It's been more than two weeks since 5-year-old Dulce Alavez disappeared from a New Jersey park and her mother is pleading with the public for help finding her missing daughter.
“I beg you all, please don’t give up on my Dulce,” Noema Alavez Perez said in an emotional plea while clutching one of her daughter’s favorite toys, according to The Daily Journal. “Let’s keep pushing to find her safe. Please continue to pass along her pictures on social media and pass out flyers. Don’t be afraid to call any tips. If you were in the park that day, please double check your phone for pictures and any little bit may help.”
Perez delivered the comments and took questions from reporters Monday morning at the same Bridgeton city park where Dulce disappeared the afternoon of Sept. 16, while playing on the playground with her 3-year-old brother.
Perez—who is five months pregnant—told reporters she had gone to the park with her own 8-year-old sister, her 3-year-old son and Dulce after the group made a quick stop at a local convenience store to buy ice cream.
When they arrived at the park, Perez said the two younger children “went running to the park” while she and her sister stayed in the car about 30 feet away.
“I was scratching a lottery ticket,” she said. “My sister was getting her homework out because I was going to help her do her homework. But then when my sister told me that there’s no signs of (the younger children) that’s when we … checked,” she said.
Authorities initially had reported that Perez noticed Dulce was gone when her son ran up to her crying, but on Monday she said she and her sister went to check on the children after they could no longer see them.
“He was just crying when I went up to him and I asked him, ‘Where is your sister?’” she said. “He pointed behind the buildings. That’s it. Because he can’t speak still.”
The little boy’s ice cream was on the ground and she said 5-year-old Dulce was nowhere to be found, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Authorities never found the cup of coconut water ice her daughter had been eating or the spoon, she said.
"I don't know what happened. She's just an innocent girl," Perez said, according to WPVI-TV.
Investigators are hoping to speak with a Hispanic male who was seen in the area at the time of the disappearance. He has been described as between 5’6” to 5’8” with a thin build, no facial hair and acne on his face. He was wearing orange sneakers, red pants, and a black shirt at the time.
As the weeks stretch on since Dulce was last seen, her family said life without her has been difficult.
“It’s been really difficult for me sleeping because every time that I go to sleep I can’t even go to sleep because I’ve been thinking of my daughter,” Perez said, according to The Daily Journal. “Because she didn’t want to sleep by herself. She always wanted someone to be with her.”
The 19-year-old mother has been heavily criticized on social media since her daughter disappeared and told reporters that many people are judging her for her past mistakes.
"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," she said.
She called the person who took Dulce a “monster.”
Perez said her parents had custody of her daughter and she was living with them at the time she disappeared. Perez had only been 14 when she gave birth to Dulce.
“(My mom) said she wanted her full custody because she loved her. Like, my mom and dad loved her like it was the other daughter of hers. And I accepted it because I knew she was going to be in good hands with my parents,” she said.
But after learning she was going to be a mom again with her current boyfriend, Edgar Martinez-Santiago, Perez said she had begun spending more time with her children.
Dulce’s father lives in Mexico and returned there before she was born, Perez said, according to The Inquirer. The FBI has already questioned the man and Perez said she doesn’t believe he is involved in the disappearance.
A $35,000 reward has been offered for any information leading to the young girl’s whereabouts. Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact authorities.
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