told NJ Advance Media police have suggested members of Dulce’s family may have been involved in abduction, but she denied it. She also said her car was towed for inspection.
  • She also told NJ Advance Media a few people grew angry when they saw her eating pizza in the park area, and she told The Philadelphia Inquirer people criticized her on Facebook because of her past drug use, adding that she no longer smokes marijuana. She took down her entire Facebook page as a result.
  • “The police think our family did this,” she told the paper. “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 through the rest of the first week.
  • More than 50 law enforcement personnel scoured a ballfield near the park on Sept. 19 and 20th.
  • On Sept. 19, the FBI and the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office sought to dispel rumors circulating about the case. Dulce’s grandmother appealed for her safe return home.
  • On Sept. 20, Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari shot back at a report that an arrest had been made, cautioning the media against publicizing information that’s not verified.
  • Gaimari said there were no strong suspects in Dulce’s disappearance and investigators had interviewed 70 to 75 people. “Don’t read anything into what happened today,” the chief said. “We don’t have the child.”
  • Webb-McRae also thanked Noema Alavez for her cooperation – despite the criticism she’s received on social media for her behavior.
  • Gaimari said law enforcement expanded its search by about 1-1/2 miles in each direction.
  • Law enforcement, in perhaps its biggest gathering yet, scoured the woods near the park Sept. 20.
  • A vigil was held Sept. 21 for Dulce at the park where she disappeared.
  • On Sept. 23, Webb-McRae provided a list of possible signs to look for: The offender may suddenly miss work or school and use excuses such as a death in the family, illness or car trouble. The offender may miss scheduled appointments and may suddenly leave town. Their use of alcohol and drugs may change.
  • Also on Sept. 23, investigators from all the participating law enforcement agencies returned to the scene in the Bridgeton park where Dulce disappeared, according to prosecutors. The investigators were tasked with gathering information that could help identify any possible additional witnesses, according to prosecutors. They also asked any members of the public with any cellphone video or other images to come forward.
  • On Sept. 24, investigators said they’ve collected a significant amount of video, both commercial and residential, from the area where Dulce disappeared. The videos were obtained based on investigative leads, including one that was broadcast on NBC10 Sept. 23 showing a red vehicle, according to Webb-McRae.
  • Investigators were successful in reaching Dulce Maria Alavez’s father, who lives in Mexico, by telephone Sept. 24, according to reports. The development came as local law enforcement and the FBI were still in New Jersey and continuing to investigate and track down leads received from the public, according to the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office.
  • The FBI also was working on having agents interview the father face-to-face, according to ABC6, so he can perhaps shed light on the abduction.
  • It’s a video that’s heartbreaking: Dulce singing, “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen,” long before she disappeared. But releasing the video to the public on Sept. 26 also gave the family hope that it will help lead to her discovery. The video below shows Dulce being playful and singing between the 30 second and the 1:07 marks:
  • Authorities made a plea for more information on Sept 27, particularly targeting immigrant communities who may fear deportation if they’re approached by an officer. “Do not be afraid,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said. Anyone with information on Dulce, he said, can feel safe talking to police no matter what their immigration status. “We need your help,” he said in a video plea.
  • On Monday, Sept. 30, Dulce’s family also made another call for help, with her mother, Noema Alavez, saying: “She’s just a little girl. She’s innocent. She’s just living her child life.”
  • On Thursday, Oct. 3, the 911 call reporting Dulce’s disappearance was released. “I can’t find my daughter,” her mother said through tears. “People say probably somebody took her.”
  • On Thursday, Oct. 3, Gov. Phil Murphy also made a plea to the immigrant community to provide information, if it’s available, on Dulce’s disappearance. During a press conference, the governor said information would be provided without fear of consequences (go to 24:00)
  • The governor also made a plea on Twitter.
  • Authorities, speaking during a press conference on Friday, Oct. 4, said that no one has been cleared in the investigation.
  • Prosecutors are working under the assumption that Dulce is still alive, so the family and Bridgeton community asked people to show up to the park where she disappared at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6, wearing long plants, hiking boots or rigid footwear, and help find the girl.
  • Webb-McRae, however, told The Vineland Daily Journal that extensive searches have already been conducted and turned up nothing, so it was more than likely she was no longer in the area.
  • “I would think that, because of the amount of law enforcement that has been in this area and has contributed to this investigation, that it may be probable that she’s not in this area,” Webb-McRae told the publication.
  • The reward for information leading to the whereabouts of Dulce Maria Alavez was increased to $52,000 by Friday, Oct. 11. Police Chief Michael Gaimari, Sr. said that contributions from the unions representing state troopers, non-commissioned officers and superior officers of the New Jersey State Police contributed $10,000 collectively toward the reward..
  • He also said more than 300 officers from local, Cumberland County, state and federal agencies have contributed to this investigation thus far. “These investigators continue to work tirelessly to determine the whereabouts of Dulce and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance,” he said.
  • Investigators obtained and were pouring over videos from a myriad of sources of not only the areas surrounding the place where Dulce disappeared, but from throughout Bridgeton and bordering townships, the chief said. They are continuing to review same to rule out and rule in vehicles that may continue to be of interest.
  • Investigators reviewed and continued to make contact with numerous sex offenders throughout the region to ascertain their whereabouts around the time Dulce went missing, the chief said.

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