Investigators are questioning those close to 5-year-old Dulce Marie Alavez in the days after the kindergartener disappeared from a New Jersey park while playing with her younger brother.
The young girl’s mother, 19-year-old Noema Alavez Perez, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that her boyfriend had been questioned by the authorities about the abduction.
She believes he is now being held in Immigrations and Customs Enforcement custody, due to his status as an undocumented Mexican citizen. A federal source confirmed to The New York Post Thursday that Edgar Martinez, 27, Alavez’s boyfriend and father of her unborn baby, had been placed in ICE custody.
Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari said Wednesday that as the search for the girl continues “nothing has been ruled out” and that investigators are questioning “any relatives of the child, anyone with any connection to the victim or to the mother," reports The Inquirer.
Authorities are also aware of “rumors” that Alavez Perez, who is five months pregnant, may have orchestrated the kidnapping — something that she has denied.
“The police tell me, ‘If you know where she is, tell us.’ But I told them everything. They think I’m lying; I’m telling the truth,” she told The Inquirer.
Alavez Perez has said she brought Dulce and her 3-year-old brother to the park Monday afternoon, along with her 8-year-old sister, after the group had made a quick stop at a convenience store to buy some ice cream.
After they got to the area park, she stayed behind in the car with her sister while the younger two children went to play at the playground about 30 feet away from the car. She told The Inquirer that the children had been out of her sight for less than three minutes when her son ran back crying and said that he couldn’t find his sister.
She and other family members scoured the area searching for Dulce before they called police.
A statewide Amber Alert was issued for Dulce on Tuesday after interviews with witnesses in the area suggested she may have been taken by a man who led her into a red van with a sliding door.
Investigators are now 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.
Investigators are also analyzing surveillance camera footage from the area to try to piece together details about what happened to Dulce that afternoon.
The 5-year-old’s father is reportedly living in Mexico, where he is studying at a university in Sinaloa.
Alavez Perez told NJ.com that she had spoken to him over the phone on Wednesday.
“He said we have to have faith in God that he’s going to bring her back home safe,” she said.
Family members have described Dulce as a happy child who loves Baby Shark, eating candy, and watching cartoons, NJ.com reports.
She and her brother had been living with Alavez Perez’s parents in the family’s home, while Alavez Perez lived in a home nearby, before Dulce disappeared.
Dulce 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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