A New Jersey 5-year-old disappeared Monday afternoon while playing in a park with her younger brother—and now authorities believe she may have been taken by a man driving a red van.
A statewide Amber Alert was issued for the Dulce Maria Alavez Tuesday after interviews at the city park where she disappeared pointed authorities to a possible suspect in her disappearance.
Bridgeton Chief of Police Michael Gaimari confirmed investigators are searching for a light-skinned, possibly Hispanic, male with a thin build, no facial hair and acne on his face who was seen in the area, according to a statement from the police department. The man, who is described as being between 5’6” and 5’8", was wearing orange sneakers, red pants and a black shirt.
According to the Amber Alert issued in the case, Alavez was seen being led into a red van with a sliding door on the passenger side and tinted windows.
She disappeared Monday afternoon after her mother Noema Perez took Alavez, her 3-year-old brother and an 8-year-old relative to the Bridgeton park and ballfields around 4 p.m. after a quick stop for ice cream, NJ.com reports.
Perez stayed in the car with 8-year-old relative while the two younger children ran off to play. The car was parked about 30 yards away from the playground, police said.
About 10 minutes later, Perez said her son ran back crying and told her that he couldn’t find his sister.
“I saw my son crying because someone had [thrown] his ice cream on the floor and after that he started pointing behind those buildings over there,” Noema told reporters of some structures near the playground. “We thought she was just hiding … she was just playing hide and seek.”
Perez began to search for the young girl—even calling family members to assist in the search—but there was no sign of the 5-year-old. The family called police just before 5 p.m.
Perez is now hoping for her daughter’s safe return.
“I just want to find her and I want to find that she’s OK, that nothing bad has happened to her,” she said, according to KYW-TV.
Alavez is described as a Hispanic female approximately 3’5” with a medium build. She was last seen wearing a yellow shirt, black and white checkered long pants with a flower design and white sandals, police said.
Anyone with information about her whereabouts is urged to contact authorities.
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