The mother of a New Jersey girl who has been missing for over two weeks made another plea for information that could reunite her with her daughter Dulce Alavez, who vanished from Bridgeton City Park on September 16.
Dulce’s mother Noema Alavez Perez spoke to a crush of reporters on Monday, two weeks to the day that Dulce disappeared while she was playing in the park with her brother.
“I’m worried about my daughter,” she said, according to ABC 7. “We miss her a lot.”
The circumstances of Dulce’s disappearance remains largely a mystery, after an intensive search of the park and surrounding area in the days following her disappearance turned up nothing — not even the ice cream cup or spoon Dulce had with her that afternoon. Prior to going to the park, Dulce, her 3-year-old brother, and her mother were seen on a surveillance camera at a Sunoco convenience buying ice cream treats.
Dulce’s mother has told police that she remained nearby in her parked car with her young sister while Dulce and her brother played in the park. Earlier reports indicated that Dulce’s mother had said her son came over to the car in tears after being separated from Dulce, but at the news conference on Monday Alavez Perez told reporters that she was playing a scratch-off lottery ticket and had been planning to help her sister with her homework in the car when the young girl noticed that the children were out of sight.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Alavez Perez said that she and her sister went into the park and found the little boy crying, his ice cream on the ground. Dulce was nowhere in sight.
Multiple sources familiar with the family have said that Dulce’s brother is nonverbal.
“Why her? Why does she have to pay the consequences? She’s just a small girl,” Alavez Perez said of her daughter at the news conference, according to an ABC 7 video.
“I don’t know what happened. She’s just an innocent girl.”
The ABC 7 report notes that Alavez Perez has been heavily criticized on social media, with some questioning her parenting skills and others suggesting she might have had something to do with her daughter’s disappearance.
“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,” Alavez Perez said on Monday, though it was not clear exactly what she was referring to.
Authorities have said from the start that Dulce’s mother has been cooperative, and Alavez Perez said at the news conference Monday that she had given police her phone and answered any questions they had.
Both the mother and investigators are hoping anyone who may have information will contact police.
“If somebody knows something, please come forward and talk,” the mother said. “We miss her a lot, our family, everyone does.”
A source close to the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that authorities do not have any reason to believe at this time that Dulce is a homicide victim; and indicated that investigators are considering the possibility the 5-year-old girl is no longer in the immediate area of south New Jersey.
The source also said that authorities are examining any and all evidence that has been gathered in the last two weeks, including potentially inconsistent statements that have been given to the media.
The day after Dulce disappeared, authorities issued an AMBER Alert, describing a red van and a Hispanic male who may have been connected to Dulce’s disappearance. As the investigation progressed, authorities said they were interested in speaking to the man as a possible witness but did not characterize him as a suspect.
Anyone with information about Dulce’s disappearance is urged to contact the State Police Missing Persons Unit at 609-882-2000, ext. 2554 or the Bridgeton police at 856-451-0033. You can also text anonymously to TIP411.
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