Reward at least $35,000 for 5-year-old girl who may have been abducted from a New Jersey playground

BRIDGETON, N.J. — At least $35,000 was offered as a reward for Dulce Maria Alavez, 5, who authorities said may have been abducted Monday, Sept. 16 from a playground in New Jersey.

Dulce Maria Alavez, may have been taken by a light-skinned, possibly Hispanic male, Bridgeton police said Tuesday in announcing an Amber Alert. The possible abductor was described as between 5’6″ tall and 5’8″ tall, with a thin build, no facial hair, and acne on his face. He was wearing orange sneakers, red pants, and a black shirt, police said.

The man drove off Monday with Dulce in a red van with tinted windows and a sliding passenger side door, the alert said.

Dulce was last seen wearing a yellow shirt with a koala bear on the front, black and white checkered long pants with a flower design, and white sandals, police said. She is 3’5″ tall, and weighs 40 pounds, with black hair, and brown eyes.

Family spokesman: I believe she is alive

Her family held a vigil Saturday night at the park where she was last seen, CNN affiliate KYW reported.

People could be seen wearing yellow shirts and holding candles.

A man spoke on behalf of the family saying, in part, officers were “working around the clock” to find Dulce.

“Dulce will be found. I truly believe, in my heart, she is alive somewhere,” the man said.

She was playing on the swings

Officers responded to the Bridgeton city park’s ball fields and playground area for a report of a missing child at about 4:50 p.m. Monday. The girl’s mother told police that Dulce was playing on swings with her 3-year-old brother as the mother remained about 30 yards away in her vehicle with an 8-year-old relative, police said.

The mother told police she observed the 3-year-old return to her vehicle without his sister, and she was unable to locate her daughter, police said.

The Amber Alert was issued after police interviewed and re-interviewed people who were in Bridgeton’s city park near the ball fields on Monday afternoon, Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari said Tuesday.

Police searched with more than 50 officers from agencies across the county, city, and state. A waterway also was drained by city workers to help in the search, Gaimari said. Law enforcement searched the city park by helicopter, with divers, K-9s and sonar.

Anyone with tips or information should call 1-800-CALL-FBI, police said.

The FBI said $5,000 was being contributed to the reward money, which, as of Saturday, was at $35,000.

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