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To mark the two-year anniversary of the disappearance of 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez, who mysteriously vanished from a New Jersey park while playing with her brother in 2019, authorities have released new age progression photos of how she might look today.
The images were produced by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in honor of the somber anniversary, according to a joint statement from Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae and Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari.
Authorities said they continue to pursue all leads in the effort to locate Dulce. The search is underway in conjunction with the New Jersey State Police, New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Department of Homeland Security and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“We hold out hope that Dulce is alive (as we have no evidence of her demise) and want the public to know that this case will remain open until such time as we locate Dulce and determine those responsible for her disappearance,” they said.
Alavez disappeared from the Bridgeton City Park on the afternoon of Sept. 16, 2019 while playing with her 3-year-old brother, local station WPVI-TV reported at the time. The girl’s mother, Noema Alavez Perez, was sitting in her car nearby with an 8-year-old relative when her daughter vanished.
The case garnered national attention as search teams scoured the park and surrounding areas, but no sign of the girl was ever discovered. Some witnesses described seeing a man in his early 30s, described as being about 5 feet 8 inches tall, at the park that day.
FBI special agent Daniel Garrabrant said last year that the man may have been the abductor but said authorities have never been able to positively identify him, NJ.com reports.
Earlier this year, Perez told ABC News the disappearance has been “really hard” for her and her parents, who continue to hold out hope that she is still alive.
“Nobody knows where she is,” she said.
Perez added through tears that if she could tell her daughter anything it would be that she is sorry she hadn’t been watching over her that day.
“She was a sweet girl. Nice, loving,” she said. “She likes to pretend that she was always a princess. She likes to be around like smaller kids. She always like to give hugs. And kisses.”
Alavez would be 7-years-old today, authorities said.
A silent walk in support of the young girl was held Thursday, beginning at the same park where she disappeared and continuing to the local police department.
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