(BRIDGETON, N.J.) — Monday marks one week since 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez suddenly vanished at a New Jersey park, prompting an Amber Alert and a massive manhunt as her devastated family waits for answers.
Dulce was last seen just before 5 p.m. EST on Monday, Sept. 16, while playing at the Bridgeton City Park behind Bridgeton High School.
It’s possible the 5-year-old left the park with an unknown man and was lured into a van or SUV, authorities said.
“At home, there is an emptiness since she hasn’t come back,” her uncle, Abad Perez Alavez, said at a vigil Sunday night, according to ABC Philadelphia station WPVI.
“She’s only an innocent child, who likes to have fun and play games,” he said. “We don’t [know] why she’s disappeared.”
Anyone who was near the Bridgeton City Park between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. EST on Sept. 16 is asked to check their phones to see if they took photos or videos during that time, Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said Monday.
The images may seem unimportant but could be a “valuable piece of the puzzle in helping us bring Dulce home,” the prosecutor said.
Dulce’s grandmother said Thursday in a statement that was translated to English: “Please if you have any information help us find my granddaughter. Do not be afraid of the police. We have not been able to eat or sleep. You can’t image what we are going through. We are very sad. Please help our family. I beg of you.”
Dulce was last seen wearing a yellow shirt with a koala bear on the front and black and white pants with butterflies and flowers on them.
The person who may have left the park with Dulce is described as “a light-skinned, possibly Hispanic” man who is “approximately 5’6″ to 5’8″ with a thin build, no facial hair and acne on his face,” according to the FBI.
He might have been driving a red van or SUV, according to the FBI.
Bridgeton is about 45 miles south of Philadelphia.
A reward has reached $35,000. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.
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